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Communications Workers of America Files Unfair Labor Complaint Against Verizon Express Portland

CWA members pose at a New Jersey convention Communications Workers of America CWA members pose at a New Jersey convention

The union says the telecommunications company has been interfering with labor organizing for months.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against Verizon Wireless this week on behalf of workers at Verizon Express Portland locations, according to a press release issued by the union Thursday.

According to the charge, Verizon has been forcing workers at Portland-area stores to attend captive audience meetings over the past six months. The union describes such meetings as a “common union-busting tactic” meant to intimidate workers and interfere with organizing efforts.

“We witnessed their intimidation tactics and anti-worker rhetoric most recently at the Verizon Wireless stores in the Seattle area, but it’s been happening for years in other cities like Brooklyn too,” Lori Claxton, a consultant at Verizon Express in Portland, said in CWA’s press release. “It didn’t work on those workers, and it’s not going to work on us.”

Verizon workers at Portland stores, who had already formed a union with CWA, filed for an official NLRB union representation election in July after what it claims were years of substandard working conditions. Those included understaffing, unliveable wages and disrespectful treatment by members of management.

This week’s move follows a wave of union organizing among Verizon retail workers. Workers at Seattle-area Verizon stores voted to unionize in April, and in Flint, Michigan, have a pending NLRB union election.

Unlike workers at full-service stores, workers at Verizon Express stores do not make a commission on sales, leaving them with less take-home pay compared to workers at other stores. The Portland workers are the first Verizon Express store workers in the country to file for formal union representation.

This is not the first time CWA has filed ULP charges against Verizon Wireless. In April, the CWA claimed the company  illegally fired a retail worker at Seattle’s Northgate and Aurora Village stores for supporting his coworkers’ efforts to organize a union.

The CWA claimed the firing was retaliatory, as it happened days after the employee attended the Seattle Verizon workers’ union vote.

Graham Trainor, president of the Oregon AFL-CIO, told Oregon Business the workers at Verizon Express stores in Portland "took a courageous stand" in forming a union with the CWA.

"These brave Portland workers have joined a growing movement of workers across the country who are organizing and winning," says Trainor, who added his organization would stand with Verizon Express workers for "as long as it takes for them to win their union."

Verizon did not respond to requests for comment.

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