Striking Verizon Workers to East Villagers: ‘Make Noise!’

VerizonLaura E. Lee Union members on strike in front of Verizon offices

This morning, the blare of horns and cheering at the corner of 13th Street and Second Avenue marked East Village participation in the largest strike in the U.S. since 2007.

Dressed in bright red t-shirts and carrying signs, about 60 members of two nationwide unions (the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) again protested in front of Verizon offices today after contract negotiations with the company broke down on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, it looks like an atmosphere of rewinding the clock to a time when there was no union,” said Peter D’Esposito, a Verizon employee and member of CWA Local 101.

“We hoped to continue working without a contract until the parties could agree on the terms,” Mr. D’Esposito said. However, after more than six weeks of negotiations, the company and the unions could not find common ground on a range of issues including wages, pension plans, health care and leave. The striking employees are part of Verizon’s wire lines division which works with landline customers and does not include Verizon Wireless.

“Our people know what they’re fighting for,” said Debbie Fazzolari, business agent for C.W.A. Local 1105.  “Verizon is making billions of dollars and claiming not to have money for us.”

Verizon issued a statement indicating that customers are experiencing “only minimal impact” from the strike.

Vehicles driving down Second Avenue honked their approval for the workers who said they will be on the site until about 8 p.m. tonight and in the days to come if no agreement is reached.