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Mark Connolly Takes A Bold Stand For Union Workers At WMUR

Last week we posted a story about how WMUR/ Hearst Television is refusing to negotiate with the members of IBEW local 1228 and are refusing add them to the pension system that other station workers already participate in. This contract negotiation dispute resulted in WMUR’s sponsorship of the NH Democratic Presidential debate. The NH Democratic Party reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the WMUR workers, by continuing to boycott WMUR sponsored debates.

“We told WMUR Station Management earlier this year that New Hampshire Democratic candidates would not participate in WMUR sponsored debates as long as the negotiations between the Union Production workers and Hearst were not resolved.” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “We have not changed our position and the station knows it.”

This week, WMUR scheduled a Democratic Gubernatorial debate for next Tuesday night.  IBEW Local 1228 members are planning to hold an informational picket at WMUR’s Manchester studio the night of the debate.

Today, Mark Connolly, Democratic candidate for Governor, released the following statement regarding the scheduled gubernatorial debate hosted by WMUR Manchester and its parent company, Hearst Television, Inc. 

“Though I appreciate the opportunity provided by WMUR/Hearst, I strongly believe that each and every worker in the Granite State deserves a fair wage and benefits, and I stand with the dedicated workers of IBEW Local 1228.

“These workers are committed to delivering important information to the people of New Hampshire on a daily basis, and I strongly support their right to a collectively bargained contract. 

“Without an agreement in place between WMUR/Hearst and Local 1228, I will not cross the picket line to participate in next week’s debate. I encourage the other candidates to take the same stand.”

After receiving the news, Fletcher Fischer, Business Agent for the IBEW 1228 who represents the Union Production Department at WMUR who are struggling for their first contract said that they “greatly appreciated” the statement of support from Connolly.

“We are hopeful that all New Hampshire candidates running for Governor and any other office feel the same and show support to the working men and women who don’t deserve this type of Corporate attack. All they did was exercise their American right to form a Union and did not expect this type of retribution from the Company they have served so loyally for years,” Fischer added.

Pat Devney, campaign manager for Colin Van Ostern also released a statement in support of the IBEW workers but did not state whether Van Ostern would also skip the debate.

“With a full seven days between now and the debate, we encourage WMUR/Hearst management to sit down with employees and make meaningful and long-overdue progress toward a fair employment agreement.”

“We will continue to monitor negotiations and sincerely hope that progress can be made toward an agreement so that voters will have the opportunity to hear from all candidates about how we can keep New Hampshire moving forward.”

At the time of publication Steve Marchand had not responded to my request for a statement.

CWA Reaches Tentative Agreement With AT&T Mobility

CWA Statement on Tentative Agreement Reached with AT&T Mobility

Washington, D.C. — The Communications Workers of America AT&T Mobility National Benefits Bargaining committee has reached a new tentative agreement with AT&T Mobility covering 42,000 workers. 

This proposed national agreement covers health care and other benefits.

CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor said CWA “accomplished our main goal, which was to put health care benefits bargaining back in the regional bargaining agreement process and to make health care affordable for all Mobility workers.” There are four separately negotiated Mobility contracts that now cover compensation and working conditions. 

An earlier agreement was voted down by the members last month, and continued negotiations resulted in the tentative proposal that is being provided to the membership for a ratification vote. 

Ratification will be conducted over the next several weeks. 

Among the highlights of the new proposed agreement: 

  • Reduced premium costs for 20,000 employees hired after 2014.
  • Employees with dependent children and no covered spouse will pay lower rates under a new 4-tier contribution structure.
  • Employees in Puerto Rico will be able to take advantage of popular HMO plans with much lower contribution rates.
  • A new “Option 2” plan will be introduced with lower premium costs. 

New TV Calls Verizon “The Poster Child Of Corporate Greed”

With contract negotiations for 39,000 workers stalled, Verizon Workers Blast Company’s Corporate Greed in new TV ad.

Verizon workers call company “the poster child of corporate greed”

as they prepare to go on strike, if necessary

NEW YORK — Frustrated with the unproductive pace of negotiations towards a new contract for 39,000 Verizon workers from Massachusetts to Virginia, the Communications Workers of America has launched a regional TV and digital ad buy calling the nation’s 16th largest company “the poster child for corporate greed.”  The ad can be viewed here: http://standuptoverizon.com/poster-child/. 

Verizon made $1.5 billion a month in profits in 2015—and $39 billion in profits over the last three years—while insisting at the bargaining table that workers accept major cutbacks in health care coverage, job security, pension protections, and benefits for injured workers.  Verizon also adamantly refuses to bargain a fair first contract for wireless retail store workers in NY and Massachusetts.  Continued management intransigence on these issues, which has left workers without a contract since August 1st of 2015, could lead to a strike that would affect consumers from Massachusetts to Virginia.  

In the new advertisement, which will start running this weekend, retired Verizon worker Ernie Hammel – 29-year former field technician – tells customers, “This company is the poster child for corporate greed.” 

Following clips of national TV reports about growing economic inequality in the country, the advertisement shows that Verizon’s CEO makes more than 200 times as much as the company’s average worker.

“For a communications company, Verizon executives seem to have trouble hearing their customers and their workers,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President for CWA District One, which covers Verizon workers from New Jersey to Massachusetts.  “A company this profitable should not be making the wealth gap in America even worse by cutting benefits and destroying job security, while a handful of executives line their pockets with $50 million a year in compensation.” 

“Americans are outraged by what the corporate elite has done to working people in this country over the last 30 years,” said Ed Mooney, Vice President for CWA District 2-13, which covers the workforce from Pennsylvania to Virginia.  “And Verizon typifies everything that people in this country are angry about.  If we have to walk, Verizon will be a national target for anger at corporate greed.”

Verizon workers, represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), have been working without a contract since August and are growing increasingly frustrated that the company is still attempting to make devastating changes, including: 

  • Eliminating job security and allowing the company to force transfer workers anywhere in the company’s footprint, away from their families, for up to two months at a time.
  • Refusing to negotiate a fair first contract for 100 Verizon Wireless workers who organized into CWA in 2014.  No raises, no benefit increases, no improvements to working conditions.
  • Freezing pension accruals at 30 years of service.
  • Vastly expanding contracting out and offshoring of union jobs. This comes on top of Verizon’s outsourcing of thousands of call center jobs to Mexico, the Philippines and other overseas locations in recent years.
  • Gutting the Family Leave Care plan, which provides paid leave to care for sick family members or care for a newborn.
  • Gutting the Sickness and Accident Disability Plan, which provides benefits to workers injured on the job.
  • And continuing their oppressive, bullying tactics of harassment and intimidation every day on the job.

“Verizon workers are the backbone of this company, and executives have lost sight of what makes this company so profitable,” said national CWA President Chris Shelton.  “Verizon workers have helped executives pocket $249 million in the last five years while their own families are worrying about job security.  We’re all tired of waiting for Verizon executives to agree to a fair contract.  It’s time to let customers know what is going on, and why we’ll be on strike if the situation doesn’t change soon.” 

Verizon is falling short on commitments to its customers as well. The company refuses to build out FiOS in 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.  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.

In a strike vote conducted last summer, 86% of Verizon workers supported walking off the job if a fair agreement could not be reached.

In A Close Vote, Ground Workers Approve New Contract With Southwest Airlines

Southwest Jet at BWI (image by Rudi Riet FLIKR CC)

Southwest Jet at BWI (image by Rudi Riet FLIKR CC)

New labor agreement with Southwest includes 20 percent wage increase, first raises in five years for many ramp workers at highly profitable airline workers at highly profitable airline 

DALLAS  – After a five-year, often difficult contract battle, Transport Workers Union Local 555, the union representing 12,000 ground crew workers employed by Southwest Airlines, announced today that union members narrowly voted to approve a tentative agreement with the airline. TWU members by a close margin, 50.4 percent (4,703) cast “yes” votes, and 49.6 percent voted “no” (4,628), out of 11,073 eligible.  Electronic voting began February 4 and concluded earlier today.  Ballots were tallied this afternoon in Dallas.

 On December 29, 2015, the TWU Local 555 Executive Board voted to send the tentative agreement to union members for a ratification vote without a recommendation.  Contract talks had been ongoing since July of 2011 and federal mediation with the assistance of the National Mediation Board began in September of 2012.

“Our Board wanted the members to decide this one,” said TWU Local 555 President Greg Puriski. “While we had reached agreement on significant improvements in compensation there were still unresolved issues important to our members related primarily to working conditions. This was a hard vote for many of our members and this explains the close results.”  The new contract includes pay raises of more than 20 percent over the five-year life of the agreement. 

Southwest Airlines earned a record 2.4 billion in 2015. The airline has been growing in both size and profits since the ground workers contract became amendable in 2011, yet many ground workers have not had a raise during that period.

“This agreement is not the end of the road,” said Puriski. “This is merely a stop on the journey. We will continue to work for improved job security and working conditions and stress the importance of recapturing the culture that has made this company a model for not only the airline industry, but for all U.S. employers.”

Added Puriski, “Southwest’s long-time winning formula has largely been replaced by a structure not unlike the failed legacy carriers of the past. Other airlines have become more like Southwest. Somewhere our flight paths crossed—we’re now becoming what they used to be. Management should look at the closeness of this vote and respect what the “no” voters have said and work with the union leadership to improve working conditions and employee morale in order to build an even more successful Southwest Airlines.” 

TWU Local 555 is a local union of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), representing more than 12,000 ramp, operations, provisioning and freight agents at Southwest Airlines.

USW Members Vote to Ratify 3-Year Contract with U.S. Steel

Steelworkers logo USWPITTSBURGH – Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union have ratified a new three-year contract with U.S. Steel that will cover 18,000 workers at more than a dozen facilities across the United States. USW members voted by a greater than 2-to-1 margin to approve the contract, which will take effect immediately.

The two sides reached a tentative agreement in December after six months of often difficult negotiations during an extremely challenging environment for steelmakers across the country. U.S. Steel’s opening proposal contained demands for major cuts in pay and benefits, along with changes to work rules and other concessions that could have cost workers and their families thousands of dollars per year. After agreeing to a contract extension, the two sides continued to exchange proposals well past the previous contract’s Sept. 1 expiration date.

While the new agreement includes modest changes to active and retiree health care coverage, the union was able to fight off the company’s demands for significant premium contributions, as well as other large-scale out-of-pocket increases. The contract keeps wages at their current level, but includes an increase in the USW’s profit-sharing percentage, which will allow workers to receive payments when the company bounces back from the current crisis. The agreement also resets supplemental unemployment benefits for laid-off workers.

“The past year has been a difficult one for the steel industry, for USW members, and for manufacturing towns all across this country,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “The key to weathering this crisis is not to attack each other, but to work together to find solutions to our common problems – namely the severe imbalance and unfairness in our trade system. This must be our shared goal as we move forward.”

Over the past year, illegally low-priced imports from China and elsewhere, along with global overcapacity and a decline in oil and gas drilling brought on by lower fuel prices, drove prices and demand for steel down and led U.S. Steel and other companies to idle plants and lay off workers at factories around the country.

“I am extremely proud of the solidarity and the commitment to fairness that the Steelworkers showed throughout this process,” said USW International Vice President Tom Conway, who led the union’s bargaining committee. “These hard-working men and women were determined not to be made scapegoats for what is a global crisis.”

Mike Millsap, who serves as USW District 7 director and secretary of the bargaining committee, said the union looked forward to working with U.S. Steel to address the industry’s trade imbalance and to position the company and its work force for future success.

“We are proud of the productive relationship we’ve built with U.S. Steel,” Millsap said. “We hope to build on it as we move forward from what has been a very challenging year.”

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments.

USW Reaches Tentative Agreement, Covering 18,000 Members, With U.S Steel

UNITED STEELWORKERS LOGO

(Pittsburg,PA) The United Steelworkers (USW) union’s bargaining committee reached a tentative agreement today on a new contract covering 18,000 workers at more than a dozen facilities across the United States.

The contract is subject to ratification from the members of 26 local unions at those facilities. That process is likely to take several weeks to complete. Details of the agreement will be announced following ratification.

“This has been a difficult year and a difficult round of bargaining, but I am proud of the way the brothers and sisters of the USW stood up and demanded fair treatment,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

Bargaining between the company and the union began in June, in the midst of a crisis for American steelmakers. Illegally low-priced imports from China and elsewhere, along with a decline in oil and gas drilling brought on by low fuel prices, resulted in overcapacity across the globe. That drove prices and demand for steel down and led U.S. Steel and other companies to idle plants and lay off workers at factories around the country.

U.S. Steel’s opening proposal contained demands for major cuts in pay and benefits, along with changes to work rules and other concessions that could have cost workers and their families thousands of dollars per year. After agreeing to an extension, the two sides continued to exchange proposals well past the previous contract’s Sept. 1 expiration date.

“Our members were determined throughout this process not to be made scapegoats for the problems of unfair trade and global overcapacity,” said USW International Vice President Tom Conway, who chairs the bargaining committee.

Mike Millsap, who serves as USW District 7 director and secretary of the bargaining committee, said the union would continue to work with employers and politicians to address the problem of unfair trade.

“As we move on from a difficult round of bargaining, we look forward to building on this collaborative relationship with the company to address the problems that have led to this crisis,” Millsap said.


The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments.

Culinary and Bartenders Unions Conclude Contract Negotiations with The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Culinary Union 226LAS VEGAS, NV – Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165 of UNITE HERE are pleased to announce that a new four-year contract with The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has been voted on and accepted by CoStars. This first-time contract with the resort will cover over 2,000 CoStars in the food, beverage, housekeeping, bar and lounge and bell departments.

“I’m so happy that we are now union members!” said Claudia Zarate, a room stylist at the resort, “After four years and a change in the resort’s ownership and leadership, this contract has been something I have been looking forward to and am comforted in knowing that the union and The Cosmopolitan both believe in fair wages, good health benefits and safe workloads.”

“We applaud all the hard work the CoStars at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas have done over these last four years and recognize the new leadership of Bill McBeath and Blackstone as a positive turning point in this long awaited partnership,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Union. “We welcome new members to the union, which turned 80 years old this year, and we are committed to continue raising the standard of living for hospitality workers and their families throughout this great city.”

“This contract is an example of when multiple parties have a vested interest in the outcome, lives can be changed,” said Bill McBeath, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. “I am pleased that a contract has been finalized as we at The Cosmopolitan pride ourselves on creating great relationships with our CoStars and providing them with a positive work environment.”

“We value the leadership team and all the CoStars at The Cosmopolitan,” said Jon Gray, Blackstone’s Global Head of Real Estate. “After we acquired the resort in December 2014 and had the opportunity to understand the history of this negotiation, we made it a priority to find a resolution as quickly as possible to the satisfaction of all parties. We want to thank everyone involved for their efforts as we celebrate this important new agreement.”

“This contract means that my family and I can have a quality middle-class life here in Las Vegas,” said Pascale Rida, a banquet server at the resort. “I have the opportunity to provide for my family – and that’s an amazing feeling.”

“I’m so incredibly proud to have been a part of this,” said Philip Reynolds, a mixologist at the resort. “Having job security, a guaranteed work-week, and a pension makes me feel so proud to be member of the union.”


Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent over 55,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. UNITE HERE represents 270,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America.

CulinaryUnion226.org / @Culinary226

WMUR TV Directors And Production Workers Are Still Fighting For Their First Contract

Ibew logo

Submitted by Brian Wilson

TV directors and production workers at WMUR, who voted to join IBEW 1228 in April, are facing strong opposition from station management in their attempt to win a fair, first contract. Thus far, the company has repeatedly refused to even discuss a wage proposal which was submitted by the union’s negotiating team back in July. It has sat on the table collecting dust ever since.

The station has also refused to discuss their position on the future of an existing pension plan which some workers have spent almost thirty years earning credit toward. The union has proposed nothing more than maintaining the existing pension, and has not asked for any expansion or increases.

It appears that the station seeks to punish its own workers for organizing by leaving their retirement plans hanging in the balance. This is unacceptable. Workers have a fundamental right to band together for their collective good, and their choosing to exercise that right is no excuse for the unabashed hostage-taking of their retirement plans, which they have spent their entire working lives building.

We ask for the support of not only the labor community, but of all those who know that if we allow the rights of workers to organize and bargain with their employer to be trampled upon, then we have allowed those workers’ voices to be silenced.

Please join us in urging the management of WMUR to effect a fair and swift resolution to this matter.

CWA Launches TV Ad Slamming Verizon’s Broken Promises

 Ad Highlights City Audit Finding Verizon is Failing to Meet Terms of Its Franchise Agreement, Refusing to Build High-Speed Internet

Pressure Grows on Verizon to Stop Stalling as City Council Hearing Scheduled for Wednesday  

Video courtesy of CWA


New York – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) announced today a new TV ad that will air on local broadcast and cable channels slamming Verizon’s failure to build out its high-speed FiOS network in New York. The 30-second ad highlights a New York City audit of Verizon’s FiOS rollout in New York City that found that Verizon has failed to meet its promise to deliver high-speed fiber optic internet and television to everyone in the city who wanted it [script below and video file can be viewed here].  In a sign of growing concerns about Verizon, the City Council is holding a hearing Wednesday to hear from the Administration, customers who have been unable to get FiOS and the company.

“Verizon should stop breaking promises to its employees and its customers,” said Bob Master, Assistant to the President for CWA District One. “Customers want FiOS and our members want a contract that maintains family-supporting jobs.  Verizon should stop stalling on both issues.” 

New York City is not the only city frustrated with Verizon’s broken promises.  Last week, 13 Northeastern Mayors and the Democratic candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia sent a letter to Verizon expressing anger at Verizon’s refusal to build its high-speed FiOS network at all in some cities while in others the company fails to meet contractual and legal requirements to complete universal build-outs.  The Mayors also expressed concern about Verizon’s treatment of its workforce in ongoing contract negotiations. 

The anger has been growing across the East Coast as Verizon systematically refuses to invest in its infrastructure.  In a letter to the FCC it admitted that it had only spent $200 million or $3.50 per customer over the last seven years to maintain its copper landline network in eleven states and the District of Columbia.  The Communications Workers of America filed letters in six states and Washington, DC calling on them to investigate whether Verizon was neglecting its responsibility. 

In August, it was the only major U.S. telecommunications company to turn down federal funding to build broadband in unserved, primarily rural, communities, leaving many residents in eight states and the District of Columbia without access to vital communications options.  The company was offered $568 million over six years by the Federal government to bring broadband to 270,000 locations in Washington, DC, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. 

In New York State, the company refuses to avail itself of Governor Cuomo’s $500 million New New York Broadband Fund, which offers up to 50% subsidies to companies willing to build high-speed service in underserved areas.  For years, Verizon has steadfastly refused to bring its high-speed internet service (or FiOS) to areas like Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Rome, Utica and numerous other upstate New York cities, as well as much of Eastern Suffolk.  At a series of hearings held by New York State, elected officials from Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, the North Country, the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley decried the lack of FiOS in their communities. 

Campaigns in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts have also called for FiOS to be built in their communities.

Featured image is screen shot from CWA’s ad

CWA Files Letters Calling for Regulators to Investigate Verizon’s Refusal to Invest in Traditional Landline Upkeep

 Verizon told FCC it spends less than one percent of the average phone and DSL customer’s rate on upkeep of the network 

Legislators Join Call to Investigate Verizon

2000px-Verizon_logo.svg

WASHINGTON- The Communications Workers of America (CWA) today announced they were filing letters with telephone regulators in six states and Washington, DC calling on them to open investigations into the deterioration of Verizon’s copper landline networks.  In July, Verizon admitted in a letter to the FCC that it had only spent $200 million over the last seven years to maintain its copper landline network in eleven states and the District of Columbia.  

The $200 million investment is less than one percent of the amount phone and DSL customers pay Verizon for service, which means the average customer is financing wireless and fiber expansion, rather than the upkeep of the network they rely on.

In light of the new evidence presented by CWA to regulators, scores of legislators across the region joined the call for renewed investigation into Verizon’s abandonment of the copper network. 

“Verizon pulls in more than a billion dollars in profits each month.  $200 million represents less than half a percent of the $50 billion Verizon spent on its wireline network from 2008 to 2014 and less than one percent of what they charge the average voice customer,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President of District 1 of the Communications Workers of America. “We support Verizon’s expansion of FiOS, but the company also has a legal obligation to provide safe, reliable service over its traditional landline network.”

To put the $200 million in perspective:

  • $200 million represents 0.39 percent of the $50.7 billion Verizon spent on its wireline network from 2008 to 2014. Nearly 100 percent of Verizon’s wireline investment was spent to build its fiber network.[1] CWA supports Verizon’s FiOS expansion. But where Verizon has refused to deploy its all-fiber FiOS network, Verizon has the statutory obligation to maintain its copper plant to provide safe, reliable service. (Verizon spent $59.9 billion on its wireless network, 2008-2014.)
  • The $200 million that Verizon spent over the past seven years on its copper network amounts to an average of $28.6 million a year per year across its entire landline footprint.
  • CWA estimates that Verizon currently has upwards of eight million retail customers on its traditional copper landline network.  (Verizon no longer publicly reports this number.) Using this figure, Verizon’s annual spending on its copper network amounts to about $3.50 a line per year for poles, cables, wires, pedestals, terminals, batteries, and other plant and equipment needed to build, maintain, repair, and service its copper network. (This is a conservative estimate since Verizon had many more copper customers in earlier years.)
  • Across the Verizon landline footprint, residential and single-line business customers pay between $300 and $370 a year for basic voice service and about $400 a year for DSL service.  Even using our conservative calculations, Verizon spends less than one percent of the rate it charges for basic voice service and less than half a percent of the rate it charges for a voice/DSL bundled service on the upkeep of its copper network.
  • Verizon spent $200 million over a seven-year period on a copper network that covers the vast majority of the population in eight states — New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, plus Washington, D.C., and parts of California, Texas, and Florida. (Prior to 2010, the Verizon footprint included an additional 4.8 million lines in 14 additional states.) 

CWA’s letters also point to Verizon’s peer to peer online forums and recent FCC filings by Verizon customers alleging that the company is neglecting copper facilities and lines. Frontline Verizon employees are also chiming in, saying that they’ve seen firsthand how Verizon’s policies, procedures and inadequate investments have led to the virtual abandonment of the copper network and is keeping quality services from paying customers.

These letters come after a series of worker led protests and rallies throughout the Northeast calling on Verizon to negotiate a fair contract with its employees. Verizon makes $1 billion in profits every month and has refused to bargain constructively with its 39,000 employees over the terms of its contract, continuing to insist on the ability to outsource more jobs, increase health care costs by thousands of dollars a person and slash retirement security.

Background Contract Negotiations

39,000 workers are currently working without a contract 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. 

Verizon has not significantly moved off its outrageous initial bargaining demands, made on June 22nd, which includes the following proposals:

  • 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 jobs in recent years.
  • Slashing retirement security.
  • Reducing overtime and differential payments.
  • Eliminating the Family Leave Care plan, which provides unpaid 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.

CWA is also negotiating for about 100 Wireless technicians in New York State and 75 retail employees in Brooklyn and Everett, MA.  Verizon’s Wireless operation is even more profitable than Verizon’s wireline operations.  Yet Verizon is not offering major improvements in the technician’s contract and is refusing to negotiate a new contract including major wage and benefit improvements for the retail employees in Brooklyn and Everett, MA.

A damning audit of Verizon’s FiOS rollout in New York City found that Verizon has failed to meet its promise to deliver high-speed fiber optic internet and television to everyone in the city who wanted it.  During its negotiations for a city franchise, Verizon promised that the entire city would be wired with fiber optic cables by June 2014 and that after that date, everyone who wanted FiOS would get it within six months to a year.  The audit found that despite claiming that it had wired the whole city by November 2014, Verizon systematically continues to refuse orders for service.  The audit also found that Verizon stonewalled the audit process. 

In addition, rates for basic telephone service have increased in recent years, even as Verizon has refused to expand their broadband services into many cities and rural communities, and service quality has greatly deteriorated. Verizon’s declining service quality especially impacts customers who cannot afford more advanced cable services, or who live in areas with few options for cable or wireless services. 

In 2005, New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) eliminated automatic fines for Verizon’s telephone service quality failures, reasoning that “competition” would improve services.  Instead, service quality plunged. In the 3rd quarter of 2010, Verizon cleared only 1.2% of out of service complaints within 24 hours, almost 79 percentage points lower than the PSC’s 80% requirement.  Rather than reverse course, the PSC changed its measurements, cutting out 92% of customers from service quality measurements and consolidating 28 repair service bureaus into 5 regions.  On paper, terrible service quality was almost miraculously transformed. In reality, service quality continued to decline. 

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