Verizon employees striking against the company mainly work on the traditional telephone side of the business, but that doesn’t mean they’re ignoring the growing wireless side.
Some 40,000 employees from Massachusetts to Virginia walked off the job on April 13 after working without a contract since August. They’ve been picketing Verizon (VZ) retail wireless stores since the strike started.
This week, they escalated the fight, handing out leaflets to consumers entering the stores in calling for a boycott of the company’s wireless service.
“We’re on strike against Verizon Wireless corporate greed,” the single-page pamphlet reads. “Don’t buy Verizon Wireless.”
The one pager describes some of the workers’ complaints in more detail, noting that the company’s CEO makes 200 times as much as the average worker, and that the company has been “stonewalling” negotiations for a “fair first contract” for unionized workers in the retail wireless stores across New York and Massachusetts.
The complaints are listed in English on one side of the paper and translated into Spanish on the other side.
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“Many customers are already frustrated with the Verizon, and they stand with workers against Verizon’s corporate greed,” a spokesman for the Communications Workers of America told Fortune. “Wireless workers are asking customers not to cross the picket lines in front of retail stores, where workers have been denied a first contract from company executives, and we’ve had very strong support.”
Despite the boycott push and picketing, Verizon’s wireless business is operating “extremely well,” a Verizon spokesman told Fortune. The company also disputed the complaints in the pamphlet.
“Yet again, it’s another example of pure hogwash from the Union,” the spokesman said. “This strike impacts only a tiny percentage of employees from our wireless business. The union is well aware that we’ve been working diligently to try and reach a fair contract with this handful of employees. Efforts, however, from union leaders involved in these negotiations have been minimal at best.”
It’s no surprise that the strikers are targeting the wireless stores. While the Verizon’s heavily unionized wireline unit has been shrinking, both in revenue and in the number of workers employed, the company’s almost-union-free wireless business has grown much faster. Wireless now brings in the vast majority of the company’s sales and profits.
Last year, for example, the wireless unit brought in revenue of $91.7 billion, up 5% from a year earlier, and an operating profit of nearly $30 billion. The older wireline unit, which also includes wired video and Internet service, brought in revenue of only $37.7 billion, a 2% decline from the year before, and an operating profit of just $2.2 billion.