NEW YORK, NY – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) supported the more than 40,000 Verizon communications, technical and wire line workers who voted to strike against the corporate giant on Wednesday morning.
Sanders openly backed the union workers, members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBWE) in their battle against corporate profiteering and outsourcing since 2015.
“Verizon, a very profitable corporation is outsourcing call-service jobs to the Phillipines. Verizon is not investing in inner cities or Buffalo, New York. And over the years Verizon has made billions of dollars in profits, but in a given year has not paid a nickel in taxes.” – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, candidate President of the United States
“The workers of Verizon are going out on strike. They are going out on strike because Verizon, reflecting what corporate America is doing all over this country is asking them to pay more for their healthcare and cutting other benefits,” Sanders said.
Decrying a devisive atmosphere that impedes workers success at the expense of corporate profits, Sanders condemned Verizon’s outsourcing of American jobs.
“Verizon, a very profitable corporation is outsourcing call-service jobs to the Phillipines. Verizon is not investing in inner cities or Buffalo, New York. And over the years Verizon has made billions of dollars in profits, but in a given year has not paid a nickel in taxes.”
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka released a statement standing in support of its union brothers and sisters.
“Verizon made $39 billion in profits over the last three years, but is unwilling to provide job security, better benefits and safe working conditions to the people who made it possible for their top five executives to make over $233 million in the last five years,” Trumka said.
Sanders spoke at the AFL-CIO 2016 convention in Philadelphia earlier this month where he defended workers rights and boasted a 98 percent union-positive voting record in his near 30 years in Congress.
The senator spoke of the need for fair trade and asked the members to support his candidacy and political revolution taking place across the country.
“In the middle of the revolution, there has got to be the trade union,” he said. “The trade union movement historically more than any other force in this country has been responsible for creating the American Middle Class and I thank you for that.”
Delivering his unwavering message of Main Street, not Wall Street, Sanders appeared at a CWA and IBEW rally in New York City last October, joined with workers in Philadelphia last week and dropped in at the CWA union hall in Buffalo on Monday to talk with union workers.
“The middle class is disappearing,” said Sanders at a University of Buffalo rally. “And what Verizon is doing to their workers is exactly what has got to be fought if we’re going to rebuild the American Middle Class.”
“It is not acceptable to me that when workers form a union, and negotiate for an entire year, they can’t yet get a contract.”
Sanders received the CWA national endorsement in December 2015. After conducting an unprecedented grassroots poll of the membership, CWA President Chris Shelton announced the unanimous endorsement of the board and overwhelming support of the membership.
“Tens of thousands of our members voted in this poll, more than we’ve ever had vote in a presidential, or any other kind of poll before,” Shelton said. “In September when we started this poll, I said that this union would do whatever it was that our members said we should do. Our members voted decisively for Senator Sanders.”
The CWA boasts a membership of 700,000 workers in private and public sector employment in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. According to the IBEW, its membership is 725,000.
“To make billions in profits, to outsource American jobs, to not invest in our communities, to demand that workers get their benefits cut, is what the greed of corporate America is all about,” said Sanders on Monday.
Democratic candidates have been canvassing New York ahead of the state’s primary on April 19. Sanders was scheduled to hold a rally and free concert in New York City’s Washington Square Park on Wednesday evening.
His opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a few stops scheduled, including a speech before the National Action Network.
Republican candidates are spread out, with front-runner and New York real estate mogul Donald Trump holding a rally in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania on Wednesday night. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) also has a Pennsylvania rally scheduled, while Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) will be campaigning in Maryland.