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45,000 Verizon workers walk off the job

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CRUD
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Aug 8 2011 06:34
45,000 Verizon workers walk off the job

http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2011/08/08/45000_verizon_workers_walk_off_the_job/

Spikymike
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Aug 8 2011 12:09

Is this the first really big strike in the private sector in the USA to confront the current employers offensive against the background of the current financial and economic crisis.

The company says it has trained 'other employees' to take over 'union' jobs. Is this propaganda or serious measures to undermine the strike?

soyonstout
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Aug 8 2011 13:03
Spikymike wrote:
The company says it has trained 'other employees' to take over 'union' jobs. Is this propaganda or serious measures to undermine the strike?

According to WSWS,

Quote:
Verizon, with nearly 200,000 workers, is primarily nonunion and it has made extensive preparations for a strike. Management from different parts of the country have been brought in to act as scabs, and retired Verizon employees have also been brought back to keep operations running.Verizon, with nearly 200,000 workers, is primarily nonunion and it has made extensive preparations for a strike. Management from different parts of the country have been brought in to act as scabs, and retired Verizon employees have also been brought back to keep operations running.

I think it's the biggest single-company strike since the crisis--last summer there was a big construction strike in Chicago, a Boeing strike, a couple big nurses' strikes and many teachers' strikes.

Verizon strike rally in NYC

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 8 2011 16:16

Does anyone know anyone on strike who can give us an 'inside view'? Links even?

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CRUD
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Aug 11 2011 00:18
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Does anyone know anyone on strike who can give us an 'inside view'? Links even?

I have a friend who works for them...I'll talk to her soon.

bastarx
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Aug 11 2011 01:04

Am I correct in thinking there was a big fairly militant Verizon strike around 99-01?

soyonstout
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Aug 11 2011 02:34
Peter wrote:
Am I correct in thinking there was a big fairly militant Verizon strike around 99-01?

It was 2000. Before it was over, I believe the CWA sent back half the workers to split the strike up. I just talked to one of four picketers in my city who was sure they could win just by waiting it out. I asked about the wireless workers and the person I talked to just basically stuck to the idea that they could just wait it out. I think in NYC they are much more angry, although not necessarily putting any more pressure on the union. The official reason the union called the strike was management's refusal to "bargain in good faith." There are also reports of strikebreakers driving into some picketers, a few reports of very small-scale sabotage (like personal fios cables in customers' private residences being cut--not necessarily to be believed).

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Aug 11 2011 09:00

My brother live in BK and said he saw 4 strikers outside his house shouting "scab! scab! scab! You gotta come up sometime!" down a manhole - quality image!

Solidarity to 'em. Any sightings of the Union Rat yet?

soyonstout
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Aug 12 2011 02:42
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Does anyone know anyone on strike who can give us an 'inside view'? Links even?

I know someone who's dad is on strike, but unless it goes really long probably wouldn't get the chance to talk with him until afterward--he is very frustrated and worried at the moment, I'm told.

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Chilli Sauce
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Aug 12 2011 10:09

Soy, send him our communist best wishes. However, if anyone knows a Verizon worker who'd be up for an interview, send him/her my way (training at solfed.org.uk) as I'd love to get something for both libcom and Catalyst.

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Steven.
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Aug 13 2011 22:07

Comment originally posted here about sabotage during the strike:

orange.ruffy wrote:
Widespread sabotage in the Verizon strike

This strike seems important, but is pretty far afield from me. Is any one here closer to what's going on? Sabotage is a constant in many industries, but at least these allegations point towards a consistency that isn't that common any more (for example, it makes me think of the last big Greyhound strike in its geographical diffusion).

From the capitalist media here:
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/FBI-looking-into-allegation-apf-1254214918.html?x=0

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Talks continued between Verizon and striking workers Thursday as the company enlisted the help of the FBI to look into alleged incidents of sabotage at some of its network facilities.

Spokesman Rich Young said the company, based in New York City, has discovered more than 90 acts of sabotage since the strike began last weekend. Young said wires had been cut in some places, causing the loss of phones and Internet service for residences and businesses.

Among the non-residential customers affected were a police department and a hospital, according to Michael Mason, Verizon's chief security officer.

"I consider that an unpatriotic act," Mason said. "These cuts aren't just affecting a faceless, monolithic company."

An FBI spokesman confirmed Thursday that the bureau is looking into the allegation.

"Because critical infrastructure has been affected, namely the telecommunications of both a hospital and a police department, the FBI is looking into this matter from a security standpoint as part of our security efforts leading up to the 9-11 anniversary," Special Agent Bryan Travers said in an email.

A Communications Workers of America spokeswoman said in an email that the union doesn't support illegal acts.

"CWA does not condone illegal action of any kind, and instructs its members to conduct all strike activities in accordance with labor law," CWA communications director Candice Johnson wrote.

About 45,000 Verizon landline workers from Massachusetts to Virginia went on strike Sunday, fighting management demands for contract givebacks. At issue is the company's declining landline business in an age of mobile phones.

The CWA said it planned to raise awareness of the impact of striking technicians by beefing up picket lines at several Verizon Wireless office locations in southern New York on Friday. Those technicians are responsible for maintaining the company's wireless network.

Despite the success of the company's wireless business, Verizon "has never come to the table with offers of vastly increased compensation and benefits for the technicians who make Verizon Wireless' enormous profitability possible," the CWA said in a statement.

Young, the Verizon spokesman, said the contracts for landline workers "were written in the rotary phone era and are no longer applicable. Our contracts need to be modernized and we need our union members to work with us to make that happen."

Samotnaf
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Aug 13 2011 22:32

edit

petey
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Aug 13 2011 23:16
Quote:
Verizon’s proposals in the new contract reportedly include: the elimination of disability benefits for workers injured while on the job; the elimination of all job security provisions; the elimination of paid sick days for new hires and limiting them to no more than five for any workers; the freezing pensions for current workers and eliminating them for future employees; and the replacement of the current health care plan with a high-deductible plan requiring up to $6,800 in additional costs.

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/197419/20110813/verizon-strike-union-seidenberg.htm

read the article, substituting 'working' for 'middle'

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Aug 14 2011 01:23

Boston IWW statement on the verizon strike http://www.iww.org/en/content/boston-iww-joins-striking-verizon-workers-picket-line

Quote:
Members of the Boston IWW joined striking Verizon workers for their second day of pickets at the regional headquarters in downtown Boston. Striking members of IBEW local 2222 were pleased with the show of solidarity as we marched together in the sometimes driving rain. The strikers were in good spirits as they walked the all-day picket line and confronted scabs at the local Verizon Headquarters.

The workers went on strike after Verizon, taking advantage of the current economy and widespread attacks on the working class, demanded concessions from the workers while the company and its top executives have taken in billions of dollars in profits. In fact, the company has made more than $15 billion in profits in the past four years while at the same time paying no federal income tax from 2009-2010 and instead receiving over $1 billion in tax refunds. The company was demanding that workers contribute more to healthcare costs, the elimination of pensions, a reduction in sick pay and elimination of Veteran’s and Martin Luther King day as paid holidays. Further, the company was pushing to have more work outsourced to non-union workers. As a result of these demands the negotiations broke down and 45,000 workers from CWA and IBEW walked out, including 6,000 in Massachusetts.

At times tensions rose during the picket as scabs exited the building. At one point food was delivered to the workers inside by the notoriously exploitative Upper Crust Pizza, who previously had their windows smashed on May Day because of their abuse of workers. Picketers attempted to block the delivery of the food while police protected those making the delivery. Tempers flared and at one point 100s of sodas were knocked from a palate and later thrown at the delivery van. Workers also attempted to encircle and block the van until finally cops and union bosses convinced them to let the van flee the scene. The picketers showed a degree of militancy and class outrage not commonly seen at other pickets and labor rallies. One Verizon worker who was not familiar with the IWW was given a flyer explaining the position of the IWW and was very receptive. The Verizon workers plan on being out on the picket lines every day for at least two weeks. The Boston branch plans on supporting them as long as the strike continues while at the same time spreading the idea of revolutionary unionism to the rank and file workers.

soyonstout
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Aug 17 2011 16:22

Was on picket line in NYC with a leaflet last weekend. Workers were very receptive to the leaflet and very receptive to discussing the attack on their living conditions (more than what their response had been/should be), but were receptive to some of the points myself and comrade made about the union's way of struggling, but also having been out for a week were definitely ready to make compromises, despite sticking by the union's strategy of the long strike ("we just gotta wait them out"). At this picket outside the headquarters, almost half the passing motorists honked in support and about a fourth took leaflets at the intersection.
Across town a verizon picket was outside the wireless store asking consumers not to shop there and when asked about involving the wireless store workers in the struggle said that many were too afraid to try to join the union.
It seems like a management provocation with the contract having 100 concessions, etc., but there's also a sense on the picket line and from the passers by that this is something that concerns the whole working class, which is very encouraging--for example there have been a number of leaflets that picketers have given out to try to explain the strike, etc.

Surtrsflame
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Aug 18 2011 07:27

Verizon Hires Blackwater for Security

Quote:
Wait. What? Blackwater? That private, for-profit, trigger-happy army that killed 17 civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad in 2007? Yeah. THAT BLACKWATER.

I have just confirmed with Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1104 that Blackwater is indeed being contracted by Verizon for security purposes. At this moment, CWA Local 1104 was not able to say how many security contractors have been hired or where they will be working. I'm sure more information will follow.

Blackwater, now called Xe, is considered to be the world's largest and most powerful mercenary army. In 2004, they had 2,300 men actively deployed around the world and another 20,000 contractors ready to go. They claim that they have trained tens of thousands of security personnel since 1998.

In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, The Nation's Jeremy Scahill reported that, “I saw Blackwater mercenaries speeding up and down the streets in unmarked cars, heavily armed with M4 machine guns, flak jackets, other weapons strapped to their legs.”

The New York Times reports:

The company and its executives and personnel have faced civil lawsuits, criminal charges and Congressional investigations surrounding accusations of murder and bribery. In April 2010, federal prosecutors announced weapons charges against five former senior Blackwater executives, including its former president, Erik D. Prince.
Nearly four years after the federal government began a string of investigations and criminal prosecutions against company personnel, some of the cases have fallen apart, burdened by legal obstacles including the difficulties of obtaining evidence in war zones, of gaining proper jurisdiction for prosecutions in American civilian courts, and of overcoming immunity deals given to defendants by American officials on the scene.
But in April 25, 2011, a federal appeals court reopened the criminal case against four former American military contractors accused of manslaughter in connection with the Nisour Square shooting in 2007.

At the onset of the strike, Verizon employed the services of the NJ State Police to escort trucks and non-union workers through picket lines. Now, Verizon's hiring of a for-profit army during the strike proves two things. First that this is indeed a war on the middle class, and second, that Verizon will bear any expense to win this war.

Can you imagine a country where the billion dollar corporations have the world's largest and deadliest private, for-profit army at their disposal? What would Blackwater guards actually do on a picket line? I guess we will find out soon enough.

I already wrote about how the un-trained, non-union replacement workers are violating Verizon safety rules and costing the company thousands by making mistakes on the job, most notably by destroying a Verizon bucket truck. In addition to that, Verizon spent $20,000 in postage to mail letters to striking union workers stating that they are terminating their health care on August 31. A union delegate for the IBEW also said that Verizon is offering contractors in Florida $75 an hour, plus hotel rooms, to come up north to work as non-union replacements, but they refuse to keep the terms of the previous union contract.

Verizon said that the concessions they are seeking on the striking union workers from the IBEW and CWA will save their company $1 billion a year. So far, Verizon has refused to budge on these demands. I wonder how much longer Verizon can refuse to sit down at the bargaining table before their union busting activities exceeds that $1 billion mark. For a company sitting on $100 billion in revenue with net profits of $6 billion last year, $1 billion seems like chump change.

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Aug 18 2011 23:29

This is fucking insane if they plan on using them on striking workers. If so It will have a ripple effect across the country and a whole shitstorm of hell will be unleashed. I double dog dare Verizon to use Blackwater against striking workers. Triple dog dare. It will be the end of their company and the beginning of a new wave of working class militancy in America.

Can it be confirmed they're using blackwater for (specifically) strike breaking in US borders?

Surtrsflame
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Aug 19 2011 05:29

Afaik nothing beyond that has been confirmed. Most likely they are going to be used to 'protect' scabs, and given their track record I would at least expect there to be a hospitalization or two.

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Aug 19 2011 05:47

No comment...

http://newscenter.verizon.com/assets/wrapper/2011-bargaining/print/We-Think-That-s-Fair-50yrs.pdf

Surtrsflame
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Aug 19 2011 06:36

The website they want people to go to is fucking pathetic.

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Aug 19 2011 20:11
Quote:
Verizon Hires Blackwater for Security

Not to get all conspiratorial, but that link comes up an error. So have the stories on Alternet.org and Unions.org.

That's one hell of a security firm!

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Aug 19 2011 20:59

Maybe it was retracted?

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CRUD
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Aug 19 2011 21:36
knotwho wrote:
Quote:
Verizon Hires Blackwater for Security

Not to get all conspiratorial, but that link comes up an error. So have the stories on Alternet.org and Unions.org.

That's one hell of a security firm!

I scared them off with my triple dog dare. smile

syndicalist
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Aug 20 2011 00:07

Been walking/visiting a local IBEW picket line. Bought the workers a couple of cases of water.

The stuff about sabotage seems mainly an intimidation tactic...with scab supervisors prolly f-ing things up causehtey haven't worked in ages.....well, speculation on my part.

More intimidation coming in the way of Verizon saying they'll be suspending workers benefits:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/08/17/bloomberg1376-LQ1PI50YHQ0X01-4G1N94DHMPN961I8FMMS77CDSL.DTL

Some of the problems the Verizon workers are having is the fact that Unons all around have been caving in on health care and pensions. State Workers getting the shaft. Industrial workers working at GE and Mine Workers both got screwed, well, mainly the new hires have, in regard to (lack of defined) pensions.

The defensive struggles waged thus far, all seem to be around how many concessions seem palitable. Some of this just seems to be based on relative weakness of the workers in todays economy, union willingness to go into a "strategic retreat" and the belief (in public sector it seems) that playing politics with politicans will later prove favorable for the public sector unions. Not many inter-union/worker-to-worker "networks" of resistance thus far it seems. Well, just my observations at least.

petey
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Aug 20 2011 02:02
syndicalist wrote:
The stuff about sabotage seems mainly an intimidation tactic...with scab supervisors prolly f-ing things up causehtey haven't worked in ages

i had somewhat the same reaction, management acts to tar the strikers. frankly if the strikers did that it would be the stupidest move.

Samotnaf
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Aug 20 2011 03:33

you 2 (petey & syndicalist) are against sabotage???? From this distance (I live in France) - the accounts of sabotage make for one of the more interesting aspects of this strike.

Surtrsflame
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Aug 20 2011 03:48

The story was apparently retracted because both Blackwater and Verizon have stated that it is not true. The other postings of the story were copied from the original DailyKos article.

I don't think there have been actual sabotage attempts. There has been no evidence of sabotage outside of Verizon claims, which were promptly picked up by the media.

Surtrsflame
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Aug 21 2011 01:13

double

syndicalist
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Aug 20 2011 04:15

Surtsflame..... let's just put it this way, whatever constructive direct action workers take, they take. What it seems like is that this may not have been an overall tatic taken informally by workers. Rather, it appears that the campaign by the bosses ---by calling in the FBI --- is aimed at intimidation and throwing cold water on any thought of informal, concerted direct action.

PS: By informal, I simply mean that any such direct action tactics sanction by the trade union leadehsips would mean legal action/forms of repression against the structures and various levels of union hierarchy, as well as rank-and-file workers......not that I have love for the trade union bureaucracy, but no need togive an excuse to bring the full force of the State down on this defensive fight.....the State is involved enough with handing down picketing size limitations and so forth.

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Juan Conatz
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Aug 20 2011 18:14

http://www.cwa-union.org/news/entry/cwa_ibew_reach_agreement_on_bargaining_with_verizon_members_to_return_to_wo

petey
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Aug 20 2011 18:30
Surtrsflame wrote:
I don't think there have been actual sabotage attempts. There has been no evidence of sabotage outside of Verizon claims, which were promptly picked up by the media.

right, i wouldn't be at all surprised. i heard the reports on the radio the day they were made, verizon spokestype making accusations directly to radio reporter, it was kept in the media for a week. so the damage was done, now they quietly retract, classic.