Some 40,000 striking Verizon workers are sponsoring a “National Day of Action” against the telecom giant today, with rallies from Maine to Los Angeles happening. But the fight for justice for these workers is taking on many different forms.
The Communications Workers of America, who represent a large majority of the workers, joined with citizen and community group allies in filing a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) charging that Verizon is deliberately short-changing its landline customers.
CWA is demanding the FCC investigate Verizon’s service, or lack of it, to landline users. “Verizon is engaged in unjust and unreasonable practices with regard to its copper facilities (copper landlines) in violation of section 201(b) of the Communications Act, and is failing to provide advance notice of actions that ‘will result in the retirement of copper’” in violation of FCC rules, it says.
Meanwhile, CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are introducing a new facet to the worker-boss struggle -- the virtual picket line.
As described in a blog on labor law issues, the virtual picket line not only is pioneering in the use of social media for a traditional strike, but it also gives millennials – who use social media more than their elders and who often don’t know about unions and their causes – exposure to organized labor and its causes.
“Unions and other labor-movement actors have effectively used social media before, most visibly in the Fight for $15, but they haven’t before had an opportunity to share a traditional work stoppage of this scope,” the On Labor blog said. “This strike is the first of its kind to last more than a few days and be liked, shared, and tweeted en masse” in the U.S.
Verizon forced the CWA and IBEW members to strike on April 13 after months of fruitless talks for a new contract. The firm refused to negotiate on its demands for maximum flexibility in outsourcing call center jobs from the U.S. to Mexico and the Philippines and for huge health care givebacks.
Verizon’s newspaper ads said it moved, a little, on raises, to 7.5 percent. The ads, however, did not say that figure covers five years.
The strike portal, www.standuptoverizon.com, gives picket line sites, e-mail and text updates of bargaining sessions, graphics and other print materials to share and a solidarity petition.
- Press Associates, Inc., contributed to this report.