39,000 workers on the East Coast set to strike on 1 August as contract expires without agreement.

Verizon – the largest telecommunications and broadband company in the US – made $9.6 billion in profits in 2014 and reported $4.4 billion in profits just in the 2015 second quarter alone.

Now they want to make more profit – by cutting workers’ terms and conditions.

But members of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) are not having it: 86% voted in favour of strike action.

Management’s offer would undermine job security, reduce pension benefits and increase health care costs for telephone workers.

“Our members are clear and they are determined – they reject management’s harsh concessionary demands, including the elimination of job security, sharp increases in workers’ health care costs, and slashing retirement security. Verizon made $9.6 billion in profits in 2014, and reported $4.4 billion in profits just in the 2015 second quarter alone. Their demands are completely outrageous and unwarranted,”

said Dennis Trainor, Vice President for CWA District One.

The unions are also building links with consumer groups angry at the company’s refusal to roll out its state-of-the-art fibre optic network and its lack of investment in maintaining the original copper network. Verizon has failed to roll our fibre optic broadband to low income areas, while also failing to maintain existing copper cable, leaving customers at the mercy of a deteriorating service.

Verizon CWA IBEW broadband

A damning audit of Verizon’s rollout in New York City found that Verizon has failed to meet its promise to deliver high-speed fibre 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 fibre optic cables by June 2014 and that after that date, everyone who wanted it would get it within six months to a year.

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.

But at the bargaining table, the story is different. Verizon is demanding:

  • Elimination of long-standing job security protections including protections against layoffs and forced transfers.
  • Slashing retirement security.
  • Sharply increasing health care cost contributions.
  • Higher deductibles, co-pays and premium sharing.
  • Remove the union’s right to negotiate over retiree health care.
  • Vastly increasing ability to contract out of work.
  • Off-shoring call centre jobs.
  • Elimination of cost-of-living raises.
  • Eliminate Accident Disability Plan for workers injured on the job.
  • Eliminate 20-year old Family Care Leave policy.

You can show your support here.

 


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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