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Verizon Strike Day 5: It’s Getting Nasty – Company Sues to Stop Pickets, Workers Picket Customers’ Homes

Phillip Dampier August 11, 2011 Consumer News, Verizon, Video 1 Comment

Verizon Communications has gone to court to limit picketing and protest activity among striking union workers who have been accused of taking their cause too far.

The company filed a lawsuit Wednesday in New York and won a court order Monday in Pennsylvania, and another in Delaware on Wednesday.  The company is waiting for rulings in New Jersey and Massachusetts that would force Verizon strikers to limit the number of picketers at any given location and stop blocking access to company buildings.

Relations between the company and striking workers have deteriorated significantly as the first week of the strike wears on.

Near Buffalo, two strikers were hit by a replacement worker’s vehicle.  A BB gun was fired at a worker still on the job in the Bronx.  Several incidents of pushing and shoving by both sides have also been documented.  But among the most serious incidents are acts of sabotage that have cut off landline and cell service, mostly in upstate New York.

Service was restored late yesterday to residents in Oneida County, who lost both home and cell phone service after fiber cables were cut.  Verizon has rushed out press releases decrying what they call “sabotage” and indirectly implying Verizon strikers are responsible.  The New York State Police continues criminal investigations in several upstate communities were vandalism has occurred.

Austin (Courtesy: Boston Herald; Photo by M. Stone)

Verizon strikers have also been following around replacement workers assigned to do home installations and repair work, and this has occasionally led to picketers arriving outside of customer homes where repair work is underway.

The Boston Herald reports one Quincy, Mass. mom found a circus outside her home yesterday when Verizon showed up to fix her phone line:

A Quincy mom has disconnected her support for striking Verizon workers yesterday after a group of mouthy picketers surrounded non-union repairmen and turned a phone-line fix at her home into what she is calling a “ridiculous” protest scene.

“I looked in the street and there are picketers, 10 of them or more, doing a circle around the Verizon truck,” said Karen Austin, 64, a mother of five who lives on Forest Avenue.

“Every time (the repairmen) would walk up to my house they would follow them. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is ridiculous. Why are they picketing my house?”

“I’m not on a main street … I’m not a business. I’m a person who needed a line fixed,” she said.

Verizon alleges vandalism may be responsible for a significant service outage in Tewksbury, Mass., but union officials suggest Verizon’s claims are “straight out of the Verizon strike playbook.”  WHDH in Boston reports.  (2 minutes)

WABC in New York watched as Verizon strikers booed anyone approaching an entrance to Verizon’s headquarters.  Company officials are seeking court orders to restrain picketing activities in five states.  (3 minutes)

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