Verizon employees who work at a facility on Jefferson street in Bushwick continued to picket Thursday after walking off the job Wednesday when the telecommunications company failed to meet a contract negotiation deadline with their union.
The strike takes place after ten months of negotiations between Verizon, which has made record profits in recent years, and Communications Workers of America, which represents approximately 40,000 workers throughout the Northeast currently on strike.
Among the union’s grievances are Verizon’s recent pushes to offshore jobs, outsource to non-union workers and close call centers, as well as the company’s refusal to negotiate a contract with its retail workers, who unionized in 2014.
Isaac Collazo, a Verizon technician from Brooklyn who has been with the company for 19 years, says that “Verizon is making record profits while our families are left with threats to our jobs and our customers aren’t getting the service they need.”
In the video above, one worker tells Bushwick Daily that “Verizon has decided that—despite the billions that they’ve made, 1.8 billion each month for the last 3 months, and all the profits they’ve made in the last year—they decided that they want us to take concessions on our health care, on our pensions, on our wages, on the outsourcing of work—they want to give our jobs away overseas—and it’s just totally ridiculous. It’s totally ridiculous.”
Another worker adds: “They made 39 billion in profits over the last 3 years and yet they want to slash our medical, they want to be able outsource work, like we just said, they want to take the workers here, transfer them up to a hundred and twenty miles away from their homes for up to four months at a time. It’s an absolute disgrace to the working man. It’s a slap in the face to us.”
Bushwick’s Verizon facility shares a block with a B&H facility whose workers moved to unionize this past fall in response to dangerous working conditions, long hours, discrimination, wage theft and many other problems at the company.
The union encourages the public to support the strike by attending union actions and signing a petition addressed to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, a version of which has been signed by a coalition of United States senators that includes Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders.
Bushwick residents can expect to see the picketing workers on Central until the strike ends. In the meantime, the New York Times has this explainer about how the strike might affect you.