Verizon Workers Fight for Retirement Rights

Karen Rodriquez of CWA 6171 with ratCommunications Workers Local 6171's contract with Verizon phone company expires August 11. North Texas activists need to be looking for ways to work with them as they struggle through.

CWA 6171 and their allies picketed the big Verizon call center, 7979 N Beltline in Irving, Texas, during a very hot July 28 afternoon. Picketers told me that health care and pensions are major problems with the company's offer for their next contract. Apparently the recent contract fight at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth had similar issues. Indeed these same issues are being fought over as part of "austerity programs" all over the industrialized world.

Picketers brought a 10 foot tall giant inflatable rat, which they nicknamed "Lowell McAdams" after the Cheif Executive Officer of Verizon. Literature from Communications Workers Local 6171 says, "Management has raised health care costs for workers by thousands of dollars and slashed benefit levels even though costs have dropped dramatically. At nearly the same time, CEO Lowell McAdam's pay was tripled -- to $23.1 million a year! Now, the company is hooking up with Big Cable to create virtual monopolies on services, which will kill jobs and raise prices for consumers."

In the Eastern United States, Verizon workers have gone almost a year without a contract while the company continues to insist on takeaways of health care and pension rights. Local 6171's contract expires on August 11th, 2012, almost at the same time that the Alliance for Retired Americans will be celebrating the August 14 anniversary of Social Security.

In my capacity as President of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, I asked Karen Rodriquez (pictured with rat), their mobilization director, about working together around the time of their contract expiration and the August 14 anniversary of Social Security.

While it is true that union members tend to have better living standards than the rest of the working population, it is also true that unions pioneered the benefits that other workers enjoy. If we expect to hold on to those benefits, we'd better get behind the union movement and specifically CWA 6171.

--Gene Lantz

The Texas Alliance for Retired Americans is gathering Medicaid expansions petitions on paper and on line. Sign at:

come to next public action on Monday, July 30th.

in solidarity

Gene Lantz, organizer, North Texas Jobs with Justice


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