Verizon Strike Update: More Acts of Vandalism Reported in Virginia
August 18, 2011 11:48 PM EST
Police in Chesterfield County, Va., are investigating two incidents of alleged vandalism by striking Verizon Communication workers.
In one case, the acts disrupted Verizon’s local FIOS service to about 100 customers.
According to local media reports, two cables were cut on Coalfield Road in the town of Midlothian, near Richmond.
In another incident, cables were cut on Deerfield Drive, and nails were placed behind the rear tire of a Verizon company truck on Hancocks Quarter Lane. However, the vehicle wasn't damaged.
Someone also cut the fence in the back of a Verizon property in the 700 block of West Hundred Road, but nothing was reported stolen.
According a Communications Workers of America official, the principal union representing the strikers, about 1,200 employees have walked off the job in the Richmond area. In all, about 45,000 Verizon workers -- most of whom work for its struggling wireline business -- are on strike.
A union official said strikers have been warned not to damage any telecommunications equipment. "The last thing we want our people to do is mess up any equipment or break any law," Richard Hatch, a local union chief, told the Times-Dispatch in Richmond.
A Verizon spokesman called the incidents acts of “sabotage.” There have been dozens of similar incidents up and down the Northeast corridor as the strike enters into its third week. Harry Mitchell said there have been more than 200 incidents of deliberate destruction to company property in the nine states where workers are striking.
"These acts are reprehensible," said Mitchell. "They are unpatriotic. They are a federal offense. The FBI is looking into it for that reason. These are the actions of a few bad apples."
"The vast majority of folks on strike were taken on strike by their leadership, and they have obeyed the laws and protested peacefully," he added. "But there are a few whose actions are not only not peaceful, but illegal."
However, Hatch, the CWA official, indicated that the incidents cited by the company aren't being perpetrated by the strikers.
"We have seen ill-trained managers and ill-trained people who are coming in to do these jobs," he told the Times-Dispatch.
"They don't know how to do the jobs, and they are getting little training and they are going out there and are being expected to maintain the quality. They are messing things up, and then they want to blame us."
There haven't been any arrests in connection with the vandalism, although Verizon has offered a $50,000 reward for anyone who can provide information leading to the prosecution of the culprits.
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