Verizon Workers Settle Strike, Big Gains for Workers

By JoAnne Powers

Workers Independent News is heard Monday through Friday at 8:45 and 11:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Workers Independent News is heard Monday through Friday at 8:45 and 11:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are declaring victory for nearly 40,000 Verizon workers who have been on strike since April 13.

Celebrating big gains after reaching a tentative agreement with the company Friday, the unions say they have achieved their major goals of improving working families’ standard of living, creating good union jobs in their communities and achieving a first contract for wireless retail store workers.

“Our central concern in this strike was preserving good working class jobs in our communities, and we feel like we achieved that goal. We were fighting back against a lot of proposals about contracting out and closing call centers, and we’re feeling pretty good about where we’ve ended up,” said Bob Master, assistant to the vice president of CWA.

The unions spent the week negotiating with the company in Washington, D.C. at the behest of U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.

“We would have gotten to an agreement sooner or later, but I think that Secretary Perez’s involvement and the involvement of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service definitely got us to the finish line faster than we would have otherwise,” Master said.

Workers complained Verizon has made a $39 billion profit over the last three years, but still demanded the right to ship more American jobs overseas.

Master expects the striking workers will be back to work by Tuesday or Wednesday, and ratification of the agreement will most likely take place after workers are back on the job. He says the ability of strikers to connect with working people across the country helped win them the strike:

“If working people are militant, and they do stand up and they do reach out to the community, and they do frame their struggle as part of a bigger effort to change in society, working people can win. And I think our members really had a sense, since this has been by far the biggest strike in the country in many years, that they had kind of a responsibility for all of working people in this country.”