I'm a Verizon employee. Here's why I'm on strike

Ian Pajer-Rogers |

From The Guardian:

by Jazmin Sypher

I’m a solutions specialist at a Verizon Wireless store in Brooklyn, New York. I help customers start their service, upgrade their phones and fix any problems they’re having.

Solving problems is my profession. So when my co-workers and I had problems at our store with low pay, few benefits and ever-expanding workloads, we didn’t throw up our hands – we found a solution.

In 2014, we joined together and formed a union. We saw how the union workers on Verizon’s wireline side – the employees who install Fios broadband and maintain the company’s copper lines – were able to maintain a decent standard of living for their families. We workers on the wireless side felt it was only fair to join with them and win improvements as well.

Verizon’s executives felt differently, and they’ve fought us ferociously. Two years after I and 100 other wireless workers voted to come together in the union, Verizon is still refusing to settle a fair first contract with us.

Even though we wireless workers are a small sliver of the nearly 40,000 workers on strike right now from Massachusetts to Virginia, our inability to win a first contract is one of the strike’s biggest issues — and one Verizon doesn’t want people to hear about.

Verizon’s executives are desperate to stop the tens of thousands of other wireless workers from joining together in our union. By denying most of us collective bargaining, they’ve been able to worsen our job conditions, and keep our pay low, while they pump up the company’s profits higher and higher.

We used to have technicians in our store to help customers needing tech support, but Verizon eliminated their jobs. Solutions specialists like me have had to fill their shoes. Because I also do sales – and depend on sales commissions to supplement my base pay of $13.48 an hour – having to spend that extra time on tech support has really cut into my earnings. Fixing that problem is just a basic matter of fairness.

And Verizon has the money to treat us fairly. The company has made $39bn in profits over the past three years. CEO Lowell McAdam got $18m in compensationlast year. That’s some 300 times more than the average Verizon Wireless worker.

Read more from The Guardian.