Verizon Management Hopes to Minimize Effects of Possible Strike


Verizon Communications Inc. and two unions representing about a third of the telephone company’s work force slogged through contract negotiations today after making “substantial progress” over the weekend, a union spokeswoman said.

Employees reported to work as usual on Monday since Verizon, the nation’s largest telephone company, and the unions had agreed to negotiate past a Saturday deadline, avoiding a strike that would have put 80,000 line technicians and telephone operators on picket lines from Maine to Virginia.  The negotiations, which have been overseen by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a neutral third party that assists in resolving labor disputes, resumed late this morning after 14 hours of bargaining on Sunday “When one third of your work force is postulating a strike, operations tend to lose focus. While we are not out of the woods yet, today should be a good one for [Verizon], as many were expecting a disruptive and ugly strike,” said Loop Capital Management analyst Greg Gorbatenko.

In case of a strike, Verizon said it has trained tens of thousands of management workers to handle union tasks such as installing telephones, climbing telephone poles to repair lines and fielding customer service calls. Basic telephone service would not be disrupted by a strike. The company also has said it would try to keep up with repair work and new service orders during a strike to keep customers from fleeing to rival service providers.

During an 18-day strike in 2000, the company racked up a backlog of more than 60,000 customer repair orders and 200,000 new telephone line orders. Its longest strike was a 17-week walkout in 1989 at the Verizon operation formerly known as NYNEX.

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