45,000 Workers on Strike at Verizon

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The following was taken from CWA website.  Please visit them here for the most up to date info:  http://district1.cwa-union.org//news/entry/verizon_workers_fight_for_middle_class_jobs_-_join_the_picket_line

CWA’s contract with Verizon—covering 16,000 workers in New York (and a total of 45,000 CWA and IBEW members from Massachusetts to Virginia)—expired at midnight on Saturday, August 6th. The 70 unionized CWA Verizon Wireless technicians who maintain the New York City metro area cellular network are also on strike.

Despite $22.5 billion in profits over the past four and a half years, Verizon seems intent on destroying middle-class jobs for its unionized workforce. For example, the company is reneging on promises to retired workers by seeking to force them to pay thousands of dollars for health care, and has proposed to freeze pensions for current workers and eliminate them for new hires.

CEO Ivan Seidenberg, who took home $81 million in total compensation over the last four years, is guaranteed free health for life, as is his wife. Overall, Verizon paid its top five executives $258 million over the past four years.

Verizon’s unprecedented demands at the bargaining table include:

* Continued contracting out of work to low-wage contractors, which means more outsourcing of good jobs overseas.
* Eliminating disability benefits for workers injured while on the job.
* Elimination of all job security provisions.
* Eliminating paid sick days for new hires and limiting them to no more than five for any workers.
* Freezing pensions for current workers and eliminating them for future employees.
* Replacing the current high-quality health care plan with a high-deductible plan requiring up to $6,800 in additional costs.

Verizon is calling for these drastic cuts for its middle-class workforce despite both increasing profits and a workforce that has shrunk by 50% over a decade in its wireline division.

“Verizon executives are trying to take money from working people while paying themselves more than ever,” said Chris Shelton, Vice President for CWA District 1, which covers New York, New Jersey and New England. “Verizon’s C.E.O was paid $81 million over four years, almost three hundred times what an average employee makes, but they are still trying to destroy the American dream for middle class workers. We won’t stand for it.”

Moreover, at a time when workers have less job security than ever, Verizon is trying to eliminate benefits for workers who are injured on the job. Many of these employees do dangerous jobs, putting themselves at risk of permanent injury or death from a fall or other accident with no way of taking care of their families.

“Companies like Verizon that make billions in profits have a responsibility to create good, American jobs, not outsource them overseas,” continued Shelton. “Verizon is outsourcing good jobs to the Philippines, Mexico and India. America needs middle class jobs, not more of Verizon’s outsourcing.”

Verizon workers from Massachusetts to Virginia will be picketing and rallying throughout the day.

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