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6/30/2016: Reporting from the Picket Line: Rich Florentino

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Forty thousand CWA workers went on strike against Verizon in mid April.  Essentially Verizon was trying to bust the Union.  On Staten Island for example Verizon had not hired a new union worker in over 15 years; they had not agreed to a contract in 4 years - so the workers had not received a raise in that time.  Perhaps even worse, management was arbitrarily rearranging work hours and locations to make it very difficult for the workers and  their families.  For example they could be assigned to jobs up to 150 miles away on short notice - and have to stay for extended periods.  They could also be told to work weekends also on short notice and then given weekdays off so no OT pay would be earned.

As I'm retired for about 6 years now - I get involved in all good causes on Staten Island.  I was working on the Bernie campaign which had its office in the CWA Union Hall. So I was aware of the planning for the CWA strike and when it commenced. After the NY primary I immediately reported for duty on the picket line. I knew the president of the local as we had worked on things together since Occupy Wall St. I went to their rallies and was given the chance to say my piece here and below. My brief remarks start at about 1:38.  

I also helped with handing out posters for businesses to put in their windows and getting petitions signed to be sent to Verizon. The amount of support for CWA trying to keep good union jobs on Staten Island - it's obvious we're all in this together and good paying, secure jobs are good for everyone in our community.

CWA put out a call to many people around the borough for help with the strike especially helping walk the picket lines.  The turnout was tremendous.  Having helped so many groups on Staten Island I had contact info for a lot of them - and I'm still planning to involve more. Now that the strike is over with an outstanding settlement addressing all issues we are trying to keep our make-shift coalition together and build it bigger and stronger.

 

We are onto something I can feel it in my bones.  Here is a poster I did for CWA which expresses my fundamental vision of 'fighting back'. [Rich Florentino, UUJEC Board Member] Rich Florentino Photo by Thomas Altfather Good.






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