Dear Commons Community,
As the primary season heats up especially here in New York (Primary Day is today – April 19th), presidential candidates have been making appeals to voters by all manner of visits to meetings and gatherings. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton took time out of their schedules to walk the picket line with Verizon workers. As reported in The Huffington Post which incidentally is owned by Verizon:
“Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) boosted the cause of striking Verizon workers joining them on a picket line in New York City and blasting the telecom giant in a sidewalk speech.
Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers on the East Coast went on strike after 10 months of negotiations with the company failed to produce a new contract. The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers unions represent the workers.
It’s the largest strike in the U.S. in four years, and it’s happening just as the presidential primaries come to New York.
Sanders’ raucous speech aired live on cable news, giving Verizon a taste of the attention it may receive in the coming days. Sanders, a close ally of CWA who received the union’s endorsement, called Verizon “another major American corporation trying to destroy the lives of working Americans.”
“Verizon is one of the largest, most profitable corporations in this country,” Sanders said. “They want to outsource decent-paying jobs. They want to give their CEO $20 million a year.”
Verizon, which owns the The Huffington Post, said in a statement that it had made “good faith efforts” at the bargaining table and offered wage increases, but “union leaders decided to call a strike rather than sit down and work on the issues that need to be resolved.”
The union says the company has refused to put layoff protections for newer employees into the contract and wants to be able to have technicians work far from home for up to two months at a time.
Sanders applauded the striking workers for having the “courage” to walk out.
“I know how hard it is, what a difficult decision it is to go out on strike. I know you’ve thought a whole lot about it, and I know your families will pay a price,” the Vermont independent said. “Today, you are standing up not just for justice for Verizon workers, you’re standing up for millions of Americans who don’t have a union.”
Hillary Clinton also joined strikers, showing up at a picket line at a Verizon store in Midtown Manhattan. During her visit, Clinton said of Verizon, “You need to engage in real negotiation, and this has been going on for months.” She said the workers “deserve to have a fair contract.” In a fuller statement on the dispute, the Democratic frontrunner accused the company of seeking to outsource jobs overseas.”
If you are in New York and registered as a Republican or Democrat, don’t forget to vote today!