Verizon Strike Enters Second Week

Sunday, August 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of phone technicians and operators for Verizon Communications entered their second week on strike Sunday, threatening more repair and installation delays for consumers in Eastern states.

Two unions representing 87,200 workers continued negotiations with the company's management to replace a contract that expired Aug. 6. The parties have hit roadblocks on issues such as required overtime, the movement of work and working environment.

``If the company comes ready to work these out, we can reach a settlement,'' said Candice Johnson, spokeswoman for the Communications Workers of America, the larger of the two striking unions.

The company says it has made alterations to the offer on the table to allay union concerns.

Still, Verizon spokesman Eric Rabe said Sunday, ``There's been no significant development that gets us to where we want to be.''

Verizon says it relies on overtime to meet consumer demands, and stringent hiring standards and a tight labor market make it difficult to add new workers. The company contends it tries to reduce inconvenience by scheduling overtime in advance.

CWA also said the two sides are far apart in addressing the matter of moving work outside the Northeast and Middle Atlantic states. Unions fear that Verizon — the product of a summer merger between Bell Atlantic and GTE — will distribute work within its expanded territory to areas where labor is cheaper.

Company officials argue they need flexibility to shift calls to other centers in their region to alleviate heavy volumes in certain spots.

The strike by CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers affects more than 25 million customers in Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.