Communications Workers of America Statement on Verizon Contract Talks
New York – With collective bargaining agreements between Verizon and 39,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) expiring at midnight tonight, the Communications Workers of America announced today that they had put a constructive, comprehensive new bargaining proposal across the table at negotiations in Rye, NY that would offer the company significant healthcare and retiree cost savings. The proposal was made last night and union bargainers are currently waiting for a response from Verizon.
“It’s time for management to get serious, and back off its insistence on slashing the living standards of our members,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President for CWA District One, which covers Verizon workers from New Jersey to Massachusetts. “Verizon made $1 billion in profits every single month for 18 straight months and paid their top executives $249 million in the last five years. Only their unrestrained corporate greed stands in the way of a fair contract settlement.”
?In Philadelphia, the bargaining committee in negotiations for the mid-Atlantic bargaining units has reported it has yet to see any indication of substantive movement from the Company.
“The company hasn’t moved off its initial June 22nd proposal that made outrageous demands of Verizon workers. If this company is serious about reaching an agreement, it needs to start bargaining constructively and now, "said Ed Mooney, President for CWA District 2-13, whi?ch represents Verizon workers from Pennsylvania to Virginia. ?“Right now there isn’t even anyone across the table from us who’s got the power to make any decisions.”
Verizon has refused to budge from its outrageous initial bargaining proposal, made on June 22nd, which includes the following contract changes:
- Completely eliminating job security and gaining the right to transfer workers at will anywhere in the company’s footprint.
- Increasing workers’ health care costs by thousands of dollars per person, despite the fact that negotiations in 2011-2012 have cut the company’s health care costs by tens of millions of dollars over the life of the past contract.
- Removing any restrictions on the company’s right to contract out and offshore union jobs. This comes on top of Verizon’s outsourcing of thousands of call center jobs in recent years.
- Slashing retirement security.
- Reducing overtime and differential payments.
- Eliminating the Family Leave Care plan, which provides paid leave to care for sick family members or care for a newborn.
- Eliminating the Accident Disability Plan, which provides benefits to workers injured on the job.
At the same time, Verizon refuses to build out FiOS to many underserved communities up and down the East Coast, and has abandoned upkeep of the traditional landline network, leading to extensive service problems for consumers. In these negotiations, the union members’ interest is linked directly to the public interest, since our jobs involve maintaining quality service on traditional landlines and building and servicing Verizon’s state of the art FiOS broadband network. Even in New York City, where Verizon pledged to make FiOS available to every customer by the end of 2014, the City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications issued a report finding that the company was evading the buildout commitments it made under its 2008 video franchise agreement.
“86% of our members have voted to authorize a strike if necessary, but we remain hopeful that Verizon will negotiate a contract that increases maintenance of landlines, builds new high-speed fiber and pays the men and women who work for Verizon a decent wage with healthcare and retirement security,” Mooney added. “The ball is in their court – we will see tonight if they are serious.”
39,000 workers are currently negotiating new contracts at Verizon. Fortune Magazine ranked Verizon the 15th largest corporation in America in 2014, with revenues of $127 billion, profits of $9.6 billion, and market capitalization of $198.4 billion. Verizon had profits of $28 billion over the last five years, and paid its top five executives $249 million during that time.
On July 21st, Verizon reported profits of $4.4 billion in 2Q2015 on revenues of $32.2 billion. This came on top of $4.2 billion in profits in 1Q2015, which means Verizon has made $1 billion in profits every month for the last 18 months. The company also reported that during the first six months of 2015 it has paid out over $9.3 billion to shareholders in dividends and stock buybacks, an increase of almost $5.8 billion over the first half of last year. In the Wireline division, Operating Cash Flow rose to 23.5%, and operating income doubled, from 2.6% to 5.3%. FiOS continues to expand and succeed, now constituting 79% of Verizon consumer revenues on the wireline side, and achieving penetration rates of 35.7% for video and 41.4% for internet in markets where it is competing.