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The Fighting Tradition

The Verizon strike recaptured some of the uncompromising militancy of the early American labor movement.by Mary Anne Trasciatti

On April 13, approximately thirty-nine thousand Verizon workers represented by the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) walked off the job over a contract impasse. Six weeks later, the union called off the strike and claimed a victory.

Highlights of the new contract (yet to be ratified) include an increase in wages, preservation of job security provisions, an increase in call center jobs within the existing footprint, and a first-ever contract for Verizon Wireless retail workers at two locations in Massachusetts.

Radicals have argued for some time that if labor is going to rise again, it needs to abandon tepid tactics and re-embrace militant strikes.

lawrence

(Lawrence, 1912)

A hundred years ago, radical unions like the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) pioneered the disruptive tactics that the industrial unions of the 1930s would use to build the modern labor movement.

While the economic and political landscape has changed considerably since those early twentieth century strikes, Verizon workers have shown a similar ingenuity and tenaciousness — and provided a blueprint for others in the contemporary labor movement.

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