BOSTON (AP) — Union officials say a group of Verizon employees in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have voted to authorize a strike if union negotiators determine one is necessary after their contract expires Aug. 1.

Leaders of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said Friday that union members in the two states voted overwhelming in favor of authorizing a strike. Similar votes are planned over the next 10 days by Verizon workers in the Communication Workers of America union.

The two unions represent nearly 6,000 Verizon workers in the two states.

Union leaders say Verizon is proposing changes that would cut jobs and reduce health and retirement benefits.

A Verizon spokesman says the company remains committed to working toward a contract “that represents the needs of our employees, our company and our customers.”

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