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Verizon workers go on strike

Verizon workers go on strike
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Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers have gone on strike over disputes in a contract negotiation with the telecom company.

The workers, who have been without a contract since August, began the work stoppage at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, according to their unions, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Verizon’s wireline business will be the hardest hit.

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The unions say Verizon is demanding untenable cuts as part of a new contract. They say the company wants to send more jobs overseas and start using more contractors — among other complaints — and that the company wants the ability to send employees out of their homes “for as long as two months at a time.”

Verizon has accused the unions of gumming up the contract negotiation process.

“Since last June, we’ve worked diligently to try and 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,” Marc Reed, Verizon’s chief administrative officer, said in a release. “Unfortunately, union leaders have their own agenda rooted in the past and are ignoring today’s digital realities.”

Verizon claimed that it would enter mediation Tuesday and that it had been approached by a federal mediation service. The union called the mediation issue “a distraction to the real problem: Verizon's corporate greed.”

The action is likely to draw attention, particularly on the East Coast, where most of the workers are based. A previous strike in 2011 lasted for two weeks. Verizon says it has trained thousands of non-union workers to cover for the employees participating in the strike.

It’s also possible the strike will gain more political relevance. Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Bernie Sanders' age should not disqualify him in 2020 Small-dollar donations explode in the Trump era MORE (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, spoke out in favor of the action on Tuesday.

“I want to thank you for standing up to the outrageous greed of Verizon and corporate America,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “When you do that, you’re not just standing up for your own members — you’re standing up for working people all over this country."