Verizon Fires 40 Workers From Strike

Verizon has fired 40 workers who took part in the strike this summer, saying they engaged in misconduct. Union leaders say this is a “heavy-handed” negotiating tactic to push for concessions at the bargaining table.
At the AFL-CIO Blog, Unions Fight Verizon’s Firings of Striking Workers,

IBEW Local 2222 Legislative Director Paul Feeney told the Boston Globe:

We think this is a heavy-handed technique that Verizon is using to pressure us at the negotiating table. The union is going to fight this through the court. The company couldn’t prove to us that they did anything wrong.

Investment blog Seeking Alpha describes this as part of Verizon’s revenue strategy, saying this is one example of phone companies that “act like monsters,” and “Verizon is playing hardball with its workers, firing strike leaders in an attempt to weaken workers’ positions in future negotiations” and “squeeze more from workers.”
Visit the CWA Stop Verizon Green page to learn how to help Verizon workers in their struggle to remain in the middle class.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Your Chance To Take A Stand Against Corporate Greed

Do you think that corporate greed has gotten out of control? Here is your chance to take a stand against corporate greed in a way that can make a difference. There is a greedy corporation that right now is trying to take away its workers’ benefits and job security. Let’s all back up the workers and stop this, and show people how it’s done.
Verizon is a $100 billion-plus company, paying billions in dividends, paying some top executives as much as $50,000 a day, and now in the kind of corporate greed-grab we are so familiar with is asking its workers to take a big hit. Just because they can. Sound familiar? Want to do something about it?

Last week Verizon’s workers scored a big victory for the economy and the middle class. 45,000 Verizon workers went on strike against the company’s corporate greed and forced the giant company to back off. Now they are at the bargaining table not just for themselves but to set an example for all of us, for our wages and benefits. We can help them by showing our support, and showing up to back them up. This is about us as much as it is about them and you can help support them.

Continue reading

Verizon Strike: Picketing Can Be Done By Anyone

Do you want a path out of this recession? Then help the Verizon workers by joining a picket line at your local Verizon store. (Click to learn how.) Verizon has billions in profits. They pay their executives huge salaries. But they are asking their workers and even retirees to take cuts, so the workers are on strike. They just want what you want – a decent job with decent pay and maybe some benefits. So join them.

Path Out Of Recession
Larry Cohen, president of Communication Workers of America (CWA), said on a call today said, “If a company with profits like this, and paying their top executives more than $50,000 a day, can demand these kind of cuts from its workers, there literally will never be a path out of recession in this country.
Cohen also said,

“The collapse of the standard if living across the country, we need to convince people of the larger issues here. The economics lesson here … the human rights issues here are enormous. We are attempting to picket every Verizon Wireless store in the country and this can be done by anyone carrying our sign. …
Are people like us going to have any rights in this country, do we have any rights in this country, do we have anything to look forward to?”

Join Them
Last week I wrote, in Verizon’s Workers Strike Back At Corporate Greed — You Can Join Them!:

The reason you see so many cellphone stores and ads everywhere is because wireless is a very lucrative business. Wireless companies are pulling in billions and their executives are raking in the bucks. But they are also squeezing their workers, their customers and our government.

Right now Verizon is greedily trying to put the squeeze on its workers, cutting pensions, sick pay, health insurance, even disability for employees injured on the job. If this story sounds all too familiar, this part won’t: Their workers are fighting back with a strike! And you can join them!

Verizon’s demands include:
• Continued contracting out of work to low-wage contractors, which means more outsourcing of good jobs overseas.
• Eliminating disability benefits for workers injured while on the job.
• Elimination of all job security provisions.
• Eliminating paid sick days for new hires and limiting them to no more than five for any workers.
• Freezing pensions for current workers and eliminating them for future employees.
• Replacing the current high-quality health care plan with a high-deductible plan requiring up to $6,800 in additional costs.

The Is About You

This is about you because this is happening to everyone. These Verizon workers are putting everything on the line for you — trying to do something about it. They going on strike to try to get your wages and pension and health care back, or keep those things from being taken away from you. Don’t forget that when you hear the corporate propaganda from FOX News and the rest of the corporate media, telling you about “union thugs” and “union bosses.” This is about you and if you are anywhere near a Verizon worker picket line you should go join them.

What You Can Do

Click here to learn ways that you can support the strike.

Easy: Click to Tell Verizon: Stop Attacking the Middle Class. From the petition:

Over the last four years, Verizon has made $19 billion in profits while paying its top five executives $250 million in compensation and bonuses .
With middle-class families already struggling, it’s time for Verizon to share its success with the hardworking Americans who made it possible. This is not a time for corporate greed. It is time to do the right thing.
Verizon made dramatic concessionary demands to kick off bargaining and never moved. Now you are refusing to bargain with the CWA & the IBEW.

Socially: “Like” them on Facebook.
Techy: Download their iPhone app.
Read strike coverage.
Have Fun, Meet People, Join A Local Picket Line

Much more fun: Join them! Click here for a map of local picket lines that you can join. I especially like this one: Adopt Verizon Wireless a store to picket and leaflet.

You can find more info here including signing up to receive updates.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Verizon’s Workers Strike Back At Corporate Greed — You Can Join Them!

The reason you see so many cell phone stores and ads everywhere is because this is a very lucrative businesses. They are pulling in billions and their executives are raking in the bucks. But they are also squeezing their workers, their customers, and our government. Right now Verizon is greedily trying to put the squeeze on its workers, cutting pensions, sick pay, health insurance, even disability for employees injured on the job. If this story sounds all too familiar, this part won’t: Their workers are fighting back with a strike! And you can join them!

Consumed By Greed

Continue reading

Blogs Brought Attention To The Security Guard Strike

Over the last few weeks I have been writing about the plight of security guards working for a company called Inter-Con, a contractor at Kaiser Permanente Hospitals in California. One post I wrote on this was titled, Why Don’t We Hear About Labor Issues Anymore? and I want to get to that subject some more here. But first, I want to go over what was covered.
The security guards went on strike because their employer was interfering with their right to form a union. The first post, Security Guards Striking for the Right to Have Our Laws Enforced

This strike is not against Kaiser and is not to ask for money or benefits; it is not even to form a union in the first place. This strike is just to ask that our laws please be enforced. This may be a lot to ask for in today’s corporate-dominated system, but they’re asking for it anyway.

The second post, Why They (And You) Need A Union, asked,

How else are workers going to get back their rights, get health care, get pensions, and get paid? If you see a better idea out there, please let us all know because this strike and the things happening to these security guards shows that it is very very difficult to form a union. In today’s environment where workers are afraid of employers moving their jobs overseas – or even just laying them off and telling everyone else to work harder – and then giving their pay out as raises to the executives and multi-million-dollar bonuses to the CEO, this is a very brave action to take.

Then, in Unions: Sticking Together to Fight Corporate Power,

You and I are individuals, alone. But corporations have the ability to amass immense power and wealth and influence. You and I as individuals must stand alone against this power and wealth. What can you or I or anyone else do on our own? The average person in our society has very little ability to stand up against this kind of power and wealth.
Over time people discovered that there are some things they can do that will work. One of these has been to form unions. By joining together the workers in a company can amass some power of their own. The company needs the workers in order to function so the workers — if they stick together — have the ability to make the corporation obey employee/employer laws, provide decent pay, and all the other benefits that the unions have brought us. This is why they are also call “organized labor.” By organizing into a union and sticking together people have the ability to demand respect and compensation for their work.

There were also some other posts with news about the strike itself.
In the post Why Don’t We Hear About Labor Issues Anymore? I wrote,

A few local TV news broadcasts covered the story, and there were a few newspaper articles announcing that there was going to be a strike. But there was almost no actual coverage of the strike except on progressive sites and labor outlets. What’s up with that?

This is a significant problem with today’s corporate media. There is overwhelming coverage of business issues like the stock market, investment, mergers and CEO personality profiles. There is story after story pushing new products, cars, bigger houses, consumption, even listings of which movies are making more money than other movies – as if that was a concern to ordinary people.
But there is very little coverage of issues that might help regular people live their daily lives. And in particular there is no, none, nada, negatory, zero coverage of ordinary working people fighting back against the corporate domination of our democracy and other decision-making, including the commercialization of everything.
Labor issues are a big part of that equation. Organized labor is the vehicle that enables regular people to fight back against domination by the big corporations. Big corporations are able to aggregate immense wealth and power. Individuals have no change standing against such wealth and power on their own. But banding together they do. And the more that band together, the better the chance to stand up to the wealth and power of the corporations.
But not if people don’t find out that they can’t do this. And that is where the blogs come in. I was able to post the stories about the security guards’ strike at Huffington Post, MyDD, Seeing the Forest, and in DailyKos and Calitics diaries. Other sites like AlterNet picked up these stories and passed them along to their readers. In this way literally millions of people were able to learn about this strike, which helped raise awareness of the situation as well as apply more pressure to Inter-Con, the employer as well as to government agencies responsible for enforcing the labor laws. If stories like this can be kept entirely quiet strikes like this would be completely ineffective. But if the blog-readers and other progressives start demanding that laws be enforced and workers be allowed to organize, we can start to make a difference.
Please visit StandForSecurity.org.
I am proud to be helping SEIU spread the word about this strike. sfs-234x60-animated-v2

Security Guard Strike Interview – Learning To Be Proud

zv7qrnb

I had the honor of interviewing one of the Inter-Con/Kaiser security guards who went on strike to demand their right to form a union. I will identify him as E so there is no opportunity for Inter-Con to retaliate.
I asked what was it like to decide to join a strike?
E: It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. I got to know my coworkers more than I already did. Knowing that more than one location was going through this, that Inter-Con wasn’t screwing over one location only, but was a statewide thing, helped me. It was good to meet other officers from other locations and know that we are in this together.
I asked if E feels like the strike accomplished anything.
E: After the first strike, that was the new experience. After this second strike it felt like what do we do now, nothing is happening, but after going to the last meeting and seeing the third wave of tactics I feel like we will have a union. After the last strike it felt like, how long are we going to fight, until Kaiser and Inter-Con acknowledges our union? Now that is my feeling that we are going to win.
I asked why are you doing this? Why do you want a union?
E: We want better wages, sick pay, paid vacations. A lot of our officers have to have two jobs. There is no longevity. Any company wants employees to stay for a long time but when you get paid $10 you are in and out pretty fast. We want a union. Having a union is unifying all of us so we have that one voice, we are not standing alone.
We are striking because the company is not letting us have a union and we have a right to have a union. They are spying on us, things like that.
After the first strike I was afraid to go back to work, afraid I wouldn’t have a job. But after the second strike I walked in with my chest out.
I asked what is it like for people making $10 an hour.
E: I make more than that but a lot of them are on call, no fixed schedule. They walk parking lots. There are rovers who walk around. They get calls from the hospital site – code grey, that’s a security incident, a patient or an employee. Or code blue is someone going cardiac arrest, they call out to one of the rovers. Some codes all of the security guards have to go to that location. They’re there to do crowd control. You have some emotional patient families. Then after that whole ordeal we write reports…
There are people who do injury to themselves or others, a lot of them are alcoholics, brought in by the cops. We stand by them, hopefully they won’t lash out at us. We also do standbys at the morgue.
Me: You don’t get sick pay.
E: We call off, we lose money.
Me: So do people go to work sick?
E: I don’t. I’ve heard people go in sick.
Me: What about other people getting sick? You work in a hospital, doesn’t making people work sick endanger the patients?
E: I wouldn’t go in if I was sick. I just lose the money.
I encourage you to visit StandForSecurity.org.
I am proud to be helping SEIU spread the word about this strike. sfs-234x60-animated-v2

Kaiser Security Guard Strike

This week I wrote about the Kaiser Permanente / Inter-Con Security Security Guard strike.
The post Security Guards Striking for the Right to Have Our Laws Enforced discussed why the guards are striking. They are employees of Inter-Con Security, Inc., which contracts services to Kaiser Permanente facilities in California. This company (not Kaiser) is trying to stop the guards from forming a union and the guards are striking to ask that laws allowing union organizing be enforced.
In Why They (And You) Need A Union a comparison with unionized security guards at Kaiser facilities in other states demonstrated the difference that forming a union can make to workers everywhere.
The post Unions: Sticking Together to Fight Corporate Power discussed how individuals are unable to stand up against the immense power and wealth that corporations are able to accumulate. Over time workers learned that by organizing into unions they were able to also build enough power to fight back and demand fair compensation and benefits for their work.
Outside of the blogs there was remarkably little coverage of this strike. Here is a roundup of some of the other coverage:
This is a good story online at Urban Mecca, Three-Day Strike by Hundreds of Security Officers at Kaiser Hospitals,

“The public needs to know that the security officers responsible for making Kaiser hospitals safe and protecting vulnerable patients are being denied our fundamental civil rights. Inter-Con freely uses intimidation, spying and retaliation to harass its workers,” said Shauna Carnero, a security officer in Hayward.
The strike, which began May 6 and included major rallies outside Kaiser medical centers in Oakland, Sacramento and Los Angeles, followed numerous federal complaints that workers have filed with the National Labor Relations Board in recent weeks charging Inter-Con with unfair labor practices over the past two years.

The Pasadena Star-News had Kaiser guards strike,

Hospital security guards went on strike statewide Thursday, citing poor working conditions and lack of health coverage.
About 200 Southern California employees of Inter-Con Security, which is contracted by Kaiser Permanente to provide security guards, joined their Northern California counterparts who have been on strike since Tuesday, Service Employees International Union officials said.
[. . .] Security guards have little legal recourse when they are denied the right to organize, an SEIU attorney said. A loophole in the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 gives security guards only one method of forming a union.
While most employees have the option of holding an election to bring in a union, security guards can only organize if their employers agree to recognize the union, said attorney Orrin Baird.
“It’s sort of out-dated,” Baird said. “If they were not guards they could file a petition with the (National Labor Relations Board) and then they would have to have an election.”

While a few local TV stations carried news about the strike, there was a near-blackout of coverage in the corporate media. WHy do you think that is?
Please visit StandForSecurity.org.
I am proud to be helping SEIU spread the word about this strike. sfs-234x60-animated-v2