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July 2016

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Lessons from Another Verizon Strike

I want to congratulate every IBEW brother and sister at Verizon who stayed strong during the six-week strike.

This was a hard fight.

There were those who questioned the heart and commitment of the 10,000 IBEW and members and 30,000 CWA members on the picket lines. There is a terrible uncertainty that comes when you walk off a job and don't know if you will come back. It takes genuine and rare courage to stand tall for what you believe when the paychecks stop but the bills keep coming.

Any doubters got their answer. The clear lesson, brothers and sisters, is that courage in the workplace is not just something that happened in the past. It takes the same spine to do it today as it did back then.

Make no mistake: our members were not just on strike to defend their own jobs, or even to make sure that their jobs would be around for the next generation of union members. They walked that picket to raise the standards for all working people, to show, again, that companies can be profitable and pay a decent wage. Companies can be successful and provide good benefits and a dignified retirement.

I am incredibly proud of every one of our members.

What we ended up with is a mutually beneficial contract with raises, more than a thousand new hires and sustained benefits for retirees.

I am grateful to Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Allison Beck from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Their involvement in the negotiations proved, once again, that conversation is better than conflict.

It is my belief that not only is it possible for companies to see their workers as valuable assets, but that this, and only this, is the foundation for long-term success.

This contract could mark the beginning of something new with the executives at Verizon, a relationship built on mutual respect for the benefit of all.

I have no doubt that our members will go back to work and prove once again their true value to the owners and customers of Verizon. The pride they showed in themselves while on strike will serve them, and Verizon, well now that they are returning to work.

It is as true now as it has ever been that we are one another's best and only allies on the job, and when we stand together, everyone wins. We are the only chance we've got.


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Lonnie R. Stephenson

Lonnie R. Stephenson
International President