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Verizon Strikers Unite For Candlelight Vigil Outside Chairman's House

Members of the CWA were joined by other members of the labor community in support of the middle class.

Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), labor community, and clergy held a candlelight vigil in support of the CWA’s strike against Verizon Friday night in West Nyack.

The vigil, which started at Birchwood School and made its way to Verizon Chairman Ivan Seidenberg’s house a few blocks away, lasted for almost two hours.

“It’s important because Ivan Seidenberg, who was the CEO of Verizon, now the Chairman of Verizon, lives down the road,” said Chris Shelton, the vice president for the CWA’s District One, which covers the states of the northeast.  “He’s one of the people that has decided to put 100 demands on the table, trying to get back everything that we’ve bargained over the last 50 years.”

The vigil started when an SUV pulled up with a casket on the roof.  According to Mike Salvia, the president of Local 1120 in Poughkeepsie, the casket represented the death of the middle class.  Eric Goodwin, the vice president of CWA 1107, said the CWA had initially planned a garden party, but ultimately opted for a candlelight vigil, illuminating the disappearance of the middle class.    

“I think the turnout was great,” he said. “Middle-class America needs to wake up and realize it’s not just unions that are fighting this fight, it’s all middle-class Americans fighting against corporate greed.  The last time that one percent of the American population controlled 20 percent of the money, we were in the Depression.  And that’s exactly where we’re headed now.”

The crowd lit their candles before starting their procession toward Seidenberg’s residence.  Along the way, supporters started chants of “God bless the CWA; save the middle class,” and displayed signs.

“This vigil is important to get the public to understand that we’re trying to save the middle class,” said Frank Bevilacqua, the Chief Steward at 999 Nepperhan Avenue in Yonkers for the CWA, as well as one of vocal leaders of the event.  “This is about saving American jobs.  This is about not sending jobs overseas.  This is about fair bargaining and a fair contract.  We only want what’s fair for us.” 

When they arrived at their destination, they placed the casket down on the street, stood outside Seidenberg’s house for approximately 30 minutes, and chanted “God bless all unions; save the middle class.”  After CWA leaders spoke to the crowd about the importance of the vigil, the casket was picked up and walked back to the school parking lot, where the crowd reconvened before leaving.         

The estimated turnout of the event dwarfed the pre-start expectation of 500-800 people.  A number of supporters needed to bypass the school, circle around, and find parking elsewhere. 

“I think the turnout is absolutely amazing,” Shelton said.  “On short notice, we turned out- the cops are telling us about 3,100 people, from not only our union, but other unions and other neighborhood organizations.  It was a very controlled crowd.  They didn’t cause any trouble.”    

Other groups made their way to West Nyack to support the CWA’s cause.  Members of the Local 32 BJ SEIU expected 20 members to show.  Members David DeSisto, Mike Sugrue, and Ray Osborne arrived almost an hour before the vigil began.        

“It’s important for us to support the Verizon workers because it’s actually an attack on the middle class,” DeSisto said.  “Verizon loses and has to give back all their kickbacks and everything, it’s going to be a catastrophic effect all the way down on the middle class.”

“Fire, police- everybody,” Osborne said. 

Sugrue echoed those sentiments.      

“We live in New York; we don’t live in Wisconsin,” he said.  “We don’t want to have what happened in Wisconsin happen in New York.  If we don’t support these people, our standards of living are going to go down, their standards of living.  Our families will suffer.  It’s not a good thing.”

Some on-lookers took pictures of the vigil or watched from their driveways.  Bob Sanborn, who was not part of the vigil, sat on a bicycle in his driveway and looked on while the vigil passed his house.

“I understand they probably don’t want to lose any of their income,” he said.  “My business is taking a big hit right now; a lot of people don’t want to spend money.  So I’m basically working for free for the last two years.  And I’m not walking the streets right now protesting.  Everybody needs to take a little hit.”     

As of the start of the vigil, there had not been an update in contract talks. 

“The last status update that I had is that the company, after a month and a half of the draconian demands, they’ve finally taken one demand off the table,” Silvia said.  “Unfortunately, that was the demand, which would have given us at least some sort of a pay-raise.”

Meredith Lesly August 15, 2011 at 09:22 PM
Don't be absurd. I believe in the First Amendment as much as you do. I've never suggested that you don't have a right to post your opinions. In fact, I've tried to engage you in discussions, but to no avail. My learning that it's useless to try and communicate with you has no bearing on your right to post whatever you want.
Meredith Lesly August 15, 2011 at 09:24 PM
"No taxation without representation" was what the original Tea Party even was about. "No taxation" seems to be what the current Tea Party is fighting for. Totally different causes.
Francis T McVetty August 15, 2011 at 09:28 PM
You still have NOT shown me the presidents economic plan. Is that something you don't want to share with me? You post what is your convenient truth, but fail to still answer my question. Does he have a plan, and what is it?
Meredith Lesly August 15, 2011 at 10:02 PM
I've told you several times why I'm not interested in responding to what you have to say. You have consistently ignored my fact-based responses and so I see no reason to continue.
Francis T McVetty August 15, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Meredith, do you really think that we have representation? You may want to read more on what the founding fathers had in mind when they formed this republic. You could start with the writings of Jefferson. It has been lost on the Democrats for years, and also some Republicans. 2012 will be the turning point for our country. We will either sink into the abyss or will there be the shining Shining City upon a Hill? It will be in the hands of the American people to make that choice. May God guide them to the right decision.
Ken McQuade August 15, 2011 at 11:02 PM
I thought this blog was for the Strike between the CWA and VZ. Sounds more like the Oreilly show.
Meredith Lesly August 16, 2011 at 12:20 AM
The radical right is determined to drown out any actual discussion or debate on a given subject by slinging around random opinions that are not based in fact. Nor do they care whether it's based in fact. This tactic is part of the playbook, sadly enough. It's everywhere. It's disappointing that it's on Patch as well, but I guess not a surprise.
CK August 16, 2011 at 01:39 AM
Does anyone have a status on negotiations? Can't find anything on the news. Are they getting close on the contract? Any insight from the VZ employees on when the strike will end?
Suzanne August 17, 2011 at 04:20 AM
Francis. Straight A student in History -- including college. You can't school me. Still read it too. The Tea Party is NOTHING to do with the original intent of our founders who were from The Age of Enlightenment. Not holding up mispelled signs saying "keep your government hands off my medicare!" LOL! And death panels --what Ryan is proposing is death to seniors for sure. The verizon guys are asking for a fair contract period.
Suzanne August 17, 2011 at 04:32 AM
They are still demanding rediculous givebacks they want to throw out 50 years of progress. They are negotioating. Shout out to All UPS drivers. They won't cross picket lines. That's how we stand up for eachother because we little people can't hire lobbyists. Meridith: told you he was like Mr. Fox News Murdoch Perry Bachman Palin. Gues what. John Galt was a fictional character. Ayn Rand was a mediocre writer from the 1930's.
Francis T McVetty August 17, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Suzanne, "Straight A student in History -- including college" so, I know a few "straight A student" that couldn't think their way out of a paper bag. Maybe if the president DIDN'T surround himself with all these Harvard graduates, the country might be in better off. You know what they say about educators, don't you. Those who can't do, educate. Those who can't do either, manage.
Meredith Lesly August 17, 2011 at 12:59 PM
The funny thing is that Mr. McVetty was a union member and is undoubtedly drawing a pension as well as receiving social security. Apparently what's good enough for him is too good for other people.
ASleepyBoy August 17, 2011 at 02:50 PM
Not to knock anyone's education but "Straight A student in history -- including college" begs a lot of questions before it becomes meaningful such as which college, what type of history and what type of degree.... Without this info, I wouldn't really be impressed with anyone's credentials.
Suzanne August 18, 2011 at 03:04 PM
No I don't have a Ph. D. from Columbia or Harvard in HIstory. I have a BS in Biology & Chemistry from Pace University. Liberals were required as well. Took Honors classes in High School. 3 American History courses in College, including an upper level course on the Presidents with a prof who NEVER gave out A's, except to me. He was a big fan of Reagan and I wasn't and I still got an A. Any help to you?
Meredith Lesly August 18, 2011 at 03:11 PM
Ah, Suzanne, haven't you learned by now that knowledge and education are negatives here (and elsewhere)? The radical right are entrenched in an ideology that has little to do with facts and knowledge. You will never see any of them say, "Hunh, I guess I was wrong about that" in the face of evidence that shows that they were mistaken. They will either not respond, call you a liar, or change the subject.
Francis T McVetty August 18, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Meredith, isn't it you that won't answer the question, where is the presidents plan? Talk about changing the subject. Very liberal of you.
Francis T McVetty August 18, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Suzanne, " He was a big fan of Reagan and I wasn't and I still got an A" Probably because you had the opposite opinion and that was good for the class discussion.
Francis T McVetty August 18, 2011 at 03:55 PM
The radical right is entrenched in an ideology that has little to do with the facts? Show me a country that has TAXED it way into prosperity!!! I dare you. As far as education, looks like the people that graduated from Harvard didn't do so well with the economy. For me, Harvard is certainly NOT the benchmark for education.
Suzanne August 18, 2011 at 04:39 PM
You're right Meredith, there is no arguing a belief -- first tenet of Logic. VZ is saying union members sabotaged things -- hello there was a freakish storm the other night. That's what those workers go out and fix. Like Wall Street in Sept 2001! Too busy figuring out how to feed my family and take care of aging parents to have FTM bother me. He got his!
Ken Dalton August 18, 2011 at 05:27 PM
Just a bunch of union goons!.....Any state in the USA that isn't a right to work state is in the toilet as far as economic growth....thank God unions are a dying breed!
Ross Revira August 18, 2011 at 06:19 PM
This is not a left or right issue or liberal vs. conservative. Verizon land lines is a dying business. Fios was Verizon's attempt to break into the lucrative TV and internet business and they have stopped negotiating new TV franchises. Earl a Verizon employee stated he makes $80,000 per year not including benefits. He also listed his job description. In the real non union competitive world he would be lucky to make $50,000 per year. His job does not require a college degree or even a high school diploma. At best an average person could be trained at what he does in less than 3 months and I am being generous. Verizon employees have held society hostage for too many years due to the monopoly the company held. That is not the case anymore and its union employees better come to terms with that. There are other providers with better service and cheaper prices. Just like the American auto worker destroyed their industry with outdated work rules and compensation Earl and his cohorts will do the same to Verizon land lines. A constant line that Verizon strikers throw around is they will not give back what they fought for over 50 yrs. Well the world and especially the telecommunications industry is not the same as 50 yrs. ago and if you don't adapt you die.
Meredith Lesly August 18, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Do you have something in particular against Harvard, or does it extend to the other "elite" schools? George W. Bush went to Yale, as did his father. Dick Cheney went to Yale (although he flunked out). John Roberts went to Harvard. Sam Alito went to Yale. Richard Myers studied at Harvard, among other places. Henry Paulson went to Harvard. Andrew Card went to Harvard.
Meredith Lesly August 18, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Define what you mean by "economic growth"?
Francis T McVetty August 18, 2011 at 07:53 PM
" He got his" Yes Suzanne and I would like to keep what I earned. I DON"T want to redistribute the wealth, especially mine and my children. Do what you want with yours. If you want to give it to the government, so be it. I think I know better how to spend my own money.
Francis T McVetty August 18, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Meredith. A positive change in the level of production of goods and services by a country over a certain period of time. Nominal growth is defined as economic growth including inflation, while real growth is nominal growth minus inflation. Economic growth is usually brought about by technological innovation and positive external forces. Show me the presidents plan for economic growth.That question is not an ideology question, is it?
Meredith Lesly August 18, 2011 at 07:59 PM
Yet much of what you have is thanks to your being a member of a union. What if NYC demanded that pensions for retired policemen be cut? Would you be OK with that or would you want the union to fight?
Meredith Lesly August 18, 2011 at 08:12 PM
How many times do I have to say this? (I'm probably up to 7 or 8 times by now.) You have never responded to anything I posted that corrected a misstatement of yours. So I'm not interested in responding your "demands" for answers. For example, you stated that the stimulus money went into a black hole with no accountability. I posted two links to show you that what you said was incorrect. You could have responded, "Hunh, I was wrong about there being no accountability." Instead, there was deafening silence. I'm not going to bother listing the many other examples of this sort of thing. I gave you the benefit of doubt in the beginning, but it became clear that you were completely close-minded and uninterested in learning anything unless it fits your ideology. I never expected you to change your world view, but I hoped that there might be some grounds for real discussion. I was wrong.
Francis T McVetty August 19, 2011 at 12:41 PM
Meredith, Since you want me to be admit when I'm wrong, how about you admitting that the President has no plan!! By the way, no response to my answer to your question what is economic growth? It seems that is is a one way street with you. You think you are smarter than the average bear, don't you?
Meredith Lesly August 19, 2011 at 01:44 PM
What part of my saying that you've shown that it's not worth my time trying to discuss things with you don't you understand?
henderson123 August 21, 2011 at 08:33 PM
I just paid $22.87 for an iPad2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.76 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $675 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, CoolCent. com

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