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Commentary :: Labor : Technology
Why telephone workers are fighting for the good jobs our communities’ need
27 Jul 2007
By Myles Calvey
Myles Calvey thumb nail.JPG
Negotiations for nearly 70,000 Verizon workers – including nearly 13,000 in New England – will begin next June to replace the contract that expires on August 2, 2008. But Verizon’s union members aren't waiting until then to get ready.

This August 2 – a year early – more than a thousand telephone workers will march to Verizon’s headquarters and rally for the good jobs and reliable services our communities need. Union members are getting prepared now because the next collective bargaining agreement offers us our best chance to refocus management on making Verizon work for everyone: employees, customers and investors alike.

In contract negotiations with the $88 billion telecommunications giant next year, telephone workers will be pressing management at Verizon to address the preservation of good jobs, quality health care and secure pension benefits. But much more is at stake.

For example, thousands of Verizon Wireless and Business employees want the benefits and protections of a union contract, yet management is opposing their efforts to unite in the IBEW and CWA.

Employees and customers in Northern New England are facing a company intent on destroying jobs and quality service by spinning off less profitable parts of its business to a shaky company called FairPoint that doesn't have the same capacity to expand high speed Internet service throughout the region.

Finally, even here in Massachusetts Verizon has yet to offer its high-speed fiber optic Internet services to many working class communities, opting instead to focus on high-income cities and towns, only increasing the digital divide.

Next year’s negotiations for a new agreement will be critical to everyone’s future. On August 2, Verizon workers and many of our community allies will rally in a show of unity. But telephone workers can't stop Verizon’s low-road strategy by ourselves. That will take much broader support from customers, regulators and our elected officials.
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