Local CWA Union Rep Angered by Verizon Claims
By Megan J. Miller
August 8, 2011 – BEAVER — A local representative of the Communication Workers of America union said Verizon workers were forced to go on strike after the communications giant “put outrageous demands” on them in contract negotiations.
Thousands of Verizon landline employees across several states were striking Monday after talks broke down between the company and the workers’ unions, the CWA and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Michael Rossi, president of the CWA chapter that includes about 250 workers in Beaver County, as well as the Sewickley area and parts of Lawrence and Mercer counties, told The Times that he was angered by a statement released by the company that accused the unions of walking away from the table “instead of continuing to work through the issues.”
The company’s demands include freezing pensions and requiring workers to contribute more to their health insurance premiums, above the 7 percent that Rossi said they now pay.
The proposed changes in benefits over time and holiday pay would cost union members approximately $20,000 per year, he estimated.
“(Verizon) made over $20 billion over the last 4 years,” Rossi said, categorizing the company’s demands as “another attack on the middle class.”
Verizon, for its part, pointed out that its landline business has significantly declined as wireless usage grows and said in a news release that its contract terms reflect “today’s economic realities in our wireline business.”