Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘Verizon’

Lost pregnancies at a Verizon warehouse show the urgent need for a Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

In a Tennessee warehouse supplying Verizon customers with their phones and tablets, pregnant women are routinely worked to the point of losing their pregnancies, lifting boxes up to 45 pounds through long shifts in heat that can reach more than 100 degrees. And there is no law that says their employer can’t do this to them. Sure, there’s the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but even when it’s enforced, it has loopholes you can drive a 747 through. 

If companies “treat their nonpregnant employees terribly, they have every right to treat their pregnant employees terribly as well,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, who has pushed for stronger federal protections for expecting mothers.

That’s why Democrats keep introducing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, to strengthen protections for pregnant women. But Republicans won’t consider it, not that this stops them from proclaiming themselves to be protectors of family values.

Early miscarriages are very common and are typically associated with chromosomal abnormalities rather than anything a woman in early pregnancy might do. But that’s not what the New York Times is reporting on here. Several of the cases cited in this article involved later pregnancy loss, well into the second trimester when miscarriages are much less common, and even into stillbirth territory. One of the women interviewed for the story delivered a baby at 20 weeks that lived for 10 minutes. “My husband and I watched her die,” she said. This is much, much less common, and when it comes after a woman has worked for hours lifting heavy boxes, against her doctor’s advice and after her employer has refused to give her light duty, it should be a crime. That’s not all, either. After a worker in the same warehouse died on the job, “In Facebook posts at the time and in recent interviews, employees said supervisors told them to keep working as the woman lay dead.”

Verizon said “We have no tolerance—zero tolerance—for this sort of alleged behavior,” except, apparently, to the extent that it has been tolerating the behavior right up until a newspaper started reporting on it. The company says it is investigating the workers’ claims.

This blog was originally published at Daily Kos on October 23, 2018. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos.

40,000 AT&T Workers Begin 3-Day Strike

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Around 40,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) at AT&T walked off their jobs Friday, for a three-day strike, as pressure continues to mount on the corporation to settle fair contracts.

In California and Nevada, around 17,000 AT&T workers who provide phone, landline and cable services have been working without a contract for more than a year. Last year, they voted to authorize a strike with more than 95 percent support. And in February, an estimated 21,000 AT&T Mobility workers in 36 states voted to strike as well, with 93 percent in favor.

Workers had issued an ultimatum, giving company executives until 3 p.m. ET on Friday to present serious proposals. They didn’t; the workers walked.

It isn’t the first strike at AT&T. Some 17,000 workers in California and Nevada walked off the job in late March to protest company changes in their working conditions in violation of federal law. After a one-day strike, AT&T agreed not to require technicians to perform work assignments outside of their expertise. Nevertheless, the biggest issues for workers remained unresolved.

AT&T has proposed to cut sick time and force long-time workers to pay hundreds of dollars more for basic healthcare, according to CWA. At a huge April rally in Silicon Valley, CWA District 9 vice president Tom Runnion fumed, “The CEO of AT&T just got a raise and now makes over $12,000 an hour. And he doesn’t want to give us a raise. He wants to sabotage our healthcare then wants us to pay more for it. Enough is enough!”

AT&T is the largest telecommunications company in the country with $164 billion in sales and 135 million wireless customers nationwide. It has eliminated 12,000 call center jobs in the United States since 2011, representing more than 30 percent of its call center employees, and closed more than 30 call centers. Meanwhile, the company has outsourced the operation of more than 60 percent of its wireless retail stores to operators who pay much less than the union wage, according to CWA.

The relocation of jobs to call centers in Mexico, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic and other countries is one of the main issues in negotiations. A recent CWA report charges that in the Dominican Republic, for instance, where it uses subcontractors, wages are $2.13-$2.77/hour. Workers have been trying to organize a union there and accuse management of firing union leaders and making threats, accusations and intimidating workers. Several members of Congress sent a letter to President Donald Trump this year demanding that he help protect and bring call center jobs back to the United States.

“We’ve been bargaining with AT&T for over a year,” CWA president Chris Shelton told the rally in Silicon Valley. “They can easily afford to do what people want and instead are continuing to send jobs overseas.”

According to Dennis Trainor, vice president of CWA District 1, “AT&T is underestimating the deep frustration wireless retail, call center and field workers are feeling right now with its decisions to squeeze workers and customers, especially as the company just reported more than $13 billion in annual profits.”

“The clock is ticking for AT&T to make good on their promise to preserve family-supporting jobs for more than 40,000 workers,” Trainor said before the start of the strike. “We have made every effort to bargain in good faith with AT&T, but have only been met with delays and excuses. Now, AT&T is facing the possibility of closed stores for the first time ever. Our demands are clear and have been for months: fair contract or strike.”

Last year, CWA members at Verizon were on strike for 49 days, finally gaining a contract with greater job protections and winning 1,300 new call center jobs. Since December, AT&T workers have picketed retail stores in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, San Diego and other cities, hung banners on freeway overpasses, organized rallies and marches and confronted the corporation at its annual meeting in Dallas.

“Americans are fed up with giant corporations like AT&T that make record profits but ask workers to do more with less and choose to offshore and outsource jobs,” said Nicole Popis, an AT&T wireless call center worker in Illinois. “I’ve watched our staff shrink from 200 employees down to 130. I’m a single mother and my son is about to graduate. I voted yes to authorize a strike because I’m willing to do whatever it takes to show AT&T we’re serious.”

This article originally appeared at Inthesetimes.com on May 19, 2017. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: David Bacon is a writer, photographer and former union organizer. He is the author of The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration (2013)Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (2008), Communities Without Borders (2006), and The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the US/Mexico Border (2004). His website is at dbacon.igc.org.

The Right to Strike Must Mean the Right to Return to Work After a Strike

Friday, June 17th, 2016

With the decisive victory for union members at Verizon, 2016 is already on pace to be the second year in a row where recorded strike activity has increased over the previous half-decade. Now, a new decision from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) could restore legal job protections for striking workers, making workplace job actions a more common—and more powerful—union strategy.

Workers simply do not have a meaningful right to strike if they do not have a right to return to the job when the strike is over. But, thanks to the judicial gutting of labor rights, going on strike is a high stakes proposition for American workers. Not only do striking workers lose out on pay and benefits during the strike, but they run the risk of losing their jobs entirely. So, while work stoppages are on the rise relative to the last few years, they are at historically low levels compared to the post-war era when wages actually rose with corporate profits.

In a new case, American Baptist Homes, the NLRB attempts to strike a balance between workers’ statutory right to strike and protection against employer retaliation for union activity and a boss’s Supreme Court-granted “right” to hire permanent replacement workers “to protect and continue his business.” Thankfully in this case, the exceptionally arrogant and stupid Executive Director of the employer in this case and her counsel went on the record that their use of permanent replacements was meant to “punish the strikers and the Union” and to discourage future strikes, as Benjamin Sachs has detailed.

For much of the last four decades, the NLRB has simply taken a boss’s word that the permanent replacement of striking workers was necessary to continue her business. Now, the NLRB has declared that it will return to an earlier, Supreme Court-approved standard in which employers’ rights to permanently replace striking workers may be “wholly impeached by the showing of an intent to encroach upon protected rights.”

In other words, the NLRB will investigate when an employer hires scabs—and they better have a good case. Since most strikes these days are defensive—pushing back against employers’ attempts to gut work rules, slash pay and benefits and bust the union—this is a big deal.

“…to interfere with or impede or diminish in any way the right to strike.”

A forthcoming book by labor law scholar Julius Getman, The Supreme Court on Unions: Why Labor Law is Failing American Workers, explores in depth the “judicial arrogance” of the court in substituting their own ideology and facts when shaping the labor law regime. It is particularly well timed as we look forward to a profound change in the Court in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death (although Getman clearly did not anticipate Scalia’s timely passing when he wrote the book).

One aspect that stands out in Getman’s book, to this writer at least, is the shakiness of the legal precedent that allows employers to permanently replace striking workers. It begs for a campaign of judicial activism to repeal it.

This legal vulnerability of strikers was established by a 1938 Supreme Court decision, NLRB vs. Mackay Radio. It was a poorly decided and little-revisited case upon which the entire anti-union playbook depends. Getman shines a welcome spotlight on the case, and inspires the conclusion that the so-called “Mackay Doctrine” is overdue for a sustained campaign of judicial challenge from unions and their allies.

In the original case, NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co., the union’s strike lasted all of one weekend. The employer continued operating by transferring workers from its other facilities, and when support for the union’s goals failed to materialize, the leaders called off the strike. When the strikers returned to work on Monday, four of the leaders were singled out and denied reinstatement.

The NLRB quickly ruled that the employer’s actions were clear violations of the law and went to court to order the employer to reinstate the four fired strikers, with back pay. The 9th Circuit Court refused to enforce the NLRB’s order, as this was generally a period when many jurists considered the labor act, in part or in whole, to be unconstitutional. That’s how the case got to the Supreme Court.

Ironically, the Mackay decision was hailed at the time as a victory for labor. It was yet another decision that cemented the constitutionality of labor law, but the Court also found for the union and the NLRB.

The labor relations act, after all, was meant to protect workers who engage in union activity from “discrimination in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment,” and these four workers were singled out for their strike activity and told that they no longer had jobs.

Of course, Mackay had no time to hire permanent replacements in a weekend.

The issue was inserted by Justice Owen Roberts as an offhand comment, which I’ll quote in full because it bears scrutiny:

Although Section 13 of the act, provides, ‘Nothing in the Act should be interpreted to interfere with or impede or diminish in any way the right to strike,’ it does not follow that an employer, guilty of no act denounced by the statute, has lost the right to protect and continue his business by supplying places left vacant by strikers. And he is not bound to discharge those hired to fill the places of strikers, upon the election of the latter to resume their employment in order to create places for them.

In other words, the employer in Mackay broke the law because it discriminated against the strike leaders by singling them outand firing them, but if the employer had found a non-discriminatory way to discriminate against strikers (like, say, hiring scabs to replace them in the order of reverse seniority) then that would be hunky dory.

“…the right to protect and continue his business…”

In the four decades that followed Mackay, very few employers took the liberty to permanently replace striking workers, as it generally fell outside what was considered socially acceptable behavior by employers in the post-war era.

Which isn’t to say that some employers didn’t try to push the envelope in their union-busting attempts. Most judicial revisiting of Mackay comes from cases where the Courts rejected employer attempts to go further.

For instance, in a 1963 case the Supreme Court rejected an employer’s attempt to grant replacements a “super seniority” for their service as scabs by ruling that it was not “proper under Mackay.” It was this sort of right-wing judicial activism that pushed back on union rights and served to give a bad footnote the appearance of settled legal doctrine. But the court has never revisited the facts or logic of the Mackay decision.

As Getman points out, what is now considered the “Mackay Doctrine” is in direct conflict with the actual Mackay decision:

The holding is that it is illegal to decide which employees are entitled to work after a strike on the basis of union activity. But the dictum insists that the employer may give employment preference to those who work during a strike over those who strike, which is precisely the same result, penalizing union activity that was outlawed by the holding.

“It is impossible to know,“ writes Getman, “what led the Court to go out of its way to announce that the hiring of permanent replacements was consistent with the Act.” But one can easily guess that the conservative judges, aghast at New Deal encroachments on property rights, sought to ensure that the bargaining power of unions was “balanced” in some way.

The Mackay Doctrine wasn’t really put to use until the 1980s, starting with the Phelps-Dodge copper mining company, which bargained its Steelworkers local to impasse over drastic cuts in pay, benefits and working conditions, pushed them out on strike and then had the scabs vote to decertify the union 12 months later. This is how employers have weaponized Mackay to union-bust much of American industry. (And it would be clearly illegal under the new American Baptist Homes standard.)

The results are far from Justice Roberts’ nebulous “right to protect and continue his business,” and farther still from “balancing” the power of unions and management. Common sense dictates that the right of management to permanently replace striking workers be revisited; justice demands that the Mackay Doctrine be overturned.

Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I think Mackay is vulnerable to constitutional challenge as a violation of workers’ 1st amendment rights of free speech and assembly, 13th amendment protections against involuntary servitude and 14th amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection. As it is, the American Baptist Homes NLRB decision is certain to be resisted and appealed by business and industry, and will inevitably wind its way up the federal courts.

Even if the Court doesn’t go for those constitutional arguments, it could be ruled to have been “wrong the day it was decided” for having ignored both the plain language of the law, as well as the clear legislative intent. Or the Court could decide that their predecessors acted in the public interest by attempting to “balance” the power of unions and management in 1938, but that the track record of Mackay since 1983 demonstrates that true balance can only be achieved by restoring the right to strike without reprisal.

Or if the Court really wants to weasel out of the controversy, they could lean on the crucial (and crucially forgotten) “protect and continue his business” portion of the initial Mackay dictum—only granting the “right” to permanently replace strikers to employers who can demonstrate that they might go out of business otherwise, or, as in American Baptist Homes, that they have no ulterior union-busting motive.

Not that Julius Getman would necessarily agree with my proposal. “The long existence of the doctrine,” he writes, “its acceptance by Court after Court, and the fact that it has survived attempts to overturn it by amendment all will make it a ward of stare decises, safe even from liberal courts.”

Getman is a brilliant and accomplished legal scholar. I’m just an organizer who argues with lawyers a lot. So, with respect, I don’t see a substantial downside to trying. It was the dogged pursuit of anti-union lawsuits by the right-wing—often, initially, unsuccessful—that helped make Mackay precedent, as well as brought us on the verge of outlawing neutrality agreements and outlawing the union shop in the public sector. It is time that we launched a sustained counter-offensive in the courts.

And what about striking workers who do lose their jobs under the current doctrine? Who could argue against taking every step imaginable to restore their rights and their livelihoods?

This blog originally appeared at InTheseTimes.org on June 15, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

Shaun Richman is a former organizing director for the American Federation of Teachers. His Twitter handle is @Ess_Dog.

Verizon Unions Deliver For American Middle Class

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Dave JohnsonThe long Verizon strike has ended, and the unions won. This means that the American middle class won, too.

Verizon is an extremely profitable company. But even with massive, astonishing profits the company was demanding that its workers provide givebacks, allow employees to be separated from families for months at a time and on top of that allow the company to send more and more call center jobs out of the country. The workers are lucky enough to have unions to fight this – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). They voted to strike, it was a long, hard struggle, and in the end they won.

Here is a description of what Verizon’s workers achieved for all of us, from the IBEW:

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Verizon agreed that no additional jobs will be outsourced overseas, while increasing the number of calls routed to domestic call centers. This will result in the creation of 1,300 new call center jobs with 850 in the Mid-Atlantic region and 450 in the Northeast.

“This was the major issue for my members: protecting American jobs and keeping them here at home,” said East Windsor, N.J., Local 827 Business Manager Robert Speer, who represents IBEW Verizon employees in New Jersey. “This agreement makes a lot of progress in reversing the outsourcing trend.”

Verizon also agreed to drop its demand that technicians had to be available to travel outside their home areas for up to two months at a time.

“Our members aren’t just Verizon employees, they’re moms and dads as well,” said Calvey. “We’re glad that we’re able to make sure our members are able to come home to their families every night.”

Also included in the tentative four-year agreement are:

• Wage increases of 3 percent for the first year and 2.5 each year after

• No cap on pensions and three 1 percent increases over the life of the agreement

• Retaining competitive health benefits

• Strong job security language

Why We Need Labor Unions

This shows exactly why we need labor unions.

Verizon did not need to outsource call-center work overseas. Verizon didn’t need to set up highly disruptive work schedules in which workers would be away from their families for weeks at a time. Verizon didn’t need to put a cap on worker pensions. Verizon tried to get these things from their workers anyway, because they are wealthy and powerful. If this sounds like everything you see around all of us with giant corporations trying to snatch more and more away from all of us, just because they can use their enormous wealth and power to do that, you are getting the picture.

Verizon’s workers stood up, banded together in unions, and forced the company back to the drawing board. The company had to come back with a proposal that worked for both the workers AND Verizon’s bottom line. Verizon was hoping to increase its profits even more; but over time the lower-than-hoped-for could likely be overtaken by the increased productivity of a more loyal workforce. (Depending, of course, on whether management follows up with the right strategic decisions and investments.)

This is why all of us need unions. Otherwise we are alone, on our own up against the aggregated wealth and power of giant corporations. Alone we don’t stand a chance. Verizon’s proved that the American middle class can fight back – if they join unions.

This post originally appeared on ourfuture.org on May 31, 2016. Reprinted with Permission.

Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

Stakes For All Workers Remain Huge In Verizon Strike

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Dave JohnsonNOTE: Shortly after this article was posted, news broke of a settlement in the strike between Verizon and workers represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Workers are expected to return to their jobs next week. IBEW President Lonnie R. Stephenson issued a statement saying, “This tentative contract is an important step forward in helping to end this six-week strike and keeping good Verizon jobs in America.” Verizon’s unionized workers, he said, “look forward to returning to work serving their customers, working under a strong pro-worker and pro-jobs contract.”

With the strike by unionized Verizon workers going into its seventh week, Campaign for America’s Future’s Isaiah J. Poole conducts a short interview with Sara Steffens, Secretary Treasurer of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

“The picket lines are incredibly strong,” she says in the interview. The striking workers continue to gain support because more people recognize Verizon, as she put it, is “a corporation that doesn’t need a giveback but wants it anyway.”

This is important not just to Verizon’s workers, but for all of us. The April 14 post, “Verizon Workers Strike To Keep America’s Middle Class,” explains that the union’s fight is about a lot more than just their pay, work location and hours.

This is really about the bigger fight between the corporate-dominated economy that puts workers (all of us except a few) last, entirely looking at what benefits the corporation. Work hours, pay, stability, benefits, all are sacrificed to further corporate “flexibility.” So it you are not a wealthy executive or shareholder your life just gets harder and harder, and you have fewer and fewer rights and options.

Another Verizon Strike National Day of Action is being planned for June 2. By then,

… the working families on strike at Verizon and Verizon Wireless will have gone 51 days without pay and over a month without health insurance.

Let’s show Verizon what this fight is all about – making sure the needs of working families are met and protecting good, union jobs for generations to come for all working people in this country.

Join us for a National Day of Action on June 2. Please RSVP and save the date. We’ll be back in touch about events near you and how you can support the fight online.

This post originally appeared on ourfuture.org on May 27, 2016. Reprinted with Permission.

Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

New Verizon Strike Day Of Action Thursday

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Dave JohnsonThe Verizon strike is still going on, and has passed the one-month mark. This is about working people versus giant corporations that have vast power. The 40,000 striking workers want a few things, but the immensely profitable corporation and its wealthy executives want to crush the union and have been refusing to even negotiate. The workers have been without a contract since August.

This weekend the Secretary of Labor Verizon Thomas Perez met with Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, Chris Shelton, Communications Workers of America (CWA) president and Lonnie Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Washington. The company agreed to return to the bargaining table but good luck with that. (Verizon just warned Wall Street shareholders that the strike is delaying “cost-cutting efforts.”)

One of the things the workers are asking for is for the company to stop sending workers to jobs sites that are hundreds of miles away from home for months at a time, and just hire a few more people in different locations instead. The company — with billions and billions and billions and billions in profits — and the executives — with millions and millions and millions in compensation — want to save on “costs” (regular working people are “costs”) and insists the employees be disposable cogs that can be maneuvered around the country (bye-bye families) to fit the profit needs of the corporation. They are trying to make workers pay even more for health insurance and accept lower retirement benefits.

Another thing the unions are asking for is for the company to cool off on the outsourcing of thousands and thousands and thousands of call-center jobs to low-wage countries like the Philippines and Mexico.

Meanwhile Verizon’s customers aren’t getting the promised service. But the company doesn’t care. They can just run more ads.

More Than Just Verizon’s Workers

If this sounds like it’s about more than just these workers and this company and its customers, you are starting to get the picture. Nationally the giant corporations have purchased enough of the Congress to block anything that diminishes their power and helps working people or consumers. Nationally the giant corporations have been able to weaken the unions which keeps wages down and working conditions miserable. So without strong government and strong unions regular people have nowhere to turn. THAT is why the Verizon strike is important.

National Day Of Action Thursday

CWA is holding a Verizon “Day of Action” march & rally set Thursday in Washington. They will picket from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the 13 & F street Verizon Wireless store. Then strikers and their supporters will march to Lafayette Park for a rally beginning at 6 p.m.

You can donate to the solidarity fund here. “Donations to the Verizon Striking Families Solidarity Fund will be used exclusively to assist striking families with special needs who are facing very difficult financial circumstances.”

Visit the Stand Up To Verizon website to find local Day of Action events near you.

This blog originally appeared at Ourfuture.org on May 17, 2016. Reprinted with permission. 

Dave Johnson has more than 20 years of technology industry experience. His earlier career included technical positions, including video game design at Atari and Imagic. He was a pioneer in design and development of productivity and educational applications of personal computers. More recently he helped co-found a company developing desktop systems to validate carbon trading in the US.

Striking Verizon Workers to Return to Work Tuesday

Monday, August 22nd, 2011
Image: From AFL-CIO

Image: From AFL-CIO

The 45,000 striking Verizon workers, represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Electrical Workers (IBEW), will return to work Tuesday under the existing contract as bargaining resumes.

The CWA and IBEW announced:

We have reached agreement with Verizon on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured. The major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues now are focused and narrowed.

We appreciate the unity of our members and the support of so many in the greater community. Now we will focus on bargaining fairly and moving forward.

Verizon, which amassed more than $20 billion in profits in recent years and paid its top five executives more than $258 million in the past four years, forced workers in Northeast states into a strike by demanding $1 billion in concessions. Seen as an attack on middle-class jobs and workers, the move prompted massive shows of support by working families across the country.

This post originally appeared in AFI-CIO Blog on August 20, 2011

About the Author: Donna Jablonski is the AFL-CIO’s deputy director of public affairs for publications, Web and broadcast. Prior to joining the AFL-CIO in 1997, she served as publications director at the nonprofit Children’s Defense Fund for 12 years. She began her career as a newspaper reporter in Southwest Florida, and since have written, edited and managed production of advocacy materials— including newsletters, books, brochures, booklets, fliers, calendars, websites, posters and direct response mail and e-mail—to support economic and social justice campaigns. In June 2001, she received a B.A. in Labor Studies from the National Labor College. Most important: she’s the very proud mom of a spectacular daughter.

Support Grows for Striking Verizon Workers’ Fight for Middle-Class Jobs

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Image: Mike HallThe huge crowd outside the Verizon Center in downtown Washington, D.C., Saturday wasn’t there for a basketball game or concert. They came to tell Verizon to stop its attack on middle-class jobs.

The Verizon Center demonstration and dozens and dozens of other actions at Verizon worksites and Verizon Wireless stores are part of the growing support for the 45,000 Communications Workers of America (CWA) and Electrical Workers (IBEW) members forced on strike by Verizon Aug. 6.

Photo credit: Scott ReynoldsThe company, with $32.5 billion in revenue in the past three years, is demanding $1 billion in concessions from workers, which amounts to $20,000 per Verizon worker per year. While talks resumed last week, those demands remain on the table. Says CWA Communications Director Candice Johnson:

If wealthy companies like Verizon can continue to cut working families’ pay and benefits, we will never have an economic recovery in this country. This is a fight for all middle-class working families.

Verizon’s demands include outsourcing jobs overseas, gutting pension security, eliminating benefits for workers injured on the job, eliminating job security, slashing paid sick leave and raising health care costs.

CWA filed unfair labor practice charges against Verizon Aug. 12 with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), charging the company with refusal to bargain in good faith.

Union workers and community allies are joining striking CWA and IBEW members on the picket lines. Barbara Smith of CWA Local 1109 In Brooklyn, N.Y., told Labor Notes that when Verizon Wireless pickets are up:

pedestrians stop and thank us because they understand that this fight is about more than Verizon.

While Verizon is demanding that workers take home less, it paid its top five executives more than $258 million over the past four years, including $80.8 million for its former CEO Ivan Seidenberg. Friday night, more than 500 CWA, IBEW members and their allies held a candlelight vigil outside Seidenberg’ West Nyack, N.Y., home.

They carried a coffin to symbolize the death of the middle class. CWA Local 1101 member Ron Canterino, told reporters:

The middle class is dying here, and we’re here to be together as one class, one people—whether it’s union or nonunion working people.

Here are some other actions you can take to support the strikers:

  • Find a local picket line to support here.
  • Download leaflets here.
  • “Like” the strikers on Facebook here and change your Facebook and/or Twitter profile picture in solidarity here.
  • Click here to demand that Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam value employees’ work and share his corporation’s success with those who make it possible.
  • Click here for a list of picket sites in the New York and New Jersey area. `
  • Click here to sign and Tweet an act.ly petition demanding Verizon drop its outrageous concessionary demands.
  • To Tweet about the strike, use the hashtag #verizonstrike and feel free to direct to @VZLaborfacts.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Blog on August 15, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety. When his collar was still blue, he carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. He has also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold his blood plasma and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent.

45,000 Verizon Workers on Strike

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Credit: Joe Kekeris

Credit: Joe Kekeris

UPDATE: Tomorrow morning, Aug. 8, thousands of striking workers will join mass picket lines and rallies at more than 100 Verizon work locations across New York and New Jersey to push the highly profitable company to back off its sweeping demands. The list of picket lines and rallies is here: http://district1.cwa-union.org/news/entry/verizon_workers_fight_for_middle_class_jobs_-_join_the_picket_line

And in the Washington, D.C., area, you can show your support for striking workers at a mobilization rally Monday at noon at the Chesapeake Complex, 13100 Columbia Pike Silver Spring.

More than 45,000 workers from New England to Virginia went on strike just after midnight today at Verizon Communications. Since bargaining began July 22, Verizon has refused to move from a long list of concession demands. As the contract expired, Verizon, a $100 billion dollar company, was still was looking for $1 billion in concessions from 45,000 workers and families. That’s about $20,000 in givebacks for every family.nearly 100 concessionary proposals remained on the table.

This despite Verizon’s 2011 annualized revenues of $108 billion and net profits of $6 billion. At the same time, Verizon Wireless just paid its parent compny, Vodaphone, a $10 billion dividend. Meanwile, Verizon’s four top executives received $258 mllion over the past four years.

The workers, members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Electrical Workers (IBEW), say they are striking until Verizon “stops its Wisconsin-style tactics and start bargaining seriously.”

Read updates at www.cwa-union.org/verizon

Verizon already has outsourced some 25,000 jobs. It’s trying to destroy middle-class jobs and the middle-class standard of living that workers have gained over the past 50 years.

Follow the events on Twitter with the hashtag #verizonstrike and direct tweets to @VZLaborfacts.

This blog originally appeared in alf-cio Now Blog on August 7, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Tula Connell got her first union card while she worked her way through college as a banquet bartender for the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee (represented by a hotel and restaurant local union—the names of the national unions were different then than they are now). With a background in journalism—covering bull roping in Texas and school boards in Virginia—she started working in the labor movement in 1991. Beginning as a writer for SEIU (and OPEIU member), she now blogs under the title of AFL-CIO managing editor.

Your Rights Job Survival The Issues Features Resources About This Blog