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Verizon Strike: Union Workers Arrested in ‘Circus-Like Street Rally’

Strike

Edward GatelyVerizon wireline workers Thursday protested outside of the telco’s annual shareholders meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and dropped a huge banner reading “Verizon: Good Jobs, No Greed” across a busy street.

Nearly 40,000 Verizon wireline employees from Massachusetts to Virginia have been on strike for more than three weeks. Last Thursday, union leaders rejected Verizon’s “last, best final offer,” in which the telco upped its wage increase from 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent over the term of the contract.

The striking workers are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). They include installers, customer service employees, repair workers and other service workers in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The strike began April 13.

More than 250 people protested outside the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, the location of the shareholders meeting. According to the CWA, 15 people were arrested, including union members and community supporters, after the group dropped the banner and then then lay down on it to block traffic.{ad}

“What we’re seeing today and throughout the month of April is a mass movement of workers, shareholders and consumers telling Verizon’s leadership that good jobs for working families are more important than golden parachutes for corporate executives,” said Mike Watson, a Verizon employee and shareholder from Delaware who entered the shareholders meeting. “It’s time for Verizon to come to the negotiating table in good faith, end this strike, and invest in the quality workforce and services that will set this company on a sustainable path.”

The CWA also said supporters joined Verizon workers in protests outside 400 wireless stores across the country. Protesters handed out leaflets, carried banners and held speak-outs in support of striking workers, it said.

In response to Thursday’s protests, Verizon spokesman Rich Young said, “Our employees need to start asking union leaders why they continue to stage circus-like street rallies rather than engage in meaningful negotiations.”

“Each day union leaders stage these pointless rallies is another day lost at the bargaining table and another day of lost wages for our employees,” he said. “Verizon has put an excellent offer on the table that includes a 7.5 percent wage increase, continued job security protection, and outstanding retirement and health-care benefits. It’s time for union leaders to get serious (about) bargaining and put the needs of our employees first, rather than their misguided, …

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… personal agenda.”

In the meantime, a Verizon Labor Facts tweet is seeking applicants for temporary service technicians in Washington, DC, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The tweet received numerous negative responses.

Young said the telco is hiring 500 temporary technician positions.

On Monday, Verizon said it met with the New York/New England unions and they made a proposal that “was not constructive.” The telco said it is deploying thousands of additional employees and contractors to serve its customers during the strike.

“We rejected the unions’ proposal and reiterated that they have our last, best final offer,” said Marc Reed, Verizon’s chief administrative officer.

Also this week, the CWA, along with Common Cause and Public Knowledge, filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission contending that Verizon is “systematically deceiving customers, refusing to fix the phone lines of customers on its traditional copper network, and forcing them to switch to the company’s fiber network or lose all service.”


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