DOL Secretary Statement on Strike, More Scrutiny of Verizon Off-shoring and Replacement Workers

With the largest strike in recent history now in its second month, U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez has intervened to convene negotiations between CWA, IBEW and Verizon’s CEO. Meanwhile, the dangerous conduct of Verizon’s temporary replacement workers and its secretive off-shoring activities in the Philippines are receiving more scrutiny.

Last night, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez released the following statement on the Verizon strike:

A few days ago, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez reached out to the parties in the ongoing labor dispute involving Verizon workers and invited them to meet with him in Washington in an effort to help the parties resolve a dispute that is affecting thousands of workers, their families, and the company.

Today, Secretary Perez met at the U.S. Labor Department with Lowell McAdam, chairman and CEO of Verizon; Chris Shelton, president of the Communications Workers of America; and Lonnie Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The parties had an open, frank andconstructive dialogue about finding a comprehensive way forward to resolve disputed issues and get people back to work. The parties agreed to return to the bargaining table on Tuesday to continue their discussion.

“The best way to resolve this labor dispute is at the bargaining table, and I am heartened by the parties’ mutual commitment to get back to immediate discussions and work toward a new contract,” said Secretary Perez. “I was singularly impressed by the parties’ appreciation that time is of the essence, and their strong commitment to use the collective bargaining process to reach a mutually beneficial resolution.”

Meanwhile, the press continues to investigate Verizon’s use of armed security officers and SWAT teams to intimidate representatives of striking workers investigating its off-shoring activities in the Philippines. Salon notes that Verizon has roughly 40 percent fewer unionized U.S. workers than it did a year ago, and quotes CWA District One President Dennis Trainor here:

“Verizon is terrified that the public might find out about what has happened to the good middle-class jobs the company has shipped to the Philippines. The truth is that Verizon is destroying middle-class American jobs so that it can pay workers $1.78 per hour and force them to work around the clock, rather than preserve good jobs in our communities.”

Meanwhile, Verizon is struggling to maintain service for its customers and complaints around replacement workers continue to grow. Contact us for more reports.

A Verizon replacement worker was arrested for hitting a striking worker and a police officer while driving drunk.The incident has cast doubt on whether the company is adequately screening the 20,000 temporary replacement workers it has deployed since the strike began. At 8:30 in the morning, a drunk Verizon replacement worker accelerated into a group of picketing workers:

“He just floored it,” Police Chief Alan Gordon said of Pulling’s driving, to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “He hit one of the officers with his mirror and one of the picketers held onto the windshield wiper. Then he jammed on his brakes, sending the picketer off the hood.”

It was the Verizon temp worker’s fourth drunk driving offense.

Customer complaints about the speed and quality of Verizon service continue to pile up. The Brockton Enterprise reports that elderly residents at Caffrey Towers in Brockton, MA have been without landline service for at least a week.

Brenda Ambrose, who has a relative who lives at Caffrey Towers, said that the situation is dangerous. “I can’t imagine if there would be a medical emergency,” Ambrose said. “They’d die. It’s that bad. It’s horrible.”

The Delaware News Journal editorial board gives Verizon a big thumbs-down for its handling of the strike, which has delayed installations and “hurts Delaware business owners.”

ABC News reports that many Verizon wireless customers were double-billed this month. Verizon customer Irene Owens believes the strike was to blame, and notes that she’s experienced more dropped wireless calls since the workers hit the picket lines.