There’s 40,000 of us out to stop corporate greed wrecking our lives. One week into our indefinite strike and we’re still solid. It’s the biggest US strike since 2011, and it hasn’t come a day too soon.
I’m in the Communication Workers of America (CWA), the biggest Verizon union, but the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are alongside us. The strikers are everything from customer service workers to repair workers and technicians and installers.
This week we had a big picket at the Verizon offices in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was a great atmosphere, lots of support from the people in the area and passing drivers. One of our strikers took the microphone and started chanting “If we don’t get it …” and everyone roared “Shut it down!”
What a feeling!
Verizon made $39 billion (£26 billion) profit over the past three years. Why do they need more? Why drive us harder and harder?
Every corporation wants more. So they want outsourcing and cuts in our pensions and health benefits. We aren’t badly paid, but we got that through fighting and organising. We’re not giving it back for some millionaire to grab.
One of the biggest issues is that they want the right to move us to other locations for weeks at a time. That’s not acceptable.
Verizon wants to replace its old copper-wire based network with fibre optic. They want a workforce that can be sent out to do jobs for three weeks or so and then move on to another location. They don’t want people with families. They want youngsters on temporary contracts who are like the people who put down the railroads in the nineteenth century.
Please listen to the words of my colleague Mark Mazzarella, a facilities technician from Bayonne in New Jersey. He says, "My wife was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago but the chemo and radiation has wreaked havoc on her internal organs.
“She’s in and out of the hospital every week or ten days. I don’t know how we’d do it if Verizon sent me out of state for weeks at a time. We’re struggling as it is. Verizon needs to know we’re real people with real lives, and their demands hurt us and our families.”
In America at the moment the top one-tenth of one percent control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent of Americans. So we’re not going to let this massively rich company destroy thousands of good jobs while the executives get even more outrageous pay. We need good jobs, and access to high-speed broadband for all, especially people in communities that don't have good coverage.
We’re not giving up. We’re not giving in.