News : Verizon Strike Hits 30-day Mark with No End in Sight
Philadelphia, PA, USA, May 13, 2016 -- The nation's largest labor strike is now a month old - 39,000 Verizon Communications Inc. workers off the job from Massachusetts to Virginia since April 13 - and no new talks are scheduled.
The latest blowup involves four members and staffers of the Communications Workers of America who visited the Philippines where Verizon operates call centers through a contractor and maintain that call center workers are making a fraction of their counterparts here.
Of the 39,000 on strike, about 13,000 are call-center workers, the union said. Their job security is a key issue.
Both sides say there is little progress at the bargaining table.
Verizon has said it wants to gain efficiencies by closing and combining call centers and routing calls to outside contractors, including some in the Philippines and Mexico.
The union says the company has not fulfilled promises it made in the last contract to keep call center work in the northeast.
The union, one of two striking the New York-based telecom company, said Filipino call-center workers told them they were earning the equivalent of $1.78 an hour, were forced to work overtime and were not paid overtime rates.
The union said that private security guards and a police SWAT team, armed with automatic rifles, surrounded their van on May 11 after it had pulled away from Verizon's offices in Alabang, south of Manila.
"Talking about poverty pay does not warrant a response from armed guards," CWA regional vice president Edward Mooney said in a statement.
"Verizon is going to great lengths to try to hide their strategy of outsourcing middle-class American jobs in favor of poverty wages abroad," he said.
Verizon spokesman Richard Young said the company had no comment on Filipino wages because the call center workers are not Verizon employees.
"Why in the world would the CWA . . . spend tens of thousands of dollars to send a dozen or so CWA members to the Philippines for a fancy vacation . . . when 36,000 of our employees are lucky to get $200 a week from a union strike fund?" the company said in a statement.
As the strike continues, the company reports vandalism and the union reports shoddy work by replacement workers.
The other union on strike is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents many workers in New Jersey.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, May 16, 2016