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Syarcuse Verizon Workers Prepare to Strike

In a show of militancy and solidarity, thousands of telephone workers will rally and picket at over 150 Verizon locations across the state tomorrow- including a picket in the city with hundreds of Syracuse workers. They will urge the company to negotiate a fair contract before the current contract expires on August 2nd.Workers are frustrated by Verizon’s lack of movement on crucial issues at the bargaining table, particularly over Verizon’s unwillingness to address the issues of subcontracting-out and outsourcing of high-quality, family-supporting jobs. The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers represent over 65,000 Verizon workers from Maine to Virginia.The major areas of dispute are:· Verizon’s demand for major increases in worker payment for health care coverage;· Verizon’s demand that all workers who retire after January 1, 2009 pay for health care;· Total elimination of retiree health care coverage for new hires;· Verizon’s continuing efforts to shrink the ranks of its unionized workforce through subcontracting and outsourcing of jobs, including overseas; and· Verizon’s suppression of the right to organize at Verizon Business, where a majority of technicians in the Northeast have signed union cards indicating they want to join CWA and IBEW.Last week, 91% of CWA’s 50,000 members voted to authorize a strike if negotiations fail to produce an agreement by midnight on August 2nd. IBEW members also have voted to authorize a strike. The union members maintain the Verizon telephone network and build and install Verizon’s new fiber optic FiOS TV and internet network.Last year, Verizon made $5.5 billion in profits and paid its top five executives $82 million. If CWA and IBEW strike at Verizon, it will be one of the largest strikes in the United States in over a decade.

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