Verizon filed injunction requests to to keep Communications Workers of America picketers back from its facilities, as reports of violence at strike sites grow and contract talks continue.
The court orders are necessary, Verizon says, to keep service operating in the areas affected by the strike. The strike is already disrupting mobile communications, and may result in more interruptions unless the picketers are brought under control, Verizon says.
More than 70 cases of sabotage to Verizon’s facilities and equipment were reported in the three days since the strike began, temporarily knocking out wireless service to thousands of customers. Verizon said it’s unclear who caused the damage, which is still under investigation.
In addition, New York state police Wednesday investigated damages to Verizon equipment in central New York, which stopped 911 emergency calls in two counties.
“We have no issue with striking workers picketing and protesting outside our facilities, but it’s irresponsible and dangerous when they take the extra step of blocking our employees from entering or exiting,” said Verizon spokesman Richard Young. “Our phones are lifelines for people who may need to make emergency calls.”
Verizon’s unionized landline workers walked out Sunday over management demands for contract concessions. Verizon said it was going to freeze union workers’ pensions, ask them to contribute to health-insurance premiums and seek contract rules that make it easier to fire union members.
The strikers are part of the company’s landline business, which is declining while its mobile division grows. With more people than ever dropping their landlines in favor of mobile-only service, Verizon’s landline side is losing money, and the company says it wants to change union previously established benefits from when that division was more profitable. The landline workers’ union, however, maintains the union workers deserve their benefits, because they helped build Verizon to its current success and they still remain vital workers.
The company’s wireless division, which is its most profitable, is non-union, leading to even more friction between the two divisions. And while the landline division’s profits are down, Verizon’s wireless business is skyrocketing.
Meanwhile, as the talks continue and court paperwork is filed, the three-day strike has gotten ugly on both sides. In Pittsburgh Wednesday, for example, union picketers put up chains and locks across parking lots at one Verizon location, preventing workers from leaving. Verizon also reported a picketer fired a BB gun at a non-union worker in the Bronx and other picketers have shoved employees as they head into work.
On the other side, however, picketers claim non-union and replacement workers are targeting them. In one instance, they claimed a picketer was hospitalized after a car’s sideview mirror hit his head. Others have complained non-union workers are trying to hit them with their cars, or have harassed them while they’re picketing.
The strike is only in its third day, and it could be a while before the two sides agree on a contract that could end the dispute. Meanwhile, the injunctions may force both sides to concentrate more on the contract issues and less on diffusing hot tempers as the days or weeks go on.
For the top stories in mobile, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Leave a Reply