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Battle for Fair Contract at Verizon Unites Local, Global Union Members

AFSCME President: 'All Of Us Are Proud to Stand With CWA'

Verizon March 9-7-11

More than 500 CWA members, allies from AFSCME and around the globe and a "pig" representing Verizon's greed, marched to a VZW store in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to demand a fair contract for Verizon workers.

Below: CWA President Larry Cohen help leads chants and cheers in front of the Verizon Wireless store. Photos by Jay Mallin.

Larry Marching 9-7-11

Showing Verizon and downtown Washington, D.C., what solidarity looks like, 500 CWA, AFSCME and UNI Global Union members marched and rallied Wednesday in support of Verizon workers fighting for a fair contract.

"All of us are proud to stand with CWA," AFSCME President Gerald McEntee told the cheering, chanting crowd on a day of torrential rains. "Are we going to help them win this fight? You bet we are."

The courageous two-week strike by 35,000 CWA and 10,000 IBEW members on the East Coast in August forced Verizon and Verizon Wireless to extend the workers' current contracts and resume bargaining. Despite billions in profit, the company is demanding draconian benefit cuts, wage freezes and language changes that would roll back a half-century of negotiations that created good, middle-class jobs at Verizon.

Thanking local and global allies for standing with CWA, President Larry Cohen introduced McEntee and AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, then led the crowd in chanting, "Workers, united, will never be defeated!"

The march began at 5 p.m. a few blocks from the White House and headed to a Verizon Wireless store. Scores of green-shirted AFSCME members joined the parade as marchers passed the union's headquarters.

Gerald McEntee - Verizon Rally 9/7/11

The march wrapped up with a rally outside AFL-CIO headquarters, where speakers included AFSCME President Gerald McEntee (Photo by Jay Mallin) and UNI President Philip Jennings (below).

Philip Jennings at VZ March

Passersby honked in support as the crowd stretched over a block, chanting for a fair contract and demanding an end to Verizon's union-busting. Later, the march continued, passing the White House and ending at the AFL-CIO.

UNI President Philip Jennings told the crowd that his members were eager to join with CWA for the march and rally, and that fighting for workers' rights around the world, "is what we do at UNI," and that ultimately workers will prevail against corporate greed and political attacks.

"What we're seeing is not sustainable. It is not fair. But this is a struggle that we can win. If anyone can change the world, it's the trade union movement," Jennings said.

Speakers made it clear that attacks on one group of workers is an attack on all, be they public and private sector. "AFSCME members work hard, and we want Verizon's management to know what we do," McEntee said. "We pick up their trash. We repair their roads. We drive their kids' schools buses and we answer their 911 emergency calls. And we stand with the hardworking members of CWA, who are calling for honest negotiations and fair treatment."

View more photos from Wednesday's march and keep up to date on Verizon mobilization and negotiations at CWA's Unity@Verizon website.