Restrictions on US Department of Justice approval of Verizon spectrum deal means FiOS build out should continue in New Jersey; Union calls on Verizon to settle contract and complete FiOS build out in New Jersey.

Aug 22, 2012, 12:00 ET from IBEW Local 827

EAST WINDSOR, N.J., Aug. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The union representing over 5,000 New Jersey workers in the telecommunications industry today praised the conditional approval of the deal between Verizon, Comcast and other cable companies by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as a partial victory for consumers and described it as a "first step towards a long overdue contract settlement protecting the jobs of Verizon workers."

When the initial news of the so-called "Verizon/Cable" deals were announced in December of 2011, IBEW Local 827 in New Jersey was quick to point out that approval of the deal as written by the DOJ would eliminate competition between video, wireless, voice, and broadband services and service providers. This would result in increased costs to consumers, especially consumers in rural areas, and a significant deterioration in communications infrastructure maintenance as well as the loss of thousands of jobs in telecommunications service.

IBEW Local 827 in last eight months has filed numerous legal motions during the DOJ and FCC review processes as well as delivering a statement of concern to the Verizon stockholders meeting in Alabama last May. The union's opposition appears to have had a material impact on the outcome of the review process by contesting the deal as originally proposed by Verizon.

The conditional approval by the DOJ substantially changed the deal Verizon and Comcast originally crafted by limiting many of the anti-consumer aspects the union had identified during the review process. William Huber, the President and Business Manager of IBEW Local 827, hailed the decision as a victory for both the consumers and a partial victory for the members of his union in protecting wire line jobs.

"We thought it was important to make sure that both the consumers and the members of our union who work directly with them had the opportunity to voice their concerns during the regulatory review process," said Huber. "We have accomplished part of that goal with the conditional approval by the DOJ and it is a significant victory for consumers that would not have happened without the active support of the members of IBEW Local 827. However, this is only the first step towards a long overdue contract settlement protecting the jobs of Verizon workers. We will continue to fight Verizon's plans to lay off our union members who are the very people they need to do all of the work necessary to complete the FiOS build out they promised New Jersey consumers under their statewide franchise agreement. "

Huber said for IBEW Local 827 the conditional approval by the DOJ, with speedy approval by the FCC expected shortly, also means that Verizon will now have to honor the franchise agreement they entered as part of Opportunity New Jersey and make sure that they build the kind of information superhighway they promised.

"We know that there will be a lot of work required in order for Verizon to live up to its commitments to the consumers of New Jersey," he said. "As a result of this decision Verizon should settle the contract and let us get back to what we do best, maintaining New Jersey's copper wire based infrastructure and completing the build out and installation of the FiOS system that was promised to consumers through Opportunity New Jersey. In light of this decision it is also clear that there will be a demand for more work and it virtually eliminates any rationale the company had for continuing to shrink the work force through layoffs. This is a problem that we will continue to address as we work to complete contract negotiations."