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NLRB Issues Complaint Against Verizon’s Unfair Firings, Discipline


May 29, 2012

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The IBEW and CWA filed charges at the National Labor Relations Board last year after Verizon fired and disciplined several IBEW and CWA members who participated in a two-week strike in August upon expiration of their contract.

The unions charged that Verizon was retaliating against activists for engaging in legally protected activities aimed at achieving a decent contract, a goal that is still unmet as negotiations continue on a new contract covering 45,000 IBEW and Communications Workers of America members.

On May 18, National Labor Relations Board Region 2 issued a complaint for 58 of the 63 cases brought by the Communications Workers of America following an investigation of Verizon’s actions. The complaint is the first step of the NLRB process. The board will be meeting with Verizon to discuss a settlement.

While some discipline cases related to the strike have been settled, NLRB charges filed by IBEW locals protesting firings and discipline of Verizon strikers in New England and New Jersey—covered by other NLRB regions—are still pending

Boston Local 2222 Legislative Director Paul Feeney says the firings, some of them taking place months after the strike, were an attempt to scare workers and impose a chilling effect on the unions.. He says:

The company can’t prove to us that the workers did anything wrong. Management is trying to make an example of them in hopes of putting pressure on the union.

John Colleran, an 18-year Verizon lineman, a longtime shop steward and executive board member of Boston Local 2222, was terminated three weeks before Christmas.The 53-year old father of two – along with 39 of his East Coast co-workers – received letters alleging misconduct during the strike. Colleran says that the company’s move is nothing but retribution for his union activism.

He was accused by the company of threatening bodily violence, an accusation he denies. He says:

If the manager making the accusation was so concerned at the time he could have filed a report with one of the six cops who were at the picket line. But he didn’t, because it never happened. They are just targeting the most vocal and outspoken union members to push us out of the way.

Says Local 2222 Business Manager Myles Calvey:

Every worker deserves a fair hearing and we will keep pushing until they get their day in court.

The NLRB complaint against Verizon is “tremendous news for workers who have faced harsh discipline, even firing, from Verizon, that was completely unwarranted,” says Ron Collins, CWA’s chief of staff.

Jennifer Travis, a 15-year Verizon employee in Pittsburgh, a CWA member, was one of the workers fired last August. She had never been disciplined or written up for infractions.  Says Travis:

There were a lot of us on the picket line that day. Management was bringing scabs across the line to work our jobs. We were loud and boisterous, but peaceful. The company says I assaulted a manager.Those are outrageous and false allegations.