Verizon workers rally in Philadelphia for better contract offer

    Union workers shut down traffic outside of Verizon’s Race Street office in Philadelphia Thursday. They say the corporation’s desire to reduce health insurance benefits and outsource jobs has gone too far.

    “They’re making billions of dollars right now and they’re saying ‘we want to make more.’ And they want to make it on the backs of our members, and we’re just not willing to agree to that,” said Jim Gardler, president of Local 1300 of the Communications Workers of America, which represents Verizon’s line-workers in Pennsylvania. (Most of Verizon’s wireless workers aren’t unionized.)

    While other union members protested with signs in hand, Holmesburg resident Jan McGoldrick pushed her young grandchildren up and down Race Street in a stroller. Anything, said the retired cable splicer, to fight for jobs and benefits.

    “If I lose my benefits … I’m in trouble big time. How could I survive?” she said. “There’s no real jobs out there anymore — and what’s the future for these kids, what are they going to be doing?”

    McGoldrick, who is worried about her pension, reiterated the sentiments of many who gathered during the lunch hour rally. Verizon, they claim, wants to outsource jobs and reduce benefits in a quest to make its top executives richer.

    Verizon spokesman Rich Young said there are more complicated matters at play. Verizon’s labor proposal reflects the declines experienced over the past two decades in the land-line telephone industry, Young said, adding that today’s competitive communications market demands crucial cuts.

    “The best way to hold on to jobs is to have a competitive company that competes well in the market place. You do that by managing a business well,” Young said. “Many of these contracts were put in place many, many years ago and they’re not reflective of today’s marketplace.”

    The union went on strike for two weeks last summer, but returned to work without a new contract.

    At this point, the union has no plans for another strike.

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