Workers World Party’s 2016 Presidential Election Campaign released the following statement April 14:
We stand in full solidarity with the Verizon strike by CWA and IBEW members begun April 13 — the biggest U.S. labor strike in over four years. We also are in this fight for the long haul and will be walking the picket line alongside our union friends for contract justice now! The outrageous company program of layoffs, cutbacks, outsourcing, forced relocation, attacks on injured workers must be stopped in its tracks.
Today, CWA and IBEW workers can win as they build unity across job classifications, nationalities, abilities, sexualities and genders. All Verizon workers — landline and wireless—have the same enemy — Verizon — with its lust for billions in profits, but no love for the people who create Verizon’s wealth. And all employed and unemployed workers, in or out of unions, have more in common with striking workers than with corporation heads!
Telecommunications workers know the way to win is by building alliances with communities they serve. CWA President Shelton recognized this in a Black History Month message, saying: “We must end structural racism … Structural racism has filled our jails, yet we have not prosecuted the biggest criminals of our time — the big banks, the one percent and Wall Street barons who destroyed our economy, and more recently the city officials of Flint, Michigan, responsible for the devastating water crisis.” In fact, prisoner-workers are now super-exploited as call-handlers, forced to perform tasks that once were good-paying jobs for union members.
Working-class and oppressed people are rising up everywhere! The upsurge encompasses both the dynamic Black Lives Matter movement as well as a growing number of strikes like the recent massive Chicago teachers’ strikes, last year’s oil strike, the Kohler UAW strike, Wisconsin’s “Day Without Latinos/as” and “fight for $15 and a union” low-wage worker actions. As in the Verizon strike, women and workers of color are playing leading roles in all these struggles. Together we are part of a global working-class fight back. We will be victorious if we refuse to be divided.
Organized workers can beat back telephone company greed! In the 1970s, NYC telephone operators fought AT&T (Verizon’s grandparent) and won affirmative action — access to training for higher-paying skilled jobs, pregnancy disability benefits and Spanish-speaking information services for callers. WWP women members and friends were worker-operators leading those campaigns — and WWP had their back. The union learned the most disenfranchised workers are often the fiercest fighters and belong in the leadership of Labor.
A victory for CWA and IBEW will help everyone fighting for jobs with decent wages, benefits and conditions—and for a decent life free of bigotry and racist violence. For a complete victory we must get rid of the capitalist system of wage-slavery that always puts profits before people.