Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.

Verizon Laying Off 1,700 Despite Record Profits. IBEW Members Affected.

Despite record profits and executives who have raked in $350 million in the past five years, Verizon has announced layoffs of more than 600 workers in New England and New Jersey. This is part of a plan to reduce its workforce by 1 percent or 1,700 people through buyouts and layoffs. Affected members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) learned of the telecom giant’s plans on May 30th. Layoffs will begin to go in effect by September.

The cutbacks come at a high expense to workers, users, and taxpayers alike:

The cutbacks threaten not only basic upkeep and improvement of the company’s wireline service, but future build-out of Verizon FiOS – the only all-fiber optic commercial network in America – putting needed investment in high-speed broadband at risk, says Boston IBEW Local 2222 Business Manager Myles Calvey

IBEW Local 827 Business Manager Bill Huber recently testified before the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities on the matter:

Verizon’s failure to properly service and maintain its copper landline infrastructure and to live up to its commitment to bring FiOS service to communities across New Jersey prompted official hearings into the complaints.
Says Huber:

IBEW Local 827 is taking the lead in bringing these consumer complaints to the attention of the utility board and taxpayers are glad someone is looking out for their interests. We stand ready to complete the FiOS fiber-optic network that Verizon promised to deliver.

Little has changed in the negotiations between Verizon, the IBEW and the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The same offer that led 45,000 workers to go on a two-week strike last August is effectively still on the table.

Negotitations… on a new contract remain deadlocked, with Verizon putting the same package of givebacks on the table, including eliminating the company’s pension plan, giving management more leeway to outsource jobs and dramatically increasing health care premiums and deductibles.

While rolling in record profits and cutting its workforce, Verizon is also trying to create a monopoly to end competition.

In January, Verizon Wireless announced plans to purchase $3.6 billion worth of spectrum from a consortium of top cable providers including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox. If approved by the Federal Communications Commission, the telecommunications giant would begin offering “quad” play – combined video, Internet, voice, and wireless service.
Says Huber:

It will give Big Cable an unfair advantage in the marketplace, which means higher rates and fewer options for consumers, while stranding many communities with a 20th century telecommunications system. If this deal goes through, it’s the end of genuine competition.

Read more about this story in BusinessWeek.


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