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CWA gets ready for fight at Verizon

By Dominic Renda, CWA Local 1105 | May 16, 2003 | Page 11

NEW YORK--With their current contract set to expire August 2, workers at Verizon are setting up lunch break pickets every Thursday to fight for a new contract. Officials from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) have also issued buttons saying "Fighting for jobs and quality service" and are encouraging all union members to join the pickets.

Since Verizon has thinned its workforce by thousands through attrition, buyouts and layoffs, the quality of customers' phone service has worsened appreciably.

Verizon is the eighth largest corporation in the U.S. and the largest telecommunications company, according to Forbes. Last year, Verizon had revenues of $67.6 billion, yet top executives still whined that layoffs were a necessity.

Now, the company has announced plans to eliminate another 1,300 jobs across the state. Already, the company has almost met that number, with more than 1,100 employees taking a buyout package.

But Steve Stancil, a laid-off Verizon worker, isn't buying the company's story. "I feel that there are always other alternatives to a problem," Stancil told Socialist Worker. "For instance, some reps might have taken a pay cut or freeze for a couple of months to a year to create profits. However, there has been no need for job loss or a wage freeze."

On a date tentatively set for July 9, an arbitration judge will rule on whether or not Verizon's first round of layoffs was a violation of the current contract. Although the CWA made a convincing case before the judge that there was no justification for the layoffs, courts are notoriously pro-business in their rulings.

The bitter experience of layoffs at Verizon has convinced a growing number of workers that they must take action themselves to protect their jobs and win a fair contract. A new rank-and-file group--the Coalition4Change--is bringing together workers from different CWA locals and has begun producing a newsletter entitled CWA Members United.

Now's the time to step up the fight. Get involved with fighting for workers' needs over Verizon's corporate greed!

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