Layoffs on the horizon at Verizon
by Holly Tsang
Nov 18, 2009 | 4713 views | 0 0 comments | 179 179 recommendations | email to a friend | print
De Blasio and Liu join union workers to protest Verizon's impending layoffs of 200 workers.
De Blasio and Liu join union workers to protest Verizon's impending layoffs of 200 workers.
Councilman and Comptroller-elect John Liu and Councilman and Public Advocate-elect Bill de Blasio remember when, just a few years ago, Verizon testified in front of the City Council that allowing the company to enter the New York cable television market with FiOs would allow it to remain competitive and create jobs for New Yorkers. Last month, Verizon announced that it would lay off 200 union employees, with 32 jobs to be lost in Queens.

And so Liu and de Blasio joined over 200 outraged Communications Workers of America (CWA) members last Thursday on the steps of City Hall to protest the impending layoffs and Verizon’s continual outsourcing of jobs.

Liu chided Verizon for coming to the city for favors, then turning around and breaking the commitments it made to New Yorkers.

De Blasio warned Verizon that doing so would have negative repercussions.

“I don’t think any of us are naïve, but I think we tried to take them at their word,” said de Blasio. “If they preserve the jobs here, we’ll treat them fairly. But if they don’t, they can kiss goodbye any consideration from the city government of New York.”

Stephen Benn, a lineman who works in College Point first heard the layoff rumors in August, and everyday he walks into work wondering if it might be his last day at a job he’s held for the past five years.

Though he is not the sole provider for his family, his wife works in an unpredictable retail industry without benefits. His biggest concern is losing benefits for his family, which includes four- and nine-year-old children.

“I’m distracted and losing a lot of sleep. It’s a tough time,” said Benn.

According to Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party, the five top Verizon executives made a total of $60 million last year. To put things into perspective, he said to think of that figure as being the equivalent of about $1.2 million a week, or $50,000 a day shared among five people.

“I leave here today with one question,” said Benn. “CEO Ivan Sidenberg, how do you justify your $25 million-plus salary, but yet you’re willing to lay off hundreds of my dedicated fellow union brothers and sisters?”

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