Chuck Simpson, President of Local 2204 CWA talks about the successful strike of 38,000 Verizon workers which tentatively has succeeded in protecting workers’ rights and jobs in a nine-state area from Virginia to Massachusetts. CWA Local 2204
CWA Local 2204 President Chuck Simpson, right, with community supporter J Lambert of 15 Now Roanoke and Plowshare Peace & Justice Center, at CWA rally in Roanoke, VA May 28, 2016.
Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers who have been on strike since April 13 are celebrating big gains after reaching a tentative agreement with the company. After 45 days of the largest strike in recent history, Verizon will add 1,300 new east coast call center jobs, and reverse several other outsourcing initiatives that will create new field technician jobs. The four-year proposed agreement provides 10.9% in raises, a $1250 signing bonus in the Mid-Atlantic and a $1000 signing bonus plus a $250 healthcare reimbursement account in the Northeast, $2800 minimum in profit sharing, pension increases, and a first contract for Verizon Wireless retail store employees in Brooklyn, NY and Everett, MA.
“CWA appreciates the persistence and dedication of Secretary Perez, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director Allison Beck and their entire teams. The addition of good new jobs at Verizon is a huge win not just for striking workers, but for our communities and the country as a whole. This contract is a victory for working families across the country and an affirmation of the power of working people,” said Chris Shelton, President of the Communications Workers of America. “It proves that when we stand together we can raise up working families, improve our communities and advance the interests of America’s working people.”
“Our children and our families have been depending on us to stand up for what’s right and what’s fair,” said Fitzgerald Boyce, a Verizon field technician based in New York. “Striking wasn’t an easy decision for our families, but we knew that we had to fight to save good jobs and our way of life. We fought hard and we won.”
“Because we fought together as a union, my kids will be able to see me at night. We were all so worried about the potential of transfers and more offshoring, but now Verizon is going to bring more jobs back. All American companies should be doing more to keep good jobs in the country,” said Christina Martin, a Verizon call center worker in Pennsylvania.
“For the first time, Verizon Wireless retail workers have a union and a fair contract,” said Mike Tisei, a Verizon Wireless retail worker in Everett, Massachusetts. “For the wireless retail workers who joined CWA in 2014, that means a better quality of life and meaningful economic security for our families. Today is a great day for my family and working families along the East Coast, and it’s only possible because we stood together.”
“We secured a contract our members can be proud of. It secures additional good middle class jobs for our members in the Mid-Atlantic and keeps them in our communities,” said CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney. “We were able to push back against a number company demands and achieve a contract that includes new job growth, specifically 850 call center jobs, returns work to union members; keeps centers from being closed and job security is intact and provides improvements in retirement benefits. I am so proud of the members for standing together and standing up for themselves; our communities, the customers and their families.”
“After more than six weeks on the picket line, Verizon workers won an excellent new contract that will protect good jobs and preserve our standard of living. The members’ unity and determination defeated company proposals to outsource and contract out work, and the new agreement will create 1,500 new union jobs up and down the East Coast,” said Dennis G. Trainor, Vice President of CWA District One. “Together, we are turning the tide from cutbacks against working people to building a stronger labor movement and strengthening the power of working Americans. And, for the first time in history, Verizon Wireless retail employees in Brooklyn, NY and Everett, MA will have a union contract that improves working conditions and gives workers a united voice on the job.”
Striking workers will be back on the job on Wednesday, June 1. Those with evening shifts that go past midnight on June 1 will be back on the job at the beginning of their shifts on Tuesday, May 31.
Highlights from the proposed agreement, which will be presented to members for a ratification vote after the return to work, include:
- A 10.9 percent raise over the next 4 years with compounded interest, including 3% upon ratification, and 2.5% on each anniversary of the contract.
- $1250 signing bonus in the Mid-Atlantic and a $1000 signing bonus plus $250 healthcare reimbursement account in the Northeast, and a minimum of $700 in corporate profit sharing payments in each of the next four years.
- The first contract ever for nearly 70 Verizon Wireless retail store workers
- All call centers that had been threatened with closure in the Mid-Atlantic region will remain open. Three of the five threatened call centers in upstate New York will also remain open; the six workers affected in the other two centers will be offered jobs locally in the company.
- The new contract guarantees that an increased percentage of customer service work will be handled by unionized workers. As a result, Verizon will add 1,300 call center jobs, 850 in the Mid-Atlantic region and 450 in the Northeast.
- Several major contracting initiatives will be reversed, sustaining work for union members in their communities and returning a significant amount of pole maintenance work to the unionized workforce in New York State. There will be a 25% increase in the number of unionized crews doing pole work in New York State.
- Existing Job security language will be preserved, as will existing language on transfer and seniority protections for retirement incentives. All of the company’s proposals on forced interstate transfers of technicians were withdrawn.
- All proposed reductions of pensions were withdrawn by the company, and there will be three 1% increases in the defined benefit pensions over the life of the agreement.
- The company agreed to terminate a performance supervisory program (known as QAR) in effect in the five boroughs of New York City that workers found extremely abusive, and both parties will work with an outside consultant to develop a non-punitive program. This was a major issue for NYC-based technicians.
- Proposed cuts in accident and disability benefits were withdrawn. The parties agreed to changes to active and retiree healthcare that generate savings to the company while protecting excellent plan designs for medical care.
The Presidential elections that take place every four years bring about only cosmetic changes: different faces running the government while the same billionaire masters still call all the shots. Whether it’s Clinton or Trump, Democrat or Republican, police will still terrorize us and low wages will keep us in or near poverty. That is, unless we fight back!
WE’VE HAD ENOUGH! No more fake “democracy” in our city!
NOT while racist cops run wild.
NOT while our public schools go criminally underfunded.
NOT while our people suffer some of the highest poverty levels in the country.
We demand self-government, not capitalist pigs. Free Mumia and all political prisoners! Reparations now! Women’s and LGBTQ liberation now! Abolish capitalism and oppression NOW! It’ll only happen if we FIGHT FOR IT!
The MOVE Organization
Philly Coalition for REAL (Racial, Economic, and Legal) Justice
International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Black and Brown Workers Collective
People’s Power Assemblies
Philly Food Not Bombs- Affinity
International Action Center
Workers World Party
Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign
Move to Amend
Comité Boricua Filadelfia-Camden (Phila-Camden Boricua Committee)
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