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CWA, Verizon Accuse Each Other Of Not Bargaining In Good Faith

8/13/2011 9:41 AM Eastern

The Communications Workers of America and Verizon Communications filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, each alleging the other side is refusing to bargain in good faith to resolve a strike by 45,000 union workers poised to stretch into a second week.

Meanwhile, Verizon claimed it had identified another 20 incidents of sabotage against its network facilities that occurred Thursday and Friday, bringing the total to more than 110 since the walkout by members of the CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers began at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 7.

Verizon strikeThe CWA charged Verizon with labor law violations in complaints with NLRB offices in New York and Baltimore, claiming the telco has refused to bargain in good faith.

"Since the first day of negotiations, through contract expiration and even today, Verizon management has demanded the same $1 billion in concessions from its 45,000 workers," CWA communications director Candice Johnson said in a statement Friday.

Verizon filed similar charges against the CWA in New York and in the Mid-Atlantic region, which covers New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

"Despite the inaccurate hyperbole on the part of the union, discussions between the two sides continue," Verizon spokesman Rich Young said. The company also lodged an NLRB complaint against the IBEW in New Jersey.

Negotiating teams for the unions and Verizon have been meeting in Rye Brook, N.Y., and Philadelphia.

Verizon is seeking a number of concessions from the CWA and IBEW, including requiring workers to pay health-care premiums, having more flexible work rules, reducing sick days, eliminating job-security provisions and freezing pensions (while the company would match up to 9% of salary toward workers' 401(k) plans).

The unions claim that Verizon's demands, taken together, would cost union members $20,000 a year. Verizon is on track to generate a net profit of $6 billion in 2011 on revenue of $108 billion, the CWA has noted.

"If wealthy companies like Verizon can continue to cut working families' pay and benefits, we will never have an economic recovery in this country. This is a fight for all middle-class working families. We're standing up for good jobs in our communities," Johnson said.

During the now weeklong strike, Verizon has repeatedly accused the unions of illegally blocking work sites and facilities. The telco has received injunctions barring illegal picketing activity by the unions in New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

The unions, meanwhile, have charged that some of their members have been injured after being hit by vehicles driven by Verizon replacement workers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is now investigating the incidents of damage to Verizon's network facilities. The company is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals who intentionally damage Verizon cables or facilities.

In one case, according to Young, on early Friday morning an act of vandalism knocked out communications to a Pennsylvania State Police Barracks in central Pennsylvania.

The CWA and IBEW have said they expect members to fully comply with the law.

In the contract bargaining with Verizon, CWA represents about 33,000 Verizon workers, while IBEW represents some 12,000.

 

September