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45,000 Verizon strikers will return to work

UPDATE (Aug. 20): The CWA and IBEW announced today: “Members of CWA and IBEW at Verizon Communications will return to work on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at which time the contract will be back in force for an indefinite period. We have reached agreement with Verizon on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured.”

Therefore, all Verizon protests planned in Washington state are CANCELLED.

Dozens of supporters of Verizon strikers picket in downtown Seattle on Aug. 19. The picket was organized by the M.L. King County Labor Council and Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders (WA YELL).

(Aug. 19) — As a strike by 45,000 Verizon workers on the East Coast approaches the two-week mark — and customer complaints mount over service disruptions — workers across the country are protesting at Verizon stores to show solidarity in this epic struggle to retain middle-class jobs. Pickets are planned today (Aug. 19) in downtown Seattle and Sunday in Bellingham, with more protests expected to be scheduled this weekend. (Check The Stand’s calendar for details on this and future protests.)

Why is it so important to support these striking members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers?

In many ways, this massive strike encapsulates what working people are seeing happen all over the country — companies insisting that workers give up middle-class wages and benefits while companies pocket the profits of that sacrifice. Verizon, a multi-billion dollar corporation, is no different by taking advantage of a bad economy to squeeze its workers’ health plans, pensions and wages to rake in every last dollar they can.

Verizon is highly profitable:

  • 2011 annualized revenues are $108 billion and net profits are $6 billion
  • Top five executives received $258 million over the past four years.
  • $1.3 billion tax rebate from the federal government

Despite their massive profits during a time when most families are struggling to make ends meet, Verizon is attempting to lock in recession-level wages so profits remain high and workers’ wages remain low.

Verizon’s demands are plain and simple greed:

  • Demanding $1 billion in concessions from workers – about $20,000 for each family
  • The elimination of all job security provisions
  • Dramatic increases to outsourcing added to the 25,000 jobs already sent overseas in recent years
  • A freeze on the pensions of current employees and the elimination of pensions for future employees
  • Eliminate long-standing subsidies for employee child care
  • Eliminate accidental disability benefits entirely while slashing sickness disability benefits

One thing is clear: Verizon isn’t interested in coming to a solution that works for both their workers and themselves. They care about taking away workers’ voices to make more profits. Verizon has come up with one excuse after another and is refusing to bargain seriously, walking away from the negotiations and forcing the workers to strike. But despite Verizon’s outrageous tactics, the workers still have been more than willing to come to the table.

Verizon workers are facing a struggle to have a voice in the process. This redistribution of wealth from workers to CEOs occurs because it can, because employers can have their way without hearing from their workers. Verizon may think this is simply good strategy for their business, but it undercuts the ability to provide robust growth and to ensure a decent living standard and some basic economic security for workers and their families.

With middle-class families already struggling, it’s time for Verizon to share its success with the hardworking Americans who made it possible. And for the American economy to recover, we need to work together to solve problems. This is not a time for corporate greed or hard lines. It is time to work together to do the right thing.

For more updates and information, check out AFL-CIO Now.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!