For Immediate Release
Verizon Strikers & Allies Prepare Nationwide Protests as Shareholder Unrest Grows
NEW YORK - One day before Verizon’s annual shareholder meeting, striking workers, including many who own shares in the company, and their supporters prepare for over 400 protests around the nation on Thursday, May 5. At the same time, dozens of Verizon workers will converge outside the shareholder meeting in Albuquerque, where worker-shareholders will fight for proposals to improve Verizon’s corporate governance and end the company’s short-sighted decision-making. The wave of protests comes as workers enter their fourth week on strike because of the company’s insistence on offshoring and outsourcing jobs, and as Verizon faces mounting criticism of its problematic decision-making that shortchanges workers and communities.
“I’m going to Albuquerque to look Lowell McAdams in the eye and tell him how his choice to put short-term profits and executive payouts over the good of the company and its workforce is endangering my family and the families of my co-workers,” said Don Dunn, a Verizon field technician for 21 years, a shareholder with over 5000 units of Verizon stock, and President of Local 1108. “Until Verizon changes course and starts investing in workers who can provide quality service our customers deserve, support for our strike will only continue to grow.”
In Albuquerque, striking workers, other CWA members, and community and labor supporters will protest outside the shareholder meeting at the Oldtown Hotel. Verizon workers will carry banners calling for a fair contract are planning to deliver petitions to Lowell McAdam from 350,000 customers who have grown increasingly frustrated with the company.
On Thursday, Verizon workers with an estimated $1.3 billion in company stock holdings will vote in favor of shareholder proposals to improve corporate governance and accountability. CWA and IBEW members recently shared their recommendations on shareholder proposals with Verizon shareholders across the country who together own more than 60 percent of Verizon’s total shares. Proposals, which have been endorsed by large investors like CalPERS and CalSTRS, include requiring that the Board Chair be an independent director and that future severance agreements be subject to shareholder approval.
“Verizon’s CEO makes 243 times more than the average worker, while customers in towns up and down the east-coast can’t get the quality service the company promised them,” said Richard Hesterhagen, a striking Verizon worker in Staten Island, New York, and a shareholder in the company. “Striking workers aren’t just fighting to protect good middle-class jobs, we’re fighting for a better Verizon that invests in communities, increases access to broadband and closes the digital divide. That’s the vision this company needs, not the short-term payouts for executives that the current leadership is promoting.”
For the first time, protests and demonstrations are expanding to Verizon wireless stores outside the strike region. More than 400 protests are planned in dozens of cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Atlanta, Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City, Austin, Dallas, Indianapolis, Nashville, Knoxville, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. In New York City, an expected 2,000 workers, supporters and elected leaders will march to a Verizon Wireless store on Wall Street and call for a fair contract.
“Verizon strikers are fighting for the future of every American striving to make a decent living. That’s why people are mobilizing at hundreds of protests across the country,” said Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of Jobs With Justice, which is helping to coordinate many of the protests. “If companies like Verizon keep funneling all of their profits into executive payouts while sending good jobs offshore, it will become harder for the rest of us to earn a fair return on our work.”
The growing calls for change of course at Verizon come as public opinion of the company has declined to a three-year low, according to a recent survey from YouGov. Top economists and financial analysts have been raising concerns about the company’s short-sighted business decisions and the long-term impact of the strike. Several investment firms have recently lowered their Verizon ratings, including Jeffries, Scotiabank, Sanford Bernstein and Zacks.
- Proposal #7, Kenneth Steiner requests to amend company’s governing documents to require that the Board Chair be an independent director.
- Proposal #8, the Association of BellTell Retirees seeks shareholder approval of future severance agreements (also known as golden parachutes) that grant executives benefits exceeding 2.99 times their base salary plus bonus. If he was terminated in 2015, CEO Lowell McAdam would have received $40.2 million under the current policy.
- Proposal #9, the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Pension Benefit Fund requests that the Human Resources Committee require executives to retain 75% of the shares they receive has part of their compensation packages.
- Supporters include: CalPERS