Workers expose Verizon’s corporate greed

Members of IUE-CWA Local 1140 (R to L) Gary Londo, Colt Grotto and Bruce Larson picket outside Verizon in Roseville.

In public actions across the Twin Cities yesterday, union workers asked consumers to stop buying Verizon Wireless products until the company starts dealing fairly with its workers.

Members the Communications Workers of America distributed leaflets outside the Verizon Store in Roseville and on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, rebranding the company “VeriGreedy” for its treatment of 45,000 union employees who have been working without a contract since August 2011.

To enhance their message, workers brought in a mobile-billboard truck, which circled the Verizon Store. The billboard read, “Corporate Greed: Is there an app for that? Tell Verizon Wireless to stop slamming workers who want a fair contract.”

The actions were timed to coincide with the company’s annual shareholder meeting, which drew hundreds of protesters to Huntsville, Ala.

Verizon, according to workers, is pleading poverty in negotiations with the CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, demanding wage and benefit givebacks amounting to $20,000 per worker.

At the same time, the company has tripled CEO Lowell McAdam’s compensation from $7.2 million to $23.1 million annually. Workers in Roseville said the company, which took in $21.5 billion in pre-tax profits between 2008 and 2010, should be ashamed.

“The corporation made billions in profits, took in billions in tax rebates from the public, then turned around and gave its CEO a 200 percent salary increase,” said Doug Williams, a member of IUE-CWA Local 1140. “That just is inherently wrong.”

Verizon Workers inside the Roseville store are not union members, and most of the workers involved in contract negotiations with the company are located in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

But that hasn’t deterred CWA members in Minnesota from rallying behind their brothers and sisters at Verizon. Yesterday’s solidarity action was the second in six weeks outside the Roseville store.

“Our folks understand what’s happening nationwide,” Williams said. “That’s why they’re out here in solidarity.”

Along with IUE-CWA Local 1140, unions and labor federations that supported the actions in Roseville and Minneapolis included CWA Local 7201, the Minnesota Newspaper Guild, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the Minnesota AFL-CIO and the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation.

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