Between 500 and 800 supporters of the strike against Verizon are expected at tonight’s protest march in West Nyack.
Members of the striking Communications Workers of America (CWA), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Rockland Young Democrats, supporters in the labor community, clergy and elected officials are expected to participate in the candlelight vigil. The march is scheduled to begin at the Birchwood School and proceed about a quarter mile to Chairman of the Board Ivan Seidenberg’s house.
“We’re all going to be there. We have the neighboring locals and other middle class Americans coming over, ” said CWA 1107 Vice President Eric Goodwin.
Goodwin said members of CWA Locals 1103 Port Chester and 1120 Poughkeepsie, the IBEW and New Jersey locals will be joining them. Goodwin said they would be carrying a coffin and “signs showing middle class America’s heartbeat going from good to pretty much dead.”
Around 25 of Local 1103's Putnam County members are slated to attend as well, according to Chief Steward Pat McDonnell. He has been one of the dozens of workers rallying on Route 52 in Carmel since Sunday.
McDonnell said picketers have received tons of support from passers-by — in the form horn honks, thumbs-up and cheers — and one or two negative reactions. They have also received food and beverage donations from local businesses, including the lunch Healy's Corner Restaurant in Carmel delivered around 12:30 p.m. Friday.
"The morale is getting better," he told Patch. "We're talking to the public. We're fighting for the middle class."
McDonnell said that CWA members are willing to work without a contract, but not without bargaining rights.
"Big corporations just want to take everything away," he said.
Joe Coe of the Rockland County Young Democrats said they are participating in the march to support the middle class and bargaining rights. He expects between a dozen and 20 members of the group to attend including some elected officials.
“As democrats we need to make sure that collective bargaining is intact,” said Coe “When we stifle this, we do a great disservice to our country.”
A union statement says, “Verizon Chairman Seidenberg took home $81 million over the past four years – 300 times an average workers’ pay.”
It lists several of Verizon’s proposals for a new contract:
- Eliminating disability benefits for workers injured while on the job.
- Elimination of all job security provisions.
- Eliminating paid sick days for new hires and limiting them to no more than five for any workers.
- Freezing pensions for current workers and eliminating them for future employees.
- Replacing current health care plan with a high-deductible plan requiring up to $6,800 in additional costs.
45,000 Verizon workers went on strike Sunday morning. CWA’s contract with Verizon covers 16,000 workers in New York, about 300 work in Rockland County. The company got injunctions restricting the number of protesters at Verizon facilities. Negotiations are ongoing in Rye Brook and Philadelphia.
Southeast-Brewster Patch editor Ashley Tarr contributed to this report.