Labor Board Charges Verizon With Unfair Labor Practices
by James Parks, Sep 13, 2007
Two National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional directors this week charged Verizon Business with “interfering with, restraining and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights” to join a union that are supposedly protected by federal labor law.
Verizon Business workers across the country are trying to join the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Electrical Workers (IBEW).
CWA President Larry Cohen says that for the Republican-dominated NLRB, which has a history of ruling against workers and unions, to issue such a complaint makes a strong statement:
“When this labor board, the most anti-union, pro-business board ever, cracks down on a major corporation like Verizon, it’s damning evidence that the pattern of behavior is truly egregious.”
The complaints charge that Verizon Business management at facilities in Pittsburgh and Monsey, N.Y.:
– Threatened employees with layoffs for supporting the union.
– Told employees that Verizon Wireless, a related employer, had laid off employees because of their union activity.
– Engaged in surveillance of employees to discover their union activities.
– Issued disciplinary warnings against union supporters for distributing union materials and authorization cards “while permitting nonunion solicitations and distribution” in the workplace.
Separate NLRB hearings on these cases are set for Oct. 31 in Pittsburgh and Nov. 5 in New York City.
The difficulties faced by the Verizon Business workers in Pittsburgh and Monsey are not isolated incidents. We reported that a majority of Verizon Business technicians in New York and New England signed union authorization cards, but have been denied the freedom to join the union.
Dave Rogol, a senior technician at a Verizon Business facility in Charlton, Mass., says:
Verizon technicians want to have the same job protections and rights that so-called “core” Verizon employees have. Instead, management has subjected us to its propaganda machine and interfering with our rights on the job. Top management should recognize our union and begin bargaining for the good jobs and respect we all deserve..
For years, Verizon Wireless workers also have faced a relentless employer campaign of coercion, surveillance, firings and even closing of entire offices to stamp out their efforts to win collective bargaining rights, according to Clyde Rucker, who was fired from his job as a senior customer representative at a Verizon Wireless facility in Laurel, Md., in 2003. Says Rucker:
“The majority of workers where I worked want a union, but because of the intimidation by management, they are afraid. They are even afraid to take a piece of literature from a union worker when they leave the parking lot.”
Cohen, who chairs the AFL-CIO Executive Council’s Organizing Committee, wrote to the 2008 presidential candidates to remind them that these new NLRB complaints underscore “all the more boldly why the Employee Free Choice Act is essential to restoring workers’ organizing and bargaining rights