Verizon landline workers strike for benefits, pensions

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NEW YORK — Stalled contract negotiations led thousands of workers in Verizon Communication Inc.’s wireline division to go on strike Sunday, potentially affecting landline operations as well as installation of services like FiOS, its fiber-optic television and Internet lines.

The contract for the 45,000 employees from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C., expired at midnight Saturday with the company and the workers unable to come to terms on issues including health care costs and pensions.

The dispute does not affect the company’s wireless division. Verizon is the nation’s largest wireless carrier.

Verizon employees who are members of the Communication Workers of America union picketed headquarters in New York City on Sunday morning.

Vinnie Galvin, 56, said he and his fellow workers are the backbone of the industry.

“Everybody needs to be wired and we’re the people who do that,” said the three-decades-plus veteran of the company. “They’re trying to bust us. ... This is stuff that it took us 40, 50 years to get.”

The affected workers are responsible for maintaining and repairing traditional landlines, as well as installing FiOS, union spokesman Bob Master said.

The company is asking for changes in the contract because it says its wireline business has been in decline for more than a decade as more people switch to using cellphones exclusively.