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Verizon releases app that lets non-union employees record workers on strike

Verizon is in the midst of heated negotiations with unionized employees after nearly 40,000 of those employees' contracts expired over the weekend, with the possibility of a strike still looming. In the meantime, Verizon is taking an unorthodox step: the company has released an app to non-unionized employees that will let them record unionized workers during a strike.

Verizon says the app is to monitor employees "engaged in misconduct."

The app, first reported on by RCRWireless, is currently available for employees to download, although Verizon spokesman Richard Young told The Verge its features won't be activated unless there's a strike. Young says the app — which also lets employees ask questions about repairs while on an assignment and send suggestions for improving processes — is there to record any striking employee who is "engaged in misconduct."

Verizon claims the app, which can transmit recordings and photos to the company, will be a way to stem "harassment" of non-union employees that allegedly happened during a 2011 strike at the company. But the Communications Workers of America, which represents Verizon workers, has been critical of the app. "Verizon makes $1 billion in profit every month while they are asking their employees to pay thousands more for their health care and shipping good family-supporting jobs overseas," Bob Master, political and legislative director of Communications Workers of America District 1, told The Verge in a statement. "So it’s no surprise that they are intimidating workers by encouraging managers to take photos of union members as they are lawfully picketing and protesting."

The unions involved in negotiations have been negotiating with the company over pay and benefits, and been critical of Verizon's progress in building out FiOS service on the East Coast. Verizon, for its part, has been training more than 18,000 workers to fill in for possible strikers.