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      Verizon workers on the picket lines: will your service be impacted?

      Photo Credit: Jessica Cain

      Union workers have been picketing since before 5 o'clock Monday morning outside the Verizon headquarters on Thompson Road in Dewitt. Hundreds of workers held rallies at several locations in Central New York, and those workers made sure their demands were heard.

      On Thompson Road, workers chanted, "No contract, no peace," and blocked the entrance to the building. The workers let cars in one at a time, but it caused a backup on Thompson Road. At one point, fifteen cars were just waiting to get into the parking lot.

      It was a similar situation outside the Verizon building in Liverpool. Workers shouted at people arriving for work and temporarily blocked cars.

      Onondaga County Sheriff's deputies were on hand in both locations to keep an eye on the rallies.

      The contract deadline came Saturday night at midnight, but Verizon and the union representing thousands of workers did not come to a contract agreement and workers went on strike.

      Chris Ryan, executive vice president of Communications Workers of America Local 1123, says the company did not bargain with the union. Ryan says sticking points were health care benefits, freezing existing pensions and eliminating pensions for new hires and eliminating job security language.

      "What they were proposing was the ability to send any type of customer service and support calls wherever they wanted to without limitations," Ryan said. "We're standing here and requesting to keep the good jobs in New York."

      Verizon says it has no plans to move jobs overseas. It would just like the ability to transfer calls if the current call centers are busy.

      1000 Verizon workers in Central New York are now on strike. The strike includes more than 40-thousand workers on the East Coast. The workers, according to Ryan, include customer service, tech support and field service. Ryan says there will be a delay in customer service repairs for land-line phones and FIOS high-speed Internet and television.

      John Bonomo, a representative for Verizon, says he does not believe service will be negatively affected by the strike. He says the company has been training retirees and managers to take over the union jobs for the past 2-3 months. Bonomo says if there are any delays, it will be caused by striking workers blocking the entrances to Verizon offices.

      Verizon says you may experience longer wait times for customer service calls or repairs. If you have any questions, you are advised to visit,

      Verizon's president of consumer and mass markets, Bob Mudge, says "Our contingency plan is in full effect, and our management employees are stepping in to cover our workload. We are committed to delivering excellent customer service, and that's exactly what we plan to do."

      Bonomo says Verizon has offered a contract it deems fair, but they are open to negotiation.

      "We are ready, willing, able, and available to talk at any time," says Bonomo.

      Ryan also says he would like to see both sides come up with a solution, but at this point, he says no additional meetings are scheduled.

      Verizon has reported twelve instances of what it calls sabotage in several states. For example, the company says fiber-optic lines are being intentionally cut. None of those instances are in Central New york.