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A video still shows an armed and masked guard threatening union representatives after they uncovered Verizon's extensive deception. (Screenshot via Fortune)

Verizon Calls in SWAT Team to Keep Exploited Overseas Workers Under Wraps

'It seems Verizon is going to great lengths to try to hide their strategy of outsourcing middle-class American jobs in favor of poverty wages abroad'

Nika Knight Beauchamp

Representatives from the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the union whose members are currently engaged in a weeks-long strike against Verizon for its "corporate greed," say they discovered this week that the communications behemoth has publicly lied about the extent of its offshoring of jobs.

"When our members uncovered how Verizon is padding its incredible profit margins by replacing good paying American jobs with poverty-wage jobs abroad, Verizon sent armed guards and a SWAT team after them."
—CWA President Chris Shelton

The union representatives, including CWA staff, a representative of UNI (global labor federation) and representatives of KMU (a Filipino union), traveled to the Philippines for four days this week to investigate a report from local Verizon employees who sent word that the corporation was lying to its American workers about the size of its offshore operations in the country.

"Verizon is offshoring work far beyond what has previously been reported and what the company publicly has claimed. Verizon is offshoring customer service calls to numerous call centers in the Philippines, where workers are paid just $1.78 an hour and forced to work overtime without compensation," wrote the CWA in a statement.

When Verizon got wind of CWA's discovery on Wednesday, according to the union, rather than meet with union representatives the company sent a SWAT team and armed guards after them.

"Terrified that the public might find out about what has happened to the good middle-class jobs the company has shipped overseas, Verizon sent private armed security forces after peaceful CWA representatives and called in a SWAT team armed with automatic weapons," the CWA said.

Verizon dismissed CWA's investigation in the Philippines wholesale, describing the representative's fact-gathering trip as a "fancy vacation" in a statement to Fortune.

"Verizon has doubled down on its deception, claiming workers were on a 'vacation,'" CWA president Chris Shelton responded to the jibe. "Let's be clear: being on strike, exposing Verizon’s lies about off-shoring and being harassed by Verizon armed security guards is no vacation. Striking men and women from Massachusetts to Virginia are standing up for their families, their customers and to save middle class jobs for all Americans."

Verizon officials at the company's headquarters in the Philippines refused to meet with the CWA when representatives attempted to confront them on Wednesday, the union said. After the representatives left Verizon headquarters, they were pulled over by armed security guards and then surrounded and threatened by a SWAT team armed with semi-automatic weapons.

"Presumably, it is difficult to justify paying workers $1.78 an hour when the company's CEO made $18 million last year," wrote the CWA, "and the company has piled up $1.5 billion a month in profits for the past 15 months."


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