Strike Update: CWA Accuses Verizon of ‘Lying,’ Carrier Calls Claims ‘Fiction’

Union leaders Friday stepped up their attacks on Verizon, this time focusing on offshore call-center jobs in the Philippines, as the ongoing wireline workers strike moves into its fifth week.

According to a release by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), union representatives visited the Philippines this week and “discovered that the extent to which Verizon is offshoring work is far beyond what has previously been reported and what the company publicly has claimed.”

Verizon is offshoring customer service calls to numerous call centers in the Philippines, “where workers are paid just $1.78 an hour and forced to work overtime without compensation,” the union said.{ad}

“Executives repeatedly have claimed that Verizon offshores few jobs, and none that affect our members,” said Chris Shelton, CWA president. “Recently, our union was contacted by call-center workers in the Philippines who revealed that Verizon was lying to our members and the public about the extent of the offshoring of good American jobs, so we sent four CWA members to the Philippines to learn the truth. When our members uncovered how Verizon is padding its incredible profit margins by replacing good paying American jobs with poverty-wage jobs abroad, Verizon sent armed guards and a SWAT team after them.”

Call-center workers in the Philippines said that, since the strike began, they have been “forced to commit to 1-2 hours of overtime 5 days a week, plus a full 8-hour sixth day of overtime,” according to the CWA. Verizon’s subcontractors do not pay workers additional overtime compensation for these hours, it said.

“Yet again, this is another page straight out of the CWA’s fictional playbook,” said Rich Young, Verizon spokesman. “The real question is why would CWA president Chris Shelton spend tens of thousands of dollars in union dues on a vacation to the Philippines at a time when 36,000 of our employees are lucky to get $200 a week from a union strike fund? We look forward to having our employees back at work at a company that provides excellent wages, health care and retirement benefits.”

Nearly 40,000 Verizon wireline employees have been on strike since April 13 from Massachusetts to Virginia. Union leaders rejected Verizon’s “last, best final offer,” in which the telco upped its wage increase offer from 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent over the term of the contract.

The striking workers are members of the 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.

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