Monday, August 08, 2011

Americans strike back

More than 45,000 workers responsible for maintaining and repairing traditional landlines, as well as installing fiber-optic television and Internet lines as well as call center workers are on strike today at Verizon Communications after Verizon continued to demand more than 100 concessions from workers. Verizon wants the unionized workers to start contributing to their health care premiums, including $1,300 to $3,000 a year toward family coverage. The company has also called for freezing pension contributions for current employees, eliminating traditional pensions for future workers, limiting sick days to five a year, and eliminating all job security provisions. The CWA said the concessions are unjustified and harsh, given that Verizon is highly profitable — the company's revenue rose 2.8 percent to $27.5 billion in the second quarter. Verizon's 2011 annualized revenues are $108 billion and annualized net profits are $6 billion. Verizon Wireless just paid its parent company and Vodaphone a $10 billion dividend. Verizon’s top five executives received compensation of $258 million over the past four years.

Bill Huber, for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers , said in an interview . “These aren’t negotiations, they’re an insult,” Huber said. “This is a clear attack on our unions.”
“What they’re asking is hard for us to swallow because the company had profits of $22 billion over the last four years,” said Joe Iorio, a field technician based in Brooklyn, who has worked for Verizon for 15 years. “They’re crying poverty, they say they can’t afford to pay us. We’re just not going to stand for it anymore.”
The Communications Workers of America said in a statement workers are prepared to “continue the fight” until the two sides reach an agreement.

Vinnie Galvin said he and his fellow workers are the backbone of the industry. "They're trying to bust us. This is stuff that it took us 40, 50 years to get."
"We have never seen such a sweeping attack on the quality of life of our members," union spokesman Bob Master said.

The strike is the largest in the US since 74,000 General Motors workers walked out for two days in 2007. Some union leaders warn that the Verizon strike could last much longer. In 2000, Verizon had another big strike, when 86,000 workers walked out for two weeks. ,

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