Verizon4

About 45,000 Verizon workers went on strike (refused to work) starting August 7 after their work contract expired. The Verizon (phone and wireless company) wants to cut workers’ pay and make them pay more for health care. Meanwhile, Verizon paid its top five bosses $258 million over four years.

The Verizon workers are located in states from Virginia to New England and are represented by two labor unions: the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

IK Kid Reporter, ESTRELLA BARRIGA, age 13, went to a picket line in Queens, New York, and interviewed Donna Marie Petagine. Donna is an administrative assistant who has worked for Verizon for 22 years.

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What do you do for Verizon?

I take care of calls from customers and send technicians to places where people need help with their telephone or wireless systems. My fellow workers elected me to represent them in negotiations with the company we work for.

Why are you striking?

The company wants to cut our salaries. We are fighting for decent wages and working conditions. Our union is strong and proud. We want to keep the rights our union brothers and sisters have fought for and won. We want job security (to be able to work without fear of losing our jobs) and to put food on the table.

What can kids do to help?

Support the strike by joining a picket line near you, or call Verizon to tell them you won’t use their company unless they treat workers fairly.

UPDATE: The strike lasted two weeks. It ended when Verizon and the unions agreed to keep the old contract while continuing to negotiate a new one, and to make fewer changes to the contract.