On the 5th of May, striking Verizon workers backed by many other unions showed up to picket the Verizon Wireless store on F st, asking people NOT to shop there. Verizon workers have warned “no contract, no work” and are backing it up with this strike. One of the issues is Verizon wants to outsource their jobs. Another is that only a tiny raise (possibly less than inflation) is being offered while Verizon has made $1.5 Billion dollars a month each month this year. Verizon has decided not to expand FIOS fiber service nor employee wages, choosing instead to expand CEO pay. CEO Ivan G Seidenberg is being paid $36M a year with salary and bonuses. That’s enough to buy a 2008 Gulfstream G-550 corporate jet listed on an aviation website for $23M with $13M left over. Meanwhile Verizon workers are offered only what strikers described as a net $200 a month raise
Verizon’s “last and final offer” was for a theoretical 7.5% raise, but countered with health benefit cuts and the ability to transfer workers out of state so long as a daily commute remains possible, eating both worker’s time and gas money. CWA District 1 called Verizon’s “final offer” “same old bullshit” just before an estimated 39,000 of Verizon workers walked out on strike.
This was at least the second labor action of the day, with DC teachers having walked picket lines of their own in the morning over similar issues. From teachers to bus drivers, members of many other unions walked the Verizon picket line, all of them warning that every union job in the country will get the same thing Verizon workers are getting if everyone does not stand together.
In New Jersey, Verizon is claiming there have been dozens of sabotage incidents in five states, while being very careful not to directly blame striking workers. The over 57 incidents involved is admitted to be “a 100% increase” implying that pranksters etc routinely damage telephone wires and equipment. A charge that union strikers had say, cut a cable followed by proof it was chewed through by animals or someone with no union ties being arrested for it after the fact could have legal consequences for Verizon. During the 1980 Bell Telephone strike, the known sabotage incidents were very selective, targetting things like multiple police stations and an army installation. This time around, CWA officials claim no involvement whatsover of any union workers in sabotage.
Still, Union reps warn that service issues “are on the rise.” Needless to say, when those who maintain the entire physical network have been forced to stop work by greedy management, it doesn’t take any sabotage whatsover to create severe service issues, Normal weathering, rain soaking into underground lines, and wind blown trees taking down aboveground lines can do that well enough by themselves. In the linked news story, CWA officials repond to the charges of sabotage by pointing out that Verizon is under investigation in three states for “not keeping up with” maintainance on critical communications infrastructure. This was even before the strike. Negotiations are reported to not be going well. Verizon’s greed could prove very costly for all other businesses if unmaintained hardware continues to deteriorate.