Photo by Howard Owens.
WBTA provided the interview on which this story is based.
Verizon workers were out protesting on Lewiston Road this afternoon. They are members of Communication Workers of American Local 1117.
Spokesman Phil Rudnick, executive vice president of the union, said a middle-class way of life here and in other states is at stake as the group battles against jobs being shipped overseas and major cuts in pay, benefits and security. They have been in contract negotiations with Verizon since June 2015.
"Corporate greed is the biggest complaint," Rudnick said, "and the retrogressive demands they are looking for are astronomical."
All the while, profits have never been healthier.
He said Verizon made $1.5 billion in profits each month last year; they are beating those figures so far this year, with monthly profits of $1.8 billion for January, February and March.
Verizon wants to send call center jobs overseas, and force outdoor technicians to work a couple of hundred miles away from home for months at a time, plus cut pay and benefits, and obliterate job security.
The workers with the most skin in the game to lose are the ones who built the money-making behemoth one landline at a time.
"We built the infrastructure that gave them the profitability to go into the wireless department," Rudnick said, "and they're making billions of dollars on wireless as well."
The work done by those represented by CWA 1117 feeds all the cell towers the phones work off of, the data networks and DSL files. Now Verizon wants to lay off landline techs and bring in contractors.
"We're just looking for fair, middle-class, stable jobs that we've had not to be taken away," Rudnick said.
The union's concession in millions of dollars in health-care costs was deemed "not good enough" in recent negotiations.
On the line are jobs here, in Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany, as well as other states.
Local politicians have been supportive of the union's plight, the union leader said.