Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers walked off the job in one of the largest strikes in recent history, and Bernie Sanders joined Brooklyn picketers in solidarity.
Workers cheered as Sanders criticized the mammoth communications company for wanting to take away health benefits, outsource jobs and avoid federal income taxes, calling it “just another major American corporation trying to destroy the lives of working Americans.”
“Today you are standing up not just for justice for Verizon workers, you’re standing up for millions of Americans … and you’re telling corporate America that they cannot have it all,” Sanders said.
Nearly 40,000 Verizon employees walked off the job on Wednesday in one of the largest U.S. strikes in recent years after contract talks hit an impasse.
Sanders' strike support and criticisms of corporate CEOs did not sit well with Verizon's CEO, who fired off a post criticizing his positions.
Sen. Sanders has also involved himself in our on-going negotiations with the labor unions representing some 36,000 communications workers in our wireline business, a bargaining process that has been going on since last June. At a labor convention in Philadelphia last week, Sanders claimed that Verizon is demanding that workers take pay cuts and reduce health benefits or see their jobs shipped overseas.
Again, Sen. Sanders is wrong on the facts. More egregiously, he oversimplifies the complex forces operating in today’s technologically advanced and hyper-competitive economy.
Our objective in these negotiations is to preserve good jobs with competitive wages and excellent benefits while addressing the needs of our ever-changing business. All of our contract proposals currently on the table include wage increases, generous 401(k) matches and continued pension benefits. Contrary to Sen. Sanders’s contention, our proposals do not call for mass layoffs or shipping jobs overseas. Rather, we’ve asked for more flexibility in routing calls and consolidating some of our call centers, some of which employ a handful of people. We would continue to provide health insurance for active and retired associates and their dependents, but we have proposed some common-sense reforms to rein in the cost of these plans, which in 2015 ran to $1.4 billion a year for these represented employees, retirees and dependents. In fact, our healthcare plans – which provide access to medical, prescription drug, dental and vision coverage – are robust enough to make us subject to the “Cadillac tax” on excessive plans as defined in the Affordable Healthcare Act … the very law Sen. Sanders supported and voted for.