Verizon strike ends with major wins for union members
After nearly seven weeks on strike, unionists in US telecoms giant, Verizon, have returned to work having successfully pushed back against key elements of the company’s anti-worker agenda.
While the new contract has yet to be voted on, the main gains made by union members are clear. The final agreement will deliver:
- A 10.5% wage rise over 4 years (10.9% compounded) as opposed to Verizon’s initial 6.5% proposal;
- 1,300 new (unionised) call centre jobs on the East Coast, and 100 new (unionised) network technician jobs;
- Protections against outsourcing and a reversal of some contracting out decisions;
- Withdrawal of proposed cuts to pensions and proposed reductions in accident and disability benefits;
- Withdrawal of a proposal that would have allowed Verizon to relocate workers for up to two months anywhere in its geographic coverage area;
- Agreement that unionised Verizon Wireless retail employees be included in the contract;
- An end to the Quality Assurance Review system, a performance management system used to micromanage employees. The system will be replaced by joint union and management reviews.
It is not all one way, of course. The company won cost savings through cuts to healthcare plans and limits on post-retirement health benefits. The deal also delivers no back pay to striking workers, even though their existing contract ended last August.
On balance, though, this strike has clearly broken new ground in what is a global fight to preserve jobs and protect conditions in the telecommunications sector.