Fourteen EZ Pass union activists who were fired without warning March 8 at the company's Staten Island, N.Y. call center by ACS/Xerox, their employer, got their jobs back this week thanks to a big public backlash that targeted the company's brazen and illegal tactics.
Xerox's CEO Ursula Burns got swamped with 5,000 e-mails and calls from angry CWAers, elected state officials, and other activists protesting the company's actions.
One day after the 14 workers joined with other employees in a minute-long stand-up show of solidarity to demand that management begin contract negotiations, they were marched, one after another, into the Human Resources department where they were fired and ordered off the premises, escorted by security.
The EZ Pass workers won representation with CWA Local 1102 last August, but ACS/Xerox appealed the election and has refused to bargain.
Frank Buonvicino, an 8-year EZ Pass employee, was told, "I know you are one of the union ringleaders." Other workers said their union activity was mentioned in their termination meetings too. All worked in EZ Pass's 15-person TAGs' department.
Mobilization by the call center workers played a critical role in forcing the company to back down. After the workers were fired, more than 40 of their coworkers demonstrated outside the building during the lunch break, carrying signs saying, "Just practicing."
"Management tried to fire all of us, but thanks to our collective power, they panicked and rehired us," said Buonvicino. "We will stick together no matter what."
Xerox faces unfair labor practice charges over the firings and its refusal to bargain with the workers. Follow the workers' campaign at www.notsofastezpass.org.