Heartland workers, activists stand with CWA against Verizon

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - On a cool, rainy day, Aug. 12, some 30 or 40 people gathered at a suburban Verizon Wireless store in support of a struggle happening a thousand miles away. They cheerfully waved signs and chanted their support for the Communications Workers of America strike. Drivers going by honked and waved in solidarity. CWA Local 6360 Vice President Todd Appleby stood a careful 15 feet from the storefront, in the parking lot, handing out informational flyers.

The demonstration included workers, activists and organizers from the CWA, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jobs With Justice, the Retired Teachers Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers union, the United Auto Workers, and unaffiliated citizens who chose to stand in solidarity with the 45,000 CWA workers currently on strike.

Considering that the current strike is against Verizon's landline division, which only operates along the East Coast, some might wonder why these people took the time to show support. For Appleby, the answer is simple. "An injury to one is an injury to all of us," he says in a matter-of-fact manner. While this strike does not directly affect CWA workers in Kansas City, its ramifications will certainly come around.

Widely described as the "Wisconsin of the private sector," this fight is on a national scale. If Verizon gets the more than 100 concessions they have demanded, the average CWA worker stands to lose $15,000 to $20,000 a year. More significantly, a win for Verizon wouldn't just a be loss for CWA workers on the East Coast. It would be a serious blow to union and non-union workers across the country, as corporations would be even more emboldened to take from the worker and give to the rich.

Meanwhile, the company continues to rake in billions in profits and funnel them to the top. Verizon Communications' CEO Ivan G. Seidenberg is the number 10 highest-paid executive in 2011, according to forbes.com, with a total compensation package worth $36.75 million. That's nearly five times the median pay - for CEOs - in the telecommunications sector. And more than 600 times what a typical CWA worker makes.

CWA Local 6450 President Colleen Downing casts the situation as a matter of fairness. "It's ridiculous that in this economy they're trying to take more from workers [and] using it [the economy] as an excuse." Downing goes on, "It's time for companies like Verizon to be good corporate citizens."

Another picket has been planned for next Friday, 11:30 a.m. at the Verizon Wireless store on Linwood and Main in Kansas City. All who wish to stand in solidarity are encouraged to attend.

Photo: Solidarity in the rain, Aug. 12 in Kansas City, Mo. Courtesy Todd Appleby, CWA Local 6360.

Corrected 8/16: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the date of this demonstration. It took place Aug. 12.

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  • KEEP IT GOING GUYS, WERE HERE FOR YOU, EVEN THOUGHT THE GUYS AT THE TOP OF THESE CORPERATIONS HAVE NO HEARTS, THEY HAVE TE SOUL OF THE DEVIL, THEY WILL HAVE TO MEET THE MAKER AT THE END, AND SIT THERE AND EXPLAIN TOP GOD ON HOW THEY WERE ABLE TO SCREW SO MANY OF THEIR FELLOW MEN.

    Posted by JAK, 08/22/2011 9:57am (3 years ago)

  • Thanks to those in Kansas supporting the CWA. My husband works for Verizon out on the East Coast and is currently on strike. You are right. A fair contract now will be positive for all verizon employees.

    Posted by sarag, 08/14/2011 1:59pm (3 years ago)

  • There are 4 big lies that Verizon is trying to get away.

    1.They want you to think that the wireless network is somehow separate from everything else
    and is maintained by little elves or maybe Elvis. The union worker maintains that network.

    2.They want you to think we are on strike because they want us to pay a little of our healthcare
    costs. The list of things they want take back includes pension,overtime,holidays,wages,etc...

    3.They want you to think that cell phone calls are the only thing that makes them money.I just cant
    believe they lose money on all these high capacity ckts (from ds0 to OC192 level) keeping Wall
    Street,hospitals,banks,airports,police and firehouses etc... up and running. And how about FIOS?
    If FIOS is a money loser then Ivan Seidenberg owes the company 80 million dollars in bonus
    money back! (I personally think it's a GREAT product that no other company can touch)

    4) When Verizon talks to Wall Street about how things are going they play up how much money
    their "landline" side of the business is making but now at contract time they want the public to
    think we are given jobs out of the goodness of the companys heart.

    We need to get the truth out there by all means because the 5 second newsbite is not doing justice
    to what is being fought for.

    Posted by truedat, 08/14/2011 1:30pm (3 years ago)

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