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Union Plans To Picket Verizon Over Customer Service

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By RICHARD MULLINS | The Tampa Tribune

Published: April 3, 2008

TAMPA — Verizon’s largest labor union in Florida is asking employees to picket the company’s workplaces Monday. But the protest isn’t about their jobs at Verizon.

Rather it’s about the level of customer service the company is giving customers, union officials say.

“Verizon is not letting us do our jobs, and not letting us take care of the customer,” said Doug Sellers, president of the union that represents Verizon call center and repair workers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 824. “Customers are waiting up to 10 days to get their phone lines fixed … If you have something as simple as static on your line, that could be out 10 to 15 days.”

Verizon spokeswoman Sharon Shaffer said the union has the right to picket.

“But I can assure you that Verizon has acted well within the bounds of the contract,” she said in a statement. “We will continue to build on a shared commitment among our employees to ensure that Verizon customers experience quality service. We will continue to work with our employees and within our agreements to that end.”

Sellers said too many resources have been diverted to selling more Verizon services, rather than fixing customer problems. The union represents about 4,000 Verizon workers in the seven-county area around Tampa Bay, he said.

The union’s plans for a protest developed before The Tampa Tribune illustrated cases of customer service problems at Verizon last week, Sellers said, and come as “a last resort” after meetings with Verizon managers did not prove satisfactory to the union.

A flier publicizing the event was distributed across the region this morning, and says in part, “It’s time to let the company know that we are quality employees and will provide quality service. We will not churn and burn.”

The union characterized the picket as “informational,” meaning employees aren’t walking off the job or blocking workplaces. Rather the union plans pickets for Monday morning at workplaces, before the work day begins.

Verizon’s largest labor union says the company is taking a week to fix traditional phone lines.
Are you having issues with your phone line? Repairs from Verizon delayed?

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Reporter Richard Mullins can be reached at (813) 259-7919 or