About 40,000 Verizon workers walked off the job today after contract talks between Verizon and labor union CWA hit a brick wall. The thousands of Verizon workers on strike were treated to a surprise visit from Senator Bernie Sanders, as they picketed at the Verizon offices in New York City.
Verizon workers are on strike throughout several East Coast states, picketing the company’s decision not to expand Fios service – Verizon’s fiber optic Internet – to more areas, which would mean more jobs for union workers, and faster Internet for Verizon subscribers.
After Verizon workers walked off the job early this morning, Senator Bernie Sanders reportedly paid a visit to the picket line to speak with striking union workers, expressing solidarity and support for the 40,000 Verizon workers on strike.
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“Verizon is one of the largest, most profitable corporations in this country,” Senator Sanders told picketing Verizon workers. “They want to outsource decent paying jobs, they want to give their CEO $20 million a year.”
Senator Bernie Sanders took to the airwaves this morning in support of long-time ally labor union CWA, and the 40,000 Verizon workers who walked off the job this morning. Sanders, a vocal proponent for organized labor, applauded the Verizon workers today for “having the courage” to walk off the job and stand up for fellow workers, reports Politico.
“I know how hard it is, what a difficult decision it is to go out on strike. I know you’ve thought a whole lot about it, and I know your families will pay a price. Today you are standing up not just for justice for Verizon workers, you’re standing up for millions of Americans who don’t have a union,” said Senator Bernie Sanders in his speech to the Verizon workers currently on strike.
Verizon CEO, Lowell McAdam responded to Senator Sanders’ criticism of Verizon today, calling out the Vermont senator for his “contemptible” views on labor relations. After the Verizon workers went on strike this morning, CEO Lowell McAdam went on the offensive, bringing out nearly 10,000 non-union workers to fill the jobs of the union workers on strike, and blasting Bernie Sanders for what McAdam calls “uninformed” and “contemptible” views.
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“Verizon is in Sanders’ bull’s-eye. The Senator’s uninformed views are, in a word, contemptible,” said Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam in a post on LinkedIn this morning. “Senator Sanders is wrong on the facts. More egregiously, he oversimplifies the complex forces operating in today’s technologically advanced and hyper-competitive economy.”
According to the Huffington Post, Senator Bernie Sanders’ speech was televised live on cable news, and met with raucous applause from the striking Verizon workers. The Verizon workers on strike this morning reportedly walked off the job after Verizon made the decision to freeze pensions and outsource jobs to contractors, reports IB Times.
Opposing the strike, Verizon announced today that it has trained thousands of non-union employees over the years in order to prevent service outages for Verizon customers; however, union leaders have responded, stating that there are simply too few non-union workers at Verizon to keep the telecom company’s services running indefinitely.
“They have given people some training, but they have no experience. There’s no way that these 10,000 people can make up for 40,000 people who have decades of experience in highly technical jobs,” said CWA representative Bob Master today.
The Verizon workers on strike started picketing at several Verizon locations this morning, holding up bright red signs calling for an expansion of Verizon Fios – something consumers have been asking for — leading some to speculate that Verizon subscribers might just end up siding with the labor unions in this pitched labor conflict.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]