Over 200 Verizon workers from across New York descended on Albany on March 24th to picket the Public Service Commission (PSC) and lobby State Legislators. Chanting “What do we need? Good Jobs!” and “PSC! PSC! We don’t want monopoly!” the CWAers sent a loud and clear message: every New Yorker deserves high quality service and access to high-speed Internet, which in turn would mean good jobs for NY telecom workers. Members also delivered almost 5,000 handwritten letters from New York Verizon workers to the PSC urging the Commission to re-examine whether deregulation was producing the jobs and services that New Yorkers need.
New York’s PSC promised in April of 2014 to conduct a study of the telecommunications industry by April of 2015. Despite some initially encouraging meetings between CWA, elected officials and consumer groups and the PSC, the Commission has failed to move forward with a study, which should examine whether deregulation is working for all New Yorkers. A comprehensive study is the first step for the State and the PSC to implement new policies to deliver high speed internet for all by getting Verizon to build FiOS throughout the State, as well as improve customer service quality on the telephone network.
After picketing, locals split up to meet with State Legislators and their staff to push a package of legislation to protect workers as well as consumers:
Bill A5960/S4463, prime-sponsored by Assembly member James Brennan, would put into law a requirement that the PSC conduct its study, which it had told the Legislature in writing that it would finish by April of this year.
The merger and line sale bill (A1223) would protect workers and consumer if Verizon sells or transfers its network to another company.
Soon-to-be introduced service quality legislation would restore mandatory fines and penalties that the Commission eliminated in 2005 if Verizon fails to meet service quality standards.
Bill A1968 would prevent Verizon from forcing customers onto the job-destroying fixed wireless service called VoiceLink, which also does not deliver internet, medical monitoring “LifeAlert” services, or credit card processing for small businesses.
After picketing the PSC, CWAers wearing red were all over the Legislature and Capitol pushing legislators. Verizon lobbyists who work the capitol’s hallways day in and day out pushing the company’s deregulatory, job-destroying agenda were badly outnumbered, at least for a day. For New York CWA members, it’s time to re-double our work in each region of the State to push Verizon to build-out FiOS to protect jobs and deliver the good services that all New Yorkers need.