Verizon sent a letter April 15 to all of its striking workers with instructions on how to scab.
Across social media, they responded with pictures and videos of letters in flames, in pieces, in compost bins and toilets and, in one case, lining a box of kitty litter.
|Striking members of the IBEW and CWA posted images across social media showing their reaction to Verizon’s letter encouraging workers to cross picket lines.
“I have worked for Verizon for 35 years and been through five strikes. I have never seen anything like this letter before,” said East Windsor, N.J., Local 827 Business Manager Bob Speer. “This letter is not the communication an employer has with an employee. This is not a company bargaining about pensions or money. This is a company telling our unions how to destroy itself and I take this very personally.”
More than 40,000 men and women are on strike, 30,000 from the Communication Workers of America and nearly 10,000 members of the IBEW, since April 13.
In past strikes, letters from the company contained information about when benefits would run out, how to pay for continued coverage under COBRA laws and similar work related topics.
The letter from Verizon’s human resources Vice President Karyn Stetz began arriving early this week, also came in an envelope labeled “Important Strike Information.” Inside, however, there was no employment related information, only a mock Q&A that answers questions like “What if I choose to work during the strike?” and “If I choose to resign my union membership, how do I do so?”
Rob Rovero has been with Verizon as a cable maintenance technician for 22 years, the last 15 as a steward. He said that everyone walking the picket line at the Riverdale, N.J., work center has received the letter.
“It is frustrating because we live here. Our parents raised us here. And all we are looking to do is provide a life so our kids can live here too,” Rovero said. “Then we get this letter –at our homes-- and it doesn’t say anything about negotiating. This speaks specifically and only about how to get around a picket line. This letter spits at union labor.”
Rovero’s letter still sits at home, but he is considering joining those that simply wrote “Return to Sender; no scabs here” on the envelope and slipping it back in the mail.
“This country was built on unions. Hard working middle class people built this company,” he said. “They think by sending a diagram about how you turn your back on the people you work with we will? It strengthens our resolve to stick together.”
Speer says the letter has backfired.
“This has woken people up, especially the younger members,” Speer said. “This is about who looks out for you and yours, and they see that it is the people on the picket, not Verizon. You don’t go back from being a scab.”