Strikes are as bad for companies as a 7-10 split is for a bowler. Even a company like SBC Communications (NYSE:SBC), which has a historically strong record with its employees, is vulnerable to the damage of a strike.

It appears that talks between SBC, the No. 2 local telephone carrier, and its union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), on a new five-year deal have hit an impasse. SBC claims that about 100,000 workers expect to go on a four-day strike starting in the wee hours Friday.

What we know about strikes is that they paralyze companies and put a strain on the wallets of workers. Previous strikes, such as the Verizon (NYSE:VZ) one in 2000, cost the company millions of dollars (and potential opportunities) and pushed the shares down nearly 20% during the two-week standoff.

SBC has not had to endure a strike of its workers in over 20 years, and this spotless modern-day record might soften the blow of any thought of a prolonged walkout. The company is very concerned about rising health-care costs but is willing to offer some coverage without monthly premiums.

The employees are focused on wages and job security. They are looking for raises in excess of 3%, but the company has been holding firm at 2.5%. Employees are also concerned that the company has eliminated an average of 10,000 jobs per year over the past three years and has been outsourcing jobs overseas to cut costs.

A four-day strike would send a message to management that the CWA means business, but it would also taint the stellar relationship the workers have had with the company. The CWA has already made it known that it will urge SBC customers to switch their service to AT&T (NYSE:T).

If the strike stretches past four days, competitors such as Sprint (NYSE:FON), MCI, Verizon, and AT&T would likely benefit. Although SBC has made contingency plans for a strike, the less than 70,000 workers who would make up the skeleton staff would pointlessly scramble around like a person trying to catch a meteor with a baseball glove. SBC must nip this "little" strike in the bud before it reverses any earnings momentum it has reportedly built up in the first quarter.

Give your take on the CWA strike plans at the SBC Communications discussion board.

Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent over 12 years on Wall Street and now concentrates his writing on more fictional characters. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above.