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Union Workers Rally For Contract With Verizon

MOHEGAN LAKE, N.Y. — Members of Communications Workers of America Local 1103 rallied Saturday outside a Verizon Wireless store in Mohegan Lake to call attention to their stalled contract negotiations with the telecommunications company.

Employees have been working without a contract since last August when CWA members went on strike for two weeks. CWA District 1 represents more than 175,000 employees in the tri-state area, including approximately 1,300 in Local 1103.

"We are so far apart after a year it's ridiculous," said Joe Mayhew, CWA New York State political and legislative coordinator, as many motorists traveling on Route 6 honked their horns in support of the rally. "This is a good middle class job. There is no reason to do this at all and that's why we're out here."

CWA 1103 President Kevin Sheil said workers are simply looking for job security and retaining their current benefits package under a three-year contract.

"They're trying to capitalize on a bad economy, but they're making record profits," Sheil said of Verizon's reported $23 billion in profits over the last three years. "What they're demanding at the bargaining table is not fair. Our members are strong."

Lou D'Amico of Yorktown retired in 2001 after working 32 years in cable maintenance for Local 1103, starting with New York Telephone and ending with Verizon. He said pension and health benefits for retirees like himself are at risk.

"This is about getting the company off its ass," D'Amico remarked. "They just want us to go away. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We're not looking to bleed them dry. We're willing to negotiate in good faith."

The rally also served as a backdrop for the CWA's endorsement of state Senate candidate Justin Wagner, a Croton-on-Hudson Democrat who is looking to unseat incumbent Greg Ball (R-Brewster) in the 40th District in November.

"I'm proud to stand shoulder to shoulder today with the men and women of CWA," Wagner said. "I know firsthand that a strong middle class is the foundation of a robust economy. If we want to jump-start business in the Hudson Valley and throughout our state, we have to begin by protecting vital jobs and services here in New York."

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