About 45,000 unionized workers at telecommunications giant Verizon walked off the job Sunday after contract talks stalled over the weekend, the company and union leaders said.
Contracts with the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers from Virginia to Massachusetts expired at midnight Saturday.
The walkout does not affect Verizon's wireless customers, and Verizon spokesman Peter Thonis said the company's phone lines were up and running Sunday with managers replacing the striking workers.
CWA spokesman Bob Master told CNN that some conversations were still going on, but he called the bargaining "the worst we've ever seen in 50 years." He said the company is demanding rollbacks of wages, benefits and union rules while posting profits of up to $6 billion.
"Verizon is not General Motors or Ford," Master said. "This is a company that has made billions upon billions of dollars. Because of the recession and anti-union climate, they have decided to try and drive down the middle-class standards of our members."