District of Columbia Verizon workers joined their unionized colleagues in other cities Wednesday to strike against the company over troublesome contract negotiations.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and Verizon have failed to finalize a contract since negotiations began June 2015. Wages, outsourcing and overtime remains a primary point of contention between the two sides. District of Columbia workers note the company is already outsourcing jobs and demanding increased overtime hours.
“We’ve been in negotiations for almost nine months,” a protester who identified himself as Shawn said to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “There seems to be no progress being made and we’ve been dealing with Verizon and the tactics they’ve been using to intimidate us and takeaway all that we have worked for over the years for. We said enough is enough and started going out.”
Some workers opted not to use their full names, alleging that the company has sent fake protestors to disrupt strikes and collect information on participants. The last contract expired Aug. 1 a few months after negotiations began. Verizon has said that it has tried to negotiate but the union has been unfair. Verizon also notes it has tried to preserve jobs.
“We’ve tried to work with union leaders to reach a deal,” Verizon Chief Administrative Officer Marc Reed said in a statement. “Verizon has been moving the bargaining process forward, but now union leaders would rather make strike threats than constructively engage at the bargaining table.”
Verizon included a 6.5 percent wage increase, better healthcare coverage and an improved retirement plan in their last proposal. Unionized workers still rejected it over a lack of overtime and outsourcing protections. One protester who identified himself as Jesse says the company wants to increase the long overtime hours many workers are already facing.
“The company is not negotiating the way they should be,” Jesse said to TheDCNF. “I live far away, the company wants to force me to work six days a week. I have priorities with my family but they don’t care about that. They care about getting the work done, in sloppy ways, it doesn’t matter, just get it done. They want us to work nonstop, 12 plus hour shifts and some of us can’t do that.”
The union attacked the company in an ad Aug. 9 claiming it wants to outsource jobs to places like Mexico and the Philippines. Verizon reportedly also wants to utilize more contractors. Unionized workers fear that without adequate job protections crewmen will be replaced with contractors and their call centers will be operated by foreign workers.
“They’re already doing it,” Shawn said. “Our call centers, we have customers that told us they’ve talked to people in Panama, Philippians and India. So all if this is already being done. It’s not something they’ve been proposing, its something they’re already doing.”
The strike has since garnered sympathy from some high-profile individuals. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has blamed Verizon for the troubled negotiations. Senate Democrats have also weighed in on the dispute with a letter urging Verizon to negotiate a fair deal.
Verizon did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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