August 22, 2011
At midnight on August 7th, more than 45,000 Verizon Communications Inc. workers from New England to Virginia members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Electrical Workers (IBEW) went on strike to stop the company’s attacks on the middle class.
These Verizon workers are in the fight of their lives, and they need our support. This is a huge deal that has broad implications for our entire economy. Verizon is bringing in money hand over fist. In the past four years alone, the company made more than $19 billion in profits and compensated its top five executives more than a quarter of a billion dollars.
Yet this highly profitable company is insisting on $1 billion in concessions from 45,000 workers or $20,000 for every family.
It’s outrageous. Even as Verizon continues to rake in record profits, it’s trying to outsource more jobs, demand workers pay more for benefits and undermine workers’ retirement security.
Despite Verizon’s outrageous tactics, the workers still have been more than willing to come to the table. But Verizon has been coming up with one excuse after another and is refusing to bargain seriously.
Verizon is trying to strip away 50 years of collective bargaining gains for middle-class workers and our families. But the company won’t succeed. Verizon’s workers won’t let the company destroy the middle-class jobs and benefits generations of Verizon workers gained through collective bargaining. And they won’t give up their bargaining rights.
What’s happening at Verizon is part of a massive problem that affects virtually all of us: Corporate profits are eating up more and more of our national income, leaving less and less for the rest of us. Recently, the “New York Times” reported that wages as a percentage of national income are the lowest they’ve been since 1965 and falling.
The vast majority of us who are lucky enough to have jobs are being underpaid while corporations rake in obscene profits. If we allow highly profitable corporations like Verizon to keep leading a race to the bottom in American wages, our country’s middle class may not survive.
By going on strike, these courageous Verizon workers aren’t just standing up for themselves, but for all of us.
By Gerald W. McEntee, President AFSCME
Lee A. Saunders, Secretary-Treasurer AFSCME