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Verizon Workers Standing Up for Middle-Class Jobs

August 11, 2011

At Verizon and Verizon Wireless offices, call centers, phone stores, outdoor garages, and hundreds of workplaces from New England to Virginia, 45,000 CWA and IBEW members are standing strong in their strike to save bargaining rights and middle-class jobs at one of the nation's most profitable companies.

San Francisco Verizon Picket

CWAers, including members of NABET and the Pacific Media Workers Guild, support striking Verizon workers by picketing outside a Verizon Wireless store in San Francisco.

Picket lines are strong and growing at Verizon and Verizon Wireless locations as workers are being joined on the line by CWA members from other companies and members of other unions as the battle continues to get the company to start bargaining seriously. CWA's 70 technicians at Verizon Wireless are also on strike; Verizon's wireless division has fought for years to prevent wireless workers from organizing and improving their jobs.

"They haven't moved off of any of their regressive demands," said CWA Local 1122 President James Wagner, whose local represents nearly 600 Verizon workers in the Buffalo area. "Verizon's way of negotiating is their way or the highway. Our bargaining rights are under attack, and we're not going to let it happen here in Western New York."

Verizon's demands would roll back 50 years of bargaining gains and would push Verizon families out of the middle class by slashing jobs and benefits.

CWAers and allies across the country are supporting the striking workers.

In District 9, hundreds of CWAers are picketing and holding mobilizations and rallies. "If we let Verizon succeed, major corporations will be using it as a model for destroying the bargaining rights and living standards for all union members," said CWA Local 9575 President Lisa Shafer.

She said that her members are stunned at the Wisconsin-style tactics that the company has been using and are picketing Verizon Wireless stores, Verizon garages, and other locations on a regular basis. Every day, they take part in a Verizon mobilization conference call.

Members of the local have also adopted CWA Local 13000 to show support for the strikers. "It means a lot to know that you are not alone," said Shafer. "I got a call from a Verizon member in Pennsylvania who just wanted to us to know how he was really touched to know others are standing alongside him and his co-workers.

Verizon Picket Locations

Click on CWA's Verizon picketing map to see where you can support workers' fight for a fair contract.

Members of Local 9510 will be conducting a mass hand-billing at a sold-out California Angels Major League Baseball game on August 16, and at an event at the Verizon Amphitheatre, an outdoor concert hall in Irvine, Calif.

"Our members are really energized," said local president Kenny Williams. "If Verizon is successful, other companies will be encouraged to follow suit, and that includes AT&T and other union employers."

There is a lot of support from allies. The 1.4-million member Teamsters union has told its UPS drivers not to deliver shipments to Verizon Wireless stores and other retail locations if it means crossing a picket line. "We cannot allow Verizon to strip away benefits and protections on the job for no other reason than to further enhance their profits," said Teamsters President James Hoffa.

And members of Congress are sending letters to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, calling on him to bargain fairly. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) wrote that "a failure to maintain good working conditions for employees of our major corporations is both socially unfair and economically unwise, since a deterioration in the living standards they are able to afford has a negative impact on our economy as a whole."

Here's what you can do:

Adopt a Verizon Wireless store to picket and leaflet.

Sign CWA's petition to Verizon CEO McAdams.

"Like" Verizon strikers on Facebook.

Click here to find a Verizon picket line.