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CWA NYC gets press with Bernie

Bernie Sanders joined CWA members in Time Square Rally for a fair contract and rehiring of Bianca Cunningham

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by Guest Post on
Oct 27, 2015

We lifted the following story from CWA 1101.  Enjoy.

Bernie Sanders pickets with Verizon workers in NYC

by Aliyah Frumin, MSNBC. Oct 26, 201

NEW YORK - Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took his muscular attacks on wealth inequality and corporate greed to New York City on Monday, joining approximately 200 Verizon workers and union members in Times Square as they rallied for a fair contract and to rehire an employee who was allegedly fired after she spearheaded an organizing campaign.

"Let me get to the point," the Vermont senator told the crowd, which repeatedly chanted his first name. "The middle class in this country is disappearing and what Verizon is doing to their workers is exactly what has got to be fought if we are going to rebuild the American middle class."

Verizon is currently in heated negotiations with the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers after a contract covering 39,000 workers expired in August. The unions have said the telecom company, even as it rakes in big profits, wants employees to diminish their job security, increase their health care contributions and make concessions on pensions.

CWA separately contends that Brooklyn-based Verizon employee Bianca Cunningham was given the retaliatory boot after she helped a bullied worker. Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman, told MSNBC the union was "flat-out wrong" in its characterization of what happened to Cunningham, adding that she was not targeted and that her "conduct was subject to the same standard as all employees at Verizon."

In terms of the contract negotiations, Young said Verizon has been trying to work with union leaders to reach a deal since June. "Unfortunately, while we've worked hard in trying to meet that goal, week after week union leaders issue a myriad of distracting mischaracterizations, distorted facts and innuendo. These PR stunts do nothing to help advance the bargaining process. Verizon remains ready to hold serious discussions and engage in meaningful negotiations that will result is a fair and balanced agreement."

Sanders, who has frequently argued for greater protections for workers on the campaign trail, told union members - several of whom held signs emblazoned with "Stop Verizon Wireless corporate greed" outside one of the company's retail stores - that their struggle is symptomatic of what's happening in the rest of the country.

Click here for the full article.

Bernie Sanders Joins Verizon Picket Line
by Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post. Oct 26, 2015
 
It's hard to see any of the other presidential candidates doing this.
 
In a rare move for a major presidential candidate, Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined a picket line with Verizon workers in New York City on Monday.
 
The decision to single out a major U.S. corporation by joining a worker protest is unusual for a serious presidential contender in the midst of a campaign. Sanders' camp believes the last major Democratic candidate to do so would have been Jesse Jackson in 1988.
 
"Let me get to the point," Sanders said at the Monday picket line, which took place at a Verizon Wireless store in midtown Manhattan. "Middle class in this country is disappearing and what Verizon is doing to their workers is exactly what has got to be fought if we are going to rebuild the American middle class."

"What this campaign is about is that corporate America can't have it all," he added.

Nearly 40,000 Verizon employees represented by Communications Workers of America union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are currently in a major contract battle with Verizon. CWA has also accused the telecom giant of retaliating against Verizon Wireless store employees who are union activists, charges that the company has denied.

Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman, said the company has been working since June to reach a "solid contract" with the workers, and he accused CWA of "distort[ing] facts."
 
"These PR stunts do nothing to help advance the bargaining process," Young told The Huffington Post, which is owned by Verizon. "Verizon remains ready to hold serious discussions and engage in meaningful negotiations that will result in a fair and balanced agreement. We truly hope union leaders are soon committed to the same."

While it may be unusual for a presidential candidate to join a picket line, it isn't unusual for the self-described democratic socialist from Vermont. Last year, before he declared his presidential bid, Sanders walked a picket line with workers at the telecom company FairPoint Communications, where 1,700 employees represented by IBEW were on strike in New England. He also marched with the Bakers, Confectioners, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union Local 100G in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last month.
 
"This is what we should demand of candidates who say they're for working people -- that they take a stand and that they're proud to do it," said Larry Cohen, a Sanders adviser. Cohen previously served as the longtime president of the CWA.

Click here for full article.
 

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