About 45,000 Verizon workers from the landline side of the telecom's mid-Atlantic and northeast regions went on strike today, the first such walkout in 11 years, reports the Wall Street Journal. Verizon is seeking concessions from its two major unions in the face of declining landline revenues, thanks to the rise of cell phones and growing competition from cable companies. But even though landline revenue fell 1.2% to $20.4 billion in the first six months of 2011, the company as a whole made $3 billion in profits.
Given those profits, the unions contend that the company is just trying to reduce their power. "Verizon has refused to move from a long list of concession demands," said a union spokesman in a statement earlier today. "As the contract expired, nearly 100 concessionary company proposals remained on the table." The Communications Workers of America, the larger of the two unions on strike, says it has more than $400 million in contingency funds for the strike. Verizon says the strikes will not affect service, although some managers will be asked to work 72-hour weeks.