[Marxism] 45,000 Verizon Workers on Strike

Dan Russell proletariandan at gmail.com
Sun Aug 7 16:14:38 MDT 2011


Stalled contract negotiations led thousands of workers
Inc.'s wireline division to go on strike Sunday, potentially affect landline
operations as well as installation of services like FiOS, its fiber-optic
television and Internet lines.

The contract for the 45,000 employees from Massachusetts to Washington,
D.C., expired at midnight Saturday with the company and the workers unable
to come to terms on issues including health care costs and pensions.

The dispute does not affect the company's wireless division. Verizon is the
nation's largest wireless carrier.

Verizon employees who are members of the Communication Workers of America
union picketed headquarters in New York City on Sunday morning, wearing red
and holding signs with messages including "CWA on strike for middle-class

Vinnie Galvin, 56, said he and his fellow workers are the backbone of the
industry. "Everybody needs to be wired and we're the people who do that,"
said the three-decades-plus veteran of the company.

"They're trying to bust us. 
 This is stuff that it took us 40, 50 years to

The affected workers are responsible for maintaining and repairing
traditional landlines, as well as installing FiOS, union spokesman Bob
Master said.

Workers covered by the expired contract also include 10,000 represented by
the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who serve as telephone
and repair technicians, customer service representatives, operators and
more. Contract negotiations began June 22.

New York-based Verizon has 196,000 workers; 135,000 are non-union.

The company is asking for changes in the contract because it says its
wireline business has been in decline for more than a decade as more people
switch to using cellphones exclusively. It had 25 million landlines at the
end of the second quarter, down from 26 million at the end of 2010. It has
been selling off some of its landlines to other phone companies.

"It's not reflective of today's marketplace," Verizon spokesman Rich Young
said of the contract. "Our union employees pay nothing toward their health
care premiums. That's virtually unheard of."

Master said the company wanted worker concessions at a time when it was
making billions in profits and top executives were making millions in

"We have never seen such a sweeping attack on the quality of life of our
members," he said. "This is an unprecedented and in our opinion completely
unjustified attack on middle-class jobs."

Young refuted the union's contentions on Verizon's profits, saying that the
wireline unit was declining overall despite the growth of products like

Master said the strike could impact customers looking for installations or
repairs to their service, but Young said Verizon had taken steps like
training managers and retirees.

Young said Verizon would return to the table at any point, that it was up to
the union. The union said workers would be prepared to return to work when
Verizon demonstrated a willingness to bargain seriously.

In Philadelphia<http://www.latimes.com/topic/us/pennsylvania/philadelphia-county/philadelphia-%28philadelphia-pennsylvania%29-PLGEO100101023010000.topic>
Sunday morning, about a dozen red-shirted strikers and union officials were
outside two downtown buildings.

Helga Weber, 45, of Abington, Pa., came prepared with the chair she bought
for the workers' last strike in 2000, which lasted 18 days.

"We're just making a regular living, middle class -- we're not making a
fortune. We just want to keep what we have," said Weber, a 13-year employee.

Cliff Beckham, 55, of Upper Darby, said the walkout, his second in his more
than 12 years with the company, would "definitely" be a hardship.

"I've got a mortgage to pay," he said. In addition to the $200 to $300 he
said the union will provide, he hopes a part-time position with UPS will
tide him over.

"Luckily, I have a night job," he said. "I'm glad I kept it."

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