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Some 45,000 Verizon Communications Inc workers from Massachusetts to Washington, DC, went on strike today after negotiations fizzled over a new labor contract for more than a fifth of the company's work force.
Verizon is the largest wireless carrier in the US, but the contract that expired at midnight yesterday covers workers in the company's wireline division, which includes local-phone operations, services for businesses and governments and long-haul wholesale traffic.
Talks in Philadelphia and New York stalled yesterday night after Verizon continued to demand more than 100 concessions from workers regarding health care, pensions and work rules, said the Communications Workers of America.
CWA workers picketed at Verizon headquarters in New York City on Sunday morning, wearing red and holding signs with messages including "CWA on strike for middle-class jobs." Mark C Reed, Verizon's executive vice president of human resources, called the outcome of the unions' actions "regrettable" for customers and employees.
"We will continue to do our part to reach a new contract that reflects today's economic realities in our wireline business and addresses the needs of all parties," he said in a statement.
Workers covered by the expired contract include 10,000 represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who serve as telephone and repair technicians, customer service representatives, operators and more. Contract negotiations began June 22.