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CWA: A Leader with a Winning Strategy in 2016

January 2, 2016
By Neal Tepel, LaborPress Publisher

CWA President Chris Shelton

Washington, DC – On April 13, 2016, nearly 40,000 Verizon workers, members of the Communications Workers of America began striking for 45 days.

While this was one of the largest strikes in recent history it was also considered very successful for a labor organization and its members. CWA and Verizon employees had taken on one of the largest telecommunications company’s in the United States and won.

After routinely posting over a billion dollars a month in profits, Verizon came to the bargaining table demanding concessions from their workforce. Rather than giving in, CWA employees walked off the job — turning the strike against Verizon into a symbolic referendum against corporate greed, management abuse of workers and inequality.

For forty-five days, Verizon workers and their supporters demonstrated outside Verizon wireless stores across the country. The union’s mass rallies protesting Verizon’s worker abuses began damaging the company’s image. CWA’s effective social media campaign publicizing the companies overseas outsourcing created a public outcry against Verizon. As information about company’s plan to replace ‘good jobs’ with temps, the dislike for this communication giant increased. Americans were adamantly opposed to a giant telecommunications company outsourcing work to non-union contractors and closing down U.S call centers moving them to Mexico or the Philippines. Public support also increased for striking employees as information leaked about Verizon hiring scabs to replace union workers. Americans in every corner of the USA began supporting the striking workers.

The CWA master plan created serious damage to Verizon’s brand image. When the dust settled, the workers had taken on the largest telecommunications company in the United States and won. While the union did concede increased costs to their health care, the bigger concessions came from Verizon, which agreed to rescind a hated disciplinary plan, phase in a 10.5 percent raise over four years, and add over 1,500 jobs in the United States. Verizon also withdrew their concessionary demands on job security, pensions, and work-rule changes.

As the strike ended and an agreement between the CWA workforce and Verizon was completed, Dennis G. Trainor, Vice President of CWA District One said, “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. 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.”

January 1, 2017

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