Verizon: Stonewalling Negotiations
by Rosa Lozano, Verizon campaign organizer
On June 22nd, 45,000 workers and their community, union, & student allies took the streets to demand a fair contract from Verizon Communications following their contract expiration. In August of 2011, workers went on strike one month after the company proposed $1 billion worth of cuts in worker benefits ($20,000 per worker) which particularly threatened a vulnerable sector of our community -- retirees. For two weeks, 45,000 workers put their livelihood on the line to stand together against corporate greed.
After a quick realization by the company that it could not continue to make its record profits without a workforce, the Company agreed to come to the bargaining table to negotiate. In good faith of this illusive gesture, workers returned to their daily responsibilities.
Verizon Communications underestimated its workers and the communities they are a part of in deciding to put profit over people. In refusing to take the contract negotiations seriously and listen to their workers, in refusing to compensate them fairly for the millions upon millions of dollars in profit they have helped Verizon to generate, they would set in motion a national campaign of solidarity that would expose them as the face of corporate greed. It is a risky gamble In a time when hard working people are loosing their homes to foreclosure, when student loan debt has reached unprecedented amounts, when our environment is being devastated through mountain top removal, oil pipeline constructions & deforestation to name a few of these attacks.
Verizon is banking on getting its way by stonewalling the contract negotiations, making it clear, that it does not stand for workers, that it does not respect the union and more importantly, that for Verizon’s top brass, no amount of profit, no bonus, no salary will ever be enough. That they will squeeze customers and workers dry, to line their own pockets as they simultaneously downsize their workforce, outsource jobs & exploit workers abroad, and slash employees’ healthcare and retirement plans to fill their pockets even further. They have showed us their hand, now its our turn!
We successfully made Verizon a national target of the 99% Spring, where it was one of many corporate targets to get a wake-up call. We organized and mobilized workers, faith leaders, community members and students to their shareholder meetings and maintain a constant presence at their places of business. All in the name of unity & solidarity.
Thousands of people have rallied, marched, caroled, etc. to try and get the company's attention. And while we have been a thorn in their side, Verizon workers still don’t have a contract. So, it is up to us to continue to remind them. June 22nd marked the 1 yr anniversary of the contract fight, but it also marks the day when we made it personal. This marked the day when we held the entire board of Verizon just as responsible as Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam for cultivating such a devastating culture of greed and we started with Clarence Otis CEO of Darden Restaurants in coordination with the Dignity at Darden campaign led by the Restaurant Opportunities Center—ROC and Verizon Communications Board Member and Richard Carrion CEO of Banco Popular also on the Board of Verizon Communications. Our network mobilized hundreds of people and lead, supported, engaged in over 50 actions across the country from Washington, DC to San Francisco, CA to demand justice and dignity at both Darden and Verizon.