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August 20, 2011

(Washington, DC) -- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers today issued the following statement:

On a day when we should be lowering the temperature between Verizon and its unions in the Northeast, it is unfortunate that Verizon’s Executive Vice President of Human Resources Marc Reed felt the need to make inflammatory remarks in a company statement, including “to convince the unions to begin bargaining in good faith,” when in fact the exact opposite was true.

We negotiated a fair back to work agreement yesterday and salute Verizon’s senior management for their mature and responsible approach in that process, which included an understating to avoid posturing in our public statements.  While we find Mr. Reed’s comments in violation of that spirit, we will not let it deter us from the important business of getting a fair new contract while continuing to work under an extension the terms of the current agreement.


Contact: Jim Spellane, 202/728-6014, jim_spellane@ibew.org



For release 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011

CWA, IBEW Reach Agreement on Bargaining with Verizon; Members to Return to Work Tuesday, August 23

Following is a statement by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers:

Washington, D.C. – Members of CWA and IBEW at Verizon Communications will return to work on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at which time the contract will be back in force for an indefinite period.

We have reached agreement with Verizon on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured. The major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues now are focused and narrowed.

We appreciate the unity of our members and the support of so many. Now we will focus on bargaining fairly and moving forward.

CWA and IBEW represent 45,000 workers at Verizon covered by this contract from Virginia to New England. More information is available at www.cwa-union.org and www.ibew.org.




Unskilled Replacement Workers Put Verizon, Public at Risk


August 17, 2011

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As the Verizon strike enters its second week, thousands of untrained replacement workers and managers have been sent to do the jobs of more than 45,000 IBEW and CWA members up and down the East Coast.

But many of these replacement workers are finding out that doing the work of skilled telecommunications workers is a lot harder than they expected.

A video by members of the IBEW in New York State shows what happens when you put inexperienced workers around energized equipment, with replacement workers blowing a transformer.

And a video captured by Middleboro, Mass., Local 2321, shows IBEW strikers stepping in to prevent clueless replacement workers from causing damage and personal injury to themselves and others.

Says Local 2321 Business Manager Ed Starr:

We’re seeing people without the right safety equipment, trying to do the job without doing the proper pre-work safety checks. These are the kind of screw ups that would get any of us written up in a heartbeat. The majority of these replacements have no telecommunications training and someone is going to get hurt bad unless Verizon settles this.

Local 2321 has been documenting unsafe working practices on its Facebook page since the strike began.


Verizon Strike Solidarity Builds as Fight Enters Second Week


August 14, 2011

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More than 45,000 Verizon workers continue to hold strong as the strike enters its sixth day.

Picket lines and rallies from Washington, D.C., to New Hampshire are building public support against Verizon’s corporate greed and anti-middle class attacks.

East Windsor, N.J., Local 827 reports on its Web site that:

To all our brothers and sisters from the IBEW and CWA – your actions and enthusiasm on the picket lines are unprecedented. Keep the information flowing. Support for our cause continues to grow nationwide.

In Boston, Rep. Bill Keating joined with other local official and religious and community leaders in defending “good, decent, dignified jobs.”

Members of the IBEW and the Communications Workers of American went on strike August 7 after Verizon refused to budge on its demands for more than $1 billion in cutbacks to employee health and retirement benefits as well as elimination of job security and restrictions on outsourcing.

This is despite the fact that the company made more than $20 billion in profits over the last few years, while using tax loopholes to avoid paying $1 billion in corporate taxes.

Middleboro, Ma., Local 2322 member Darren Wilson  told South Coast Today columnist Jack Spillane that Verizon continues to make record profits off its FiOS services:

We feel that wealth should be shared and spread for all of us. What eventually happens when there is no middle class left? There is no one to spend their money on things. Then you have the gluttonous rich and the poor and there is no in between.

For Local 827 Business Manager Bill Huber, Verizon’s refusal to compromise on any of its demands is indicative of its desire to squeeze its workers:

Bargaining 101 means committing to bargaining in good faith and Verizon isn’t doing that.

Activists report that morale remains high, despite Verizon’s intransigence. Boston Local 2222 member Claudia Slaney told the Boston Globe:

It is a tough situation, but it would have been a lot harder if we didn’t do it. If we gave in to their demands, we’d be without a job for the next day.

Middleboro, Mass., Local 2322 Business Manager Eric Hetrick says that all his members have remained resolute, despite efforts by Verizon to slander striking workers:

The company is blaming every broken cable or blown fuse on us. Verizon management well knows that every day its equipment is damaged from everything from vandals stealing copper to animals. They should spend more time trying to settle this strike and getting us back to work and less time spreading false stories.

Picket lines have been on the whole peaceful, though in a few areas there have been reports of strikers being injured by managers and replacement workers.

In Amherst, NY, two workers were sent to the hospital after a replacement worker drove his car into them. Verizon is also trying to get injunctions to halt picketing. 

CWA Local 1122 President James Wagner told YNN.com:

This fight is to uphold the middle class standard of living. We have the right to be out there in protest to protect our children and protect our families.

Solidarity rallies at local Verizon Wireless outlets have been organized across the country. At one event in San Francisco, an employee at TV station KQED said:

I’m here because it is a trying time for unions and the middle class around the country, and I want to stand with my brothers and sisters.

Tell Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam to stop attacking the middle class and bargain seriously with its employees.




Statement of Edwin D. Hill, International President,

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

On Developments in the Verizon Strike


August 13, 2011

(Washington, D.C.) -- I have received reports that members of two IBEW locals are performing contracting work for Verizon, even as members of our union and the Communications Workers of America are on strike to preserve middle class standards in their contract with the telecommunications conglomerate.

I wish to state in no uncertain terms that IBEW locals are not to engage in such actions while their brothers and sisters are on strike.  While we understand the economic pressure that is affecting many workers all across our economy and the short-term need for employment, performing work at a struck company violates a bedrock principle upon which the IBEW, like the entire labor movement, was founded.  I am using the full authority of the office of International President to put an end to our members undermining the struggle of others in our union and in the CWA.

What we are seeing as this strike unfolds is the fruit of 30 years of unremitting class warfare waged by corporate America and their political allies against the workers of our country.  As our economy continues to slog through the mire of the Wall Street-created crisis of 2008, it is a bitter truth that men and women increasingly desperate for employment will grasp at any opportunity. It is also an unshakable truth that solidarity is our foremost – indeed our only – weapon to fight back against those who would condemn us to a life of subservience. 

I call on all IBEW members to live up to this principle in these difficult times, obey the law and stand strong in the common struggle that unites us all.  Verizon has made a full assault on our wages, benefits and working conditions, and, having unleashed the forces of anger and bitterness, are whining like children at the mess they have created.  The fallout of this conflict is also affecting many others in communities across the Northeastern United States.

We repeat our calls for the company to engage in serious negotiations for a fair contract so that our members can get back to work and help our struggling economy to recover.



Verizon Workers Blog It Like It Is


August 11, 2011

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Photo Credit: Lina Reino Gallagher

As newspapers, blogs and TV stations report on the Verizon strike, IBEW and CWA members are challenging incorrect information and anti-union perspectives that are seeping out on the Web.


Responding to a post on the Washington Times Web page, a Verizon lineman writes:

Climb a pole in 10-20 degree weather with no gloves on because you can’t properly use your hand tools to work on the telephone lines.  While you’re at it, make sure you bring your voltage tester with you on top of 75 pounds of equipment that you’re carrying up with you.  Make sure you knock the ice off your 100-lb. ladder so you don’t slip while you’re carrying it in the customer’s back yard.

During the summer, don’t forget to get stung by a bee or bit by a wasp, hornet or spider.  If your allergies can handle it, you won’t need that mask on your face when you’re in the customers attic, crawl space or under their trailer home.  Watch out for the voltage on the telephone lines when you’re working in the rain, because that just feels real great when you get zapped because you are soaking wet.

Oh, and as far as any special skills not needed…do you think it's easy to get [Internet] service going for a business that has 100-200 computers? Go ahead genius, take the test. Any idiot can do this job, right?

…These same… union employees you’re talking about spend 6-8 hrs installing service in one business or residence. Have a contractor who is paid by the job do the same install and see what it looks like. Verizon union employees usually blow off their break and lunch to get the job done. Yes, Verizon pays very fair with benefits included, and the union is willing to pay more into health care, but think about if someone came to you and said "Hey, our profits despite a decline in our traditional services, are way up this year, now we need you to take a pay cut." You would jump right at that right?...

In response to a Washington Post story, one reader posted:

As several people already have suggested, this is a familiar story.  Managers of an immensely profitable company are demanding that those who actually produce these profits make sacrifices.  The managers themselves will not be sacrificing.  In fact, they’ll get their boards to raise their compensation.  Rich parasites will get richer.  The middle class will be squeezed harder, and everyone will wonder why consumers aren’t spending and the economy stagnates.




Verizon: Avoiding Taxes, Squeezing Workers, Raking it In


August 10, 2011

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The Verizon strike enters its third day as more than 45,000 employees protest the company’s demand for more than $1 billion in cutbacks to health care, retirement and other benefits.


But the company’s aggressive efforts to win concessions come at a time when it is pulling in billions in profits.

Not only did Verizon make more than $20 billion in profit in the last four years – all while paying no corporate income tax – it used loopholes in the tax code to get a billon dollar refund check from the IRS, says the Center for Tax Justice, a policy think tank, according to the company’s annual report:

Verizon not only paid nothing in corporate income taxes, it actually received nearly $1 billion (the same amount as the concessions they are seeking) in tax benefits from the federal government.

The center finds that if Verizon had paid its corporate tax at the official rate of 35 percent, it would have been enough (more than $11 billion) to prevent cuts to student loan programs made in the recent congressional debt deal.

Verizon is one of most infamous corporate tax cheats, becoming a top target of activists looking to crack down on tax loopholes that let billion dollar companies pay little to nothing in taxes.

Says the Center for Tax Justice:

Given their record on taxes and compensation, it’s hard to believe Verizon will come around to being a good corporate citizen anytime soon, yet unions and the public alike need to keep up the pressure by asking Verizon: Can you hear us now?


Photo used under a creative commons license from Flickr user Photo1




August 7, 2011 12:00 a.m.

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Midnight, August 7, 2011                                                  Contact: Jim Spellane, 202-728-6014


Northeast Verizon Workers Strike

Company Refuses to Move off Extreme Demands and Negotiate in Good Faith

In the face of continued demands by Verizon for contract concessions that would take much of its unionized workforce back to 1960s levels of wages, benefits and working conditions, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America tonight went on strike.

Six weeks of negotiations between the IBEW, CWA and Verizon produced no progress as the contract covering 45,000 workers from Massachusetts to Virginia expired at the stroke of midnight.

“If Verizon had shown any good faith effort to negotiate honestly, our members would still be on the job,” said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill.  “Instead, they turned their backs on any attempts to reach a reasonable settlement.  We cannot stand by while one of the richest, most successful corporations in the world joins the race to decimate the middle class of this country. We remain ready to meet with Verizon to work out a fair agreement, but at this point, we had no choice.”

Verizon has revenues of $100 billion and net profits of $6 billion. Verizon Wireless just paid its parent company and Vodaphone a $10 billion dividend.Verizon Chairman Ivan Seidenberg is paid 300 times what an average worker earns, and other top executives have been paid lucrative compensation packages.

The IBEW represents 12,800 workers at Verizon primarily in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey, with smaller units in Pennsylvania and upstate New York.  Additional information can be found at:

www.ibew.org; www.ibew2222.org; www.ibew827.com




August 6, 2011 8:30 p.m.

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For immediate release:                                                                                         Contact:

August 6, 2011, 8:30 p.m.                                                                   Jim Spellane, 202/728-6014

Statement of Edwin D. Hill, IBEW International President, on Contract Negotiations with Verizon

We are disappointed but not surprised that the talks with Verizon on a contract covering 45,000 employees in the Northeast region are on the point of breaking down.  Verizon has not significantly budged from the extreme set of giveback proposals they put on the table on July 1.  As we approach the midnight deadline, negotiators for the IBEW and CWA have yet to see any sign that the company is serious about bargaining.

Verizon has advanced the spin that it needs to make itself competitive in the changing telecommunications industry.  In doing so, they are asking their workers and the public to compare one of the most cutting-edge telecommunications corporations with low-wage poor service competitors.  This is a company with $100 billion in revenue and net profits of $6 billion. Verizon Wireless just paid its parent company and Vodaphone a $10 billion dividend.Verizon Chairman Ivan Seidenberg is paid 300 times what an average worker earns. The top five company executives were paid more than a quarter of a billion dollars over the past four years. If a company like this is not willing to provide wages and benefits to enable its workers to be part of the mainstream middle class in America, then all who work for a living have reason to fear.

In the few hours remaining before the expiration of the contract, we call on Verizon to move from its ironclad resistance to good wages, fair working conditions and decent benefits and instead view its workforce as an asset to continued profitability and progress.  This group of Verizon workers is prepared to make the strongest possible stand not just for their own contract but for workers everywhere by saying no to the race to the bottom.



‘We Will Not Go Back’

Thousands Rally at Verizon’s N.Y. Headquarters


August 3, 2011

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More than 10,000 Verizon workers demonstrated at the company’s New York City headquarters July 30.

More than 10,000 Verizon employees throughout the Northeast rallied outside the company’s New York City headquarters on July 30, sending a message of solidarity against what some are calling the most aggressive anti-worker agenda the company has ever put forth during contract talks.

A massive sea of workers wearing red T-shirts and displaying handmade signs filled the streets in front of the corporate offices, as attendees called out Verizon’s proposed take-backs by chanting, “We will not go back.”

Negotiations began June 22 between the company and its two unions, the IBEW and Communication Workers of America. Verizon, which earned more than $2.5 billion in profits last year, has demanded pension freezes, increased employee health care payments and proposals that could threaten job security for more than 45,000 workers in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.

IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill was one of a handful of labor leaders, local politicians and community activists who addressed the crowd:

I am glad that I could get up here to be with you today, to join you in raising the voices of working people everywhere against the excesses of greed.

Since 2007, Verizon has made $24.2 billion in profits, while handing out $258 million to a handful of top executives – thus permitting perks for their top management that are thousands of times what they pay their employees.

I am here with you today to fight, not just for our members who are employees of Verizon. But to join you in the fight for the principle that all working people deserve good jobs, fair pay, decent benefits and a share of the American Dream.

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CWA District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton fires up the crowd.

The IBEW represents about 12,850 Verizon employees in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The members' three-year contract expires August 6. Members overwhelmingly voted for strike authorization last week if negotiations come to a standstil

East Windsor, N.J., Local 827 Business Manager Bill Huber is leading negotiations in New Jersey:

At a time when this company is doing extremely well, they want to squeeze the people who are helping make them so successful by rolling back gains we’ve made at the bargaining table. And they want retirees who are on a fixed budget to somehow come up with thousands more to cover health care expenses.

About 10,000 IBEW and CWA members marched at a similar rally during contract negotiations in 2008.

Labor leaders say that the outcome of the contract negotiations will have a ripple effect throughout the industry, potentially setting the tenor for how similar companies will treat their worke

“This is about the future of the telecom industry,” Huber said, noting that Verizon has successfully blocked organizing in its wireless division as technology has moved away from copper landlines and fiber optics – sectors rich with union density:

Are they going to take a high-road approach that supports middle-class jobs, or are we going to see low-road, race-to-the-bottom tactics?


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An IBEW member shows one of many handmade signs on display at the rally.


Click here to watch video of speeches from the rally.

Visit the Web sites for Local 827 and Boston Local 2222 for more information from the rally and on the continuing negotiations.

A photo album of the event is also available online.

Click here to read more about the negotiations in the July Electrical Worker.














Verizon Bargaining – IBEW Membership Data

System Council T-6 (Mass., N.H. and R.I. Locals)

Boston Local 2222

Braintree, Mass., Local 2313

Manchester, N.H., Local 2320

Middleton, Mass., Local 2321

Middleboro, Mass., Local 2322

Cranston, R.I., Local 2323

Springfield, Mass., Local 2324

Worcester, Mass., Local 2325

Approximate total members: 6,500

East Windsor, N.J., Local 827

Approximate total members: 5,400

Syracuse, N.Y., Local 2213

Approximate total members: 650

Philadelphia Local 1944

Approximate total members: 300

Approximate total IBEW membership working for Verizon: 12,850