The head of the Association of BellTel Retirees said Tuesday it supports the strike threat by some 39,000 CWA-IBEW employees along the East Coast and doesn't want any of its members, either formerly with unions or management, to help Verizon weather a possible strike.
Verizon employees from Maine to Virginia have threatened to walk out Wednesday unless their demands are met, but Verizon has said it is ready to keep delivering service, including FiOS video service, without them.
In a statement, BellTel president Jack Brennan said the CWA-IBEW members were just trying to get better healthcare and pension protections for themselves and their families. “The Association of BellTel Retirees asks that our members decline to replace striking workers should the company ask," Brennan said.
Verizon has said it has been preparing for the possibility of a strike for a year—the union contract expired Aug. 1—and has been training employees to do "virtually" all the necessary jobs. "If a strike takes place, whether it’s one day, two weeks or longer, we are ready," said Bob Mudge, president of Verizon’s wireline network operations.
The unions’ contracts expired in August 2015, and they said it is now time to take a stand after offering “hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings” and still not getting the basic job security they are seeking.
The association represents 230,000 Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, GTE, MCI, Idearc, and Verizon retirees, both union and management.