From one end of Zuccotti Park to another announcements were made about a march in solidarity with Verizon workers. Then over 200 marched to Verizon headquarters at 140 West Street where Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 1101 is continuing its rallies for a fair contract.
DC37’s Wendel Reid was there to support Local 1101 and said, “We’re trying to show today this is an injustice by Verizon. This is what is going on throughout the world. People are fed up with the way they are being treated and asking for their fair share of the economy”.
After much public and union support for Verizon workers, Verizon went back to the bargaining table but according to Local 1101 very little progress has been made concerning original take backs by the company.
Business Agent Marty Shannon explained the stalemate, “The company wants to do away with job security. They want us to pay the max for our health care, pensions and benefits. They want to do away with defined pensions for new workers and instead do 401ks.”
Negotiations will continue some time next week.
Josh Langon, also a member of the local explained: “The negotiations are at a stalemate. We want to keep what we have. They are trying to stick it to us. They want us to pay thousands of dollars into our benefits, freeze our pensions take away our job security. They just want us to work for nothing. Verizon is making billions of dollars and they don’t want to let us live”.
Tim Sylvester president of Teamsters Local 804 put the struggle in a broader context. “There is a war on workers. We all have to get involved. They are trying to bring these people to their knees. It’s not right, not with the money they are making. It’s our time; workers have got to get themselves back together”.
Barbara Lynch from the Office of Professional Employees International Union remarked, “We are all united here as members of unions and people in support of OWS. Verizon has made $22 billion since 2010 and they are not willing to talk to the workers and settle this contract dispute”.
As the Verizon and Occupy Wall Street participants made their way back to Zoccutti Park there was an air of solidarity among the hundreds of marchers. This spirit permeated the atmosphere as horns honked in support and tourists gave thumbs up.
It is obvious that if this occupation and the message and meaning behind it are to be sustained, unions, grass roots organizations and OWS must work together.
A 42-year veteran Verizon worker John Gentile put it this way “Verizon is the poster child for corporate greed. They just turned a profit of $3.7 point billion in the third quarter. I’ve been on many, many strikes but I’ve never seen our members more energized against this corporate monster that wants to take all our bargaining rights away from us. We appreciate the OWS movement. We support them. We are with them and we want them to understand that we are part of the 99%”.