CWA Members Step Up Picket Action at Verizon Carolina Locations
Verizon workers in western North Carolina, members of Communications Workers of America Local 3673,are manning picket lines at Verizon locations in 11 counties, emphasizing the company's demands to cut family sick leave and its insistence that some workers put in excessive amounts of forced overtime hours.
Picket sites include Weaverville, Marion, Sylva,Cherokee, Murphy, Franklin, Burnsville and Highlands, among other locations.
The 150 Verizon workers were forced to strike on May 19, over the company's insistence on cutting sick leave and other benefits that help Verizon workers balance their work and family responsibilities.
"Money isn't the issue. These members are fighting to be able to protect and spend time with their families," said CWA District 3 Vice President Jimmy Smith. "These mountain communities have strong family values," he added, noting that regular subcontractors in some cases have refused scab work.
Union members also want their communities to know that maintaining quality service is a big part of their fight as well. Workers have called on Verizon to reverse its decision that closed a local office in Marion, N.C., limiting services for residents in McDowell County.
CWA Local 3673 President Tommy Pool said a profitable company like Verizon � Verizon earned more than $4 billion in profits last year � had no cause to cut workers' emergency sick leave or other benefits. "The company won't talk about forced overtime, even though many of our members are working 15 to 20 consecutive days without a day off. This allows workers no time with their families," he said.
"We want to reach a fair settlement with Verizon, one that lets us continue to serve our customers and still meet our family responsibilities," he said. "It's up to the company to do the right thing now."
The Verizon workers have the full support of their communities, with local merchants, restaurants and others offering supplies, shelter and solidarity.