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Verizon: CWA March 'Shallow' and Just a 'Sideshow'

By Josh Long
November 14, 2011 - News

Some Verizon employees with the union have embarked on an eight-day walk to New York City to support the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) said they are marching to highlight the attempt of Verizon and Verizon Wireless to slash workers' benefits, and to shine a light on corporate greed, the Times Herald-Record reported.

Clad in red sweaters, about 15 members of the CWA arrived Sunday in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to meet with Occupy Poughkeepsie protesters.

Verizon spokesman John Bonomo told the paper that the Occupy movement does not have the benefit of information about Verizon except what the union tells it, and Bonomo said that information is most likely inaccurate and one-sided.

Candice Johnson, a spokeswoman with the CWA, told us that participants in the Occupy movement have marched with the union in several cities, including Boston, New York, San Francisco and Washington, with their actions aimed at Verizon and T-Mobile.

"CWA members, from Verizon and other companies, have been joining with the Occupy movement in NY and other locations because we share the same concern about corporate greed and money in politics," Johnson said in an email.

Earlier this year, Verizon workers went on strike in reportedly the largest walkout since GM faced 73,000 striking workers in 2007.

Verizon is still in negotiations with unions – the CWA and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – over a new contract that would cover roughly 45,000 workers and replace an agreement that expired Aug. 6.

The talks continue but Verizon spokesman Rich Young said he couldn't speculate on where precisely the negotiations stand. The employees are still covered under the expired contract, Young confirmed.

Asked about the marches, Young characterized the linking together of the CWA and the Occupy movement as "misguided and odd."

"We offer great healthcare plans for 195,000 Verizon employees and many more retirees and their families. How many members of the Occupy group can say the same?" Young asked, noting that one of the concerns raised by Occupy protesters is over healthcare for employees. "We're a great employer for tens of thousands of employees. We offer solid middle class jobs ... We hope the unions rather than engage in a sideshow ... focus on negotiations and work towards an agreement."

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