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Md. Verizon workers' strike enters 18th day

August 22, 2000

Md. Verizon workers' strike enters 18th day



From staff and AP reports


Communications Workers of America employees remained off the job in Washington County Tuesday as the job action against Verizon Communications continues beyond its second week.

CWA Local 2105 Vice President Roger Grimes said Tuesday his members were disappointed that New York strikers settled "without us."

About 50,000 workers in New York and New England, whose union representatives reached tentative agreements with the company over the weekend, left the picket lines Monday and returned to their jobs.

They started working on a backlog of 280,000 repair requests and new installation orders that have piled up since the strike began Aug. 6. Company officials estimated it will take three to four weeks to clear the backlog.

Strikes continued for 35,000 union members in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Both the union and Verizon, formed this summer through a merger between Bell Atlantic and GTE, continued to report progress in their talks, with only local issues remaining.

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A main stumbling block in negotiations, especially for workers in Maryland, concerned forced overtime.

Verizon says the overtime is needed to serve customers.

"We think we need to be able to require people to stay on the job to serve customers. They don't want to hear 'Oh it's five o'clock, I got to go,'" said Eric Rabe, a Verizon spokesman.

The tentative contract reached by 50,000 workers in New England with Verizon Sunday did not set new overtime limits, mostly because employees in that region work less overtime than their counterparts in the mid-Atlantic area.

Verizon spokeswoman Sandra Arnette said even though managers are doing the striking workers' jobs, the backlog of orders in Maryland has actually decreased from 6,300 repair orders before the strike to 5,000 orders Tuesday.

"Managers have been holding their own and have made a dent in repair jobs prior to the strike," Arnette said. "We also had some pretty good weather the past couple of days that has helped tremendously."

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