Verizon Strike Ends
By Kendrick Davis
After almost seven weeks of patient, prolific protest, the workers of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) have finally gotten what they wanted: an employee-friendly contract from the Verizon Wireless Company. On June 1, the workers of the CWA and IBEW ended their work stoppage as part of a short-term “back-to-work” agreement while the final votes on the new agreement are approved upon.
Since the expiration of the previous contract in August 2015, Verizon and the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) unions had been at odds when it came to reaching a new agreement. Verizon wanted to reduce its employees’ pensions, raise the cost of their healthcare plan, and it wanted the freedom to transfer employees anywhere in the northeastern region of the United States with very little warning. Unhappy with the demands, more than 40,000 workers of the CWA and IBEW took to the streets in a sea of red shirts in front of Verizon stores across New York City on April 13.
This was the longest Verizon strike since the turn of the century, dwarfing the previous two strikes of 18 days in 2000 and 13 days in 2011. The Verizon employees, however, were ready for a long standoff and they received support from other unions such as the United Federation of Teachers and New York State Nurses Association.
The new contract is a three-year deal that expires August 3, 2019. The new agreement netted the CWA and IBEW workers a compounded 10.9 percent base wage increase over the next three years with a signing bonus if the agreement is signed in the next 30 days. The pension plan, which Verizon aggressively tried to freeze for long term workers, was protected for all participants. Another key item the unions fought for was job security. They wanted to keep Verizon from outsourcing jobs overseas and having the flexibility to transfer workers to different states on short notice for months at a time. The new contract not only prevents this from happening but it will also create 1,300 call center jobs in the Mid-Atlantic and New York/New England regions.
Verizon employees on the strike:
Adelaide F., Field Technician 25, years of experience
“It’s worth fighting big business, regular people have to take care of each other.”
Charles H., Field Tech, 22 years of experience
“Happy to be back drawing a salary; if we gave in, big business could break anybody.”
Mike S., Field Tech, 16 years of experience
“We all need to help each other in order to move forward”
Benny L., Cable Splicer/Technician, 19 years of experience
“This was a fight for our current workers, their families and our children’s future. This strike was for all the working class Americans who just want to make a honest living and keep in this country.”
George J., Field Tech, 30 years experience
“I feel as though we achieved our goal and showed the world that we can push back. We are the most vital part of the success of this company.”
Valerie N., Field Tech/Shop Steward of the CWA
“It’s imperative that we fight for our rights as workers. This fight was not just about Verizon workers but for the working class in general.”
Sophia D., Logistics/Field Tech, 19 years of experience
“I’m proud to say that we stuck it out and won.”
Mike M., Field Tech, 20 years of experience
“This strike was annoying and aggravating but rewarding because we were able to get what we wanted as employees.”