AFT president Randi Weingarten joined other supporters of striking Verizon workers at one of the company's stores in New York City on Aug. 18. Similar "drop-in" pickets have been taking place around the country to support the 45,000 members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers who were forced on strike by Verizon on Aug. 6.
"Your strike is about the middle class," Weingarten told the good-sized crowd, which attracted lots of noisy support from car and cab drivers passing by. "You are standing for every American."
Verizon is just the latest example of a profitable corporation that is using the economic downturn to demand concessions from workers. Despite making $22.5 billion in profits and paying its top five executives $258 million over the past four years, Verizon is seeking unjustified concessions. It wants to freeze pensions for current workers, eliminate pension plans for future workers, allow contracting out and outsourcing of more U.S. jobs, slash sick leave, gut healthcare coverage and eliminate disability benefits for injured workers.
Meanwhile, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, who recently stepped down, paid himself $18 million last year—almost 300 times more than the average Verizon worker makes. Meanwhile, the company is demanding changes to its employee healthcare and pension plans that could cost workers up to $20,000 per year.
"We believe in shared responsibility, but you can't shift all the costs to us," Weingarten said.
UPDATE (8/2011): The Verizon strike has been settled.
[AFL-CIO Now, CWA, Barbara Pallazzo, Dan Gursky]
August 18, 2011