Verizon Communications Inc`s wireline employees walked off the job on Wednesday in one of the largest US strikes in recent years after contract talks reached an impasse.
The strike was called by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers - unions that jointly represent nearly 40,000 employees in Verizon`s wireline operations.
The strike could affect the company`s Fios Internet, telephone and TV services in several US east coast states including New York, Massachusetts and Virginia.
However, Verizon said it had trained thousands of non-union employees over the past year to ensure there was no disruption in service.
Verizon and the unions, which represent employees from nine eastern states and Washington, D.C., have been in talks since last June over the company`s plans to cut healthcare and pension-related benefits over a three-year period.
The workers have been working without a contract since the last agreement expired in August. Issues still on the table include healthcare, offshoring call center jobs, work rules and pensions.
The last round of contract negotiations in 2011 also led to a strike. A new contract was reached two weeks later.
Verizon, the country`s biggest wireless carrier, said on Tuesday it was willing to go to mediation but had not heard back from the union on whether it would agree.
While the wireline unit represents Verizon`s legacy business, it generated about 29 percent of the company`s revenue in 2015 but less than 7 percent of operating income.
Verizon`s shares were slightly down at $51.63 in premarket trading on Wednesday.