Verizon and unions representing workers in nine states said employees will work without a contract as more negotiations are scheduled.
The wireless carrier and leaders of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers announced the decision early Sunday, shortly after a contract covering 39,000 workers expired.
The unions said they will continue regular bargaining sessions.
Verizon’s chief administrative officer, said the company is “disappointed” it was unable to reach an agreement with the unions despite “six weeks of good faith bargaining and a very strong effort by the company.”
The unions say the telecom giant is demanding that workers sharply increase their health care contributions and make concessions on pensions. They contend Verizon is demanding cuts in jobs and job security and wants to either eliminate the company’s 401k benefits match or freeze its defined benefits pension. In addition, workers might be asked to pay “thousands more dollars” in health care costs due to higher deductibles, copays and co-insurance costs.
The contract covers Verizon’s Wireless and wireline business, which provides fixed-line phone services and FiOS Internet service.