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Respecting the line

UCOMM takes a look at who is respecting Verizon pickets and who is not

Kris LaGrange's picture
Apr 15, 2016

On April 15th members of the Communications Workers of America(CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) who work at Verizon went on strike.  On Long Island some companies that do business with Verizon have already announced that they are willing to lose business to respect the picket lines.  Here are some of their stories.

Mike Goodman, the owner of Continental Glass in Port Jefferson Station NY, has contracts with Verizon and had a delivery to make on Thursday April 14th. The delivery, which was scheduled to be made to the Holbrook, NY garage never arrived.  The union heard that the delivery was never made. When CWA Local 1108 contacted Goodman, they asked him why he didn't make the delivery and he said that he refused to cross their picket line.  "No thanks are needed. We come from a long line of union people, and there was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to cross that line." CWA 1108 told UCOMM that Goodman stands to lose a lot of business by refusing to cross the picket line.  

At the Verizon facility in Garden City, construction is being done to renovate the building.  The work, which is being done by an a construction company signatory with Laborers Local 66, has stopped as long as the strike is going on.  “In solidarity with the Verizon workers who we work side by side with every day, I felt it wasn’t acceptable to cross their picket line,” said Sal Speziale, a leader with Local 66.  Sal said that while they couldn’t officially tell their members not to work, all of them decided to respect the picket line and not cross it. 

Teamsters UPS are also respecting Verizon’s pickets.  On the CWA District 1 Facebook page, a picture of the UPS scanner reads that if the driver encounters a Verizon Picket line, the driver should not deliver the package.  Jacob Wiest-Pierson, a UPS supervisor, commented on the post saying that this message was programmed to come up on all packages slated to be delivered to Verizon. 

Not everyone has been so supportive of the striking telecom workforce.  In Gaithersburg Maryland, two members of CWA Local 2108 were hit by a Verizon management attorney driving a Porsche.  One of the embers required a trip to the hospital to deal with their injuries.  In Silver Spring Maryland, a CWA member was also hit by a car driven by management.  In Philadelphia, a Verizon manager was arrested after getting into a confrontation with the police and driving away.  For the company, the strike is already effecting their business.  "We do have a bit of a delay," said Tami Erwin, Verizon's Group President of Consumer and Mass Business Sales and Service. She told told NBC. "We're working hard with customers to prioritize repair above activations and provisioning because we owe that to our existing customers."

Public support of the striking Verizon union workers has been notable in the first 72 hours of this high profile strike. Both Democratic Presidential candidates have joined pickets lines while campaigning in New York and a link has been circulating around the union movement giving people the opportunity to join a picket line.

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