At 6 am this morning, 40,000 Verizon workers walked off the job, and and just outside of Harrisburg on Union Deposit Road in Lower Paxton Township, roughly 150 Communication Workers of America Local 13000 members picketed outside an overnight call center to show solidarity for members who have been forced to work the overnight shifts.
CWA members have been working without a contract since August, but Verizon has been raking in billions of dollars in profit a month during that time period. According to a pamphlet handed out at the picket, Verizon has made $39 billion in profits over the last three years, and $18 billion in 2015. CEO Lowell McAdam’s salary is 200 times as much as the average Verizon employee, but this hasn’t stopped the telecommunication giant from demanding cuts in health care benefits, salaries and pension obligations.
Another sticking point that hasn’t been talked about as much deals with infrastructure or the company’s lack of commitment to expanding broadband access across the Northeastern United States and the Midstate region. Mark Eisenhauer, Local 13000 Unit 32 President, explains that Verizon has “handpicked areas” where they have installed their high speed fiber optics internet service, VerizonFIOS, so they can get the “quickest return” on their profit. Eisenhauer indicates that most of Harrisburg and Hershey have access to the fiber optics. As do parts of Lebanon County have access, but Lancaster county does not have any access to the high speed internet product.
As the rally and picket at the call center was coming to a close at 7 AM, members were reminded by longtime CWA member and retired volunteer Alex Minishak that this strike was not about the individual worker but that this is a national issue. CWA members and Verizon employees then dispersed to Verizon Wireless stores and company garages throughout the area to hold pickets throughout the strike.