September 7, 2000

Verizon Catches Up on Backlog

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Yesterday was the day for Lara Kassoff ’03. After nearly three weeks of being without phone service, she is finally connected.

“There were certain things that I was supposed to know about, but I didn’t,” she said. “It was frustrating not having a phone.”

Ithaca’s Verizon representatives don’t know how many residents are still without phone service but noted that installation dates are currently being given into October.

“Collegetown is a mess as usual,” said Tom Joseph, chief steward of the Communication Workers Association local union. “It’s crazy and you’re a phone truck and people camp out and sit on your bumper.”

Verizon union workers in twelve northeastern states ended their three week strike on August 20. They had accused the phone company of hiring non-union workers, especially in the wireless service industry, while demanding better hours and increased pay.

Union workers in Ithaca ratified their new contract last Friday.

Joseph estimated that many orders for phones still haven’t been placed. “There are a lot of people who haven’t called yet,” he said. “Some of them are still working on cell phones.”

After the strike ended, many students remembered daily calls to the phone company to speed up getting a number. Howard Heching ’03 said he was initially promised service in six days.

“After six days, I called everyday and they kept telling me another day,” he said of his two-week wait. “I used pay phones where I could find them. I wasn’t able to make contact with people, even to check my e-mail. I had to use the computer when someone else wasn’t on it.”

“Your parents can’t reach you and this is the time you actually miss your home friends and you can’t get in touch with them,” said Ying Liang ’03.

Class conflicts also complicated installations because students don’t want to miss lectures and sections. “You do a lot of work but you can’t get into the apartments,” Joseph said. “I think this weekend they probably got a lot of stuff done, got cleaned up a bit.”

Close to 10,000 Ithaca residents were affected by the strike this summer.

Archived article by Beth Herskovits