Thursday, August 18, 2011

Support the 45,000 Verizon strikers!

At left: Local powerhouse activist and good friend SHEILA JACKSON! GO SHEILA!

Yesterday, 45,000 Verizon workers went on strike, and I joined a picket line sponsored by the Communication Workers of America in Spartanburg. (Photos here.)

Customer service work, which I know a few things about, can be very grueling and intense. People deserve to be PAID DECENTLY for (see link) "introduc[ing] principles of mechanization and industrial engineering into a much wider array of service transactions than was hitherto possible"... i.e. the basic organization of the factory assembly line, brought into mass telecommunciations.

If people work on an assembly line, they deserve to be paid as well as my father, UAW member who also worked on an assembly line. Customer service work is simply the high-tech, mass-telephone-version of the assembly line.

What you should know:

>> Workers in 8 states and the District of Columbia are on strike, represented by the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

>> Verizon's annualized revenues in 2011 are $108 billion, with net profits of $6 billion. The concessions demanded from workers equal about $1 billion, working out to an approximate $20,000 per family, per year. Many of these concessions concern health benefits and pensions, benefits promised to workers.

>> Verizon paid no taxes last year and in fact received a $1.3 billion-dollar TAX REBATE!

>> The top five Verizon executives earned $258 million over the past four years.

>> CWA statement: "For the American economy to recover, we need to work together to solve problems. But if profitable companies like Verizon keep sending jobs overseas and cutting compensation for ordinary, middle-class workers, while paying executives big bucks, we can't begin to build an economy that works. CWA and IBEW members are prepared to return to work when management demonstrates the willingness to begin bargaining seriously for a fair agreement. If not, workers will stand together and continue the fight."

>> Verizon has scabs of course; the economy insures that. From company-droid statement: “In anticipation of this development, Verizon has activated a contingency plan to ensure customers experience limited disruption in service during this time.”

But I'd like to ask Verizon customers to disrupt their OWN service, if possible.

Can you hear us now? :)


JoJo said...

My friend Scott's wife is on strike right now. Apparently the company wants over 100 concessions from the employees, meanwhile they line their pockets with record profits.

DaisyDeadhead said...

According to union organizer Russell Bannan, Verizon is even demanding the workers give back Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday.

Anonymous said...

Verizon Strike 2011: Unions Bring Their Demands to Homes of Verizon Execs

Red-shirted union workers plan to hold a candlelight vigil outside Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam's residence in Mendham, NJ., Thursday evening at 7 p.m.

Associated Press reports, the unions are fighting the company's call for a pension freeze and for contributions to health insurance premiums, among other demands.

Unions, Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, rallied last week nearby the home of Ivan Seidenberg, a Verizon chairman, in West Nyack, NY., another measure of the growing tension in an 11-day-old strike.

After contract negotiations failed largely over the amount that union employees would be required to pay for health care and pension and retirement contributions, union workers stormed the streets on the East Coast, from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C.

Verizon Communications' (VZ.N) U.S. Northeast wire line unit provides traditional phone as well as high-speed Internet and FiOS television services.

The company has obtained court injunctions in four states to limit picketing since 45,000 of its workers began striking on Aug. 7.

"One can't possibly go up to the mansions in Mendham and not be struck by the grossness of destroying the standard of living of working-class operators and technicians while living in the lap of luxury," Hetty Rosenstein, CWA's New Jersey director, who expects several hundred strikers to attend the rally, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to a CWA press release, the union workers will be "mourning the death of good, middle class jobs in New Jersey at the hands of Verizon corporate greed."

Workers complained that Verizon made $22.5 billion in profits over the past four and a half years and has paid its top five CEOs $258 million in the past four years, while unionized middle-class workers were striped of their health and pension benefits.

"It just isn't feasible that there is not a connection because there's been such an uptick since the calling of the strike," Mike Mason, chief security officer at Verizon, said. "Whoever is doing it, I consider it un-American and unpatriotic to attack critical infrastructure."

Verizon officials did not offer proof that any particular act was sabotage, but they said it was suspicious that there had been three times the number of incidents in the last eight days as in the previous six months, The New York Times reported.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, representing 10,000 strikers, said members "are expected to obey the law."

However, the CWA said Tuesday some picketing workers were hurt by Verizon managers' cars and that one worker was knocked unconscious when he was clipped by the mirror of a manager's car that was speeding past a picket line.

Verizon said it was working with the police to investigate what happened, but noted that it believed the allegations are "totally inaccurate."

The CWA also cited a case in which a security guard hired by Verizon had punched a worker and knocked him to the ground on Monday morning.

CWA Local 3716 said...

Aug 20, 2011

Following is a statement by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers:

For release 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011

Washington, D.C. – Members of CWA and IBEW at Verizon Communications will return to work on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at which time the contract will be back in force for an indefinite period.

We have reached agreement with Verizon on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured. The major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues now are focused and narrowed.

We appreciate the unity of our members and the support of so many in the greater community. Now we will focus on bargaining fairly and moving forward.

CWA and IBEW represent 45,000 workers at Verizon covered by this contract from Virginia to New England.

Eva Smith said...

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog post.

Verizon Support