Verizon retail workers in Portland vote to form a union as Seattle area retail workers ratify first union contract
In another historic win for worker organizing in the retail industry, a majority of workers at Verizon Express in Portland, Oregon have voted for union representation with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in an official National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election. The Portland workers are the first Verizon Express store workers in the country to win formal union representation. With their newly formed union and a voice on the job, Verizon Express workers are preparing to bargain for fair compensation, comprehensive health benefits, wage increases, appropriate staffing levels, and safe working conditions.
Earlier this month, CWA filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Verizon Wireless on behalf of workers at Verizon Express Portland locations alleging that the company forced workers to attend mandatory captive audience meetings, a common union-busting tactic in which company representatives intimidate workers in an attempt to interfere with organizing efforts.
“Today’s victory goes beyond just our stores. There is a promising movement taking place among Verizon retail workers who are coming together to raise their voice and demand better from the company,” said Antonio Orellana, a Consultant at Verizon Express in Portland.“It’s our hope that this momentum continues across the country, and Verizon workers everywhere realize that their labor should not be taken advantage of, and they too can use their collective voice to fight for fairer conditions.”
The retail workers at the Portland Verizon Express store now join five other traditional Verizon Retail store unions across New York and Washington. Verizon Express, a new pilot concept from Verizon Wireless, bills itself as creating a more streamlined experience for customers, mainly through customers using self-checkout kiosks. However, unlike workers at full-service stores, workers at Verizon Express stores do not make commission, leaving them dramatically underpaid compared to similar workers in other stores.
Despite Verizon’s attempts to squash organizing efforts, workers remained united and overcame the telecom giant's anti-union tactics. Inspired by the groundbreaking union win in Everett and Lynnwood, WA, who successfully ratified their first union contract earlier this month, workers in Portland join a growing movement of Verizon retail workers who are organizing across the country.
For years, workers have been pushing back against Verizon Wireless’s poor working conditions, along with the company’s long history of union-busting. In this year alone, CWA filed a total of five Unfair Labor Practice charges with the NLRB against Verizon Wireless on behalf of the Seattle area retail workers. The charges include illegally firing an employee for organizing, unfair dress code violations, and other instances of retaliation and efforts to undermine union membership.
The latest organizing efforts signal a growing movement among Verizon workers and adds to the labor momentum taking place nationwide, especially amongst retail and hourly workers.
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