Verizon, CWA & IBEW prepare for strike, FiOS roll out threatened

With just over 24 hours to go before the current contract between Verizon and its unions--representing 65,000 members of the CWA and IBEW at the telco--expires at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, both sides are preparing for a possible strike.

Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers leadership already have had strike placards printed and distributed to locals across the region served by Verizon.

In Boston, IBEW 2222 president Ed Fitzpatrick says the union is standing firm on its demands, mostly focusing on health care and job security.

“This is survival to us,” said Fitzpatrick. “We’re willing to pay the price.”

But Verizon spokesman Philip Santoro said negotiations are ongoing.

“The issues are always fluid and they’re always changing,” he said. Verizon has said it has contingency plans ready in the eventuality of a strike, which could come as early as midnight Saturday. Both the unions and Verizon said phone service will continue uninterrupted.

But what might be impacted immediately are Verizon’s plans to roll out its prized FiOS network in New York City, where it will compete with Cablevision and Time Warner. It only recently won approval from New York State for the network and has slated installs to begin this week. A strike could delay FiOS’s arrival in the Big Apple’s lucrative market.

The strike has generated huge emotions among FierceTelecom readers both in support of the union and of Verizon.

For more:
- See the video report on NECN
- Or the story in the Albany Times-Union