Drivers on Route 543 in Bel Air may have noticed the crowd of red-clothed Verizon employees picketing outside this week as they went on strike against their employer. Now the communications company is claiming the picketing has intensified in some areas and led to deliberate acts of criminal sabotage – including incidents of fiber-optic lines being deliberately cut in Bel Air.
As Verizon works to restore service, the company is offering a $50,000 reward for “information leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals that intentionally damage Verizon cables or facilities or cause or attempt to cause physical injury to any Verizon employee or contractor.”
Verizon customers are noticing only minimal impact from the strike by 45,000 of the company’s wireline employees represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Verizon has repaired at least 12 acts of sabotage to its communications facilities in four states, starting Saturday (Aug. 6) and continuing after the strike began on Sunday (Aug. 7). Additionally, some pickets have unlawfully blocked Verizon managers’ access to numerous company work centers and garages.
The strike involves union-represented Verizon wireline employees in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. Verizon Wireless is not part of this strike, and its customers are not affected by it.
“Our contingency plan is in full effect, and our management employees are stepping in to cover our workload,” said Bob Mudge, Verizon president of consumer and mass markets. “We are committed to delivering excellent customer service, and that’s exactly what we plan to do.”
Verizon’s management team is trained in various functions, including network repairs, customer service and billing, back office support and other critical duties.
The team completed more than 75 percent of repair commitments on Sunday, and with even more managers working on customer issues today, Verizon expects the ramp-up to continue.
Customers may encounter slightly longer hold times when calling Verizon’s sales and service centers and slightly longer waits for repair service during this time. Customers with billing, service or other questions can seek assistance at www.verizon.com.
Company Deals With Acts of Sabotage, Illegal Picketing
The criminal incidents of sabotage have affected phone, Internet and TV service in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
The acts of sabotage include:
• Ten incidents of fiber-optic lines being deliberately cut in the Bronx, Pomona, Farmingdale and Guilderland in New York; two separate incidents in Tewksbury in Massachusetts; incidents in Bel Air in Maryland, and East Dover, Oakland and Plainfield in New Jersey.
• An outage due to stolen electronic equipment in Cedar Grove, N.J., affecting a local police department, among other customers.
• An incident due to tampering with a heating system at a central office in Manhattan.
“These acts of sabotage are reprehensible,” said Verizon Chief Security Officer Mike Mason. “In addition to inconveniencing our customers, these deliberate disruptions of our network have affected hospitals, paramedics, fire fighters, law enforcement and other first responders. Verizon is working closely with local authorities to investigate these sabotage incidents, and identify and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law. And we will not hesitate to terminate any employee who may be involved in these acts.
“In addition, there have been circumstances where union picketers are showing contempt for our customers by illegally preventing us from accessing the tools we need to serve them,” said Mason. “We are taking legal action to end this unlawful activity.”
Verizon has obtained a statewide injunction against illegal picketing activities in Pennsylvania, and is pursuing similar action elsewhere.
The company is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals that intentionally damage Verizon cables or facilities or cause or attempt to cause physical injury to any Verizon employee or contractor. Verizon urges anyone who witnesses sabotage of Verizon property or any suspicious activity to call 911 immediately, then call the Verizon Security Control Center at 1-800-997-3287.