CWA strike

Al Fuller and Mark Bittner were part of a small group of picketers at the Verizon office in North East Wednesday morning. Members of Communications Workers of America Local 2100 joined the national strike Sunday.

Pickets returned to the corner of Mechanics Valley Road and Route 40 in North East on Wednesday morning to call attention to the strike against Verizon by the Communications Workers of America.

"We only picket in the morning," said Al Fuller, steward for Union Local 2100, representing workers at the North East office. Fuller, from Perryville, said there's not enough staff to man the picket lines all day.

Staffing in the North East office is less than it was when the last strike occurred, Fuller said.

"Look at how many jobs there were, 40 to 50, 11 years ago. There can't be more than 20 now," he said.

Fellow steward Mark Bittner from North East said the workforce "does more with less."

"Four of us work (an area) from the Pennsylvania border to Centreville," Bittner said, adding that Delmarva Power Company has 25 assigned to a smaller territory.

At issue is what company officials say is loss of profits on the wireline side of the business. According to the Associated Press, Verizon loses about 8 percent of its landline phone customers each year. Those 25 million customers represent about a quarter of the company's wireless business.

Company spokesman Richard Young said on the table is a demand to free worker pensions while at the same time enhancing 401(k) accounts. Worker contributions to health insurance premiums is another demand.

Bittner claimed there has been no good faith bargaining.

"They have 70 demands on the table," Bittner said.

Those demands include a $20,000 cut in pay per employee, the loss of pay differentials for nights and weekends and the loss of bereavement leave, Bittner said.

"They threw those demands on the table and did nothing," he said.

Bittner thinks the company can afford to do better.

"They are number 13 on the Fortune 500. All we're asking is to keep what we have," he said. "They're making money. We just want to keep American jobs."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.

 

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