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Workers plan union rally to pressure Verizon on Astini News

Unionized Verizon Communications Inc. workers will march in downtown Boston Thursday to pressure on the company to sign a new collective bargaining agreement.

The march, which is part of a "national day of action" by the unions against Verizon, is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. in Dewey Square and continue to Verizon headquarters on Franklin Street and then to a Verizon Wireless store on Washington Street.

Union organizers expect as many as 300 people to participate in the Boston march. Forty other events are planned around the country as part of the day of action.

The two sides have been negotiating since last June on the terms of a new agreement, which expired in August.

When talks broke down last summer, about 45,000 Verizon workers who are members of the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers walked off the job and took part in an acrimonious 13-day strike. They returned to work under the terms of the old contract.

Myles Calvey, business manager for Boston's International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 2222, described the negotiating processes a stubbornly slow, and said it has been the most challenging bargaining processes he's ever seen.

The unions, whose members work for the company's landline telephone, Internet, and television services, are negotiating over pension, health care, and job security issues.

"It's critical that the CWA and IBEW come to terms on a new contract with Verizon," said Rich Rogers, executive secretary-treasurer for the Greater Boston Labor Council. "Verizon is an enormously profitable company, and the current stalemate could encourage other corporations with national and regional agreements to drag their feet at the bargaining table."

Verizon has said it needs concessions because it has lost some 35 million landline customers in the past decade and is facing tougher economic realities that require cutbacks.

"The union's various rallies and 'Day of Action' have no impact on the bargaining process," said Phil Santoro, a Verizon spokesman. "Verizon needs to make meaningful changes to its contracts in order to be competitive. Progress towards a new contract can only be achieved through engagement at the bargaining table – not at a union rally."

Michael Farrell can be reached at

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