Verizon Outages Hit Thousands Amid Strike - InformationWeek

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Verizon Outages Hit Thousands Amid Strike

Thousands of businesses and consumers have lost wireline services over the past several weeks, as Verizon Communications contends with a spike in cases of vandalism and striking workers.

Microsoft's Mobile Roller Coaster Ride: 9 Contributing Factors
Microsoft's Mobile Roller Coaster Ride: 9 Contributing Factors
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Verizon Communications has been hit with 79 cases of suspected sabotage to its wireline equipment in the past three weeks, approximately 12 times the normal level it encounters in a given year.

The spike in reported cases of severed fiber-optic cables and vandalized terminal boxes that service commercial buildings and neighborhoods has affected thousands of Verizon customers, who suffered outages to their wireline services, Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman told InformationWeek.

The telecommunications giant noted that reported incidents of vandalism spiked as of April 13, which also coincided with the day that approximately 36,000 of the company's union workers went on strike. The employees are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who primarily work in Verizon's wireline business that still operates in nine states in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic region, and Washington, D.C.  

Services that have been affected by the outages include Internet and broadband service, wireline phone service, VoIP and its Fios TV service.

While most of the vandalism has occurred in rural areas, it has affected both commercial businesses and residential neighborhoods, Young said. The bulk of the vandalism has occurred in New Jersey and New York, followed by Pennsylvania.

(Image: james Anderson/iStockphoto)
(Image: james Anderson/iStockphoto)

For businesses, Internet connectivity and phone service are critical to keep operations rolling. The service outages have tended to last anywhere from an hour to approximately six hours before they are restored, Young said.

As a workaround until repairs are made, Verizon in some cases has offered wireless broadband service to those affected by a service outage, Young said. However, wireless services are typically spotty, at best, in rural areas.

Business customers, as a well as consumers, may find the strike could linger longer than initially anticipated. It has exceeded the two-week duration of the strike of 2011, according to Time magazine, when approximately 45,000 Verizon workers walked out.

[In another division, more recent bad news for the company. Read Verizon Enterprise Data Hit, Hackers Seek Big Payday.]

Meanwhile, Verizon issued what it termed as its best and final offer to the unions on Thursday, and the unions subsequently made a counter-offer. The parties continue to negotiate for a new contract, holding discussions as recently as Monday, Young said.

However, the CWA is turning up the heat. The union and several consumer groups reportedy filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding Verizon's efforts during service calls to prompt its customers who are served by copper wireline to switch to its fiber-optic cables, according to a New York Times report.

Currently, Verizon's remaining copper wireline runs in the same nine states where the union members are striking. The groups contend that Verizon is telling customers, when they meet with one of its repair technicians, that they need to switch to its fiber-optic service or risk having their service being disconnected in the next 20 days, according to The Times' report.

The complaint largely focuses on the way service calls are handled and less on the move to fiber from copper lines, given that the FCC itself is in charge of a nationwide movement to switch to fiber optics from copper lines, according to The Times.

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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alliekat
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alliekat,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/16/2016 | 2:36:32 PM
Verizon Outages Happened Way Before Strike
We have had a major outage in NYC for businesses and residential since WAY before the strike. We are a business and have had no service since March 24, 2016. Today is June 16th. This wasn't the first time it happened. The same issue happened for over a week in January. The Verizon workers on strike have tried to blame it on the workers brought in during the strike saying they didn't know what they were doing and aren't that good at what they do. It is the infrastructure, not the workers. All of the copper is deteriorated.
tjgkg
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100%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
6/1/2016 | 1:52:14 PM
Re: Show of force
Union members might pay into their benefits but they don't pay nearly the same percentage as non union workers and they get many more benefits including a pension which is more lucrative than most 401k's. They get other benefits that are much better than non unionized workers as  well. Unions operate with arcane rules that add additional costs to a company's bottom line. THese rules are meant to add additional, uneeded workers and positions to companies just to fill union coffers.

It gets tiring hearing union members talk about companies bleeding workers dry. Companies have to be run with fiscal responsibility. This includes making a profit. Unions don't care about profits or growth in a company, only about keeping the status quo. People in the private sector care about their jobs and work long hours and get rewarded for their work. Yes there are some terrible jobs out there but there are also a lot of very good companies who take care of their employees. If you don't like a company, vote with your feet.
Lynn in PA
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0%
Lynn in PA,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/5/2016 | 8:50:50 PM
Re: Show of force
The "unions" DO pay into their benefits already, including the Verizon workers. It is about how much more corporations can make them (workers) bleed. I know many, many union workers at Verizon and their primary concern is keeping American jobs. It should be every American citizens job to fight to keep the jobs in the US.. Where will it go from here? Union or not, everyone should be concerned with sending American jobs over seas.
tjgkg
100%
0%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
5/5/2016 | 12:51:47 PM
Re: What I have a problem with...
I agree with a good portion of your post.

With regard to management compensation, as someone who owns stocks i get to vote at the yearly shareholder meetings for all the companies i hold stock. The pay package that some of the senior execs get is obscene. It is scary to see an exec who gets a base salary in the millions needing short and long term "incentive awards". I really don't get that. The compensation commitee's call those "pay for performance" programs. Well if you are making a 7 figure or even high six figure salary, you should not need incentives to work.

If you think about the tens, hundreds of millions and in some cases billions of dollars being paid to executives in just these incentives alone, how many people could they rehire so the existing staff isn't doing the work of 4 people and not foregoing vacations to get their jobs done? It's sickening. On top of these incentive awards are enhanced benefits, perks like corporate jet/limo use, security, a pension. Think about it, a CEO making 8 or 9 figures for let's say 10 years needs a pension? This person hasn't planned his retirement (with the free financial planning perk) to ensure a comfortable retirement? The rest of us are forced to do this without pensions and without that sophistacted planning.

With regards to unions. Too many of them allow substandard workers to perform substandard work. Members get benefits which are so expensive that they endanger the government or company that administers them. I am all for job security, but not at the expense of inefficiency and financial ruin. And union bosses for many of the biggest unions out there get pay and perks that, while not 8 and 9 figures, certainly are far above the level of the folks they represent.
ANON1249547663249
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50%
ANON1249547663249,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/5/2016 | 11:08:05 AM
What I have a problem with...
Speaking as the son of a Teamsters Union member, here is where I have a problem with unions - hooliganism and thuggery.  Period.  I know its always been a part of the fabric and it's most unfortunate.  However, as is often the case, letting one's emotions get the better of you leads to stupid actions.  For example, vandalism that affects a customer's ability to use a landline can have significant impact on those who depend on it the most.  Case in point: I have elderly neighbors (well into their 70's+) who have medical conditions.  Some of them have a medical monitoring service which is dependent upon consistent phone service - and that service is Verizon in this locale.  They being elderly, on very fixed incomes, in a high-cost living area, trying to stay in their homes, don't exactly have the extra cash to go out and get a cell phone service - even though the cellular plans aimed at elderly are still very pricey regardless.  Add to it that these elderly may have children who watch in on them (if they're lucky) but when it comes to a medical emergency - sometimes that landline is their only lifeline.

So in my opinion, these behaviors are more than reckless - they're irresponsible and idiotic.  Yes - union pay is overall very well (but only once you start climbing to the top of the pay pyramid via seniority) and many have very prized benefits not available for most employees today.  But in all fairness, there is something very much to be said on the other side of the coin for management - there is a limit to their greed as well.  I don't have the answers but there needs to be a common ground.  But hey - Verizon workers keep it up and they'll have the same results as the union members of Drakes (formerly a baking business that produces things as Devil Dogs).  Being overzealous resulted in the company filing for bankruptcy and going away.  There goes your union job!  Thanks for playing...
tjgkg
0%
100%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
5/5/2016 | 8:26:18 AM
Re: Show of force
The problem i have is that they are well compensated in the first place with benefits that are no longer availabe to the vast majority of workers. Also the outages affect regular customers who are paying their compensation. That is not right. Nobody wants to see workers taken advantage of, but in this case it is hard to feel sympathy for such well compensated people.
Whoopty
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100%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
5/5/2016 | 7:37:11 AM
Re: Show of force
That is the difficulty. The best represented can get the most done, but often have the best positions to strike from in the first place.
tjgkg
0%
100%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
5/4/2016 | 4:34:40 PM
Show of force
The union guys are picketing the retail stores now. I guess they figure if there are a few service outages and some glares at shoppers, the public would feel sympathy towards their cause. However Verizon has taken out full page ads in all the major newspapers detailing the benefits these folks get. Hard to feel sympathy for folks with that level of compensation and benefits.
Lynn in PA
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0%
Lynn in PA,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/4/2016 | 1:00:19 PM
Verizon Needs to reach agreement with their unions.
Verizon would never admit that they are unable to keep up with repairs due to the recent rain. Of course they would blame the striking workers. They have no proof and are making accusations to gain public support. Americans are smarter than that. Give them the job security they are asking for. Sign a contract already and let the workers get back to providing their paying customers the service we deserve.
jastroff
50%
50%
jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/4/2016 | 11:07:04 AM
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