A Babylon Town Board resolution aligns the town with striking Verizon workers, condemns management and orders an end to municipal business with the company until the strike ends.
Babylon’s resolution, passed by a 5-0 vote Wednesday afternoon in front of about 100 red-clad union workers, is the first of its kind in New York State addressing the Verizon strike, according to union leaders and Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer, and injects the town into one of the largest recent labor actions in the United States.
Town officials are reviewing service and leasing contracts with the company for cellphones and iPads, Schaffer said. The town’s 311 center also uses Verizon equipment. The resolution directs officials to terminate existing contracts and refrain from entering into new ones with the company.
Suffolk County might also cut ties with the telecommunications giant, legislature Minority Leader Kevin J. McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) said Thursday. The county pays Verizon about $7 million a year.
“This is not just about these individual workers,” Schaffer said in an interview Thursday. “We’re backing them up because they’re fighting for the future of the middle class. If a giant company like Verizon wants to change the model to have contracted workers, as opposed to full-time, with benefits and a pension — that’s the backbone of Long Island. If Verizon goes and other companies get the same idea, this island could become the island of the very rich and the very poor.”
Verizon spokesman Rich Young wrote in an email that “It’s really pathetic that union leaders would encourage our customers to stop utilizing Verizon services. The reality is that a decline in business could lead to a decline in headcount. Sadly, union leaders are apparently too short-sighted to see that. They really need to wake-up and see how the real world operates.”
About 39,000 Verizon landline and cable workers walked off the job in April after negotiations stalled over their contract, which expired more than eight months ago. Hundreds of town residents work Verizon jobs on Long Island and in New York City. The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers called the strike.
The company and the unions disagree over issues including pensions, job locations and health care, and the unions accuse Verizon of sending jobs overseas.
In an interview, CWA Local 1108 Vice President Michael Gendron said the union Thursday began appealing to other Long Island towns to pass legislation similar to Babylon’s.
McCaffrey is president of Teamsters Local 707. In blue-collar Babylon Town, Schaffer works closely with union members as the lawyer for the Plumbing Contractors Association of Long Island, and Deputy Town Supervisor Antonio Martinez is a former union organizer for the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters.