‘If Starbucks can do it, why not us?’: Lynnwood, Everett Verizon workers join union push
While Starbucks workers across the nation continue to push for unionization, local Verizon employees are taking up a similar effort, after a pair of locations voted to unionize last Friday.
The union vote came from Verizon retail workers in Everett and Lynnwood, following what they say had been “years of retaliation by senior management and poor working conditions, including understaffing and unlivable wages.”
“We know our worth, and it’s time we have a seat at the table and have our voices heard,” Verizon worker Austin Hitch said in a news release. “We hope that our success shows our fellow Verizon Wireless workers across the country that their voice matters, and when you stand united you can do great things.”
Workers further allege that the company has engaged in a “long history of union-busting,” pointing to “an aggressive anti-union campaign amid organizing efforts at its retail stores in Brooklyn” in 2014. Verizon employees in Brooklyn eventually went on to become the first among the company’s stores to successfully unionize.
Today, Lynnwood and Everett workers cite a recent union push by Seattle-area Starbucks employees as the impetus for their own movement.
“We are witnessing an inspiring moment of worker power in this country,” Verizon employee Natalia D’aigle said. “After seeing the organizing efforts by Seattle Starbucks workers and their ultimate success in forming a union, we felt even more empowered to join together and demand a seat at the table.”
“If Starbucks workers can do it, why not us?” she added.
Responding to this week’s union vote, the company claimed that “tens of thousands” of Verizon employees have “indicated time and again they prefer having direct contact with their manager” over involving a union representation.
“While we respect the choice made by these few employees, we firmly believe that direct manager involvement is the best way to build a healthy culture and our industry-leading compensation, benefits and work environment are proof positive,” a Verizon spokesperson told KIRO Newsradio.
Just days after the union vote, the company raised its minimum wage to $20 for new customer service and retail employees, while “adding premium pay differentials for assistant managers who work on holidays, Sundays and for those who are bilingual.”