CWA Members Overwhelmingly Approve Verizon Contracts
Contracts cement historic victory for nearly 40,000 wireline workers,
wireless retail workers, and wireless technicians following six-week strike
Verizon workers along the East Coast overwhelmingly voted to ratify new contracts that were negotiated following a historic 45-day strike by nearly 40,000 workers.
Voting separately, CWA members in the New York-New England region (CWA District 1) and the mid-Atlantic (CWA District 2-13) and in New Jersey overwhelmingly ratified four-year contracts.
Workers represented by IBEW Locals 827 (mid-Atlantic) and 2213, New York, and T6 in New England also overwhelmingly ratified the contracts.
Verizon Wireless technicians ratified a separate agreement by an overwhelming vote. That contract covers about 100 VZW technicians in New York, and contract gains include a 10.9 percent wage increase over the four-year term, a $1,250 signing bonus, new paid parent leave benefits and improvements in stand-by pay.
For Verizon Wireless retail store workers in Brooklyn, NY, and Everett, Mass., who overwhelmingly approved a separate contract, the first-ever contract makes major improvements in job security and other areas. The contract provides a first-ever grievance and arbitration procedure, protections against arbitrary discipline and firing, and restrictions on the company’s ability to subcontract work. In a big gain, $2,000 of performance-based pay now will be guaranteed as part of workers’ base pay. The contract also gives workers the right to swap schedules, enabling workers to better balance their work and family lives.
Workers at Verizon Connected Solutions also ratified a separate four-year agreement that provides for the same benefit improvements as the core wireline agreement, and in a big gain for workers, maintains a key job title that ensures that these workers will receive wage raises according to the negotiated pay scale.
The ratification votes were conducted by local unions between May 31 and June 17th. The local votes were conducted through mass membership meetings, mail-in ballots, or walk-in voting at various polling places in proximity to major work locations.
“The ratification of these hard-won contracts cements an incredible victory for the nearly 40,000 courageous workers who put everything on the line to protect the good jobs for their families and for all American families,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President, CWA District 1. “When working people come together as a union, we can make a difference in improving wages and providing stability for families.”
“It was a tough strike, but this contract, which secures good jobs in our communities and preserve workers’ standard of living shows what can happen when we stand together. I am so proud of our members for standing up for themselves, our communities, the customers and their families," said Ed Mooney, Vice President, CWA District 2-13.
On April 13, nearly 40,000 Verizon workers from Massachusetts to Virginia went on strike to fight back against the growing outsourcing, off-shoring and contracting out of good jobs by the company. It was the largest strike in recent history, and ended after 45 days with a groundbreaking agreement that will create good jobs, significantly raise pay for tens of thousands of working families, and secures the first contract ever for Verizon’s wireless retail workers. The terms of the new contracts were described in the New York Times as a “real shot in the arm for unions” and by other media outlets as a “huge victory for all workers” and proof that “strikes still work.” Experts on modern working standards said it showed “that the labor movement can expand and thrive in today’s economy.”
Highlights from the ratified wireline contracts include:
• A 10.9 percent raise over the next 4 years with compounded interest, including 3% upon ratification, and 2.5% on each anniversary of the contract.
• $1250 signing bonus in the mid-Atlantic and a $1000 signing bonus plus $250 HRA in the North East, and a minimum of $700 in Corporate Profit Sharingpayments in each of the next four years.
• All call centers that had been threatened with closure in the mid-Atlantic region will remain open. Three of the five threatened call centers in upstate New York will also remain open; the six workers affected in the other two centers will be offered jobs locally in the company.
• An increased percentage of customer service work will be handled by unionized workers. As a result, Verizon will add 1,300 call center jobs, 850 in the mid-Atlantic and 450 in the Northeast.
• Several major contracting initiatives will be reversed, sustaining work for union members in their communities and returning a significant amount of pole maintenance work to the unionized workforce in New York State. There will be a 25% increase in the number of unionized crews doing pole work in New York State.
• Existing job security language is preserved, as is existing language on transfer and seniority protections for retirement incentives. All of the company’s proposals on forced interstate transfers of technicians were withdrawn.
• There will be three 1% increases in the Defined Benefit pensions over the life of the agreement.
• The company agreed to terminate a performance supervisory program (known as QAR) in effect in the five boroughs of New York City that workers found extremely abusive, and both parties will work with an outside consultant to develop a non-punitive program. This was a major issue for NYC-based technicians.
• The parties agreed to changes to active and retiree healthcare that generate savings to the company while protecting excellent plan designs for medical care.
U.S. Department of Labor | May 27, 2016
U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announces agreement in
principle on a new contract for Verizon workers
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez issued the following statement today regarding the ongoing labor dispute at Verizon:
“Today, I am pleased to announce that the parties have reached an agreement in principle on a four-year contract, resolving the open issues in the ongoing labor dispute between Verizon’s workers, unions, and management. The parties are now working to reduce the agreement to writing, after which the proposal will be submitted to CWA and IBEW union members for ratification.
Throughout the past 13 days of negotiations at the Department of Labor, I have observed firsthand the parties’ good faith commitment to narrowing differences and forging an agreement that helps workers and the company. The parties have a shared interest in the success of Verizon and its dedicated workforce. Indeed, these two interests are inextricably intertwined.
This tentative resolution is a testament to the power of collective bargaining. I commend the leadership of Verizon, CWA, and IBEW for their commitment to resolving these difficult issues in the spirit of constructive engagement.
I expect that workers will be back on the job next week.”
Verizon Strike Update: 40K on Strike and What it Means
On April 13th, nearly 40,000 brave working people from Massachusetts to Virginia went on strike to protect good jobs and ensure quality service. It is the largest national strike in recent years.
Verizon workers are striking for more than a fair contract; they’re fighting to protect middle class jobs. As workers in Massachusetts told The Boston Globe:
“Without the union, 'these jobs would be off-shored in a heartbeat,' said Bonasoro, 44, of Weymouth. 'Nobody chooses this. What we’re doing here is we’re protecting American jobs.They [Verizon] want to constantly off-shore, outsource good middle-class jobs that support our community. There’s growing public sentiment against corporate greed.'
Bryan Phillips, a third generation Verizon worker from Pembroke, said he fears for his job every time a contract is up.
'I didn’t want to go on strike, none of us did, but at the same time, enough’s enough. Not just for Verizon but everywhere,' said Phillips, 38, who has been a technician for 18 years. 'You don’t see anyone [in other companies] go on strike, because they’re all afraid. They’re afraid they’re going to lose their jobs. But if we don’t fight for these jobs, these jobs won’t be here.'"
Verizon workers not only got the attention of the company, customers and local communities; they have prompted important discussions about Verizon's problematic business decisions, support for unions and what the Washington Post calls a "sense of empowerment among workers who struggled for years to reap the gains of the economic recovery and which could mark a political and economic shift in the balance between employers and their employees."
Reuters columnist Reynolds Holding writes: "Verizon Communications workers are bolstering unions' cautious comeback. The telecom company's staff walked out in one of the largest U.S. strikes in years after contract talks stalled. Add a Supreme Court win, minimum-wage hikes and a big role in presidential races, and organized labor's future begins to look a bit brighter."
Reinforcing what striking workers and their supporters are calling Verizon's corporate greed, The New York Times reports "the company’s overall posture does not appear to be intended to pursue a business model that maximizes the number of middle-class incomes it produces."
“Positively 19th century"is what Tom Juravich, a labor studies professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, calls Verizon's business practices in The Boston Globe.
And even though the demand for access to high-speed Internet, which has been promised to millions of households and businesses throughout the East Coast, The New York Times reports: "…Verizon remains ambivalent about Fios. In 2004 the company pledged to lay fiber that could serve as many as 18 million homes. It fulfilled that plan according to its own measure, but has shown little desire in moving much beyond it, leaving several million households with little hope of getting access to the network."
And of course, the expansion of FiOS would be a win for customers, a win for workers and a win for companies. The Times continues: "…Verizon could sustain and expand good-paying work even on the wireline side. Foremost is FiOS, widely regarded as state of the art when it comes to broadband networks, and which the union and the company agree can serve as a foundation for sustaining desirable jobs."
"Many of the protesting employees say they are concerned about losing their jobs to foreign contractors who lack the skills to troubleshoot customer problems. By the time customers reach a U.S.-based technician, the company representative must spend an inordinate amount of time soothing customer frustration caused by the previous calls with foreign contractors, said Marilyn Irwin, who served as a Verizon operator for 40 years before becoming president of a local union chapter representing Prince George's and Montgomery counties."
CWA leaders reacted to Verizon CEO's feeble attempt to talk about moral issues, saying:
"Lowell McAdam's economic and moral theories are completely hollow, and his name-calling of Senator Sanders is another example of Verizon's boundless arrogance and greed. Mr. McAdam is directing his company to dodge taxes, separate families, shift work overseas and dismantle middle class jobs, and Senator Sanders is not only correct in his factual statements, he is boldly calling out Verizon's corporate greed. The CEO's attacks on the working people who build Verizon's massive profits and their supporters are meant to distract the public from multi-million dollar executive salaries and record profits.
After ten months of intensive negotiations to reach a fair contract with Verizon, the CWA and IBEW have announced a strike deadline of 6 a.m. on Wednesday, April 13. We will set up picket lines and shut this company down if a fair agreement is not reached by then.
Verizon made $39 billion in profits over the last three years — and $1.8 billion a month in profits over the first three months of 2016 — but the company is still insisting on givebacks that would devastate our jobs.
The company wants to gut job security protections, contract out more of our work, freeze our pensions at 30 years of service, shutter call centers and offshore the jobs to Mexico and the Philippines. If we don’t accept all of these changes, they will require technicians to work away from home for as long as two months at a time, anywhere in the Verizon footprint, without seeing their families. Verizon has also totally refused to negotiate any improvements in wages, benefits or working conditions for Verizon Wireless retail workers who formed a union in 2014.
The company’s greed is disgusting. Lowell McAdam made $18 million last year—more than 200 times the compensation of the average Verizon employee. Verizon’s top five executives made $233 million over the last five years. Last year alone, Verizon paid out $13.5 billion in dividends and stock buybacks to shareholders. But they claim they can’t afford a fair contract.
And it’s not just workers who are getting screwed. Verizon has $35 billion to invest in the failing internet company, Yahoo, but refuses to maintain its copper network, let alone build FiOS in underserved communities across the region. And even where it’s legally committed to building FiOS out for every customer, Verizon refuses to hire enough workers to get the job done right or on time.
It’s time for Verizon to acknowledge that working families also have a right to do well in America. It’s time for a contract that’s fair to Verizon’s working people and the customers we serve.
Going on strike is a decision that is not made lightly. Your bargaining team has worked countless hours to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement. We have indicated a willingness to help the company cut its health care costs by hundreds of millions of dollars. But our good faith has not been reciprocated. It has been met by an arrogant disrespect for both workers and consumers. That is why we have made the decision to hit the streets two days from now. We are counting on every member to dig in, be prepared, join picket lines, picket Verizon Wireless Stores, and demonstrate the commitment and solidarity that have been the values we’ve lived by throughout CWA’s proud history. If the company changes course and shows a willingness to bargain in good faith, your bargaining team stands ready. In the meantime, we will do whatever we have to do to win a fair contract for 39,000 Verizon workers from Massachusetts to Virginia.
Bernie Sanders pickets with Verizon workers in NYC
NEW YORK – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took his muscular attacks on wealth inequality and corporate greed to New York City on Monday, joining approximately 200 Verizon workers and union members in Times Square as they rallied for a fair contract and to rehire an employee who was allegedly fired after she spearheaded an organizing campaign.
“Let me get to the point,” the Vermont senator told the crowd, which repeatedly chanted his first name. “The middle class in this country is disappearing and what Verizon is doing to their workers is exactly what has got to be fought if we are going to rebuild the American middle class.”
“What this campaign is all about is saying to corporate America ‘you cannot get it all.’” Sen. Bernie Sanders
Verizon is currently in heated negotiations with the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers after a contract covering 39,000 workers expired in August. The unions have said the telecom company, even as it rakes in big profits, wants employees to diminish their job security, increase their health care contributions and make concessions on pensions.
CWA separately contends that Brooklyn-based Verizon employee Bianca Cunningham was given the retaliatory boot after she helped a bullied worker. Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman, told MSNBC the union was “flat-out wrong” in its characterization of what happened to Cunningham, adding that she was not targeted and that her “conduct was subject to the same standard as all employees at Verizon.”
In terms of the contract negotiations, Young said Verizon has been trying to work with union leaders to reach a deal since June. “Unfortunately, while we’ve worked hard in trying to meet that goal, week after week union leaders issue a myriad of distracting mischaracterizations, distorted facts and innuendo. These PR stunts do nothing to help advance the bargaining process. Verizon remains ready to hold serious discussions and engage in meaningful negotiations that will result is a fair and balanced agreement.”
Sanders, who has frequently argued for greater protections for workers on the campaign trail, told union members – several of whom held signs emblazoned with “Stop Verizon Wireless corporate greed” outside one of the company’s retail stores – that their struggle is symptomatic of what’s happening in the rest of the country.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to Verizon workers picketing outside one of the company’s offices, Oct. 26, 2015.
Photo by Aliyah Frumin
“You’ve got corporate America making huge profits. Their CEOs get huge compensation packages and then with all of their money, what they do is they hire lawyers in order to make it harder for workers to survive in this country,” Sanders said. “What this campaign is all about is saying to corporate America ‘you cannot get it all.’ That when worker productivity is skyrocketing, you’ve got to pay your workers decent wages, you’ve got to respect and negotiate with workers for decent contracts.”
The self-described democratic socialist spoke for about five minutes before jumping into his black SUV as workers continued to rally. CWA has not yet endorsed a presidential candidate. But his appearance on Monday could certainly help.
Cunningham, 30, told MSNBC that Sanders is “a voice for the American people.” Dennis Trainor, vice president of CWA District 1, said the union – which represents 600,000 workers – was currently polling members on which candidate it should endorse. Trainor said Sanders’ appearance would likely help him curry favor among union members, noting Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton “was very good but she hasn’t shown up at any of our rallies yet.”
Verizon workers picket outside one of the company’s offices, Oct. 26, 2015.
Photo by Aliyah Frumin
Brothers and Sisters-
Standing together in solidarity with all workers and fighting back is the only way we can build the power of working people and combat the unprecedented attacks launched at us by corporate CEOs and the 1%. This was a key takeaway from our 30th Biennial Convention held last week in Bangor.
On Friday, Cynthia Phinney of IBEW 1837 was elected President of the Maine AFL-CIO. Cynthia lives in Livermore Falls and works as a meter reader at Central Maine Power. Patrick Carleton of USW Local 9 was re-elected Vice President. The delegates also elected members of the Executive Board.
Delegates signed up to take action collecting signatures to put our raising wages ballot initiative on the 2016 ballot, and it's not too late for you to as well - call us at 622-9675 if you can help collect signatures on Election Day.
An inspiring keynote address by Mark Dimondstein, national President of the Amrican Postal Workers Union.
A panel of worker leaders discussing bargaining strategies to win in tough times, including the Nurses at EMMC, Machinists at Local S6, and the FairPoint strikers (IBEW 2327 & CWA 1400).
Passage of a resolution calling on T-Mobile to address the sexual harassment and intimidation at it's Oakland, Maine call center as well as passage of resolutions to defend the Postal Service as a vital public good and opposing the TPP.
A panel of workers who earn less than $12 an hour and would benefit from raising the state's minimum wage, including an adjunct faculty MSEA- SEIU 1989 member and a tipped restaurant worker.
An inspiring update from American Roots, a soon to be union, made in America fleece company that the Waxman family is launching in Portland.
Reports of new union organizing victories and current organizing campaigns from the Lobstermen's union (IAM 207), Teamsters 340, Laborers 327, IBEW 1253, ATU 714 and others.
A banquet dinner honoring this year's award winners for excellence and leadership in the labor movement, including special recognition of outgoing President Don Berry for his years of dedicated service to the working people of Maine.
Thanks again to everyone who made this year's Biennial Convention such a success.
Union Victory at Verizon Wireless Store In Everett, MA
“CWA just saved my job.” – Heidi, Everett, MA Verizon Wireless worker & member of CWA Local 1400.
Verizon Wireless workers as a union in Everett, MA won a significant victory this week! Several months ago, the union filed an Unfair Labor Practice when the company began unilaterally enforcing the absence and lateness policy more stringently. As a result, many of the workers in Everett began receiving discipline for alleged lateness or absences. The company was forced to settle this charge by removing all discipline from current employees, and putting everyone back down to “zero” latenesses or tardies. Three members were on the cusp of being terminated due to wrongful discipline; CWA saved these jobs.
As part of the settlement the company admitted no illegal wrongdoing. Though for some reason they did find it necessary to undo everything they had done…
The labor board is also issuing a complaint against VZW for removing union literature from the break room. This is of course illegal for the company to do.
This is an important win. The company was forced to back off their unfair policies, and our members were protected.
For Immediate Release: August 1, 2015
Communications Workers and IBEW Leaders at Verizon
Announce Plan to Stay on the Job and Continue Fight for a Fair Contract
Despite $18 Billion in Profits in Last 18 Months, Verizon Still Insisting on Slashing Job Security, Health Care, and Retirement Security;
Unions Will Continue to Fight for Good Jobs, FiOS Buildout, and Quality Service
With Company Refusing to Bargain Seriously, Union Bargaining
Teams Leave Round-the-Clock Talks; Unions Remain Prepared to Bargain
New York – Leaders of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers announced that 39,000 Verizon workers up and down the East Coast will work without a contract when their collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight tonight, and continue their fight for a fair agreement while on the job.
The union leaders also announced that they will leave the sites of round-the-clock bargaining in Philadelphia and Rye, NY, where union and management teams have been meeting since June 22nd in what has so far been a vain attempt to reach a contract. The unions have informed the company, however, that they are prepared to schedule regular bargaining sessions, and urged the company to begin bargaining constructively.
"Despite our best efforts, Verizon refuses to engage in serious bargaining towards a fair contract," said Dennis Trainor, Vice President for CWA District One, which represents Verizon workers in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. "Verizon has earned $1billion a month in profits over the last 18 months, and paid its top handful of executives $249 million over the last 5 years, but continues to insist on eliminating our job security and driving down our standard of living. We're not going to take it, and we're going to keep the fight going while we're on the job."
"The company has barely moved off its initial June 22nd proposal that made outrageous demands of Verizon workers. If this company is serious about reaching an agreement, it needs to start bargaining constructively and now, "said Ed Mooney, Vice President for CWA District 2-13, which represents Verizon workers from Pennsylvania to Virginia. "Right now there isn't even anyone across the table from us who's got the power to make any decisions."
Verizon has not significantly moved off its outrageous initial bargaining demands, made on June 22nd, which includes the following proposals:
• Completely eliminating job security and gaining the right to transfer workers at will anywhere in the company's footprint.
• Increasing workers' health care costs by thousands of dollars per person, despite the fact that negotiations in 2011-2012 have cut the company's health care costs by tens of millions of dollars over the life of the past contract.
• Removing any restrictions on the company's right to contract out and offshore union jobs. This comes on top of Verizon's outsourcing of thousands of jobs in recent years.
• Slashing retirement security.
• Reducing overtime and differential payments.
• Eliminating the Family Leave Care plan, which provides unpaid leave to care for sick family members or care for a newborn.
• Eliminating the Accident Disability Plan, which provides benefits to workers injured on the job.
At the same time, Verizon refuses to build out FiOS to many underserved communities up and down the East Coast, and has abandoned upkeep of the traditional landline network, leading to extensive service problems for consumers. In these negotiations, the union members' interest is linked directly to the public interest, since our jobs involve maintaining quality service on traditional landlines and building and servicing Verizon's state of the art FiOS broadband network. Even in New York City, where Verizon pledged to make FiOS available to every customer by the end of 2014, the City's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications issued a report finding that the company was evading the buildout commitments it made under its 2008 video franchise agreement.
"86% of our members have voted to authorize a strike if necessary, but we're not going to walk into a trap set by Verizon. We'll strike when we think it is the right time to strike, and that is not tonight," Mooney added. "The ball is in their court – we are waiting for them to get serious."
39,000 workers are currently negotiating new contracts at Verizon. Fortune Magazine ranked Verizon the 15th largest corporation in America in 2014, with revenues of $127 billion, profits of $9.6 billion, and market capitalization of $198.4 billion. Verizon had profits of $28 billion over the last five years, and paid its top five executives $249 million during that time.
On July 21st, Verizon reported profits of $4.4 billion in 2Q2015 on revenues of $32.2 billion. This came on top of $4.2 billion in profits in 1Q2015, which means Verizon has made $1 billion in profits every month for the last 18 months. The company also reported that during the first six months of 2015 it has paid out over $9.3 billion to shareholders in dividends and stock buybacks, an increase of almost $5.8 billion over the first half of last year. In the Wireline division, Operating Cash Flow rose to 23.5%, and operating income doubled, from 2.6% to 5.3%. FiOS continues to expand and succeed, now constituting 79% of Verizon consumer revenues on the wireline side, and achieving penetration rates of 35.7% for video and 41.4% for internet in markets where it is competing.
A damning audit of Verizon's FiOS rollout in New York City found that Verizon has failed to meet its promise to deliver high-speed fiber optic internet and television to everyone in the city who wanted it. During its negotiations for a city franchise, Verizon promised that the entire city would be wired with fiber optic cables by June 2014 and that after that date, everyone who wanted FiOS would get it within six months to a year. The audit found that despite claiming that it had wired the whole city by November 2014, Verizon systematically continues to refuse orders for service. The audit also found that Verizon stonewalled the audit process.
In addition, rates for basic telephone service have increased in recent years, even as Verizon has refused to expand their broadband services into many cities and rural communities, and service quality has greatly deteriorated. Verizon's declining service quality especially impacts customers who cannot afford more advanced cable services, or who live in areas with few options for cable or wireless services.
In 2005, New York's Public Service Commission (PSC) eliminated automatic fines for Verizon's telephone service quality failures, reasoning that "competition" would improve services. Instead, service quality plunged. In the 3rd quarter of 2010, Verizon cleared only 1.2% of out of service complaints within 24 hours, almost 79 percentage points lower than the PSC's 80% requirement. Rather than reverse course, the PSC changed its measurements, cutting out 92% of customers from service quality measurements and consolidating 28 repair service bureaus into 5 regions. On paper, terrible service quality was almost miraculously transformed. In reality, service quality continued to decline.
39,000 workers are currently negotiating new contracts at Verizon. Fortune Magazine ranked Verizon the 15th largest corporation in America in 2014, with revenues of $127 billion, profits of $9.6 billion, and market capitalization of $198.4 billion. Verizon had profits of $28 billion over the last five years, and paid its top five executives $249 million during that time.
On July 21st, Verizon reported profits of $4.4 billion in 2Q2015 on revenues of $32.2 billion. The company also reported that during the first six months of 2015 it has paid out over $9.3 billion to shareholders in dividends and stock buybacks, an increase of almost $5.8 billion over the first half of last year. In the Wireline division, Operating Cash Flow rose to 23.5%, and operating income doubled, from 2.6% to 5.3%. FiOS continues to expand and succeed, now constituting 79% of Verizon consumer revenues on the wireline side, and achieving penetration rates of 35.7% for video and 41.4% for internet in markets where it is competing.
June 4, 2015
CWAer Mike O’Day Reminds Vermonters of Bernie Sanders’ Support of FairPoint Strikers
Michael O'Day, an officer of CWA Local 1400, tells crowd how Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders stood with FairPoint workers.
Sanders was making the official announcement of his 2016 presidential bid.
"Bernie's message is clear," O'Day said. "A level playing field for the American worker and no trade deals that benefit other countries and not the U.S. first. NAFTA was a disaster for the American worker and the Trans-Pacific Partnership is much worse."
"This past winter, we were on strike against FairPoint for four-and-half long, cold months on Hinesburg Road. Our fight was textbook, Wall Street dictating a rate of return at the expense of workers. After the contract expired, FairPoint imposed the elimination of all retirement benefits, healthcare, pensions and job security language.
"There wasn't a week that passed without Bernie checking in on our well-being. He asked to host a Thanksgiving Dinner for all the strikers and their families in Vermont. He wanted to make sure that everyone had a great holiday meal. There were 200 of us at Burlington High School that night. Bernie met with every family and let us know that he supported our decision to strike and would help us in any way he could. I can't thank him, Phil, David and the rest of his staff, enough."
Nearly 2,000 CWA and IBEW members in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont went back to work at FairPoint Communications after enduring a historic 18-week strike and gaining new contracts that provided improvements in health care, restrictions on outsourcing and elimination of two-tier wages.
April 26, 2015
Douglas McIntire/Sun Journal
Members of the unions representing FairPoint receive the Workers Solidarity Award at the Worker's Memorial Day Dinner at the Franco Center on Sunday evening.
Labor council honors Michaud, Scontras, FairPoint unions
LEWISTON — The Western Maine Labor Council held it's ninth annual Worker's Memorial Day Dinner on Sunday evening at the Franco Center, honoring Mike Michaud, Charles Scontras and the workers of FairPoint for their resilience during their four-month strike.
…The Worker's Solidarity Award went to FairPoint members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2327 and the Communication Workers of America.
For 131 days, FairPoint workers stood on the picket lines through the long winter with 1,400 members in all leading a campaign on the roadsides and in social media with their Facebook page, Fairness at FairPoint. After a federal mediator was brought in, both sides sat down and workers returned to their jobs in late February…
Last Week Everett, MA Verizon Wireless workers began to bargain with management over their terms and conditions of employment. Knowing that we are stronger together we look forward to seeing what is possible now that we are at the bargaining table in both New York and Massachusetts.
The more stores that join us in the CWA and at the bargaining table the more power we will have. Now is the time to get on board.
From left to right: Pat O'Neil CWA Representative, Gil Forero, Solutions Specialist, Verizon Wireless Everett, MA
By an Anonymous Verizon Wireless Call Center Worker
I'm a customer service specialist at a Verizon Wireless call center. I'm choosing to remain anonymous. You can call me agent V.
I was lucky, out of transition I was put on a Pro Team. My supervisor coaches Pros and a couple specialists. We have a front row seat to the "How to be the best" show, and out of any where in the call center these are the seats to be in.
More than half of my transition team ended up together on a separate team. I can see them from my desk. They have a supervisor that berates them for asking clarifying questions during trainings. She doesn't encourage them during their team huddles, and I can see their shoulders slumping from the pressure being put on them. Many of them haven't worked in high volume call centers before and aren't getting the guidance that's vital to long term success. How does someone like this become a supervisor at a company that prides themselves on being the best? Why isn't anyone stepping in and ending their humiliation? Because there is no one to step in. Our in house human resources team is one person. And HR's job is to protect the company from their workers. So it continues.
We had a kickoff within the last couple weeks, and our center director made sure to say that we don't need a "third party" to step in. Maybe she doesn't. She makes a living wage! She isn't brow beaten during meetings and coachings. She tells us during every meeting how successful we are, how we are a Fortune 500 company. How cool is that?
I work at a Fortune 500 company that is currently making record profits. She may be happy with the way things are but I’m not. I'm one of many representatives who need to know I have someone to call if my supervisor isn't treating me fairly. I need someone to negotiate a living wage for all of us, not just management. Most importantly, I need to know my job is secure and I won't be replaced with a less expensive option.
When we join together into a union we can do these things for ourselves. If they want to call that a third party, fine. But we cannot wait for someone to fix our situation for us. Let’s get organized!
Brian McVaugh, Shop Steward, Sales Representative, AT&T Mobility, Rochester, NY
Being part of the CWA gives you pride into your job on a daily basis. You know you can go to work every day and enjoy what you are doing. No sense of false promises or unfair working conditions. Before getting hired for AT&T I did not know that it was union. As a former Best Buy employee I knew that working in a sales environment can be stressful and strenuous on the mind and body. The Union has helped me out in so many ways, not just at my job, but also in life. The Union has helped pay some of my closing cost on my house, my health benefits and also the peace of mind of knowing that I can get free legal advice when needed too.
Working in a sales environment you would think taking extended vacations or planning time with your family would make you lose out on sales and money. The union has made that easy on us by fighting for quota relief. Quota relief gives you the ability to take time away from work whether it’s a doctor’s appointment, sick time, vacation or need to stay home to take care of your child. You get paid for your missed hours and sales equivalent to your quota for the day.
Having a union behind you can help with unfair disciplinary actions to keep peace of mind in the work place. Having a grievance system gives you the ability to fight unfair disciplinary actions. During a grievance you have the right to have a union representative with you while discussing with a manager or parties involved why you are being disciplined. This process ensures our rights are protected. Unfair discipline is removed from our records. Co-workers and I have all gone through a grievance process whether it was for performance, attendance or right down to the code of conduct of the business.
Watching the union grow to Cricket and Verizon Wireless will not only be good the employees but also for the customers. Happy Employees will lead to happy customers.
By Nneka Franklyn, Shop Steward, Solutions Specialist, Verizon Wireless Montague St. Brooklyn, NY
As we bargain our first contracts at the recently unionized stores in Brooklyn, NY and Everett, MA, we are already building a strong union structure inside the stores. Over the last few weeks, workers in Everett elected a number of their co-workers to be shop stewards.
A shop steward is a union member who is trained to represent their coworkers when management attempts to discipline them. They also help organize their coworkers to mobilize during contract negotiations or other conflicts with the company. In Brooklyn, shop stewards have already been elected and they have all been trained to represent their coworkers on discipline, FMLA issues, and all other problems that may come up. Last week Brooklyn CWA Local, 1109 held their annual shop stewards' dinner to recognize their incredible work enforcing contracts and representing fellow union members in workplaces across the borough. For the first time ever, the event was attended by newly elected Verizon Wireless shop stewards.
With this system of stewards in place, Verizon Wireless workers in Brooklyn and Everett, along with the long time unionized switch techs in the New York Metro area, are the most protected workers in the whole company.
Three years ago workers at Brooklyn, Cablevision voted overwhelmingly to to join the Communications Workers of America. After a long and hard struggle they finally one a contract last month. They made this video to share their story with workers in other areas and other companies and urge them to join the union.
Want More Info? Questions? Want To Get A Union In Your Store or Call Center?
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Verizon Wireless Workers in Massachussetts Join the Union Movement
Steve Early’s new book reports on our 2011-2012 Verizon strike and contract campaign,
plus the future of labor movement…
CWA Local 1400 and its members figure prominently in Steve Early’s latest book on the American labor movement. Steve worked for many years as a District 1 staff representative and is a longtime friend of our local.
Save Our Unions: Dispatches From a Movement in Distress describes recent telecom organizing and bargaining battles, plus our local's role in campaigning for health care reform and raising key issues at CWA's 2011 national convention. There's even a section on Vermont and the great work there by the Local 1400-backed Vermont Workers' Center and Vermont Progressive Party.
Save Our Unions describes the challenges facing all workers, whether they’re trying to democratize their union, win a strike, defend past contract gains, or bargain with management for the first time. Drawing on forty years of first-hand experience, Steve describes cross-border union campaigning (like the T-Mobile struggle), more effective strategies for organizing and health care reform, and political initiatives that might lessen labor’s dependence on unreliable allies in Democratic Party.
The book contains vivid portraits of rank-and-file heroes and heroines, both well known and unsung, and takes readers to union conventions and funerals, strikes and picket lines, celebrations of labor’s past, and struggles to ensure that unions still have a future in the 21st century. Steve’s insight, analysis, and advocacy help illuminate the paths to revitalization and reform of workers’ organizations, at home and abroad.
“This book shows what it takes to defend democracy, workers’ rights, and social justice unionism when all are under attack by big business.” —Dolores Huerta
Co-founder, United Farm Workers
Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
“Very important work!” —Noam Chomsky
“With labor now searching for new directions, this book should be at the top of activists’ reading lists. In his latest collection of essays, Steve Early hits on the key themes necessary for reviving the labor movement: union democracy, workplace activism, and a willingness to confront corporate power.”
Author, Reviving The Strike
“Never one to mince words or bow to authority, Steve Early’s latest work is hard-hitting and thought-provoking. Early is an activist/writer who sees unions, including his own, facing massive challenges but still searching for successful strategies. In Save Our Unions, Early chronicles recent workplace struggles with great sympathy and insight, showing the road taken by workers trying to reignite labor as a movement.” —Elaine Bernard
Executive Director, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School