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Verizon Strike Will Delay Service Calls, Says Union Leader

These striking Verizon workers were wrapping up an informational picket outisde a Verizon store on Boston Post Road (Route 1) in Port Chester. They were greeted by many motorists' horns honking near Interstate 95 and I-287. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
After going on strike Wednesday, these Verizon workers picketed a Verizon store on Boston Post Road (Route 1) in Port Chester. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Several hundred Verizon workers picketed in White Plains and Hartsdale on Wednesday after walking off the job in their first strike since 2010. Here they are shown holding an information picket outside a store in Mohegan Lake, which are continuing. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

This story has ben updated.

The massive strike that began on Wednesday against Verizon will be felt by millions of its phone, wireless and FIOS cable TV customers, according to a local union leader.

"People who are going to be out of service are going to be out of service for awhile," said Anthony Pugliese, vice president for Local 1103 of the Communications Workers of America AFL-CIO.

Nearly 40,000 Verizon union members walked off the job at 6 a.m. -- the nation's largest strike since 2011. Most of the striking workers service the company's landline phone business and FiOS broadband network -- not the much larger Verizon Wireless network. There are about 1,500 Verizon workers on strike in Westchester, Rockland and Dutchess counties.

Most of Verizon's non-union managers are not qualified to make home and business installations, Pugliese said.

The company disagreed. Verizon said that it is prepared to serve its customers despite the strike. It said that thousands of non-union workers have been trained to cover new job assignments.

After going on strike, several hundred Verizon workers picketed Verizon locations in White Plains and Hartsdale. The workers are members of two unions — the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. About 8,000 IBEW workers are striking in New Jersey and Massachusetts. Verizon strikers include installers, customer service employees, repairmen and other service workers in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., for Verizon's wireline business, which provides fixed-line phone services and FiOS Internet service.

This is the largest U.S. strike since Verizon workers last walked off the job five years ago, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their 2011 strike involved 45,000 union workers. On Friday, Pugliese said contract talks had not resumed.

Pugliese said informational pickets will continue outside Verizon stores in Port Chester, Hartsdale and Mohegan Lake. Striking workers also are picketing Verizon work facilities at 999 Nepperhan Ave. in Yonkers, 545 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford and 39 Arlo Lane in Cortlandt.

"You're going to see a lot of red,'' Pugliese said on Friday.

The CWA members have worked without a contract since Aug. 2, 2015. Verizon has outsourced 5,000 jobs to workers in Mexico, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. Verizon also is hiring more low-wage, non-union contractors, the union says.

Verizon posted an $8.9 billion profit in its wireline business last year, while expanding its customer base by 9 percent.

"It's regrettable that union leaders have called a strike, a move that hurts all of our employees," said Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer. "Unfortunately, union leaders have their own agenda rooted in the past and are ignoring today's digital realities. Calling a strike benefits no one, and brings us no closer to resolution."

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