About 40,000 unionized Verizon workers walk off the job

Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:39pm EDT
 
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By Malathi Nayak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers walked off the job on Wednesday in one of the largest U.S. strikes in recent years after contract talks hit an impasse, and got a boost as U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders joined them at a Brooklyn rally ahead of the New York primary next week.

Front-runner Hillary Clinton, who will face Sanders in the

primary on April 19, also voiced support for the strikers and urged Verizon to go back to the bargaining table.

The strike was called by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers that jointly represent employees with such jobs as customer services representatives and network technicians in Verizon Communications Inc's (VZ.N: Quote) traditional wireline phone operations.

The strike could affect service in Verizon's Fios Internet, telephone and TV services businesses across several U.S. East Coast states, including New York, Massachusetts and Virginia. The walkout does not extend to the wireless operation.

Verizon said it had trained thousands of non-union employees over the past year to ensure no disruption in services.

"There's no way that these 10,000 people ... can make up for 40,000 people who have decades of experience (in highly technical jobs)," CWA representative Bob Master said.

The wireline unit, which represents Verizon's legacy business, generated about 29 percent of company revenue in 2015, down about 60 percent since 2000, and less than 7 percent of operating income.   Continued...

 
Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) picket in front of Verizon Communications Inc. corporate offices during a strike in New York City, April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid