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Protesting Verizon Workers Upset Nearby Residents, Businesses

Thursday, August 18, 2011

As Verizon and the unions representing its employees clash over a new contract, some New Yorkers are suffering collateral damage.

Fernando Ghorchian owns Caffe Buon Gusto, a restaurant with outdoor seating across the street from a Verizon store in Brooklyn Heights where protests have been going on for 10 days.

"We lost almost 25 percent of our business," he said. "The noise and these cars making so much noise so we cannot get any customers sitting outside, because summer time we have the tables outside."

Leaders of one of the striking unions say they've asked their members to patronize businesses close to where they're demonstrating.

Hundreds of striking telephone company workers have been chanting, whistling and singing outside Verizon stores and other Verizon workplaces throughout the city, since union members went on strike a week and a half ago.

Some of that noise is washing over residences, as well as businesses.

Rebecca Kritzer, who lives directly above a Verizon store in Brooklyn Heights, said she's sympathetic to the strikers, but will be happy when the strike ends.

"It can be a little disturbing only because in the morning I don't really like to wake up to whistle-blowing," she said.

Officials with the Communications Workers of America, which represents most of the workers, say it's unfortunate the protests have inconvenienced the public, but they insist the union has a right to demonstrate.

About 45,000 union members up and down the East Coast went on strike August 6 in protest against stalled contract talks.

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