Verizon alleges sabotage while strike goes on

Verizon (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) said yesterday it has encountered at least 12 acts of sabotage of its wireline network in the midst of a strike by members of The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Verizon (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) said yesterday it has encountered at least 12 acts of sabotage of its wireline network in the midst of a strike by members of The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). The strike began Sunday when a labor contract that covered 45,000 workers in its wireline business units expired before Verizon and the unions could agree on a new deal.

The strike, the first Verizon has experienced since 2000, includes wireline employees in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Washington, DC. It does not include workers employed by Verizon Wireless.

Verizon maintained a brave face as the strike began, asserting that the job action had “only minimal impact” on service delivery, thanks to the thousands of supervisors and other non-union employees it had trained to step into the striking workers’ shoes. The fill-ins managed to complete more than 75 percent of repair commitments on Sunday, Verizon said. The service provider added it expects their performance to improve as the week went on and more managers took to the field.

Their tasks will include solving the problems the alleged sabotage has caused to networks in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Ten of these incidents include fiber cuts, which occured in the Bronx, Pomona, Farmingdale, and Gilderland in New York; in two places in Tewksbury, MA; and in Bel Air, MD, and East Dover, Oakland and Plainfield, NJ.

"These acts of sabotage are reprehensible," said Verizon Chief Security Officer Mike Mason. "In addition to inconveniencing our customers, these deliberate disruptions of our network have affected hospitals, paramedics, fire fighters, law enforcement, and other first responders. Verizon is working closely with local authorities to investigate these sabotage incidents, and identify and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. And we will not hesitate to terminate any employee who may be involved in these acts.”

Verizon also alleged that some picketers had illegally blocked non-union employees from entering Verizon facilities. A spokeswoman from the CWA told Reuters that the union does not condone illegal acts, while an IBEW source said that union members are expected to obey the law.

Meanwhile, the CWA alleged that picketing union members had been hit by cars driven by non-union employees. Verizon said it believes the allegation are “totally inaccurate,” Reuters reported.

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