'Sea of Red' as 40,000 Verizon Workers and Allies March Against Greed in New York

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'Sea of Red' as 40,000 Verizon Workers and Allies March Against Greed in New York

Striking employees joined by elected officials—and, briefly, Bernie Sanders—as protests continued into second week

Workers up and down the East Coast continued their strike against Verizon on Monday. (Photo: AP)

Verizon workers were joined by city leaders in New York on Monday for the sixth continuous day of their labor strike, with a march that stretched from the Verizon building on West 36th Street to 42nd Street.

An estimated 40,000 workers, elected officials, and other allies marched through Manhattan in "a sea of red" as they called for Verizon executives to settle contract disputes that they say hold tens of thousands of livelihoods in the balance and expressed outrage over the company's plans to outsource labor to the Philippines, Mexico, and other developing countries.

Bernie Sanders made an impromptu visit to the picket line, joining them for the second time since the strike began last week and thanking the workers for standing up to the kind of "corporate greed...that is destroying the American middle class."

Among the city officials participating in the march was City Council Member Jumaane Williams, who also endorsed Sanders for president just a day earlier at a rally in Brooklyn.

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"What are we fighting? Corporate greed!" the demonstrators chanted.

One Verizon employee, Jazmin Sypher, a member of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), wrote in an op-ed for the Guardian:

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

Verizon’s executives are desperate to stop the tens of thousands of other wireless workers from joining together in our union. By denying most of us collective bargaining, they’ve been able to worsen our job conditions, and keep our pay low, while they pump up the company’s profits higher and higher.

[....] And Verizon has the money to treat us fairly. The company has made $39bn in profits over the past three years. CEO Lowell McAdam got $18m in compensation last year. That’s some 300 times more than the average Verizon Wireless worker.

My co-workers and I aren’t asking for $18m a year. We’d just like to take care of our families. A big part of the reason I work at Verizon is for my three kids. My oldest, Maya, is nine, and after she was born I wanted to make sure I had a stable job at a solid company. But by the time Kaleb, my youngest, was born six months ago, I saw that Verizon doesn’t care much about the stability of its workers and their families.

Also present at Monday's march were NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, and a handful of state senators and assembly members.

As organizers noted in a press release ahead of the action, Verizon's service quality has "deteriorated to the point that New York State’s Public Service Commission has convened a formal hearing to investigate problems across the Empire State," with similar probes taking place in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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