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“So we’re in concession bargaining, with the company saying we need concessions or jobs will be lost and the workers doubting jobs will be lost because the company is doing all right,” Entner said.

Gary Chaison, a professor of labor relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., said the stakes were high enough for both sides that he doubted a strike of more than a week. Verizon’s last strike, by 86,000 workers, lasted two weeks in 2000 and caused many repair delays.

“This kind of bargaining, with pensions and health insurance givebacks, is happening everywhere now,” he said. “The union worries about opening the door on these things but they don’t want a long strike.”

AT&T Inc., the only U.S. phone company larger than Verizon, wrung some concessions from unions in 2009, when contracts covering about 90,000 workers expired. The negotiations ended without a strike, and with workers shouldering some premiums and co-payments for their health insurance.


Associated Press writers Frank Eltman in Garden City, Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, Beth Fouhy, Ula Ilnytzky and Peter Svensson in New York, Ben Nuckols in Washington and Mark Pratt in Boston contributed to this report.