IBEW: Verizon Is Helping Strikers Cross the Picket Line

Nearly 40,000 Verizon wireline employees from Massachusetts to Virginia are heading into their second weekend on strike and rejected the telecom’s “scab” request.

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.

On Friday, IBEW reported that Verizon sent a letter to all of its striking workers with instructions on how to break the picket line. Across social media, striking workers responded with “pictures and videos of letters in flames, in pieces, in compost bins and toilets and, in one case, lining a box of kitty litter.”

The letter from Karyn Stetz, Verizon’s human resources vice president, came in an envelope labeled “Important Strike Information,” IBEW said. Inside, however, there was no employment related information, “only a mock Q&A that answers questions like ‘What if I choose to work during the strike?’ and ‘If I choose to resign my union membership, how do I do so?’” the union said.{ad}

“I have worked for Verizon for 35 years and been through five strikes,” said Bob Speer, East Windsor, New Jersey, Local 827 business manager. “I have never seen anything like this letter before. This letter is not the communication an employer has with an employee. This is not a company bargaining about pensions or money. This is a company telling our unions how to destroy itself and I take this very personally.”

Neither Verizon nor the CWA would provide comments for this report. Mark Brueggenjohann, IBEW spokesman, said there was nothing new to report Friday regarding contract negotiations.

Earlier this week, strikers were reported picketing outside Verizon retail stores and handing out leaflets asking customers to refrain from buying Verizon Wireless products and services. Also, Verizon announced it is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of individuals who “intentionally damage Verizon cables or facilities.”

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