Thursday, January 17, 2019

Verizon Bosses - Anti-Union

Verizon, the US’s largest wireless provider encourages staff to use anti-union rhetoric and disparages previous unionization efforts. Unions offer “empty promises and unrealistic expectations” and don’t act with “integrity”, according to internal documents circulated by Verizon’s human resources department.

In documents given to managers and employees it encourages its own staff to use anti-union rhetoric and disparages previous unionization efforts within the company. Several pages focus on the six Verizon retail stores in Brooklyn that voted to join the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in 2014, the first Verizon stores to unionize. The union battles at these stores are used to frame unions as a danger to Verizon and its workers.

“The employees in Brooklyn were highly influenced into voting for the CWA,” the documents allege. “They were swayed by a good sales pitch through empty promises and unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, the union does not have to sell with integrity, and it was our Brooklyn employees who paid the price. Before you sign anything or even click ‘submit’ online, think hard about joining a union and remember the story of your Brooklyn workers,” the document continues. Verizon pushed for a union decertification vote in their Brooklyn stores, which workers voted against doing in August 2018. 
Verizon claim “the best way to secure jobs is to provide excellent products, services, and customer service,” rather than join a labor union. Verizon also criticized a 2016 strike of workers at their Brooklyn retail stores and nearly 40,000 other unionized employees who work as network technicians and customer service reps, citing its impact on “working conditions for our employees and experience for our customers”.
The documents further explain Verizon’s anti-union position. “We don’t believe unions are necessary at Verizon Wireless or that you or your coworkers will be well served by electing a union as your collective voice.” Verizon argues the only difference between unions and non-union-represented employees are the dues union members pay. Verizon defines a union as “an organization whose income comes from taking a portion of the wages from the employees it represents”. Verizon added: “Instead of treating employees as individuals, the company has to negotiate with the union on behalf of all employees collectively.” The documents claim union representation has declined because state and federal labor laws protect workers free of charge.
Verizon has run into trouble for previous attempts to ward off union activity. In December 2018, Verizon finalized a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board after the CWA filed a unfair labor practice charge in response to a Verizon employee in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who experienced interrogation and surveillance by Verizon for engaging in union activity.
According to Tim Dubnau, an organizing coordinator for the CWA, this is the modus operandi of Verizon in response to any perceived union activity.
“They distort the truth about unions, they imply union workers make less, they distort the truth about dues and strikes. That’s the union busting 101 when you walk into the door,” said Dubnau. “They have a jump team ready at a moment’s notice to have a forced captive audience meeting to warn about the dangers of unions.”

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