Statement of Edwin D. Hill, International President,
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
On Developments in the Verizon Strike
August 13, 2011
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.