Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stood in a New York City picket line today among Verizon employees. The workers are on strike after two unions failed to create new contracts during nearly 10 months of negotiations. About 36,000 employees on the East Coast walked off their jobs at 6AM this morning.
The unions' negotiations centered around Verizon's wireline business, which includes its home phone service as well as FiOS. The company is shifting more of its business model to wireless operations, and as such, needs to design new contracts for those that expired in August.
Sanders thanked the employees on strike
At the strike, Sanders thanked the union members for their "courage in standing up for justice against corporate greed." He also noted that though their families might "pay the price" for their decision, they ultimately chose to "stand up for dignity, for justice, and to take on an enormously powerful special interest."
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam didn't take Sanders’ presence well. He issued a stern and dismissive LinkedIn post titled Feeling The Bern of Reality — The Facts About Verizon and The Moral Economy. In the post, he called the senator’s views "uninformed" and said that Sanders had his facts wrong. The company isn't trying to cut workers pay, reduce their health benefits, or ship their jobs overseas, McAdam wrote. Instead, Sanders "oversimplifies the complex forces operating in today's technologically advanced and hyper-competitive economy."
McAdam concluded his piece by saying that Americans "deserve better from people aspiring to be president." In response, Sanders tweeted that he doesn’t want the Verizon CEO's support.
What I care about is that they stop destroying the jobs of their employees and start investing in cities like Buffalo and Baltimore.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 13, 2016
Bernie then tweeted to the striking workers:
Thank you to those on strike today. You're standing up for justice not just for Verizon workers but for millions who don’t have a union.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 13, 2016