Every few years, the incumbents and unions face off for a nice game of chicken over wireline telecom. This summer, it is Verizon on one side and the CWA and IBEW on the other. The "deadline" passed at midnight last night, but workers are staying on the job so far.
The issues at stake are the usual fair: reduced benefits versus increased benefits plus job security. Both sides blame the other, neither seems to be giving ground, and it feels as if the argument is just getting started. One gets the feeling that the negotiations thus far were just the prologue, and that the combatants need the urgency of an imminent or current strike to push them off of their initial talking points.
The contract in question covers the contiguous portions of Verizon's territory from Virginia to Massachussetts. In other words, the parts that it is not selling off, yet anyway. Verizon sees the wireline business as a burden these days, even as it aggressively migrates its remaining copper customers to FIOS and wireless.
But I suspect that aggressive migration could become entangled with these negotiations and the looming potential of a strike. Expect the simmering anger from Verizon customers pressured to leave their trusted, aging copper connectivity to find their anti-corporate complaints amplified further. And on the other side, expect to hear more about how costly and burdensome it is for Verizon to serve anyone at all with anything but wireless.
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