A strike by Bell Atlantic workers has disrupted phone service for millions of customers on the East Coast. Union leaders representing 73,000 workers ordered the walkout when the current contract expired at midnight Sunday. Workers hit the picket lines in 13 Northeastern states. Union leaders say Bell Atlantic is looking to hire non-union workers and force current employees to work mandatory overtime. In addition, workers accuse Bell Atlantic of reneging on an agreement to grant retirement packages to 13,000 employees. Bell Atlantic provides phone and Internet service to over 40 million people. The company claims the growing demand for service has forced it to hire some non-union workers. The company maintains that any retirement packages that were promised remain in place, although it is likely they will have to be delayed.
- Bob Master, Research Economist for the Communications Workers of America.