In what is shaping up as the largest and most important strike in the US in recent years, some 39,000 Verizon workers walked off the job on 13 April in support of demands for better, more secure telecommunications jobs.
Verizon, one of the largest US telcos, was created through a merger of former “Baby Bell”, Bell Atlantic, and GTE in 2000. It operates both wireline and wireless assets and is now the number 1 carrier in the mobiles sector. Its profits are currently running at some US$1.8 billion a month.
Yet the company wants to cut employees’ retirement and injury entitlements, make its workers pay more for company-based health care protections and require them to relocate within its service areas for up to two months at a time.
It also wants to remove long standing job security provisions, giving a green light to off-shoring more call centre jobs and allowing the increased use of contractors.
Negotiations with Verizon around this wish-list have been going on since August with little progress being made. The pushback now is coming largely from workers in the company’s wireline business which unions say is being allowed to run down despite the massive profitability of the company as a whole.
As at 28 April, negotiators from the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the two unions with members on strike, had rejected what Verizon described as its “last, best and final offer”.
Members interested in following the course of this major contest can do so via the CWU website at http://standuptoverizon.com.