Frustrated with the unproductive pace of negotiations towards a new contract for 39,000 Verizon workers from Massachusetts to Virginia, the Communications Workers of America has launched a regional TV and digital ad buy calling the nation's 16th largest company "the poster child for corporate greed." The ad can be viewed here.
Verizon made $1.5 billion a month in profits in 2015-and $39 billion in profits over the last three years-while insisting at the bargaining table that workers accept major cutbacks in health care coverage, job security, pension protections, and benefits for injured workers. Verizon also adamantly refuses to bargain a fair first contract for wireless retail store workers in NY and Massachusetts. Continued management intransigence on these issues, which has left workers without a contract since August 1st of 2015, could lead to a strike that would affect consumers from Massachusetts to Virginia.
In the new advertisement, which will start running this weekend, retired Verizon worker Ernie Hammel - 29-year former field technician - tells customers,"This company is the poster child for corporate greed." Following clips of national TV reports about growing economic inequality in the country, the advertisement shows that Verizon's CEO makes more than 200 times as much as the company's average worker.
"For a communications company, Verizon executives seem to have trouble hearing their customers and their workers," said Dennis Trainor, Vice President for CWA District One, which covers Verizon workers from New Jersey to Massachusetts. "A company this profitable should not be making the wealth gap in America even worse by cutting benefits and destroying job security, while a handful of executives line their pockets with $50 million a year in compensation."
"Americans are outraged by what the corporate elite has done to working people in this country over the last 30 years," said Ed Mooney, Vice President for CWA District 2-13, which covers the workforce from Pennsylvania to Virginia. "And Verizon typifies everything that people in this country are angry about. If we have to walk, Verizon will be a national target for anger at corporate greed."
Verizon workers, represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), have been working without a contract since August and are growing increasingly frustrated that the company is still attempting to make devastating changes, including:
- Eliminating job security and allowing the company to force transfer workers anywhere in the company's footprint, away from their families, for up to two months at a time.
- Refusing to negotiate a fair first contract for 100 Verizon Wireless workers who organized into CWA in 2014. No raises, no benefit increases, no improvements to working conditions.
- Freezing pension accruals at 30 years of service.
- Vastly expanding contracting out and offshoring of union jobs. This comes on top of Verizon's outsourcing of thousands of call center jobs to Mexico, the Philippines and other overseas locations in recent years.
- Gutting the Family Leave Care plan, which provides paid leave to care for sick family members or care for a newborn.
- Gutting the Sickness and Accident Disability Plan, which provides benefits to workers injured on the job.
- And continuing their oppressive, bullying tactics of harassment and intimidation every day on the job.
"Verizon workers are the backbone of this company, and executives have lost sight of what makes this company so profitable," said national CWA President Chris Shelton. "Verizon workers have helped executives pocket $249 million in the last five years while their own families are worrying about job security. We're all tired of waiting for Verizon executives to agree to a fair contract. It's time to let customers know what is going on, and why we'll be on strike if the situation doesn't change soon."
Verizon is falling short on commitments to its customers as well. The company refuses to build out FiOS in 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. 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.
In a strike vote conducted last summer, 86% of Verizon workers supported walking off the job if a fair agreement could not be reached.