Nearly 39,000 workers for telecommunications giant Verizon are on strike this week amidst fruitless negotiations between the workers union and the company. Roughly 3,700 of the workers are from Virginia walked off the job on Wednesday to show disapproval of the company's actions.
The strike is connected to a collective bargaining agreement which expired last August and which brought on difficult negotiations for the company and workers. According to the two unions representing the workers, the company is looking to freeze pensions, increase usage of contract workers, and make it easier to lay off permanent employees.
One of the issues that has apparently come up in negotiations is the company's effort to include in the agreement a rule which would prevent employees from working away from home for long periods of time. According to the unions, the proposal is part of the company's effort to send jobs overseas. Apparently a representative for one of the unions has said that roughly 50 percent of the company's call center work has been shipped overseas. With the current election cycle, at least on the Republican side of the aisle, focusing heavily on the issue of bringing jobs home, it makes sense that this might be an issue.
At present, the company is using trained temporary workers to fill in for the duration of the strike, but it remains to be seen how the dispute will ultimately be resolved. Such disputes can, of course, be costly for businesses, especially for businesses which are not prepared for the contingencies of labor strikes. Quick resolution of labor and employment disputes is critical, of course, both to ensure the smooth operation of the business and to maintain a productive work environment. Working with experienced legal counsel is important to ensure that this happens.