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Young said Verizon made $3 billion in the first six months of 2011, and strikers said it was wrong to keep them from sharing in the profits because they are the underpinnings of the profitable wireless sector.

Paula Lopez, 60, a customer service representative on a picket line in New York, acknowledged that fewer people use land line phones but said land lines were “the stepping stones and building blocks for wireless. … That’s where they got the money to start up the wireless.”

Demonstrators also complained that the company was squeezing them when high-level executives were making millions. Young said executive pay was based on performance and had been approved by stockholders.

Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics in Boston, said the problem is “The company is half in trouble.”

“Fewer and fewer people are using their traditional land lines, and only with the introduction of FiOS has that been stemmed,” he said. “The workers know that, but they also know their checks come from a big, profitable company.

“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.

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.