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Worker Strike Continues Even After Verizon Makes Its "Final" Offer

  People who drive through downtown Syracuse are still seeing Verizon workers walking a picket line, and the latest contract offer made public by the company is not likely to change the strikers any time soon.

What Verizon called its last, "best" offer is not sending picketers home on the verge of a new agreement, in the opinion of local communication workers Local 1123leaders.

President Christopher Ryan said the latest proposal did include a small increase in wages, while keeping many other benefits the same.  But it had one glaring omission.

 “At no point in time, in anywhere, did it address [in] any language whatsoever,  would the contract release back to the wireless,” Ryan said. “There was nothing in their so called ‘last, best, and final offer’ that even addressed any of that, so the fact of matter is that offer was a non-starter to begin with.”

Also absent was language about other subcontractors, low-wage workers that could be hired to do work that union officials believe Verizon workers should handle.  Yet another matter employees would like addressed in the proposal is some job security for call center workers, which Ryan noted impacts Syracuse. 

“Not every local, not every region, has a call center work. That’s a big sticking point for us here because we have the fiber solutions, and we do the customer service and technical support for the Fios project,” Ryan said.  “The New York state center is in Syracuse. So, when they want to move additional work – work that has already gone to the Philippines and India and Tijuana, Mexico – those are local issues for us.”

Ryan explained the contract offer came out just days before benefits end for workers, which he described as a positive spin for the company. 

Credit Chris Bolt / WAER News
Verizon workers and steelworkers in Syracuse pose together for a photo. Local 1123 President Christopher Ryan said the Verizon workers have received lots of support from the community.

  Verizon officials said highlights of the new offer includes a 7.5 percent wage raise and worker protections. Other highlights include:

  • Job security/layoff protection – If the company gets increased flexibility in managing and deploying the workforce, an employee that has job security will get to retain that security for the term of the contract. Increased flexibility measures would include voluntary retirement incentive offers and other workforce flexibility changes.
  • Retirement benefits – The 401k company match will continue. Eligible employees will can also take with a pension plan that includes three one percent annual increases, subject to a 30 year cap.
  • Healthcare – Healthcare options will remain mostly the same, with increases in contributions and some plan design changes that are designed to manage escalating costs.

The strike, which was called by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on April 13, is entering its third week. The contract proposal would cover more than 35,000 workers from network technicians to customer service representatives in the northeast and Atlantic regions.

After Verizon’s last offer was publicized, Local 1123 also released a report to its members.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.