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Hidden with code "Submitted as Feature"
News :: Labor : Organizing : Politics
Telecom workers march for good jobs and reliable services at Verizon
04 Aug 2007
More than a thousand telephone workers from throughout Massachusetts marched on Verizon's New England headquarters to rally for good jobs and reliable services. "Next year's collective bargaining offers telephone workers our best chance to refocus management on making Verizon work for everyone: customers, employees and investors alike," said Myles Calvey, a 39-year splice service technician and Business Manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2222.
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"Winning an agreement that preserves good jobs, quality health care and secure pension benefits will take unprecedented membership involvement and unity," added Calvey, who also chairs the New England telephone workers' bargaining committee. "All members need to get ready now." The current agreement covering about 70,000 employees with Verizon East expires on August 2, 2008.

Calvey was joined at the rally by many Verizon workers from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont who are opposing the proposed sale of Verizon’s landlines to FairPoint Communications, a highly leveraged company based in North Carolina.

"FairPoint doesn't have the same capacity as Verizon to expand high speed Internet service throughout the northern states," said Darlene Stone, a 28-year Administrative Assistant at Verizon's Consumer Sales and Service Center in Burlington, VT. "I believe the proposed sale would only make the growing digital divide between rural and urban areas much worse." Stone is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 1400 who lives in Colchester, VT.

Regulators in the three northern states are expected to rule on allowing the sale later this year.

Pete McLaughlin, the Business Manager from IBEW Local 2327 based in Augusta, ME announced that both unions would be expanding the "Stop the Sale" effort by launching a nationwide campaign focused on getting the Federal Communications Commission to also rule against the sale. Rally participants took post cards opposing the sale addressed to the FCC back to their workplaces and communities, while the national offices of IBEW, CWA and Jobs with Justice sent over 175,000 members and supporters an email with a link to sign a public petition to the FCC opposing the sale.

Verizon recently announced that it was selling its New England headquarters at 185 Franklin Street in Boston where the phone company has been based since 1947.

Attending the rally was John Elia, a Sonet Technician from Melrose, MA who works for Verizon Business, a new subsidiary created after the company bought the remnants of MCI/WorldCom. "All we want is the same job protections and rights that so-called "core" Verizon employees have. That's why a majority of us have been trying to form a union for more than eight months. But now Verizon is refusing to grant us the same organizing rights past employees have used to join IBEW or CWA without management interference. It’s time to tear down the walls that divide and weaken our company."

Labor leaders from the AFL-CIO and Jobs with Justice announced that over 50 elected officials (including 21 from Massachusetts) are supporting the campaign to allow all Verizon employees to make a free and fair choice about forming a union.

"Thank God over 97,000 of us are united in a union that can stand up to this greedy $88 billion telecommunications giant," said Chris Shelton, Vice President of CWA District One, which includes 180,000 members throughout the Northeast. "Once again Verizon needs to be reminded that its huge profits are only made because of our dedication to providing high quality and reliable service."

"All of us want to win a good contract, stop the sale, and tear down the wall at Verizon Business. But these goals can't be accomplished without strong support from the communities where we live and work," added Shelton. "Fortunately, each of you earns that community support everyday through your involvement in community, church and civic organizations. That is our trump card – and we are going to call on each of you to play it in 2008!"

"The best way to avert a strike is to be prepared for one if it proves necessary," said Calvey. "Now is the time to save your money and avoid taking out any large loans." At the rally, union members were met by representatives from the Telephone Workers Credit Union who helped members set up hundreds of special “rainy day” savings accounts.

Other union rallies were held today in Upland, CA; Fredericksburg, Petersburg and Richmond, VA; Baltimore, MD and Charleston, Morgantown and Poca, WV. Members also gathered at many company garages and workplaces throughout Verizon’s footprint.

About 10,000 Verizon workers in Massachusetts and 13,000 throughout New England are united in the IBEW and CWA.

# # #
Watch a 6 minute video of the Verizon workers' rally at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbKVwW-HIf4

See pictures from the rally at:
http://picasaweb.google.com/randwilson.aflcio/BostonVZRallyPictures
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See also:
http://www.freechoiceatverizon.com
http://www.stop-the-sale.org

This work is in the public domain