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IBEW Uses Layoffs to Slam Verizon–SpectrumCo Deal

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, still
deadlocked in contract talks with Verizon, is using recent job cuts at Verizon
in New England and New Jersey to argue against the government approving the
telco's planned purchase of wireless spectrum from cable operators
(SpectrumCo.). Verizon says there is no connection, and any suggestion
otherwise is not true.

IBEW says the company announced more than 600 job cuts last
week, which threatens its future build-out of Verizon FiOs, something activist
groups and some legislators have expressed concerns about. Speaking on
background, a Verizon exec said the goal is to cut about 1,700 jobs in New
England, the mid-Atlantic and some in the Southern region through a voluntary
buyout, with layoffs coming into play if they do not reach that target. Employees
who take the buyout would leave by the end of June or mid-July.

The union links the cutbacks to the cable spectrum deal.
"At the same time Verizon is cutting its work force, the company's
wireless division continues to lobby for its proposed monopoly with Comcast and
Time Warner -- a deal which would end competition, raise prices and discontinue
the development of a high-speed Internet infrastructure."

"It will give Big Cable an unfair advantage in the
marketplace, which means higher rates and fewer options for consumers, while
stranding many communities with a 20th century telecommunications system," says
IBEW local 827's Bill Huber in a statement. "If this deal goes through, it's
the end of genuine competition."

Big Cable in this case is Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox
and Bright House, which have struck a deal to collect just south of $4 billion
for advanced wireless services spectrum they bought at auction in the summer of

"There is absolutely no connection between this
reduction and SpectrumCo or any other program or effort going on at Verizon and
it is inaccurate to portray it in any such way," Verizon spokesman Richard
Young told B&C/Multichannel News.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.