No contract. No work.
Six days since the labor contract between the Communications Workers of America and telecommunications giant, Verizon, expired Sunday, union workers across Long Island have been on strike, in an attempt to keep the benefits they’ve had for years.
“We want are fair share, we made this company profitable,” said Hank Armour, who has been with the company for 24 years. “We made it the big company that it is.”
The Suffolk County resident was joined by other union members who donned red shirts and were holding signs as they picketed outside a Verizon office on Sunrise Highway in Massapequa on Wednesday. Some reportedly protested outside a Hamptons home where Vice President Joe Biden is vacationing this week.
Dozens of workers walked around in a circle as they shouted “No contract, no work,” as one of their colleagues pointed a bullhorn at the busy highway, screaming, “What’s disgusting? Union busting!”
After negotiations between the two sides stalled on Saturday, Mark C. Reed, Verizon’s executive vice president of human resources said in a statement: “We will continue to do our part to reach a new contract that reflects today’s economic realities in our wireline business and addresses the needs of all parties.”
The contract that expired covered 45,000 workers nationwide, including thousands who live on Long Island.
Armour said Verizon is “trying to make it out like they’re out there trying to bargain in good faith, that they have the best interest of the company and there works. And they don’t.”
He said one of the main issues surrounding the contract negotiations are benefits. Also at the heart of the dispute is workers’ pensions and work rules.
“We’re just trying to keep the standard of living that we’ve had and that we fought for, for 60 years,” said Lisa Quaranto, business agent for CWA Local 1108.
As her members chanted in the background, Quaranto said, CWA’s strength is in their numbers, and declared “we’re not having anybody cross the picket lines.”
“We’re going to stick together,” she said, “and we’re going to stay together and we’re going to fight the corporate greed that is going on.”
CWA has been holding strikes everyday since the contract expired from as early as 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. every night, changing shifts.
As they continued to picket near the Verizon office, trucks would pull down on their air horns to the cheers of workers.
“They understand with the economy that its hard for people to hang on to their benefits in this age,” said Armour.
–With Associated Press