Warwick, RI — About 70 Verizon workers, members of Local UBEW 2323, picketed the communications company’s retail location on Bald Hill Road sunday morning, protesting a contract stalemate since Aug. 1 they worry will open their jobs to overseas outsourcing.
“They would love nothing more than to outsource these jobs,” said Steve Murphy, business manager for the union, as he and his fellow Verizon workers stood on the median in front of the company’s retail store at 400 Bald Hill Road.
Murphy said one of the sticking points that has held up a new contact between the union and Verizon is a job security clause that would protect their jobs from outsourcing, many of which pay in the range of $20 per hour and higher. Locally, the union represents about 285 people in the company’s Providence call center on Washington Street, and about 39,000 people altogether.
A Verizon press release about the negotiations also lists the job security clause among the sticking points in negotiations, along with the union’s intent to eliminate healthcare premium contributions and eliminating an $8,000 cap on tuition reimbursement and extending tuition reimbursement to medical and aviation classes, according to the release.
“In a highly competitive marketplace, we are working hard to position Verizon’s Wireline unit on a path towards success,” said Marc Reed, Verizon’s chief administrative officer, “Unfortunately, the unions’ current proposals fall short of that goal.”
But it’s the danger of outsourcing that worries Murphy, and, if the signs displayed Sunday are any indication, that of his fellows. With the contract unsettled, particularly without the job security clause, Murphy said, outsourcing is their primary worry.
“If we don’t get protection by Jan. 1st, they could conceivably move a lot of this work overseas,” Murphy said.