Union protests to disrupt traffic Saturday

Posted: August 11, 2012

A couple of union rallies Saturday are expected to cause headaches for motorists in Center City and the Art Museum area.

Officially, the inner drives of the Parkway and Eakins Oval will be closed, as needed, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the protest activity is expected to begin farther into Center City.

The earlier of the two events stems from the ongoing contract dispute between Verizon and members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Starting about 10 a.m., CWA and IBEW members will rally outside Verizon's office at 900 Race Street, and "more than 3,000" are expected, according to the unions.

Afterward, they'll march toward the Parkway, then to Eakins Oval, where a much larger "Workers Stand for America" rally, scheduled for 11 a.m., will include union supporters from across the country.

For more on this event, which includes a call for a Second Bill of Rights, go to www.workersstandforamerica.com.

As to the Verizon rally, "protesters will urge the company, which is pulling in record profits, to reach an agreement that does not cut pay and benefits and instead protects good jobs at Verizon," according to the CWA and IBEW news release.

"The negotiations continue to be constructive and progress continues to be made, but, again, a number of core issues remain to be resolved," according to a statement released Thursday by George H. Cohen of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which has overseen two weeks of "intensive" talks.

"From the very beginning, we believe our proposal has been fair and reasonable," said Verizon spokesman Rich Young, who added that the company has agreed not to discuss specifics about the negotiations.

For more about Verizon's side of the discussions, go to: http://newscenter.verizon.com/2011-bargaining.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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