More than 34,000 Verizon workers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions – including thousands in New Jersey – will get higher wages and better retirement benefits as part of a new, four-year contract, union leaders recently announced.
And this time, it didn’t take a gargantuan strike to get things done.
Verizon employees represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Engineers (IBEW) made national headlines in 2016 when they walked off job sites across the nation, taking part in one of the largest work stoppages in modern U.S. history.
After brutal contract talks and several violent confrontations, workers eventually reached an agreement with Verizon, gaining concessions such as a 10.9% raise and increased job protection. Workers also avoided proposed cuts to their pensions and benefits. (Read more about the strike here)
Thankfully, negotiations with the communications giant went much smoother this time around, according to union spokespeople.
By mutual agreement, talks were limited to salary, benefits and the length of the new agreement, CWA spokespeople stated. The new contract runs until August 2023 and will raise wages by 11.2% over four years.
In a statement made earlier this month, IBEW spokespeople said that the company showed more “respect” for the unions’ requests during this year’s negotiations. In turn, the new contract was “the right message to send,” Boston Local 2222 Business Manager Myles Calvey said.
“We wanted to give the membership a break,” Calvey stated. “They’ve been through two strikes and done everything we’ve asked of them.”
Robert Speer, business manager of IBEW Local 827, which represents approximately 4,000 Verizon employees in New Jersey, said that lines of communication have improved after the 2016 strike.
“This new contract is a win for both sides,” Speer said.
CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor said the new agreement builds on the success of the 2016 strike and “will ensure a better future and good, family-supporting jobs for thousands of workers.”
Trainor added that the new contract reflects a “more constructive relationship” between Verizon and its employees.
“We saw the early negotiations with Verizon as an opportunity to make improvements for our members while avoiding the lengthy conflict we experienced two years ago,” said Ed Mooney, Vice President for CWA District 2-13.
“This is a solid contract for Verizon workers that will improve wages and raise the living standards of our members across the region,” Mooney said.
CWA representatives said that Verizon’s willingness to come to the table early is a “testament to the power of working people standing together,” a welcome sentiment among union members still raw about the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision on the Janus v. AFSCME case.
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File Photo: Verizon worker strike in 2016 (Stand Up To Verizon, Facebook)