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Verizon says Mid-Atlantic union is stalling contract talks

Verizon says Mid-Atlantic union is stalling contract talks

Communications Workers of America allege Verizon has allowed its copper network to deteriorate in Maryland and other states

Five months into a negotiation with Verizon Communications regarding employment contracts for unionized workers, reps from the Communications Workers of America in the Mid-Atlantic region are calling out the carrier over the quality of service in Maryland.

CWA reps from District 2-13 asked the Maryland Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, to re-open a previous investigation into Verizon’s copper-based network. This echoes past moves from the CWA in New York and New Jersey.

Essentially, the CWA says Verizon has no intention of fulfilling promised fiber optic rollouts.

“This request comes on the heels of a request in September after Verizon admitted in a letter to the [Federal Communications Commission] that it had only spent $200 million over the last seven years to maintain its copper landline network in Maryland and 10 other states and the District of Columbia,” CWA said in a prepared statement.

Ed Mooney VP of CWA District 2-13 said, “Verizon makes a profit of over $1.5 billion every month, and yet it refuses to expand its high-speed network to Baltimore and other communities in Maryland, while systematically letting the existing network deteriorate. Verizon needs to stop hoarding its cash and start investing in its customers and employees.”

For its part, Verizon is calling the CWA move another heavy handed bargaining ploy.

“We believe the CWA’s filing in Maryland is an agenda-driven attempt by the union to try and divert attention from our on-going contract negotiations,” Verizon spokesman Richard Young told RCR Wireless News in a statement. “As we’ve stated repeatedly, union leaders have an ill-advised pattern of creating campaigns filled with mischaracterizations and inaccurate statements. … The fact is that Verizon continues to make very substantial investments in its wireline network each year – a total of $5.8 billion in 2014 and $3.4 billion, so far, in 2015. If there’s an issue that needs to be addressed, we will look into it and fix it, if necessary.”

Verizon has been growing less patient with the Mid-Atlantic union including Districts 2-13.

When the company sent notification via letter it would offer a 2.5% pay increase, the carrier also called out the Mid-Atlantic chapters.
“While there have been some productive discussions in New York/New England, progress at the Mid-Atlantic table has been almost non-existent. In fact, the Mid-Atlantic unions have been unavailable to meet for five of the last seven weeks,” Verizon stated.

Young told RCR Wireless News he suspects the union is stalling.
“The reality behind the union’s campaign is a misguided attempt to try and force the company to hire more union employees, which will increase membership and enhance revenues for the union,” Young said.

Verizon currently employees 37,000 unionized wireline employees who have continued to work despite their being no contract.

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Contributing Jeff Hawn was born in 1991 and represents the “millennial generation,” the people who have spent their entire lives wired and wireless. His adult life has revolved around cellphones, the Internet, video chat and Google. Hawn has a degree in international relations from American University, and has lived and traveled extensively throughout Europe and Russia. He represents the most valuable, but most discerning, market for wireless companies: the people who have never lived without their products, but are fickle and flighty in their loyalty to one company or product. He’ll be sharing his views – and to a certain extent the views of his generation – with RCR Wireless News readers, hoping to bridge the generational divide and let the decision makers know what’s on the mind of this demographic.

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