Recently, 45,000 unionized electrical workers went on strike against Verizon. The two main points of contention were healthcare costs and pay fairness for the same work. On the first issue, Verizon wanted to force the workers to pay hundreds more per month for the healthcare package (shifting the burden from mostly Verizon to mostly worker). The second issue was that linemen in the landline-side of the business would be forced to take an even higher hike than the cellphone-side of the business. The union argued 'equal pay for equal work' (both sets of linemen do about the same thing, just one unit happens to be more profitable now). Here's an overview article that explains more.
I takes some real balls to go on strike when unemployment is ~10%, but it looks like the union came out on top.
Here's one incident that caught my attention throughout the whole flap: Verizon accused the strikers of conducting acts of sabotage. They even offered a $50,000 reward for proof. Now, charges of sabotage are not uncommon and it's not unheard of for the occasional striker to go off the reservation, but so far, I can't find one time Verizon paid out on their reward and I think I know why.
The striking workers were electrical workers. Guys that deal with high voltage and sensitive electronics. There was also an enormous number that walked out all at once. You can't just take any dopehead off the street and send them to work. They'll electrocute themselves, take down your network, and then you'll need a new network (and a new worker). It looks, though, like that's exactly what Verizon did: Verizon uses inexperienced worker to fill in. Note that the NRC used to explicitly ban any manufacturer of nuclear powerplant equipment from providing equipment to plants built by "scab" workers.
What's really interesting is there's lots of videos out there of the replacement workers screwing things up (with IBEW guys snickering in the background):
Verizon (replacement) workers blow transformer while striker hassles them
One more related note: Has anyone found Obama's comfortable shoes?
Given some recent events, maybe these guys are just helping him out by going on their own search for his comfy shoes.