Nearly 40,000 workers at Verizon have gone on strike, objecting to, among other things, outsourcing and temporary location transfers.
The two unions representing Verizon workers say their employees have been without a contract since August. They call the walkout, which began at 6 a.m. ET Wednesday, "by far the largest work stoppage in the country in recent years."
NPR's Joel Rose tells our Newscast unit:
"The striking employees mostly work in Verizon's wireline business — landline phone, video and Internet — on the East Coast.
"The company says it's offering a 6 percent raise, but needs to make what it calls 'critical changes to its legacy contracts' to reduce health care costs and retirement benefits."
The unions — the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — say Verizon has made billions in profits, while still looking to spend less on employee benefits, Joel says.
Other objections from the union include offshoring of jobs, increasing use of contract workers and Verizon's request for the ability to give workers two-month assignments that would require relocating — what the unions call "family-busting transfers."
Verizon, which accuses union leaders of "ignoring today's digital realities," said Wednesday that it had indicated a willingness to enter into mediation if the unions extended their strike deadline, but that the unions refused.
The telecom giant says it is ready to serve customers during the walkout; a strike readiness team has been preparing for more than a year, the company said in a statement.
Thousands of nonunion employees have been trained as fill-ins, and they will be reassigning employees from elsewhere in the U.S. and other units in the company.