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Verizon strike enters fifth week

Workers at US telecommunications giant, Verizon, have now been on strike for over a month in pursuit of job security, fair working conditions and decent wages and benefits. 

On April 13, some 39,000 members of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) walked off the job after negotiations for a new agreement reached a stalemate.

One of the key issues of the strike is the ongoing offshoring of call centre jobs and the impact of such moves on local US communities. 

Employees are also resisting a Verizon proposal that would see them required to work in distant locations for up to two months at a time. Under the current contract, employees can’t be required to work more than 35 miles away. 

And there’s also the issue of health benefits, which Verizon wants employees to pay more towards, and pensions, which Verizon wants in some cases to freeze. Not bad for a company whose profits have recently been running at some US$1 billion a month. 

On May 5, striking workers held a national day of action to coincide with the company’s shareholder meeting in Albuqurque, New Mexico.  300,000 petitions were presented to Verizon at the shareholders meeting and protests took place outside the meeting. Protests also took place in more than 17 communities across the US.

Verizon, meanwhile, has trained thousands of non-union workers to take union workers' jobs while they're on strike.

The company has also has been shifting customer service calls to the Philippines, causing massive disruptions to service and angering customers. The CWA has sent a delegation of striking workers to the Philippines to protest against the transfer of work and talk to the Philippino workers being forced to handle the transferred calls.

CWU members wanting to support striking workers at Verizon can sign the petition here.

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