Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have asked all members to prepare for a strike. We've been bargaining with Verizon since June 22, 2015. During those 8 months, the company has not moved off of its contract gutting demands which would result in a major deterioration of living standards for our members and retirees. On February 17, the bargaining teams from CWA District 1, CWA District 2-13, and the IBEW met to discuss next steps given the company's continued refusal to bargain a fair contract.
The bargaining committees agreed they absolutely cannot accept the concessions the company is still proposing that forfeit our members' job security, mental well-being, ability to have a family life, and retirement security.
In his 'updates' Marc Reed has tried to convince members that the company is being reasonable and making a fair offer, he states the company's proposals would help in "securing greater workforce flexibility."
What does Verizon mean by "flexibility"? In its most recent proposal of February 4, the company said they would remove their demand to eliminate the job security letter, in exchange for the following "flexibility":
- Allow over a hundred members to be permanently transferred to new reporting points. In many cases, these members would be permanently transferred to reporting points that are over 75 additional commuting miles.
- Allow temporary transfers (including involuntary forced transfers) to assignments in another state of up to 120 days at any time during a calendar year. Meaning that ANYONE, regardless of title, could be transferred for up to 120 days a year to assignments anywhere in the footprint from Maine to Virginia. When they return home, they could be transferred to ANOTHER out-of-state assignment (as long as it's a different state than the first transfer) for up to another 120 days. In addition, if there is an emergency the 120 day limit does not apply.
- Allow the company to declare a surplus condition under the Force Adjustment Plan in a title and organization within an Article 8 Unit area. The company already has the ability to declare a surplus by title in an Article 8 unit twice a year under the existing contract. But under their new proposal, they would be able to declare a surplus by organization (under a specific Director or Vice President).
In addition to changes in transfer language, the Company still has a long list of other major concessions on the table, including:
- Make Sunday a regular workday, meaning you could be assigned a Wednesday-Sunday schedule and eliminate double-time for Sunday.
- Pay overtime after 40 hours worked in a week, not 8 hours worked in a day.
- Cap the pension at 30 years, so that after 30 years members wouldn't accrue any further pension credit.
- Eliminate the GATT rate for lump sum payout of the pension. This could cut the lump sum payout anywhere from $150,000-$200,000 for a member with 30 years of service.
- Major reductions in medical benefits including higher deductibles, co-pays, premiums and co-insurance.
- Eliminate the Unions' ability to negotiate retiree medical and prescription drug benefits.
- Reduce accident disability benefits for employees who are hurt at work.
- Limit tuition assistance to courses related to current job or career path internal to Verizon.
- Require employees to sign a disclaimer to receive an IPP/EIPP, in which the employee releases all claims against the company at the time of the signing. In addition, the company's proposed enhanced EIPP has no improvements to pension band improvements and provides no protection or relief from layoffs, contracting, or transfers.
- Eliminate protection for call center workers and allow more call sharing and contracting out of calls.
Verizon made more than $18 billion in profits last year. They have the ability to negotiate a good contract and treat their workers fairly. Instead, they're insisting on deep concessions.
You should brace yourself and your family for a strike of epic proportion and duration. Our recommendations are to avoid major purchases, make any medical, dental and vision appointments you need now. Stock up on prescriptions. Take your personal items home from work and save your money.
As a CWA member you will receive strike pay from the Members Relief Fund beginning the 15th day of the strike in the amount of $200 per week and $300 beginning the 29th day of the strike.
New York State offers unemployment benefits to Union members who participate in a lawful strike after 49 days. You can’t file your claim until 49 days into the strike, and then you’ll have to wait another week in order to receive your first check. In the event of a lock out before the 49 days are up, you can file a claim for unemployment beginning with the first day of the lockout. The current maximum weekly benefit rate for unemployment is $425.
We will keep the membership informed of any new information.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall!
CWA Local 1111