Union members in the Twin Cities plan to keep the heat on Verizon this week with two more actions in support of the company’s 39,000 striking workers in the Northeast U.S.
Solidarity actions are planned from noon to 2 p.m. May 11 outside Verizon’s store at 474 Hamline Ave. N. in St. Paul, and from noon to 1 p.m. May 12 outside the company’s downtown Minneapolis location, at 800 Nicollet Ave (RSVP on Facebook).
Last Thursday, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison joined more than 50 protesters outside Verizon’s Roseville location, calling on Verizon to get back to the bargaining table and stop trying to outsource union members’ jobs. “It’s got to be us in Minnesota standing with people struggling for decent pay and decent treatment,” Ellison said.
Striking workers are members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The work stoppage began April 13, and it continues despite Verizon’s move to cut off striking workers from their health insurance benefits effective May 1.
Verizon workers’ previous contract, settled after a 2-week strike in 2011, expired last August. In negotiations since then, workers say, the company has refused to drop its demand for language allowing Verizon to contract out their jobs – the same demand that led to the strike four years ago.
Why is a highly profitable company looking to cut costs with cheap labor? The answer is simple: greed.
According to Verizon’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company’s top four executives raked in $41 million in 2015 alone, and they’ve taken home $114 million in the last three years.
“Verizon wants to boost their bottom line by taking away the stability and reliability their employees once had,” Mona Meyer, president of the CWA Minnesota State Council, said. “This strike is bigger than Verizon. It’s about protecting good, hometown jobs in this country. It’s about securing a brighter future for our families and our communities. It’s about standing up and fighting back!”