Local Verizon employees join strike over benefits, work rules

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Aug 10, 2011 - 05:00 PM

Photo: Local Verizon workers joined thousands of their associates in a number of other states by going on strike Sunday, following unsuccessful efforts to work out a new labor agreement between union and corporate officials. Shown outside the Verizon building on Main Street, Gloucester, are, from left, Jami Thompson, Boyd Hebberd  Earl Phillips and Jeff Sise. Photo by Bill Nachman.

Local Verizon workers joined thousands of their associates in a number of other states by going on strike Sunday, following unsuccessful efforts to work out a new labor agreement between union and corporate officials. Shown outside the Verizon building on Main Street, Gloucester, are, from left, Jami Thompson, Boyd Hebberd Earl Phillips and Jeff Sise. Photo by Bill Nachman.

Thousands of unionized Verizon workers, including approximately 30 in Gloucester, went on strike Sunday morning. Strikers bearing signs chastising Verizon marched in front of the company’s Gloucester office on Main Street this week.

Locally, the workers on strike are affiliated with Local 2201 of the Communications Workers of America. The Associated Press reported that CWA negotiations with Ver-
izon stalled Saturday night after the company continued to demand more than 100 concessions from workers and the union refused to budge.

The contract that expired at midnight Saturday covers 45,000 workers, including 10,000 represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who are telephone and repair technicians, customer service representatives, operators and others.

Jeff Sise of Gloucester, a systems technician who has worked for the company for 24 years, said that a major sticking point in negotiations involves health care and related benefits. Currently, Sise said Verizon contributes $3,000 a year toward health care for him and his family—something that Verizon is seeking to eliminate.