Veri-greedy: Students and Workers Unite!

By Desiree Thompson, of University of Central Florida SLAP

America’s history is rich with instances of people gathering together to fight for a common goal. One great aspect of this nation is that when a group feels compelled to do so, they have the ability to fight for what they are entitled to. The fight for worker’s rights is no different. The labor movement has made great strides in ensuring that all workers are guaranteed rights that can help ensure not only safety on the job but also healthy financial lives. In the past year or so, we’ve seen various Republican legislatures in states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana make relentless attempts to strip workers of the very rights that they have fought so hard for. Not to be outdone, corporations are also jumping in on the action. This is illustrated by Verizon Wireless who is currently in the process of negotiating its contracts with over 45,000 of its workers. Verizon has proposed substantial cuts to its workers health care coverage, overtime pay and holidays.

All over the country, various progressive organizations and labor groups have shown their support for the workers at the negotiating table by leafleting Verizon store locations asking the company to do the right thing and ensure these workers have a good job. On September 21st, 2011, SLAP at The University of Central Florida held our very own “Wireless Wednesday” at our local Verizon Wireless. Together, along with representatives from Jobs with Justice and Working America, we stood out front of the store and passed out flyers; elucidating the importance of opposing corporate greed and supporting the CWA workers. Verizon customers deserve to know all about how a company, making record-breaking profits, is attempting to make cuts off the backs of its productive workers.

During our day of action, we gathered together and went into the store where we presented our position to the manager. Curtis Hierro, President of SLAP at UCF articulated our position to a manager who listened very respectfully. Afterward, we were able to leave with the knowledge that the manager passed our message on to the next person in the corporate structure. At the end of the day, it’s important to know that our message of solidarity reached the 45,000 Verizon workers and that our message of solidarity worked its way up the corporate ladder.

We will continue our acts of solidarity with the Verizon workers until the company reaches a new contract agreement with its workers. This new contract must not strip workers of their rights to health care coverage, to overtime pay or to paid holidays. Verizon needs to do the right thing, and stand up for good jobs and the American middle class!

By Isaiah Toney, of George Washington University SLAP

This past Friday Apple released the iPhone 4S, and Verizon began selling it to their customers at their retail stores across the country.  And across the country allies of the people who do Verizon’s work went out to stand up for working class and stand against Verizon’s anti-union, anti-middle class agenda.  Negotiations for a new contract actually resulted in a two-week strike.  Work and negotiations then resumed, but we still haven’t won a contract.  In coalition with the Communication Workers of America (CWA), I got to go with a group of students from The George Washington University to distribute fliers in front of the Verizon store closest to our campus.

It felt good.  We stood outside in the rain for about an hour getting mean looks from the store managers.  And it felt good.  Through friendly conversation we convinced at least two people to not purchase the device from Verizon on the grounds that the world would be a better place if people didn’t support corporations like Verizon that neither pay taxes nor respect workers’ rights.  A professor of mine once used the phrase “a tiny peep in the global chorus” to argue that it was not irrelevant to do some small act to bring about justice.

And so we returned to classes with a feeling of empowerment, of solidarity.  One might say that we felt we had blown brazen trumpets in a clarion call to justice.  I hope that we can win a strong middle class contract for all workers- especially the brave Verizon employees of CWA.  I hope that students all can recognize that the fight for our friends, parents, teachers, and union brothers and sisters today is the same as the fight for ourselves tomorrow- and then hit the streets and organize.

One Response to “Veri-greedy: Students and Workers Unite!”

  1. I wanted to take some time to say THANK YOU!! I’m proud to see activism alive and growing! Keep up the good work & WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER!!!!

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