The fallout from the Verizon strike and ongoing contract dispute took the form of job loss yesterday when 40 employees were fired for misconduct during the 13-day strike earlier this Fall:
The employees, including 10 in Massachusetts, received letters over the weekend saying they were terminated for violating the company’s code of conduct while picketing against cuts in their contract…
“We respect the rights of our employees to peacefully picket and protest during a strike. However, the actions of many individuals in the August 2011 strike violated our code of conduct and in some cases, violated the law,” Verizon said in a statement to the Globe. “This has nothing to do with their rights to peacefully picket. It has everything to do with making threats of violence, engaging in physical violence, running people off the road, making outrageous profane or racist comments and more. Many of these activities were egregious and unacceptable and as a result, we’ve taken appropriate action.”
Union representatives contend that the firings are unfounded, though:
“We think this is a heavy-handed technique that Verizon is using to pressure us at the negotiating table,” said Paul Feeney, legislative director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
He said that while the strike did become heated, the union workers did not break the law. “The union is going to fight this through the court,” he said. “The company couldn’t prove to us that they did anything wrong.”
Union employees agreed to end their strike and work under their old contract with the condition that Verizon negotiate a new contract fairly. It remains to be seen what the outcome of renewed negotiations will be.