Verizon workers protest outside Philly HQ

NEW YORK - August 7, 2011

What does this mean for Verizon customers in the Delaware and Lehigh valleys?

Customers can expect delays for repairs and installation of landlines and cable.

Wireless operations are unaffected.

The workers make up about a quarter of Verizon's workforce, those responsible for maintaining and repairing landlines and installing FiOS.

"This company made over $4-billion in profit last year, and they don't have any money for us, for our medical insurance, for better working conditions, they just don't seem to have any money," Verizon service technician Charlie Heald said.

"I want a fair contract, I'm willing to go back to work when we get a fair contract," Verizon worker Mike Bartha said.

Those on strike are part of two unions, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Communication Workers of America.

"We're all family guys, that's it, middle class; they are trying to choke us out," a Communication Workers of America president Jason Pakech said.

The company says not so.

According to Verizon, the striking workers are being unrealistic, unwilling to pay anything for health care and unwilling to compromise on workplace rules.

"Healthcare is a big issue across the country; it doesn't just touch on Verizon or the telecommunications industry, but every year Verizon spends about $4-billion on healthcare," Verizon spokesman Harry Mitchell said.

For now, the company says it's training managers to fill the void left by the striking workers until a new deal can be worked out.

"We are confident that the network and wireline operations will work relatively well as these management employees step into these jobs," Mitchell said.

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