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Striking Verizon Employees Picket in White Plains

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - More than 50 Verizon Communications employees clustered across the street from the Galleria mall Monday morning and joined thousands who began picketing with the Communication Workers of America (C.W.A.) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (I.B.E.W.) unions Sunday after derailed negotiations left 45,000 with expired contracts.

A White Plains man who has worked for Verizon for 21 years said the communications company walked out of meetings with C.W.A. and I.B.E.W. after contracts expired on Aug. 6. The 57-year-old worker said the company made hundreds of demands and then refused to negotiate.

Another Verizon worker, who has been stationed at a White Plains store with Verizon and its predecessors for 42 years, said the C.W.A. had no demands and just wanted the company to participate in a dialogue that began in mid-June. The 60-year-old employee said his main concern was job security because he believes Verizon will continue to fill jobs abroad.

John Bonomo, a spokesman for Verizon, said the unions halted negotiations and that Verizon is eager to begin scheduling meetings with C.W.A. and I.B.E.W., which have sent technicians, call center operators and cable installers on strike from Rhode Island to Virginia.

"We, Verizon, are ready, willing, able and look forward to getting back to the table to discuss these serious issues to make sure that we do get a contract finalized," said Bonomo.

Verizon trained thousands of managers and retirees to fill in for picketers after learning that the unions planned to strike about 10 days ago. Still, the company has struggled to deal with protesters blocking traffic flow by striking across Verizon driveways.

"That's creating some havoc and preventing those managers and retirees from doing their job so what we've had to do is get in touch with local law enforcement agencies and courts, in some cases," said Bonomo.

Protesters slung signs criticizing Verizon around their necks and shouted information about C.W.A. to those passing by. The White Plains picketers plan to stake out Main Street and don red shirts to attract attention until they see progress with Verizon.

Do you know anybody who works for Verizon? What are your thoughts on the contract negotiations? Did you notice the protest? Email thoughts to strangle@thedailywhiteplains.com and we'll include your responses in future coverage.

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