Today, Verizon presented what it described as its "last, best, and final offer" to your bargaining teams in Philadelphia and Westchester.
Unfortunately, their "last and best" was little more than the "same old bullshit."
Here's what they offered that was new: an additional 1% in wages, one year of corporate profit-sharing, and at last, they backed off at least part of their demand to be able to transfer workers for two months anywhere in the footprint. (They are however, still insisting on the right to transfer workers out of state for two months if the worker can commute home in the evening).
We of course welcome higher wages and these other changes. But what good is a wage increase if we cannot ensure that our jobs will be around a year or two from now?
The company's latest offer fails to address the union's commitment to preserve job security and good jobs for our members in our communities.
- There was no movement on the closing of call centers, which could lead to subcontracting and offshoring of our work.
- They barely budged on the issue of protecting our share of the call center work.
- They gave us an insulting proposal on contracting out plant work that does not return any contracted work to the bargaining unit, but might possibly slow down further contracting in the future.
- Preservation of the "job security letter" is still linked to declaring surpluses by organization and eliminating seniority protections for transfers.
- They are still looking to reduce our disability benefits.
- They are still proposing to freeze pension accruals at 30 years.
- There is still not one word about improving the wages, benefits and working conditions of Verizon Wireless retail store employees or a fair contract for the VZW techs.
Even before the company finished up this insulting presentation, it posted videos on its website designed to persuade our members that this was a reasonable offer and that we should end our strike.
Your bargaining committee was infuriated by this move in particular, and blasted the company for its arrogance and unwillingness after 10 months of bargaining to address the concerns of 39,000 CWA and IBEW members from Massachusetts to Virginia.
As usual, we are prepared to continue bargaining towards a fair contract. The company can call their proposals whatever they want: "last, best, final"; "first and worst"; "the greatest thing since sliced bread." Calling it the "last, best and final" is just a tired way of trying to intimidate our members into accepting a contract that we can't live with. It hasn't worked in the past, and it won't work now.
We will continue bargaining and striking until we get the contract that you deserve. The strike is incredibly effective. Picket lines are strong across the footprint. Business in Wireless stores has plummeted. The scabs are making mistakes right and left, endangering themselves and the public with their unsafe practices-two of them nearly electrocuted themselves cutting a LIPA electric line in Garden City yesterday, and others dropped a telephone pole on a customer's house in New Jersey-and they are failing to get any work accomplished. A restaurant in New Brunswick featured a sign in the window that their online reservations system has been down because Verizon couldn't fix their internet for 8 days, and that Verizon was being very unhelpful.
We are continuing to escalate the strike. We are spreading picketing at Wireless stores across the country. We are headed to the shareholders meeting in Albuquerque a week from today.
Meanwhile, your bargaining committee is working on next steps and will keep you posted on any new developments in bargaining. Stay strong, stay united, stay militant. We are winning.