Tag Archive | "Verizon"

Noyac Road Work Temporarily Disconnected

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Verizon workers were back on the job on Noyac Road this week.       Stephen J. Kotz

By Stephen J. Kotz

The presence of a Verizon crew on Noyac Road in front of Cromer’s Market and the Whalebone gift shop this week was a welcome, if overdue, sight to Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor.

The telephone company’s crews “pulled out of the job last week on Tuesday afternoon [April 22] and never had the courtesy to tell us,” said Mr. Gregor on Friday. Mr. Gregor said he had first been told Verizon would not be able to finish its work, splicing wires and moving poles, until the end of June, jeopardizing the completion this summer of a project intended to make that stretch of Noyac Road safer.

After applying pressure on the phone company, Mr. Gregor said he had since been told that crews would be able to finish their portion of the work by the end of this month, which would still cause a serious delay in the project.

“We need two months to get the job done” after the poles are moved, he said. If Verizon’s crews don’t get their part of the project done in a timely fashion, Mr. Gregor said, “we may just have to wait until fall” to repave the road. “We’re going to see what the timing is to see if we can do some of the work now and do some of the work after Labor Day,” he added.

Last month, the highway superintendent told the Noyac Civic Council that he wanted to get the project done by the end of June to avoid disrupting traffic after school lets out and mobs of summer visitors descend on the South Fork, but that that timeframe depended on the phone company completing its work by the first week of May.

“We know in July and August you don’t want to be on the main roads doing construction,” he said this week.

As it is, after Memorial Day, assuming paving crews are able to get started, work will be suspended on Fridays and Mondays to avoid creating more tie-ups as weekend traffic increases with the arrival of the summer season.

The highway superintendent said he had been told Verizon workers had been pulled from the project because their supervising engineer retired at the end of the month, but he said the real reason was because Verizon “wanted us to pay for their time and equipment,” something the town refused to do, as part of the road project.

On Tuesday, Linda Heine, the owner of the Whalebone and a long-time opponent of the project, said the work has not caused traffic problems—yet.  She said even though both the road the parking areas in front of the businesses will be widened, there will be problems because access to store parking will be limited to driveways at either end of the business block. When delivery trucks block one end of the parking area, a common occurrence, she said, traffic will be backed up.

“There’s not enough room to effect the kind of change they want,” she said. “I hope and I pray it’s going to be a nice thing, but I’m not counting on it.”

Mr. Gregor said it was time to get to work. ‘We have gone so far,” he said. “It’s time to execute the project.”

 

Local Verizon Workers Make Their Stand

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By Claire Walla

In solidarity with about 45,000 other Verizon Communications employees from Virginia to Maine, four workers here on the East End have posted up next to a Verizon building on the Sag Harbor Turnpike, holding picket signs in opposition to the contractual changes put forward by the international telephone giant.

“They want to basically take everything from us,” said Verizon technician Mike McKenna, who has been employed by the company for 23 years. He stood next to a couple of signs with red and white lettering reading: “On Strike.” In the span of about 15 minutes, three cars honked in support of the workers, two of whom live here in Sag Harbor.

Verizon employees’ contracts expired this past Saturday, August 6. Though the company had been in discussions with the two unions — Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) — all parties failed to reach an agreement on a new contract this weekend. According to a statement from CWA, Verizon Communications has put nearly 100 concessions on the table, which include cutting workers’ vacation days in half, reducing sick days and freezing pensions.

“We’re not even discussing wages,” McKenna continued. He said workers are merely fighting for benefits at this point; salary amounts and bonus pay are “not even on the table now.”

Above (left to right): Mike McKenna, Rob Cangelosi, Dave Wilson, Stacey Swezey

While standing under the shade of a white canopy — provided gratis by the Awning Company across the street — the electrical technicians all said they felt their company is taking these extreme measures to curb workers’ rights in order to disband the power of their unions.

“They’re breaking away all the job security we have,” said Rob Cangelosi, who has been with the company for 39 years. “These are things we [workers] fought for for 50 years.” Over time, he continued “we even accepted smaller raises to keep medical costs low. It was a trade-off. Now, there’s no trade-off. [Verizon] hasn’t taken any of its demands off the table.”

Though in the past Verizon workers have gone on strike for months at a time — seven months in 1971; fours months in 1989 — in these instances they had been allowed to continue working while negotiations were underway. This time, Cangelosi said, as long as Verizon workers are striking, they must simultaneously forfeit their pay.

McKenna said if these negotiations end up continuing for weeks, he’ll have to start looking for another job.

“I have enough money saved to pay next month’s mortgage and next month’s bills,” he noted. But while he believes in fighting for his rights, he said there is a breaking point. “I don’t want to lose my house over this.”

Dave Wilson — who, at 13 years, has worked for the company the shortest — explained just how devastating it could be if these contract negotiations stall as long as they have in the past. If, in a few weeks, discussions are still not resolved, “that’s 45,000 people with bad credit,” he said, insinuating how impactful this issue could be for the broader community. “That’s a lot of debt!”