Verizon, unions agree to involve federal mediator in contact talks

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WHDH-TV, Boston

After meeting with U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez yesterday, Verizon and union leaders representing some 40,000 striking workers agreed to continue stalled contract negotiations with the assistance of a federal mediator who has on her resume decades of experience as general counsel for a major union.  

From a U.S. Department of Labor press release:

“The parties involved in the Verizon labor dispute, including the senior leadership of the unions and the company and their bargaining teams, met today in Washington with Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Allison Beck, an experienced federal mediator who the parties agreed today would assist in the ongoing contract negotiations. Discussions will continue in Washington this week under the auspices of the Department of Labor.”

Verizon and the unions have also agreed to refrain from making public comments as talks progress.

Beck is director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), an agency created by Congress in 1947. Beck was nominated for the directorship in 2014 by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate last summer. Prior to serving the FMCS for four years as deputy director, Beck spent two decades as general counsel of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO (IAM).

Meanwhile, yesterday there was another report of a picketing striker being hit by a vehicle operated by a Verizon replacement worker, this time in Boylston, Mass. Police say the replacement worker was driving with a suspended license. Last week in nearby Westborough, another Verizon replacement worker faced multiple charges – including drunken driving and operating on a suspended license – after his vehicle allegedly struck a picketing Verizon employee. There have been numerous reports of vandalism to Verizon equipment and allegations that the crimes are the work of strikers.

There are also many reports of consumer and business service calls going unfulfilled. Industry experts are warning Verizon’s business customers that they should be closely monitoring their accounts and services, as Verizon employees normally devoted to them are now busy replacing the strikers.

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