On Saturday, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers released a statement on the strike of 45,000 Verizon workers in the Northeast:
Members of CWA and IBEW at Verizon Communications will return to work on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at which time the contract will be back in force for an indefinite period.
We have reached agreement with Verizon on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured. The major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues now are focused and narrowed.
We appreciate the unity of our members and the support of so many in the greater community. Now we will focus on bargaining fairly and moving forward.
I agree with Erik Loomis on this one. The purpose of this whole thing from Verizon’s perspective was to bust the union. They wanted to slash wages and benefits. When the workers went on strike, they threatened to cut off their health insurance. But the workers stuck together, and the replacement workers couldn’t do the same job without tremendous delays. My grandmother had a Verizon phone problem back in Philadelphia, they weren’t going to come out to service her phone line until the middle of next month. This was damaging to Verizon’s brand.
Moreover, the company agreed that both sides can walk away from negotiations at any time, meaning they recognize the workers may return to the picket lines.
The big victory, saving jobs and benefits, has not been achieved. That will be determined at the bargaining table. But the fact that Verizon was forced to that table in the first place is a significant victory that should embolden workers to take a harder line against the company than before.
This was the biggest strike action in America in four years, and it has so far resulted in a cautious success. “Embolden” is a good word here. Labor needs to continue to refuse to be pushed around.