By COLIN STAUB
Workers at two Verizon Express stores in Northwest Portland announced a union campaign July 6 with Communications Workers of America (CWA), seeking voluntary recognition for a bargaining unit of nine employees at the two stores. They’re the first Express locations in the country to organize. Verizon Express stores are small retail outlets for the cellular company’s products and services.
Hannah Borstel, who has worked at Verizon for the past three years, said the two stores are severely understaffed and that workers are underpaid and have no work-life balance. The stores have also gone through long periods without a supervisor, Borstel added, meaning workers have to take on management duties (without management pay).
CWA filed paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requesting an election, seemingly in anticipation of Verizon rejecting voluntary recognition.
The telecom giant has a poor record when it comes to labor. In 2016, tens of thousands of union workers in Verizon’s land-line phone and fiber optic internet service division struck after the company demanded contract concessions despite making $18 billion in profit the prior year. When retail workers in Washington went public with a union effort earlier this year at Verizon Wireless (a different store type from Express), the company flew in union-busting attorneys the next day, Jacobin magazine reported. Despite that, the workers voted 11-1 to unionize. CWA has filed five separate unfair labor practices against Verizon related to that campaign.
Verizon has retained management-side law firm Seyfarth Shaw, NLRB records show.
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