As teachers, we may not feel we have a lot in common with folks who work for Verizon, but
as the strike by the IBEW and CWA enters its second week, it’s worth looking at just how similar our situations are.
Some background: Revenue from Verizon’s landline business continues to decline as more and more people cut the cord and fewer people get new landline phone service. As a result, the company is asking workers to pay more for their healthcare and is looking to freeze pensions, gut job protections, and force some workers to work away from home for up to two months at a time.
A couple of important things – First, although landline revenue is declining, it’s not like the need for these workers has diminished. These men and women are continuing to work their butts off: climbing ladders 40’ in the air, crawling into manholes 6’ underground, and everything in-between; in rain, snow, heat, and cold, to make sure that phone service, a basic need we rely upon, continues uninterrupted.
Second, despite declines in the landline business, Verizon is a money making machine. They netted $39 BILLION over the last three years (that’s not revenue, that’s profit). Last year their CEO made nearly $20 Million, and total compensation for their top executives was over $240 Million from 2010 to 2014.
In other words, we have a group of hardworking, dedicated people, doing a job that serves the public good, who are unfairly being asked to take the brunt of problems not of their making, simply because of the job they chose to do. Sound familiar?
This is the heart of unionism. It means that we identify with our brothers and sisters in the IBEW and CWA and we stand with them – figuratively and literally. We should support them because it’s the right thing to do, and we should support them out of enlightened self-interest.
This is a great opportunity for our union to build in-roads with our private sector brothers and sisters. Many of them have been incredibly supportive of us, regarding opt-out, charter schools, and tenure rights.
It would be great for them to see that we are supportive of them in their time of need. And, who knows, we may want to call upon them at some point in the future.
Further, the loss of benefits, job protections, and pensions in the private sector spills over into the public sector and vice-versa – we must stand together. And finally, strong unions benefit everyone – not just union workers: “the solid, family-sustaining wages that unions secure through collective bargaining also put upward pressure on wages throughout the economy. And the protections and high standards demanded by unions influence non-union shops to lift their standards as well.”
HOW TO SUPPORT OUR VERIZON WORKERS
Read up on the strike
**5 Reasons our friends in the community and all workers should care
**Stand Up to Verizon
Stop by a picketing location (see list below) and say hello. Let the Members know you support them. Drop off some water or snacks.
Walk the line. If you’re interested in joining a picket line (even just for a few minutes) you can just show up at any of the locations below, or join together with others.
Nearby Picketing Locations
- Verizon Garage 1130 Lincoln Avenue Holbrook
- Verizon Garage 285 Hubbard Avenue Riverhead
- Verizon Wireless Store Smith Haven Mall Middle Country Road Lake Grove
- Verizon Wireless Store Gateway Plaza Sunrise Hwy Patchogue