With nearly 90 million American retail customers in its wireless division alone, the threatened strike on Sunday by 45,000 union employees of Verizon Communications would be a bad end to the weekend.
Officials with one of two unions threatening walkout, the 35,000-member Communications Workers of America, said their differences with Verizon in contract negotiations involve health coverage, pensions and other matters, The New York Times reports.
The unions have said both will strike when their contracts expire at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, the Times reports.
There is a chance any disruption in operations could be minimal, as twice previously - in 2003 and 2008 - Verizon and its unions negotiated after the contracts had expired.
The request for benefit rollbacks by Verizon is similar to changes in employee benefits in the airline, auto and municipal workforces, The Wall Street Journal reports. Verizon wants to tie pay increases more closely to job performance; make it easier to fire workers for cause; halt pension accruals this year; require union workers to contribute to health-plan premiums; and limit sick days to five instead of the current unlimited sick day policy.
The Times reports that there is also a dispute over the overall size of salary for union members: Verizon says many field technicians earn more than $100,000 a year, including overtime, with an additional $50,000 in benefits; Union officials say the field technicians and call center workers generally earn $60,000 to $77,000 before overtime, saying that benefits come to well under $50,000 a year.Verizon had revenue of $20.4 billion in this year's first six months, during which time the New York-based company also posted a $3.0 billion profit, the Journal reports.