Thousands Of Verizon Workers Strike Over Labor Contract Talks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Union workers marched in front of Verizon’s headquarters Sunday, several wearing signs that say “CWA on strike against Verizon’s corporate greed.”

“We’re hard workers and we deserve a fair contract. And the company that we work for right now thinks that we don’t deserve a fair contract. They put a lot of proposals up on the table that were unfair to our working conditions here at this building,” Al Russo, Chief Steward of the Communications Workers of America, told CBS 2’s Wendy Gillette.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reports

The 45,000 Verizon employees, members of the CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers say working conditions are just the start of what the company wants to cut. They say the contract concessions Verizon has demanded will take the workforce back to 1960’s levels of wages, benefits and working conditions.

“It’s the first time they’ve ever really asked for givebacks across the board on our contract. Usually it’s about one or two things. This time it’s about everything,” union worker Greg Albi told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

The strike does not involve employees of Verizon Wireless so it won’t affect service. The contract covers telephone and repair technicians, wireline customer service representatives and operators.

“The company actually do have the money to pay our pension, to give us a pension, to give us a fair and decent raise, to also pay for our medical. We, as workers, we want our bread and roses too,” said Anita Long, shop steward of the CWA.

Verizon says it needs to control costs because of a decline in its non wireless business.

“The union needs to realize times have changed, businesses have changed. People in general get their telephone service and their internet service from a variety of providers, not just Verizon, and we’re competing against providers that are non-union,” said John Bonomo, Verizon’s Director of Media Communications.

The workers aren’t buying it.

“We built this company. This network was built because of the workers, and we want to keep our contract intact,” Russo said.

Verizon said the strike won’t affect customers because it’s replacing the striking employees with other workers.

This is a scene that plays out every decade or so.  Verizon workers struck in 1989 for 17 weeks, and in the year 2000 for three weeks.

Two workers were critically injured in the last strike when they tried to sabotage a phone line in Baldwin and mistakenly cut a high-voltage power cable.

Are you concerned over this strike? Sound off in our comments section below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • tryecrot

    Yes there should realize the opportunity to RSS commentary, quite simply, CMS is another on the blog.

  • Spatta

    Look at the big picture here. 45,000 American families not recieving a paycheck . Stop viewing us as the enemy. We are your middle class ( what’s left of it ) , and what does the middle class do better than anyone? SPEND MONEY !! We are the one s sending our kids to the malls on the weekends . We fill the restaurants, and bars,and movie theatres , etc., etc,…. We keep an economy strong. Is it a coincidence that Unions are at an all time membership low and this is the worse economy we’ve had in almost a century? NO it is not! We are an enemy to corporate greed , and a friend of the worker. Our goal is to elevate the wages and working conditions of EVERY worker . We are not elitists by any means .
    I work everyday for verizon , installing , repairing , and maintaining the system that keeps you all in touch with the world. This gets done in the rain, the snow, the wind , the heat, ….you get the picture. I make under 300.00 a day doing this . Our CEO makes 55,000.00 a day to attend meetings and make appearances.

  • Edwin

    Seriously, $23 a week vs 30 percent cut in pay and no benefits or pension. Your on to something you must be one of the corporate fat cats like those at Verizon that just purchased a $20,000,000 jet to take you on vacation to your home in the vineyard.
    Obviously you have no hope or feel the American middle class should not be.
    I’m not giving up on the American dream. I understand that things are difficult right now by why should we as a people give up everything we have tolookforward to when things get better. What we give up now will never comeback.
    Big profitable corporations are taking advantage of the bad job market to take away everything that has been accomplished be the labor movement to increase their bottom line even if it effects the whole landscape of the country forever.
    Company employees are more productive the ever even in smaller numbers the company’s profits are larger than ever

  • Tony

    ask your union leaders to take a pay cut and stop waisting your dues with trips , cars . Maybe then you can pay less dues and put more in your pocket … Why dont you stop counting the CEO money and try to become his replacment.

  • Edwin

    Do you not get it. No one said Verizon workers get their jobs back after the strike ends. No one said they will keep benefits, these are lower middle class blue I repeat blue collar workers . Who are taking a unified risk to strike. Do you belong to a team like that. These people have families, children. Lives just like you. The problem with people you will never stand up for anything in your life. Shame on you. Strikes take the average workers years to come back from. The CEOs of Verizon make 55,000.00. A day, yep a day. The average Verizon worker makes 1,000.00 a week. Prior to taxes to carry the unemployed and welfare. You know what America get off our backs. We are tired and on strike. Oh and by the way Verizon is publically traded company that made 16 billion dollars last year alone. The CEO gets his 55,000.00 a day if he comes to wrk or not. And verizon workers are told produce make you quotas our you are out of a job.

  • Tony

    Ask you union leaders to take a pay cut spend less on the lavish parties and golf outings. maybe your union dues will go down and you can put more in your pockets. Start with your own leaders first then go after the verizon.. Union leaders abuse the system more then any company boss

  • TONY


  • Tony

    Union employees bash the CEO for his income. Why dont they bash the union leaders large income golf trips company cars and waste of the union dues. Maybe they would pay less union dues if the union leaders were payed less.

  • Union Supporter

    Anita Long should NOT be a shop steward. I can’t believe she actually said that. It was a stupid statement to make and it does NOT represent how the majority of Union workers feel.


    i hate verizon strike on workers

  • UnionThugsGoHome

    Free Healthcare and a pension you don’t put into. CWA says they built this company. Unfortunately the largest portion of this company’s wireline came from MCI and WorldCom, NOT just the northeast CWA mafia controlled

  • NoCommonSense2011

    This comment from the union itself says it all…

    “We, as workers, we want our bread and roses too,” said Anita Long, shop steward of the CWA.

    This greedy bunch of people are out right now attatcking their fellow workers physically and via harassment. The union “bosses” are causing the union members financial hardhip in a time of economic crisis. And we have a shop steward of the CWA making statments which can be considered nothing short of selfish. And people want to feel sorry for these folks?

  • Kline Derek

    By the way I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from,

  • Tom C

    I’m an ex Verizon employee, and pro union in general. This union is going too far. In the past, I have seen this union do things to hurt the company, AND IT’S OWN UNION MEMBERS. They encouraged their members to switch to another phone company. The catch…The CWA did not tell their members that they also represented THAT PHONE COMPANIY, so the employees would cost Verizon business, at no cost, or risk to the CWA. P.S. Spitting on people who don’t make those decisions, and are just trying to do what they’re paid to do, is the most cowardly way to express yourself.

  • Jimmy

    New pension reality for New York State workers: Today when you think to yourself if you want a GOOD, BETTER or BEST type monthly pension benefit, you think to yourself whether you want to spend $1, $2 or $3 on a Mega or Power Ball quickpick.

  • Me

    trust me, you are not all hard workers!

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