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Verizon picket map
Picket sites from Virginia to the Canadian border.

Talks have resumed between Verizon and its unions, but workers remain out on strike over issues from health care costs to job security. No matter how big the issues in a contract negotiation, though, workers don't actually hit the picket lines unless they feel they have a real stake. So what are workers on the picket lines saying about why they're out?

On Long Island:

"We don't want anything added," Mike said of current negotiations. "We just don't want stuff taken away."

In Maryland:

Paul Hyson, a system technician and union representative in Salisbury, told WBOC on Monday: "People come in and build these companies and the CEOs and upper echelon come and they take everything away from you and kick you to the curb."

Meanwhile, both sides in the Verizon strike are alleging bad behavior:

However, the CWA said some picketing workers were hurt by Verizon managers' cars and that one worker was knocked unconscious when he was clipped by the mirror of a manager's car that was speeding past a picket line.

Verizon said it was working with the police to investigate what happened, but noted that it believed the allegations are "totally inaccurate."

The CWA also cited a case in which a security guard hired by Verizon had punched a worker and knocked him to the ground on Monday morning. Verizon did not have an immediate comment on this accusation.

Meanwhile, the company said it was working with authorities to investigate at least 12 cases of sabotage, including deliberate cutting of fiber optic lines in 10 places and a case of stolen equipment that caused an outage.

Verizon said it did not know who was responsible for the sabotage, but noted an unusually high number of incidents since Saturday, the last day of the contract. The CWA said it would not condone network sabotage.

When you read accounts like this, there are a couple of important things to remember. First, there are 45,000 workers on strike and probably tens of thousands of managers and replacement workers. It's a statistical certainty that some of them, on both sides, are dumbasses. When it becomes an important story is when it starts looking like there's an organized campaign of violence or sabotage on one side—not something that appears to be the case.

Second, in the case of the sabotaged lines, there don't appear to be witnesses and, without making any allegations in this case, it is reasonable to note that historically companies, or the dumbasses among their managers, have not been above sabotaging themselves to make strikers look bad. But most of all, even if every one of these allegations is true, the strike has been overwhelmingly peaceful.

If you're between Virginia and the Canadian border, you may be able to join a picket line. Look here for details.

11:29 AM PT: Also, sign our petition telling Verizon to come to the bargaining table in good faith.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Just drove by a picket (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe from Lowell, emal, Possiamo

      in Waltham, MA.  Looked pretty civilized to me--waving at the cars driving by (and v.v.), letting cars into the office park they were picketing (even letting them known when they could make a left hand turn in traffic), etc.

      That's the eyewitness news story from Waltham, MA.  Back to you, Laura!

    •  "Replacement workers?" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SunsetMagnolia

      They are SCABS! I expect front-pagers not to use weasel words.

      "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

      by Ivan on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:23:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yup, they're SCABS. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SunsetMagnolia

        Why use Verizon's framing on this?

        On another note, as I have mentioned in other posts, the former Verizon subsidiary I used to work for (in Canada) had a labour dispute back in 2005.

        That company also alleged sabotage.

        That company also had "security".  Hired goons.

        Deja vu.

        "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it" Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, part time vampire

        by marigold on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:35:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not necessarily (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DemInGeorgia

        The lion's share of workers who keep working in a telecom strike will be managers who are as unhappy about the strike as the union members are. Managers totally have their lives disrupted, vacations cancelled, work very long days doing jobs that they really don't know how to do very well.

        You can't really just hire replacement workers, or scabs, off the street to do this work; it's too complicated, too specialized, too high-tech.

        It's appalling that there have already been incidents. Any union member who cuts a fiber optic cable should be slapped. Hospitals, police and fire, 911...there's almost no way of knowing what kind of traffic is being carried on a random fiber optic cable.

        I say all this as a CWA member who's worked for AT&T for 25 years. It shouldn't be this ugly this soon. People need to keep their wits about them. Some day the strike will be over and everyone will need to work together again.

        The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

        by Korkenzieher on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:36:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are aware that there are companies (0+ / 0-)

          who have a legion of SCABS who do telecom work?

          Yes, we had the pleasure of the company of some SCABS back in 2005; hired by AFI international (known as IMAC in the US).  One of these fine people absconded with my work laptop while I was on the picket line.  Watched him taking it out of the C.O.  He was from L.A.

          Part of the M.O. of these companies is to claim sabotage of facilities and violence on the picket line.  It's how they roll.

          BTW Any manager doing my job while I'm on a picket line is a SCAB.

          "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it" Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, part time vampire

          by marigold on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:46:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No (0+ / 0-)

            No, I'm not aware of that. Not saying you're wrong but I've never heard of that. Maybe we've been lucky here?

            I've been on strike twice in my years with AT&T. We didn't have a widespread scab problem. We had one or two, and believe me, we made damn sure they lived to regret it. That never goes away.

            I don't put managers in that same category. They'll get fired if they don't play along, and frankly, I've been told by more than one manager that they're not exactly enthusiastic about doing our work and were delighted when we came back.

            I don't know how you can just walk into a CO and start working. The POTS work isn't hard to learn, but all the rest of it, especially Hi Caps and fiber stuff....

            I'd be interested to learn more. You're Canadian, I think...was Bell Canada on strike at the time?

            The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

            by Korkenzieher on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 01:04:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Not quite sure how it would be done (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    r2did2

    But is there some way to set up an Act Blue (or other donation site) to help the strikers with their bills? I'd be more than happy to make a donation. Or is there some site that already exists?

    Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

    by corwin on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:23:09 AM PDT

  •  They need to ask for something... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citizen dan, Possiamo, JayFromPA

    Starting with ...Take Nothing away based on what the management is trying to take is only going to move the goal to just less being taken...

    They need to come back and say fine, we would not have asked for more at this time but here we go.

    10% wage increases across the board.

    A limitation of CEO Salary to 30X what the highest paid worker is making.

    Full benefits coverage by the company since in addition to the wage increase.

    1 Extra week of paid vacation each year. % extra sick days, each year.

    Paid Paternity leave.

    Let them chew on those demands since they want to take things away.

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:25:16 AM PDT

  •  If you're in the Worcester, MA area (0+ / 0-)

    here are some picketing locations:

    220 Brooks St., Worcester

    Elm and Chestnut St., Worcester

    Verizon Wireless Store, Quinsigamond Plaza, Route 9 Shrewsbury

    Verizon Wireless Store, Blackstone Valley Mall. Millbury

    "If you love your Uncle Sam, bring 'em home; bring 'em home." - Pete Seeger

    by brae70 on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:29:00 AM PDT

  •  Where is the support? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lcork, emal

    ...from the leading figures of the Democratic Party?

    Oh, I forgot, they are all taking money from Verizon to fix telcom legislation.

    •  the Democratic Candidate (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe from Lowell, emal, Loge, Ivan, Possiamo

      from my district for the Virginia House of Delegates walked the picket line yesterday morning.  Jack Dobbyn.  

      Here's what he had to say in his email to me today:

      As you've heard by now, 45,000 Verizon workers up and down the East Coast are on strike, fighting to save middle class jobs that will be destroyed if the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers unions are crushed. Yesterday morning at 6 AM, I joined the picket lines at two sites in Springfield and Merrifield to show my support for these workers and their families as they fight against unprecedented concession demands, like the freezing of pension benefits, slashing of sick days, and sending American jobs overseas.

      There is a stark difference between companies cutting back to save costs and making unreasonable requests to their workers after making a record $4 billion in profits. Over 50 years of hard-fought gains through strikes and collective bargaining are in peril. Across the nation in Wisconsin, Ohio, and now in Virginia, career politicians like Dave Albo are working nonstop to break the unions which gave us child labor laws, the 40-hour workweek, overtime pay, and collective bargaining.

      You won't see Delegate Dave Albo on the picket lines, because he is the most scab-loving union-buster in the entire Commonwealth, and his priorities don’t match those of working families.  He calls union contracts that ask for fair wages and benefits for honest work "outrageous". Dave Albo is right - he said that "labor unions and I do not agree on anything." He has voted to refuse $125 million in federal unemployment benefits, and has voted repeatedly against raising the minimum wage. He doesn't mince words - in 2009, he wrote that his mission was to "make sure there are no more Labor Unions".

      I put up a diary just a little while ago with the whole email - it is a fund raiser, just so's ya know - but the whole email is worth a read.  It's a righteous rant about unions and workers' rights.

      You hear about crazy, but it's rarer than you think. -Jon Stewart 1/10/2011

      by lcork on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:20:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Have you made any effort to find out? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Loge

      Or did you just check your gut?

      Tell the truth.

      Art is the handmaid of human good.

      by joe from Lowell on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:03:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why isn't Lowell on that map? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brae70

    I waved at some Verizon picketers at the Cross Point towers just yesterday.

    The Lowell Verizon local is definitely part of this.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:02:19 AM PDT

  •  What can we (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    r2did2

    non union, outta state folk do to support this effort?  
    Cheers for all you folks walking the line!

    •  I've decided not to pay my Verizon bill... (0+ / 0-)

      this month. Not sure how much of an impact it will have, but it's one thing I could think of to impact their bottom line.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities" Voltaire.

      by JWK on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:15:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The impact (0+ / 0-)

        will be a letter telling you that you are a month behind in your bill.  That's gonna do squat.  Verizon has reserves...it'd take everyone, everywhere not paying their bill for months on end to put a dent in their decision-making process.

        Don't do this, JWK.  Not functional.

        -- **Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.**

        by r2did2 on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:21:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Don't do that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JayFromPA

        Withholding payment will damage you and your credit rating more than it will hurt them. Wanna help? Make them work. Call them and make them explain your bill to you in detail. Complain that your DSL is too slow. Their current staff, all managers, all overwhelmed and undertrained, can't cope with work. Swamp them with it and Verizon will recognize how important the real workers are.

        The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

        by Korkenzieher on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:49:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Write to them (0+ / 0-)

        Log on to your account online and click Contact Us, then tell them as a customer how displeased you are with their treatment of workers.  Let them know that their customers are aware.

  •  So, are Verizon customers being affected? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemInGeorgia

    If not...then this is an exercise in futility.

    -- **Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.**

    by r2did2 on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:11:29 AM PDT

  •  Re "Sabotgage" (0+ / 0-)

    Being old enough to remember NY Telephone and NYNEX strikes where "supervisors"(Management) who were former field people forced to go back out into the field and may have  forgotten a thing or two......

    We agree our hair is on fire, we disagree with Paul Ryan's plan to use a sledgehammer to put out the fire

    by JML9999 on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:12:15 AM PDT

    •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JML9999

      That hasn't changed much, and to the extent it has, it's worse than it was. I work at AT&T, and while it was once true that almost all the managers were former field technicians, now it's very rare. Our managers are all bean counters and spreadsheet readers now. Make them climb a pole or work in a manhole and they wet themselves in terror.

      The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

      by Korkenzieher on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:53:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  sabotage by union personnel against customers (0+ / 0-)

    I can verify that Verizon repairmen were supposed to fix my phone line this week. Instead, they showed up at my house unannounced, pulled out a knife, and cut our phone line, which means now we have lost not only the phone but also the internet service. And the customer-service personnel have hung up on my wife several times over the course of two nerve-wracking days.

    This isn't just lousy service. It's deliberate sabotage. This is the kind of crap I would have expected from the Jimmy Hoffa era.

  •  Just an amusing little note (0+ / 0-)

    On the one side, we have allegations that people were assaulted.

    On the other side, we have allegations that some damage was done to company property.

    Not only does everyone treat these as equivalent accusations ('dumbasses on both sides') but people don't even realize they're doing it.

    In this country, there seem to be two kinds of people: the people who think that money is just as important as people, and the people who think that money is more important than people.

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