Verizon Communications : employees go on strike; pickets set up at Beaver Valley Mall

April 13--CENTER TWP. -- An undetermined number of Beaver County residents who work at Verizon are participating in a strike against the communications company, just a few among the thousands across the Northeast who went on strike after labor talks failed to produce a new contract.A handful of strikers were present at the Beaver Valley Mall on Wednesday morning, and even more participated in a rally in Pittsburgh in front of a Verizon building.The strike was called by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers unions because Verizon workers have been without a contract since Aug. 1.The move does not affect Verizon Wireless service or employees but is instead limited to cable and landline workers.The strike affects about 4,000 workers in western Pennsylvania, according to Tom Crawford, the western region vice president for CWA's Pennsylvania branch.Crawford, who grew up in Ambridge, couldn't offer exact figures on the numbers of Beaver County workers who have gone on strike.The CWA said in a statement that Verizon is profitable but wants major concessions from workers. It also alleged the company has closed call centers and moved those jobs to Mexico and the Philippines while also outsourcing work to low-wage contractors.For his part, Crawford said Verizon has brought in more than $1.5 billion in profits already this year, though company officials only continue to ask for more concessions from workers."We've been fighting for a fair contract for 10 months," Crawford said. "We're not looking for more from the company; we're just looking to maintain our healthcare and job security."He said Verizon officials continue to ask for "more and more and more every time we sit down at the table" to negotiate.Verizon has been negotiating with the unions since June and said 36,000 employees are covered by the negotiations. For its part, the CWA said more than 40,000 workers were included in the strike.According to a statement, Verizon said it has proposed wage increases, continued retirement benefits and generous health care benefits, but union leadership "decided to call a strike rather than sit down and work on the issues that need to be resolved.""Since last June, we've worked diligently to try to reach agreements that would be good for our employees, good for our customers and make the wireline business more successful now and in the future," said Marc Reed, Verizon's chief administrative officer. "Unfortunately, union leaders have their own agenda rooted in the past and are ignoring today's digital realities. Calling a strike benefits no one and brings us no closer to resolution."In its own statement, the CWA said Verizon is exhibiting "corporate greed" and is letting its product suffer by failing to expand service to millions of customers, as promised.A similar strike by Verizon workers in 2011 lasted nearly three weeks.___(c)2016 the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.)Visit the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.) at www.timesonline.comDistributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News

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