We’ve already noted that the Verizon Strike has had a notable impact on installation and repairs for Verizon customers. Many users continue to complain that the company simply isn’t showing up for installation appointments, as an estimated 40,000 union workers walk the picket line in protest. As it stands, the two sides have been negotiating since June of last year, and workers had been working without a contract in place since last August. Judging from comments from both sides, not much ground has been gained since the strike began on April 13.
Verizon appears to have convinced the Washington Post that technological advancements are helping Verizon weather the storm, the Wall Street Journal notes that it’s something fundamentally simpler; the company is having its cubicle jockeys, accountants and lawyers run fiber conduit:
Everyone from lawyers to accountants to programmers are pulled out to work. Staff with engineering or technical skills are slotted into jobs where they ve had experience. Those without relevant technical skills typically field phones in call centers.
Courtney George, 24, is trained as a network engineer and normally works in a beige cubicle in a Verizon office in downtown Manhattan. But this week she is installing fiber-optic cabling with Mr. Russell. I like being out and being more customer facing, she said of her temporary assignment. You learn the other side of the business.
According to Verizon, the company started putting its more administrative employees through basic installer and support training after the last major strike in 2011:
Verizon overhauled its training process after the last strike, which lasted two weeks in 2011. This time, it organized about 10,000 substitutes into work groups ahead of time and sent them to a newly established training facility in Leesburg, Va., for training lasting one to two weeks.
We put them through training as if they were going to become technicians, said Bob Mudge, president of Verizon s wireline network operations. Those filling in for call center employees honed their skills by listening to recordings of customer calls.
While lawyers, network admins and accountants might think it a refreshing change of pace to be actually installing broadband, it’s likely the charm of the situation will wear off quickly should contract negotiations continue to flounder.