IBEW Local 827 files petition for Board of Public Utilities hearings on impact of Verizon layoffs on customer service.

Jan 14, 2013, 12:00 ET from IBEW Local 827

EAST WINDSOR, N.J., Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The union representing 5,000 New Jersey workers in the telecommunications industry today filed a petition calling on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to hold an expedited public hearing and issue a stay order on Verizon's plan to lay off 201 Facilities Technicians and Outside Plant Technicians whose jobs are needed for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Bill Huber, President and Business Manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 827, noted that Verizon's lay off, scheduled for February 9, 2013, would make it even harder for New Jersey consumers to count on having reliable telephone service.

"IBEW Local 827 is filing this petition for an expedited hearing before the Board of Public Utilities because we are the only ones looking out for the needs of New Jersey consumers," said Huber. "Verizon is more interested in reducing labor costs than they are at providing reliable dial tone and data service to their customers and, as a result of this bad management decision, consumers are being neglected in favor of Verizon's singular focus on quarterly reports for stockholders."

The petition for an expedited hearing notes that Verizon's inadequate response to Hurricane Sandy, recently documented in testimony before the New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, was a direct result of the company's failure to maintain an adequate, trained workforce in New Jersey. The service crisis resulting from Hurricane Sandy caused Verizon to import thousands of employees unfamiliar with the New Jersey infrastructure demands from other parts of the country to try to restore service.

Huber claimed that the diminished level of service slowed installation, upkeep and repair of telephone service for hundreds of thousands of New Jersey consumers and Verizon's desire to further shrink its workforce of trained technicians when the need for increased service during the storm recovery is growing makes even less sense.

"Our members make sure that people have a dial tone when they pick up their land line phones and access to the internet when they turn on their computers," said Huber. "We don't think these basic consumer needs should be sacrificed to corporate greed. We will continue looking out for the best interests of the consumers we serve because corporate decisions like laying off the very skilled, local technicians they need to restore telephone and data services after Hurricane Sandy make no sense."