Two Pickets, Similar Struggles
Two different picket lines, two different states, two different unions. But the struggles have a lot in common.
Thursday afternoon outside the CIA headquarters in McLean, members of Operating Engineers Local 99 were back on the picket line demanding a contract with CIA contractor AECOMM...Some 15 miles north in Silver Spring, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” blared over loudspeakers as dozens of red-clad CWA 2108 members danced along Route 29 in front of the Verizon facility, waving signs excoriating the telcom giant for greed...click below to read more.
IUOE 99/AECOMM: “The company has been making some movement but we’re nowhere near” settling an agreement,” Local 99 Business manager Mike Murphy said, as his members chanted and waved signs at passing traffic beneath the afternoon sun. “They’re still asking for givebacks that we’re not willing to accept. These men and have gone 5 ½ years with just a 1.5% wage increase; (AECOMM’s) just not playing fair.” Workers at AECOMM are upset, Murphy said. At Local 99’s union meeting this week, “members aired a lot of complaints about harassment on-site by the company. The good news is that the company responded positively to our complaints and have made the changes the workers asked for, including putting a stop to the harassment.” But the lack of a contract is huring worker morale, Murphy said. “If we can just stay together, we’ll get what’s fair, and that’s all we want.” Negotiations are tentatively scheduled for next Wednesday and Thursday
CWA 2108/Verizon: Some 15 miles north in Silver Spring, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” blared over loudspeakers as dozens of red-clad CWA 2108 members danced along Route 29 in front of the Verizon facility, waving signs excoriating the telcom giant for greed. Local 2108 president Marilyn Irwin said that contract negotiations “Are not going well at all. We’re still talking but there’s been no movement.” Some 40,000 CWA and IBEW members in the northeast have been working without a contract since the old agreement expired on August 1. “Verizon is demanding cuts that will deprive workers of thousands and thousands of dollars a year, and want to hit retirees with thousands of dollars a year in increased healthcare costs,” Irwin said. Meanwhile, she added, “Verizon is making a billion dollars in profit each month yet they don’t want to reward the people who helped them make all that money.” Even more threatening, “They want to take away our job security and take away our work.” Irwin said that “Our members are angry; we took major concessions in 2012 and that’s why they’re doing so well now. We feel cheated. And now they want us to pay even more and we say ‘Hell no’.” Irwin says that customers are also affected. Verizon has “systematically ignored lower-income customers for FIOS service, which is a great service.” The workers plan to continue at-work actions, including wearing camo on Militant Mondays, red on Thursdays and black on Fridays, “and we have more activities planned,” Irwin promises. “Every time they tell us something they don’t want us to do we come up with something else. We cannot just go to work and act like it’s business as usual; it’s not business as usual. And if we act as though it’s business as usual we’ll just get these concessions shoved down our throats.”
- Report/photos by Chris Garlock
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