Verizon workers in Cortland go on strike, joining national movement

CORTLAND, N.Y. — About a dozen Verizon employees picketed outside the company's offices at Groton Avenue Friday, taking part in a national strike involving roughly 36,000 workers that has now entered its second week.

The strike—which is being organized by the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)—involves tens of thousands of Verizon workers nationwide, who are protesting the telecom giant's decision to outsource many of its call center operations to countries like Mexico and the Philippines, as well as its practice of requiring workers to relocate for three to four months at a time.

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Outside the company's Cortland offices on Friday, about a dozen Verizon employees, a majority of them field technicians, rallied against the telecom giant's practices of outsourcing call-center locations to other countries.

Friday's picketing follows a similar demonstration held in Ithaca last week.


Verizon employees picket outside the company's offices at 16 Groton Avenue in Cortland (Photo: Peter Blanchard/Cortland Voice)

Verizon employees have been working without a contract since August 1, a result of stalled negotiations between management and union leaders.

"We've built this network for them and made all the money for them and they don't want to give us a fair contract," said Brian Weldon, vice president of CWA Local 1111. "We're not asking for anything new. We're asking to keep the things that we have."

Weldon says when Verizon employees are forced to work away from their families for months at a time, they are usually housed in a hotel paid for by the company.

As part of its contract negotiations, Verizon is looking to strip that provision—along with health care and pension benefits—which would force employees to pay for housing out-of-pocket, Weldon said.

"The corporation is big business, and they're just trying to beat down the middle-class worker," Weldon said. "Verizon makes $1.8 billion a month in profits and they're unwilling to give the workers that have made that money for them a fair contract."

In a statement issued in response to the strike, Verizon said the company has made "good faith efforts" to come to an agreement on a new contract.

“It’s regrettable that union leaders have called a strike, a move that hurts all of our employees,” said Marc Reed, Verizon’s chief administrative officer. Calling a strike benefits no one, and brings us no closer to resolution.”

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