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.
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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.
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