Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers go on strike

Apr 13, 2016, 4:54 PM EDT
Verizon store, NJ.
(Source: Mike Mozart/flickr)

Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers went on strike, and Democratic presidential candidate joined them on the picket line in New York City.

Reuters reports:

Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers walked off the job on Wednesday in one of the largest U.S. strikes in recent years after contract talks hit an impasse, and got a boost as U.S. Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders joined them at a Brooklyn rally ahead of the New York primary next week. Front-runner Hillary Clinton, who faces Sanders in the primary on April 19, also voiced support for the strikers and urged Verizon to go back to the bargaining table. The strike was called by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers that jointly represent employees with such jobs as customer services representatives and network technicians in Verizon Communications Inc's (VZ.N) traditional wireline phone operations. The strike could affect service in Verizon's Fios Internet, telephone and TV services businesses across several U.S. East Coast states, including New York, Massachusetts and Virginia. The walkout does not extend to the wireless operation. Verizon said it had trained thousands of non-union employees over the past year to ensure no disruption in services. "There's no way that these 10,000 people ... can make up for 40,000 people who have decades of experience (in highly technical jobs)," CWA representative Bob Master said.

CNN Money notes:

This is the largest strike in the United States since Verizon workers last walked off the job in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That strike involved 45,000 workers. Most of the striking workers service the company's landline phone business and FiOS broadband network -- not the much larger Verizon Wireless network. They have gone without a contract since August, and their union, the Communication Workers of America, says it is fighting to get Verizon to come to the table with a better offer. The union's list of complaints is a long one: Verizon has outsourced 5,000 jobs to workers in Mexico, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. Verizon is hiring more low-wage, non-union contractors, the union says.

NBC News writes:

Bernie Sanders got a rock star reception Wednesday when he joined some of the nearly 40,000 Verizon workers who walked off their jobs. The Democratic presidential candidate was greeted with cheers when he showed up unexpectedly on the picket line in Brooklyn to show solidarity with striking landline and cable workers. "Brothers and sisters, thank you for your courage in standing up for justice against corporate greed," Sanders said to loud applause. Earlier, Sanders' rival Hillary Clinton blasted Verizon's management and sided with the strikers. "Verizon should come back to the bargaining table with a fair offer for their workers," she said in a statement. "To preserve and grow America's middle class, we need to protect good wages and benefits, including retirement security. And we should be doing all we can to keep good-paying jobs with real job security in New York."