Verizon Strike Ends with No New Contract

by Matt Klassen on August 22, 2011

A tenuous peace has settled over Verizon.

Despite the lack of a new contract, one that satisfies both Verizon and his striking employees, the global broadband and telecommunications company announced that its employees will be returning to work today, thus ending the bitter two week entrenchment of both parties that has garnered significant media scrutiny across the country.

But without a new contract, is the fight really over? Will this unstable peace between the two embattled sides be able to last?

To call this peace ‘tenuous’ may in fact not be doing justice to the instability of the temporary agreement. Although the official language of both Verizon and the union rings of collaboration and mutual respect, one doesn’t have to look far to see the bitterness, disagreement, and anger littered throughout, as both sides take issue with where the process is heading and how far both parties have to go to get there.

While the purpose of a strike is to use the labour force as a means of support for the employees’ contract requirements and concerns, it remains to be seen whether or not Verizon has got the message.

Both the broadband company and its unionized employees have purportedly agreed to a plan that moves the talks forward, a plan that will see the employees return to work under the temporary conditions of the old contract while the new contract is hammered out. While this should alleviate some of those exorbitant wait times Verizon customers have endured over these past two weeks, don’t think it’ll make the employees any happier to be at work with the looming uncertainty of the contract talks still hovering over them.

In fact, despite agreeing to the return-to-work proposal, the union has taken issue with many of the comments made by the head of the Verizon’s Human Relations department, Marc Reed. While most of Reed’s comments in Verizon’s press release spoke to the positive steps both sides have taken in this dispute, its Reed’s acknowledgement of the scabs (strike breakers) and their role in driving the union back to the bargaining table that has seemingly ruffled many feathers.

“We are grateful to our management team for their leadership during the past 14 days in so ably meeting the needs of our customers”, Reed wrote. “The team’s competence, dedication and hard work enabled us to withstand the strike without significant disruption to customer service, and to convince the unions to begin bargaining with us in good faith.”

While I’m sure Verizon customers would disagree with the comment regarding the company’s ability to weather the two week strike without significant disruption to customer service, it’s the last line of the quote that the union feels, “is both inaccurate and insulting.” From the union’s perspective, its representatives have been acting in good faith the entire time, only opting for a strike once Verizon resorted to its hard line strong arm negotiation tactics.

In the end, it remains to be seen whether this sort of passive aggressive mud-slinging will impede the ongoing negotiations process, but I can’t see how it could help it, meaning that while employees are indeed returning to work, the Verizon drama is far from over.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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