Verizon Communications had some unwelcome company Thursday at its annual shareholders meetings in Huntsville, Ala.
More than 500 people from at least 11 states rallied in a protest that appeared to be centered on allegations of corporate greed. The individuals hailed from a variety of organizations, including the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Jobs with Justice, Student Labor Action Project, Occupy and a number of other labor unions, according to the CWA, the union that represents Verizon workers.
The crowd reportedly was joined by thousands of protesters in Boston, Miami, Philadelphia and other U.S. cities.
Verizon is facing allegations of corporate greed amid deadlocked negotiations on a new contract that would govern health-care packages, retirement benefits and other employment issues for tens of thousands of union-represented workers. Workers represented by the CWA and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have been negotiating with Verizon for nearly a year, although some union reps have complained the two sides have made very little progress.
Verizon has maintained it wants to reach a contract that is fair but that it must contend with economic realities in its shrinking landline business.
The telecommunications giant says its employees receive great pay and benefits. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, for example, the average technician earns $85,000 in annual compensation with overtime plus $51,000 in average benefits, according to a Verizon website containing information about the negotiations.