40,000 Verizon Workers Launch One of the Biggest Strikes of the Decade I post articles
Chronicle of a Strike
Update: Strike wins gains: CWA union
After Six-Week Strike, Verizon Workers Claim Major Victory as Deal Reached
“This proves that when we stand together we can raise up working families, improve our communities and protect the American middle class.”http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/05/27/after-six-week-strike-verizon-workers-claim-major-victory-deal-reached
Lessons from strike http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/06/01/why-verizon-workers-victory-big-deal
Now back to the beginning of the strike.
Verizon strikers are fighting against the oppression and indignity of the American workplace.
by Alex Gourevitch
read here https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/05/verizon-strike-fios-cwa-union-replacements/
The strike has been brewing since last August, when the CWA’s contract with Verizon expired. Despite a $5.4 billion profit that quarter and roughly $39 billion in the past three years, Verizon refused a new contract on existing terms. Instead it demanded concessions like higher health care costs, reduced retirement benefits, outsourcing five thousand jobs, and a right to send workers out of state. The company’s August refusal is part of a decades-long attempt to strip down contracts and weaken the union, perhaps with the hope of breaking the union altogether and then selling off the landline portion of Verizon’s business.
“The first shot to break the union was in the post–2000 contract,” says Javier. That contract created a two-tier system in which new hires were denied protection from layoffs. In the years since, the company has managed to win further changes in contract language, gaining more control over workers with respect to schedules, work locations, and hiring and firing.
On the Line with Verizon Strikers April 21, 2016 / Dan DiMaggio
LaborNotes reports http://labornotes.org/blogs/2016/05/network-you-can-trust
SANDERS BACKS STRIKERS
Sen. Bernie Sanders rallied with striking workers in downtown Brooklyn on April 13. “Thank you for your courage in standing up against corporate greed,” he said, calling Verizon “just another major American corporation trying to destroy the lives of working Americans.”
The strikers drew immediate support from other unions and from Sanders, who was in New York campaigning in the lead-up to the April 19 presidential primary. He joined strikers at their rally in downtown Brooklyn, and 150 strikers got front-row seats at a Sanders rally in Manhattan.
McAdam called Sanders’ remarks “uninformed” and “contemptible.” “I welcome the contempt of Verizon’s CEO,” the senator shot back.
CWA endorsed Sanders’ campaign in December, after a member vote. The senator has consistently backed the telecom workers, including during a four-month strike at FairPoint. IBEW hasn’t endorsed, though at least 30 of its locals are backing Bernie.
New York City subway worker Jonathan Beatrice came out to rally with the strikers fresh from a press conference where his union, Transport Workers Local 100, announced its own Sanders endorsement.
“Employers are united as well,” Beatrice said. “If they see that Verizon can get away with concessions from the CWA, with outsourcing and making them pay for their health care, then the [Metropolitan Transit Authority] will do it to their workers.”
Story of picketers talking to school children http://local1101.org/story/picket-line-classroom-lessons-learned
A thousand members of the New York State Nurses joined the strike lines in Albany.
Workers at seven Verizon Wireless stores are on an unfair labor practice strike over the August firing of union activist Bianca Cunningham.
“This is my first strike—and there’s a lot more support than I expected,” said sales rep Mike Tisei. Workers at his store in Everett, Massachusetts, and at six stores in Brooklyn voted to join CWA in 2014. Two years later, they’re still without a first contract.
“We go in with high hopes, but it’s kind of like talking to a brick wall,” said bargaining team member Tatiana Hill, a sales rep in Brooklyn. One of the union’s top priorities is to win just-cause protection, to make workers less dependent on managers’ whims.
Since she started five years ago, Hill says, her workload has increased dramatically. “We used to have technicians in the store, and we had sales and customer service,” she said. “Now, literally, sales reps do every single thing.”
Despite their increased responsibilities, Wireless workers’ commission checks have generally gone down, while base pay raises have been insubstantial. It takes 17 years to reach the top pay rate.
Though many of her co-workers have worked at Verizon Wireless for five years or more, “the majority of Brooklyn [employees] live with their parents or someone else,” Hill said. “We don’t want to live at home with our parents and families, but you can’t afford to pay rent on those kind of salaries.”
“I’d love to have a house,” said Tisei, “but if my paycheck’s going to drop, I can’t get one. Not with the inconsistencies of the checks.”
Can the strike at Verizon help kickstart the American labor movement?
By Cole Stangler The Nation
Genea Martin has worked for more than 19 years at Verizon. As a Brooklyn-based customer-service representative, she helps manage telephone and Internet accounts for businesses. It’s a well-paying job, but at 43 she’s increasingly anxious about the future. In recent years Verizon has shed thousands of jobs like Martin’s without replacing them.
And for the last 10 months, the telecom giant has waged war at the bargaining table with her union, the Communications Workers of America. The company is now asking for sweeping concessions on pensions and healthcare benefits, and wants more power to shift and outsource work, according to the union. “I want to be able to retire from this company, but I want to be able to have something to retire with,” Martin says. “We need a fair contract.”
Martin is one of nearly 40,000 Verizon workers from Massachusetts to Virginia who walked off their jobs Wednesday, kicking off the largest strike in the United States in nearly five years. An actual strike is a rare event in modern US labor relations—as their ranks have thinned and their opponents become more hostile, unions have been increasingly reluctant to call on members to withhold their labor. And the Verizon strike is massive by today’s standards. In 2015, major work stoppages idled only 47,000 workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Its size and geographic scope give it the potential to influence workers in other sectors,” says Joe McCartin, a labor-history professor at Georgetown University and director of the university’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor. “If successful, this walkout might help revive a more militant spirit among unions, just as the Fight for $15 has been doing.”
As union density continues its decades-long slide, labor activist Joe Burns sees strikes of this sort as the only way to revive the labor movement. Read here
Verizon Workers Fight to Keep Pension Intact: Labor Minute
Verizon worker on strike http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/18/verizon-employee-why-im-on-strike
Is job security also a major issue?
We currently have two tiers of job security. For people hired before 2003, we have essentially ironclad job security. People retire of their own volition or take an incentivized buyout. For people hired after 2003, it’s much easier to be laid off, which we’ve seen in New York City, where it’s very hard to find anybody working on the technical side with less than fifteen years on the job.
For this contract, they’d like to eliminate job security across the board, no matter how long you’ve been in the company.
Verizon has made $39 billion in profits over the last three years. They don’t seem to need concessions in order to survive. What do you think are the company’s goals with these contract demands?
They’re trying to streamline their operations. They’re transforming the company to be more oriented on Wireless, and they’d like the wireline side to be more flexible and modeled more on the workplace culture of Wireless, which is still overwhelmingly non-union.
The issue with the transfers is that as the company replaces the one-hundred-year-old copper-based network with the fiber-optic network that carries their FiOS product, they need short-term, high-intensity workforces to build the network, and then move on to the next build.
So their vision is a migrant workforce that follows the work from state to state. Obviously, this model favors younger workers who are not tied down and have much lower expectations for how they should be treated within the company.
Five Reasons to Care About the Verizon Strike
1. Verizon makes billions each year, yet they still expect people to do more with less.
The corporation raked in $9.6 billion in profits in 2014, $39 billion over the last three years – and $1.8 billion a month in profits over the first three months of 2016. And from 2010 to 2014, Verizon executives made more than $249 million.
2. Verizon plays dirty.
3. Verizon wants to get rid of good union jobs and outsource instead.
4. Verizon refuses to expand FiOS.
Consumer demand for high-speed Internet is higher than ever. Several years ago, Verizon got tax breaks and rate hikes in exchange for expanding FiOS, its high-speed Internet, phone and video connection, throughout the Northeast. But in 2012, Verizon announced it would no longer expand its FiOS service, leaving customers in many places without access to high-speed Internet. Why would the company not want to increase its customer base for a popular service? Some believe Verizon is choosing not to repair and modernize its outdated copper wire system and grow FiOS because the company doesn’t want to invest in the people who maintain and install the service…
5. Verizon has a long history of ripping off taxpayers through tax evasion….