The weather called for scattered thunderstorms today, but that didn't deter over 100 Verizon workers to come out and strike today for the third day in a row. It just means that they brought an umbrella along with their picket signs to the two Verizon locations in Nanuet.
They vow to stay off the job as long as necessary and in Rockland County, there are about 300 employees based at Verizon FIOS garages in Nanuet and Pomona, according to a .
Verizon spokesman John Bonamo said that the wireless division has nothing to do with the strike.
"That adds an added matter of inconvenience for our customers when people on this side of the business go to (picket) the Verizon Wireless stores," Bonamo said. "One has nothing to do with the other."
However, Lee Johnson says otherwise. Johnson is an Ops Technician for Verizon.
"Wireless doesn't stand alone ... Every wireless pole ... goes underground and in conduit back to the central offices where we all work," he said. "Without us there is no wireless network."
Bonamo's rebuttal is that the "employees at Verizon Wireless are not affected by these labor issues." Therefore, Verizon Wireless is continuing on with their day to day operations.
Bargaining between Verizon and its employees began in late June. Bonamo said the company wants a $100 a month health care contribution put into place. He said that the company has been spending $4 billion a year–or $400,000 an hour–on health care costs in recent years. He also said the company’s other 135,000 employees contribute to their health care costs.
The union has countered, saying Verizon also wants to cut employee pensions and health care benefits, cap sick time at five days per person and institute merit pay. Verizon Shop Steward Joe Gray is a FIOS Field Technician and is trying to clear up media rumors.
"Contrary to what has been said in the media, all you see out there is that we're not willing to pay for our benefits. We're here because the company is not even at the table with us," Gray said. "We're striking for our bargaining rights for the company to give us a shot at a fair contract. It's not the issues, it's the fact that they will not address the issues that they put on the table with us."
"Actually, we're ready and willing to negotiate," said Bonamo. "We're eager to negotiate." He also added that there is not a Verizon outage in West Nyack, nor the surrounding areas.
Watch the video for these Verizon workers' full comments. Clarkstown Police monitered the strike and said their demonstration is still peaceful as of today.
New City-based CWA Local 1107 (Communications Workers of America) represents about 800 active and retired employees who live or work in Rockland County. The CWA and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers represent about 45,000 Verizon workers in the Northeast.