Verizon workers in Everett and Lynnwood join wave of national retail worker union organizing despite the company's aggressive union-busting efforts
SEATTLE — After facing years of retaliation by senior management and poor working conditions, including understaffing and unlivable wages, Verizon Wireless retail store workers in Seattle, Wash., are voting on union representation in an official National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election. Voting officially began on Friday, March 25, 2022, when ballots were sent out to workers, and the votes will be counted on Friday, April 15, 2022. If Verizon Wireless workers vote in favor of forming a union, they will join hundreds of thousands of other telecommunications and customer service employees as members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
Employed across two Verizon stores in Everett and Lynnwood, Wash., these workers are going up against labor laws that favor employers and aggressive anti-union tactics by the company. In fact, Verizon flew their in-house union-busting team to Seattle the day after workers publicly announced their organizing efforts and asked for voluntary recognition from Verizon on March 7, 2022.
Last week, 90% of Google Fiber retail workers in Kansas City, Mo., voted to join CWA, resisting a similar union-busting campaign. As Verizon workers add to the growing labor momentum nationwide, especially amongst retail and hourly workers, and stand up against one of the most notorious anti-union U.S. companies, all eyes will be on this election and the sheer determination of these workers to organize.
“I am a part-time worker at Verizon, but, apart from the low pay, I’m treated like I’m full-time and lack a reasonable work-life balance,” said Katie Hill, a Specialist at Verizon Wireless in Seattle. “When I’m not working at the Verizon store, I’m running my own business to bring in extra money. But because our schedules are completely random every week and we are never off work on time, managing any part of our lives outside of work, including school, family time, and other jobs, is almost impossible. A union will give us the voice we need to help bring consistency and balance to our workplace.”
Workers have been pushing back against Verizon Wireless’s poor working conditions for years, along with the company’s long history of union-busting. In 2014, corporate executives and upper level management at Verizon Wireless launched an aggressive anti-union campaign amid organizing efforts at its retail stores in Brooklyn, where workers ultimately triumphed and formed the first union for Verizon Wireless workers with CWA. Now, Verizon workers in Seattle are in a similar fight, going up against the company’s key union-busters, including Verizon’s Labor Relations Manager Shannon Charron, Senior Vice President Consumer Field Sales Kelley Kurtzman, and Director of Human Resources Brett Ulrich. While Verizon’s union-busting team continues to force anti-union rhetoric on Seattle workers, the organizers remain united in their efforts to form a union.
“I quit Starbucks to come work at Verizon Wireless to expand my career opportunities and gain sales experience, but one thing I brought with me to Verizon was this excitement around organizing and urgency to have a voice on the job,” said Natalia D'aigle, a Specialist at Verizon Wireless in Seattle. “It’s incredibly reassuring to see my colleagues at Verizon push back against the company’s union-busting efforts and intimidation tactics. Even when Verizon told me I would lose my job or my apartment if I voted for a union, I knew that wasn’t true, and that my colleagues, who are all essential to keeping this store up and running, would continue to stand together in our fight for better working conditions.”
Verizon Wireless workers in Seattle have been paying close attention to the successful organizing efforts at companies across the country and were inspired by local Starbucks workers who, as of last week, won a union in an NLRB election. Verizon workers have been in talks with frontline workers at Starbucks, gaining critical insights into the organizing process, as well as support for their fight for a voice on the job.
About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working people in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public service and education, and manufacturing.