Over 45,000 Verizon workers in nine eastern states, under the leadership of the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have gone out of strike. This is already one of the largest and most visible strikes in years. Verizon workers are being squeezed by the company. Despite the fact that Verizon has made $20 billion in profits over the past 4 years, it is asking its workers to take huge benefit hits in the new contract. These workers are part of the traditional land-line phone business, where Verizon is not seeing such high profits. Verizon is attempting to force its use members into the same terrible health care plans that non-union workers get. CWA spokespeople claim it could cost some families up to $6000 a year extra in health expenses. Verizon also proposes to outsource more jobs abroad, cut sick days, and eliminate benefits for workers who get hurt on the job. Verizon has refused to back down on any of these points, seeking to break the power of the unions. And so we have the strike.
It’s hard to say what will happen here. I suspect the unions are quite a bit more willing to negiotate than Verizon, but they are also willing to stand their ground, as we see. A union victory followed by successfully organizing other Verizon workers would be a huge boon to the labor movement and is the ideal outcome here.