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CNN Today

Verizon Faces Strike

Aired August 4, 2000 - 2:31 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Technicians and operators at Verizon, the new telephone company created by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, may go on strike this weekend in a dozen East Coast states.

Here's CNN's Deborah Feyerick in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we go out on strike, come the fifth, at midnight, it'll be because of job security. We need to keep our jobs here.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside a Verizon Communications office in Lower Manhattan, union members are practicing strike tactics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do we want it?

CROWD: Now!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the issue?

CROWD: Job security!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not just taking this lightly. And we definitely will be out here in full force. So this is just a practice, so they get a taste of what will happen.

FEYERICK: Eighty-five thousand union members from Maine to Virginia are threatening to walk off the job 12:01 a.m. Sunday, a move which could effect phone service, operators, and repairs for 25 million businesses and homes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The issue is not just an increase of wages or benefits. The issue this time, go-round, is the job security.

FEYERICK: Job security in a new company that combines a traditional phone division with the fast-growing and largely nonunion wireless sector.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a negotiation about the future of that company and the future of the union in the company.

FEYERICK: Labor leaders want to make it easier to unionize the wireless division, bypassing elections. They fear by not doing so, the company will be able to relocate jobs, lower competitive wages, and withhold benefits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The union wants a level playing field in future organizing of the wireless sector. Right now they don't have it. Right now the law is stacked against the union. It's stacked against the workers who want to join the union.

FEYERICK: Verizon Communications, formed when Bell Atlantic acquired GTE, says they're not against the union. Their position:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact is that there's a process in the National Labor Relations Act that allows for unions to come in and organize. I don't think there is any objection to -- we are not fighting that law. But the union is asking for a shortcut to organizing and I think that's the issue.

FEYERICK (on camera): The stakes are high on both sides, determining for the union whether it gets included in the new economy or gets left out. For Verizon Communications, a strike could damage the image the new company is trying to create.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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