Verizon Strikers Prompt Federal Labor Board Action

     BOSTON (CN) – The National Labor Relations Board sued the union representing striking Verizon workers on Monday, claiming its members are conducting illegal secondary pickets against hotels that house contract workers.
     About 40,000 Verizon workers, from Virginia north to New England, went on strike on April 13 after a year of failed contract negotiations. Their union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, claims Verizon wants to freeze pensions, cut benefits, and outsource jobs to Mexico and the Philippines. Verizon says it wants more flexibility to relocate workers, among other things.
     Most of the strikers are landline workers, who are a dwindling force as the company moves to wireless. Only about 160 of the strikers work in the wireless division, according to The Wall Street Journal.
     The NLRB sued the IBEW nine of its locals in Federal Court, under the National Labor Relations Act.
     Union members have been picketing five hotels and motels in New England: the Fireside Inn & Suites in Nashua, N.H.; the Motel 6 in Danvers, Mass.; Extended Stay America in Westborough, Mass.; the Biltmore in Providence, R.I.; and the Days Inn in Middleborough, Mass.
     But the IBEW has no dispute with the hotels, so it’s an illegal secondary picket, the NLRB says.
     “The threat of further unlawful conduct from respondent is tangible, as the labor dispute is ongoing, and there are allegations of continuing picketing and threats. This illegal campaign may force Verizon to capitulate to respondent’s demands in the primary labor dispute,” the NLRB says in the complaint.
     Verizon has filed multiple lawsuits in recent weeks against the Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO, on similar claims, in New York, Virginia and Massachusetts.
     Also this month, consumers filed a class action against Verizon, accusing it of charging monthly fees to maintain copper land lines, though they say the company is abandoning the old lines in favor of fiber optics and wireless.
     Labor Secretary Tom Perez met with the warring sides last week to try to push them toward an agreement.
     The NLRB seeks a restraining order and injunction.

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