At the end of their fifth day of striking against Verizon, Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1107 members said the public supports them.
We’ve had a lot of support from the public,” said one striking worker. “We’re thankful for the support we got from passersby.”
Another picketing worker added that several teachers and nurses joined their protest during the day.
Verizon issued a statement that “since August 6, Verizon crews have encountered more than 90 acts of sabotage against network facilities.” The acts temporarily affected service to thousands of customers across the Northeast. In most cases, crews restored service within 24 hours.
Negotiations are under way in Rye Brook and Philadelphia between Verizon, the CWA and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. According to the strikers, the talks are not making much progress.
“They’re meeting,” said Shop Steward Joe Krische of West Nyack. “They’re talking. I understand it’s not going very well.”
Verizon wants workers to pay for part of their medical insurance. The unions say the company wants too many givebacks and is looking to eliminate middle class jobs.
The striking workers began their protest at 5:30 a.m. Thursday outside Verizon’s garage in Nanuet, earlier than other days. They said the management employees filling their jobs started working earlier and so they moved up their picketing.
“We change our strategy and times to put the most out to the community,” said Eric Duiel.
Verizon stated it “has received numerous reports of union picketers intimidating drivers and illegally blocking garage and work center entrances. These incidents have created dangerous and disruptive work environments both for employees attempting to provide support to Verizon customers and for the picketers themselves.”
The CWA and IBEW issued a joint statement on the issue.
“We fully expect that union members will respect and follow the law. Our unions do not condone violence in any form.
Safety is paramount, and that's why we're also calling on Verizon to make sure that our members on the picket lines aren't hurt by replacement workers and management while the strike continues. “
The CWA members would not comment on Verizon’s actions in court except to say they are not intimidating people.
Verizon has obtained injunctions that prevent intimidation and illegal blocking of facilities in New York and other states. The injunction restricts picketing to no closer than 15 feet from any entrance to Verizon facilities. It limits the number of strikers to 15 outside facilities that typically employ 50 to 100 employees and 30 strikers at sites with 100 to 300 employees.
The CWA and IBEW represent about 45,000 workers in the Northeast. The CWA Local in New city represents about 300 workers at the Verizon FIOS garages in Nanuet and Pomona.