Some 40,000 employees of Verizon Communications are set to go on strike starting April 13 after stalled negotiations over a new contract.

The employees take care of Verizon's wireline business, which includes telephone, TV and FiOS Internet. They are being represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The Threat

Wireline employees have been working without a contract since August last year after talks on the company's plan to temporarily cut health care and pension benefits have collapsed. An agreement on health care benefits has been reached but pension-related and job outsourcing issues still remain.

CWA President Chris Shelton announced to the media that unless Verizon reconsiders its position on the issues, the wireline employees will be forced to stage the walkout as scheduled.

The Counterthreat

"We've tried to work with union leaders to reach a deal. Verizon has been moving the bargaining process forward, but now union leaders would rather make strike threats than constructively engage at the bargaining table," said Verizon Chief Administrative Officer Marc Reed.

If a strike takes place, the company is well prepared to continue serving its customers. Bob Mudge, president of Verizon's wireline operations, declared that for more than one year, Verizon had been training thousands of non-union employees to practically assume all the job functions needed to keep the wireline network up and running 24/7.

Who's Going To Budge First?

Verizon needs to strike a good balance between the interest of its business and the welfare of its employees.

Each wireline employee currently enjoys a wage and benefits package of more than $130,000 a year on the average. The bargaining highlights include a 6.5 percent wage increase over the life of the contract, additional health care benefits and a comprehensive retirement package to include a 401k with company participation. Verizon spent more than $3.2 billion on employee health care last year, with 45 percent going to the wireline group.

At the same time, Verizon is looking to modernize its legacy wireline network and keep pace with technology for flexibility, improved efficiencies and better customer service. Legacy systems are costly and don't work in today's high-speed connectivity and dynamic customer needs, said Reed.

Verizon has been hit hard by the invasion of smartphones and the shift from landline to mobile phones. The company said that while its wireline business generates 29 percent of total revenue, only about 7 percent is left as operating income. It is, thus, trying to make adjustments in staffing to meet the rising cost of doing business.

"We're standing up for working families and standing up to Verizon's corporate greed," challenged CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor.

"A strike in this case is not going to change the issues on the table that need to be addressed. Union leaders need to take an honest look at what Verizon is proposing," countered Reed.

Who do you think will budge first?

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