Verizon Directors Leading Darden Restaurants, Popular Face Pressure from CWA

Two Verizon directors are facing the heat from the Communications Workers of America union at a time when the executives’ respective companies have come under fire.

The CWA, Jobs with Justice and others are urging Verizon’s Clarence Otis and Richard Carrion to assist in contract negotiations between Verizon and the 45,000 members of the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, another union that represents Verizon workers.

Verizon and the unions have been in discussions for several months to enter into a new contract covering 45,000 Verizon workers following a strike last summer.

The 55-year-old Otis has served on Verizon’s board since 2006 and is chairman and CEO of Darden Restaurants, Inc. Carrion, 59, has been a Verizon director for 15 years. He is chairman, president and CEO of Popular, Inc., a diversified bank holding company.

Otis’ Darden Restaurants has faced accusations of racial discrimination and violations of state and federal laws in connection with Darden’s Capital Grille restaurants. The Orlando Sentinel last month reported that discrimination charges had been dropped, but an attorney representing the workers told the newspaper that a request to dismiss the discrimination claims was procedural and that the claim would be refiled with each state lawsuit. 

Carrion’s Popular also has come under scrutiny. As reported a few months ago by Bloomberg, Popular owed $935 million to the federal government at a time when Carrion’s sister and two nephews had delinquent property loans to the lender.

The CWA is trying to take advantage of the bad press, noting that protests were taking place at nearly 300 locations across the country.

“Mr. Otis and Mr. Carrion are each paid $230,000 per year to direct Verizon’s business,” said Candice Johnson, CWA Communications Director, in a statement. “It’s time for them to step up and make Verizon management recognize the contributions of front line workers who have helped the company become so successful. Leaving the workers’ contracts unresolved undermines the workforce, hurts employee morale and creates unnecessary uncertainty for the company.”

The unions have portrayed Verizon as a greedy corporation while Verizon executives have maintained the company must deal with “economic realities” in its shrinking landline business by requiring workers to contribute to healthcare premiums and make other reasonable concessions.

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