We've been trying to keep you abreast of the Verizon strike, and new reports indicate that thousands of striking workers from Verizon Communications land-line division will now return to work, mostly empty handed. The workers will return to work on Monday, August 22nd. The unions and Verizon have both agreed to narrow some of the issues in the ongoing fight, but both sides still disagree on some major issues, including health care benefits, pensions, and work rules. There are approximately 45,000 workers striking and 35,000 are covered by Communications Workers of America, and the other 10,000 are covered by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Verizon's argument is that because their land-line division is starting to fade, due to people increasingly switching to mobile phones only, that they need to start cutting costs. The company is proposing freezing pension plans and switching workers over to a non-union health plan which is more costly to workers than the union health plan.
The unions argue that the mobile division is bolstered by the land-line division that earned about $3 Billion in the first half of the year, and that Verizon should extend the contract that expired on August 6. Here's a section from the Yahoo! article with some more details,Source: Yahoo!Jim Spellane, a spokesman for the IBEW, said the strike occurred because Verizon "came in with an extreme set of proposals and never really moved off of them."
But after the 14-day strike, "I think they realized the unions are serious," he said. "It's in everybody's best interest to get back to work."
Verizon spokesman Richard Young said that many of the benefits and work rules were put in place when Verizon faced much less competition in its landline business. "The contracts are not reflective of today's marketplace," he said.
Spellane said that much of the traditional phone network helps support the faster-growing wireless business. And many of the technicians that went on strike install and maintain the company's new fiber optic network, FiOS, which provides Internet, video and phone services.