|Picketers outside a Verizon facility on Gallows Road|
CWA 2222 members are picketing at Verizon facilities throughout Northern Virginia from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., including sites on Gallows Road in Merrifield and Port Royal Road in Springfield.
“We didn’t want to go on strike,” says Jim Hilleary, president of CWA 2222, “but everything they put on the table in June is still there. They didn’t come to bargain. They didn’t agree to anything.”
Among the union’s gripes: Verizon is shifting the cost of health care to retirees, as well as employees, Hilleary says. Meanwhile, he notes, former Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg and his wife were provided free health care. “It used to be true that if you go to work for a company and work hard, you share in their success. Now you have CEOs that make 300 times what the average worker makes,” he says.
According to an Aug. 9 report in the Wall Street Journal, Verison’s earnings in 2010 were $9.2 billion, down from $14 billion in 2006, due mainly to declines in landline subscribers.
During the strike, Verizon customers can expect longer times on hold, longer response times to service calls, and lower-quality work, Hilleary says. Company managers are filling in, and he says it wouldn’t be surprising if Verizon brought in scabs.
“If they are serious about negotiating a contract, we’ll bring our people back to work,” Hilleary says. Meanwhile, the CWA will provide assistance to the strikers, including help finding part-time jobs. “The union is like a family; we need to take care of each other,” he says.