About 45,000 Verizon workers belonging to the radical union Communication Workers of America have gone on strike over benefits and salary.
Talks between the company and the Communication Workers of America broke down, leading to a strike from 45,000 workers just after midnight.
Support for the strike swelled in the morning hours as more and more workers gathered outside of the company's headquarters in Lower Manhattan.
Representatives from Verizon said the company's wireline business is struggling. They've asked for concessions on healthcare, pensions and work rules to strengthen the unit.
Workers said the concessions are unjustified because the company remains highly profitable, largely because of its wireless business.
"You're asking me to pay medical benefits, but you're not giving me a decent raise," said Anita Long, a central office technician.
"I understand people are suffering. They're out there out of work, they don't wanna hear we have benefits, they don't, but unfortunately we fought over 100 years ago to have this so when times are bad, when the economy turns, we have something," said Liam McLaughlin, a field technician.
That anyone can expect a "decent raise" in these times is incredible. Verizon workers paid nothing for their health care benefits previously - a concept more suited to the 1990's than these austere times.
The CWA and its affiliate, the IBEW are two of the most radical unions in the United States. That they would strike in a recession is almost incomprehensible unless you believe that destroying profitable companies is a worthy goal.