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Verizon workers strike in WNY

Workers picket outsdie Verizon Wireless store on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga
WBFO News photo by Ashley Hassett
Workers picket outsdie Verizon Wireless store on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga

By Eileen Buckey & Ashley Hassett

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-981082.mp3

Cheektowaga, NY – Striking Verizon workers continue to walk the picket lines at various sites in the Buffalo Niagara region.

A total of 1,500 local Verizon workers are effected by the strike. 45,000 employees across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states walked off the job over the weekend when their contract expired.

About 30-strikers picketing outside a Verizon Wireless store on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga.

Verizon Fios Installation technician Tom Brehm. He joined other workers on the picket lines Monday. Wireless customers are not effected by this strike, but Brehm said workers will continue to protest until the company can negotiate a fair contract with the unions.

"It's just not right, so I just hope that verizon comes to the table and wants to bargain. I'm ready to go back to work," said Brehm.

Striking workers are represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Brehm said Verizon is threatening workers pension, health care benefits and job security.

"We were all working Saturday, not by a contract, not a slow down or anything. We worked our regular job, tried to come in and show them that were here and we want to do our job... and this is very offensive to be quite honest. We are the network, without us they cannot do it," said Brehm.

CWA Executive Vice-President John Mudie tells WBFO News Verizon earned record profits this year.

But Verizon said it needs contract concessions because its land-line business is declining. In a Verizon news release, executive vice president of human resources at Verison, Marc Reed, said the company will continue to "do its part to reach a new contract that reflects today's economic realities in their wireline business".

Reed also noted that it is the company's intent, that under a new contract, Verizon employees will continue to receive competitive pay and benefit programs.

The company trained tens of thousands of management employees, retirees and others to fill the jobs of striking employees.