Friday, August 12, 2011

Verizon Workers Turn Away Customers and Chase Scabs

Verizon workers have been picketing at Verizon stores in the Northeast, successfully turning away customers and eating into corporate profits. However, Verizon is seeking injunctions to end this practice, according to Labor Notes. Union employees are also engaging in mobile pickets to block scab technicians from reaching their clients.

45,000 members of the Communications Workers (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) are striking the Eastern Seaboard, from Massachusetts to Virginia. Workers are resisting Verizon’s attempts to eliminate pensions, limit raises and impose large health care costs on current workers and retirees. Overall, the concessions would take away $1 billion from workers.

Verizon argues that the concessions are necessary for it to keep up with nonunion competitors. Yet the company made nearly $20 billion during the last four years.

Solidarity in Action
On Wednesday I reposted an update from Education Notes Online that teachers in New York have joined Verizon workers on the picket line. Labor Notes reports that operating Engineers, crane operators, and other construction and building-service workers in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have refused to cross picket lines, while teamsters at UPS have refused to deliver to Verizon offices, denying the company wireless and fiber-optic equipment. They have also double-parked their trucks so as to box in scabs and managers. At least 20 scabs have driven their vehicles into picketers, sending at least two to the hospital.

Ruling Class Solidarity With Verizon
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered police to follow Verizon vehicles around to “protect” them from striking workers, according to Labor Notes. This luxury is subsidized by taxpayers at a time when Bloomberg has been slashing social services and education. It is also a gratuitous gift to a company that not only paid no federal taxes in 2009-10, but actually claimed a $1.3 billion refund.

Teachers and other workers could learn a lot by reading the complete Labor Notes piece which discusses several novel tactics being used by Verizon workers, as well as the various tactics management is using to try and stop them.

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