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Boston IWW Joins Striking Verizon Workers on the Picket Line

Members of the Boston IWW joined striking Verizon workers for their second day of pickets at the regional headquarters in downtown Boston. Striking members of IBEW local 2222 were pleased with the show of solidarity as we marched together in the sometimes driving rain. The strikers were in good spirits as they walked the all-day picket line and confronted scabs at the local Verizon Headquarters. 

The workers went on strike after Verizon, taking advantage of the current economy and widespread attacks on the working class, demanded concessions from the workers while the company and its top executives have taken in billions of dollars in profits. In fact, the company has made more than $15 billion in profits in the past four years while at the same time paying no federal income tax from 2009-2010 and instead receiving over $1 billion in tax refunds. The company was demanding that workers contribute more to healthcare costs, the elimination of pensions, a reduction in sick pay and elimination of Veteran’s and Martin Luther King day as paid holidays. Further, the company was pushing to have more work outsourced to non-union workers. As a result of these demands the negotiations broke down and 45,000 workers from CWA and IBEW walked out, including 6,000 in Massachusetts. 

At times tensions rose during the picket as scabs exited the building. At one point food was delivered to the workers inside by the notoriously exploitative Upper Crust Pizza, who previously had their windows smashed on May Day because of their abuse of workers. Picketers attempted to block the delivery of the food while police protected those making the delivery. Tempers flared and at one point 100s of sodas were knocked from a palate and later thrown at the delivery van. Workers also attempted to encircle and block the van until finally cops and union bosses convinced them to let the van flee the scene. The picketers showed a degree of militancy and class outrage not commonly seen at other pickets and labor rallies. One Verizon worker who was not familiar with the IWW was given a flyer explaining the position of the IWW and was very receptive. The Verizon workers plan on being out on the picket lines every day for at least two weeks. The Boston branch plans on supporting them as long as the strike continues while at the same time spreading the idea of revolutionary unionism to the rank and file workers.