Seattle Area Verizon Wireless Retail Workers Ratify First Union Contract, Drive Organizing Momentum at Telecom Giant
In spite of Verizon’s aggressive union-busting and retaliation efforts, workers successfully formed a union with the Communications Workers of America and negotiated a first contract in record time
Verizon stores in Portland and Flint have pending NLRB union elections, contributing to the growing labor momentum among retail workers across the country
Seattle, Wash. — Verizon Wireless retail workers in Everett and Lynnwood, Wash., who are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), successfully ratified their first union contract on Friday, marking a major milestone for workers who had to overcome years of poor working conditions, including understaffing and unlivable wages, along with aggressive union-busting efforts from Verizon. The workers in Washington, who fought hard against the company’s aggressive anti-union tactics to form a union and negotiate a contract in record time, join the same collective bargaining agreement as their fellow CWA members at Verizon Wireless in Brooklyn, N.Y. The contract is a reflection of what retail workers are able to secure through forming a union, and it is expected to inspire increased organizing momentum at Verizon stores across the country.
“We have faced a myriad of efforts from Verizon to try and thwart our organizing efforts, and intimidate us with instances of retaliation, but those attempts failed. We stuck together, successfully formed a union, and have now secured a contract within a very short period of time,” said Natalia D’aigle, a Specialist at Verizon Wireless. “We hope our success and perseverance shows workers across the country that they too can have a voice at the table and fight for what they deserve in a contract.”
One of the most notorious anti-union companies in the U.S., Verizon drove tactical union-busting efforts in Everett and Lynnwood as well as Brooklyn, where workers organized the first Verizon retail store in 2014. Workers at all three stores ultimately triumphed and continue to build power in their workplaces.
In fact, following their union win in April, workers in Everett and Lynnwood faced instances of retaliation that resulted in multiple Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges being filed with the NLRB against the telecom giant, including the firing of Jesse Mason, who was illegally fired after joining with his coworkers at Seattle’s Northgate and Aurora Village stores to organize a union. The retaliation firing happened days after Mason attended the Everett and Lynnwood workers’ union vote count in solidarity. Mason is now supporting union organizing efforts at Verizon Wireless stores across the country.
“While we’re incredibly proud of our success in securing a first contract, our fight is not over,” said Austin Hitch, a Specialist at Verizon Wireless. “This is just the beginning of a larger movement of Verizon retail workers organizing, voicing their demands, and securing better working conditions and liveable wages. No worker should feel intimidated by their employer or dissuaded from organizing.”
Inspired by the groundbreaking victory in Everett and Lynnwood, Verizon Express workers in Portland, Ore., and Verizon Wireless Retail Workers in Flint, Mich., recently organized with CWA, and have filed for an official NLRB election. The latest organizing efforts signal a growing movement among Verizon workers and add to the labor momentum taking place nationwide, especially amongst retail and hourly workers.
About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working people in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public service and education, and manufacturing.