- Associated Press - Monday, August 8, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Labor and management representatives say Verizon Communication Inc. negotiators are meeting in New York.

Candice Johnson of the Communication Workers of America and Verizon’s Richard Young had no immediate word on progress toward settling a strike that was in its second day Monday.

Thousands of Verizon landline workers took to picket lines Monday from Massachusetts to Virginia. They are resisting management proposals that would freeze the workers’ pensions and have them contribute to health care premiums.

Verizon also says there were at least 12 acts of sabotage against the company, including fiber-optic lines being cut. It says the damage affected phone, Internet and TV service in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

Johnson says alleging sabotage is a management tactic.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Thousands of Verizon landline workers took to picket lines Monday from Massachusetts to Virginia, fighting management demands for contract givebacks and disputing that their work is unprofitable.

Verizon Communication Inc. countered that its 45,000 unionized workers in the East should not expect the kind of compensation they were paid when the phone company was a monopoly _ and when no one questioned whether a household needed a land line.

Analysts said the strike came at a key point in the evolution of telecommunications: the beginning of the demise of the ordinary wired home phone.

“Fewer and fewer people are using their traditional land lines,” said Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics in Boston.

The company used managers to replace workers Monday, but said demonstrators at some offices had caused some service disruptions by keeping the managers from getting in; it did not provide details.

Verizon also said it was investigating several instances of possible sabotage by employees, including the cutting of a fiber-optic cable in Bel Air, Md., that resulted in 100 customers losing service. Labor said it was unaware of any “untoward behavior.”

Strikers claimed two demonstrators were hit by a replacement worker’s car near Buffalo.

Both sides _ the workers are represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers _ said they were willing to continue bargaining. The contract expired at midnight Saturday.

Verizon Wireless, the non-union and much more profitable division of which Verizon owns 55 percent, was not affected by the strike. But the wireless operation was a focus of contention anyway.

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