The Verizon workers’ campaign for union democracy set the stage for a successful strike.
It’s a strike outcome that’s all too rare these days: a corporate powerhouse forced to drop sweeping union-busting demands by a solid strike of tens of thousands of workers with widespread public support.
The question now is whether organized labor will follow the Verizon workers’ example and once again make the strike a weapon against the employers’ relentless attacks.
The tentative agreement — between thirty-nine thousand members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) on one side and Verizon on the other — ended a forty-five-day strike, with the union successfully holding the line against many of the company’s harshest demands.
Notably the CWA did break from labor leaders’ unquestioning support for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party establishment’s choice for a presidential nominee, and instead backed Bernie Sanders’s left-wing campaign.
Having encouraged members to be active in the Sanders campaign and support his anti-corporate themes, the CWA leadership prepared the ground politically for taking on the bosses.
But these factors were secondary to the long, fighting tradition of Verizon workers that came to the fore when the sheer bitterness of rank-and-file union members was unleashed on April 13.
Though preparation for the strike was uneven, union members turned out in force for picketing and protests.