Verizon Communications layoffs 336 employees in New Jersey

Verizon Communications will lay off 336 employees in New Jersey, installers who work in homes and businesses on traditional telephone lines, the company said on Friday.

The technicians are part of Verizon Connected Solutions, a Verizon subsidiary. The layoffs represent virtually all of the unit’s New Jersey employees. Twenty will remain, working out of an office in Plainfield, Verizon spokesman Lee J. Gierczynski said.

“They are getting closed down, totally laid off,” said Ed Cocliff, a business agent at Local 827 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

The employees, who will lose their jobs over the next two months, work from offices in Freehold Township, Boonton, Ewing and Egg Harbor.

They install and maintain traditional telephone lines, which are made from copper, rather than the fiber-optic lines that are part of Verizon FiOS, a bundle of telephone, Internet and television products.

Verizon’s business is changing, Gierczynski said. The telecommunications giant continues to lose thousands of copper-based phone lines a month in New Jersey to fiber optic services and wireless carriers, he said.

“As Verizon’s been changing from a traditional copper-based telephone company to a wireless and broadband provider, the business has evolved,” the spokesman said. “There’s been a reduction in work associated with the traditional copper network. Our headcount is being adjusted to reflect those changing business trends.”

The IBEW’s Cocliff expressed outrage, noting Verizon’s profits. Last week, Verizon said its profit for 2011 was $2.4 billion.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous,” Cocliff said. “I don’t know what games they are playing. They made enough money.”

The relationship between Verizon and its workers remains in turmoil. About 40,000 workers, represented by the IBEW and the Communications Workers of America, including a total 7,000 in New Jersey, went on strike last summer.

The issues included Verizon's move to freeze pensions and demand that workers contribute toward their health insurance premiums.

Both sides later called a truce, and their old contract was extended while negotiations continue.

Source: APP