Verizon Union Members Terrorize Montague Street Residents

As Verizon and the Communication Workers of America slug it out in their current contract negotiations, the real losers in the battle are the residents of Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. Video after the jump.

Protesters line up everyday in front of the Verizon store at number 146 shouting, marching and causing a general ruckus. Whether you’re on their side or not, one thing is perfectly clear – IT’S ANNOYING.

One Montague Street resident writes to us:

I live on Montague Street with my husband and 3 month old son. My son’s bedroom faces Montague Street. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there is a strike going on. The Verizon “workers” continue to meet up in front of the store, which also happens to be right outside our window. They are making life on Montague Street annoyingly unbearable. My son has not been able to take one uninterrupted nap since the strike started. Protesters are sitting on my stoop (I continue to ask them to leave). I cannot open the windows, even on a nice day, because it sounds like I have a group of shouting men in my living room. I have tried to speak to them, but they not only don’t care but were incredibly rude. The police officers who stand around tell me they can’t do anything.

Is there anything anyone can do?

Our reader adds:

Verizon filed an injunction according to which no more than 10 picketers are allowed at each site of protest. Obviously the police isn’t reinforcing anything. They play their sirens in support of the picketers and stand by as they harass costumers who walk into the Verizon store.

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  • billy joe

    I understand that this is annoying and an inconvenience for you, but those workers are fighting for their middle-class jobs. Verizon makes billions, that’s billions with a B, annually, and they’re asking their workers to pay more money into their healthcare and pensions, essentially giving them a pay cut at a time when the executives are making $20 million a year. Those guys don’t want to stand on a street all day and not get paid. They want to be at work. Maybe try a little kindness – offer them some water or something – and then ask if they could keep the noise down for an hour while your baby naps.

  • Steve

    Those residents are annoyed by it? Then tell Verizon to lower their insane demands and bargain in good faith.

  • harumph

    I’m not unionized, but if I were, and they called for a strike…I think I’d be a little more understanding of the neighborhoods in which I’m striking. It isn’t just Bklyn Hts. I’ve got the headache from the shouting and honking at work, above me in the subway while I’m waiting for my train home and again on Montague Street when I get out. They are NOT gaining my sympathies anymore, rather my anger.

  • Homer Fink

    “Steve” and “Billy Joe” are the same person. While you can express you opinion here, please be aware of our terms of use. Thanks!

  • Heightsguy

    Income and wealth inequality during a depression at an all time high. Blue and white collar workers losing their pensions to market woes, corporations pushing for cutbacks to health and other benefits. sounds like class warfare indeed, against workers! They are shouting, not throwing stones. what do you expect? they should just “suck it up”? Actually, non Verizon folk are joining some of those picket lines in solidarity. This is normal union activity which many have grown up not seeing. Look up Walter Reuther – battle of the overpass, Minneapolis General Strike. Rubber workers sit in. Great American tradition of labor struggles, not very Heightsy, I suppose.

  • FrustratedOnMontague

    “Maybe try a little kindness?” Believe me, I have. I have been met with nothing but rudeness, shouting, and oh – whistles. My baby has not been able to nap since the strike has begun. I pay rent here. Oh, and we PAY for our health insurance, too.

  • Matthew Parker

    Until Brooklyn Heights becomes a private community, these people have a right to peacefully assemble and protest. Don’t like it? I know a few nice gated communities in Long Island to consider for peace, quiet, and blissful ignorance from other people’s problems.

  • JohnM

    It’s annoying. I can hear them from 2 blocks away. They brought out the whistles today. Similar to the reader above, I don’t understand how this helps them. Can someone please explain to me why there’s a union at Verizon in the first place?

    In any case, land lines will be gone in 10 years. Wireless is where it’s at.

  • Qfwfq

    That’s pretty peaceful compared to the ruckus they’ve been making on 42nd Street. I think they have a full marching band at that location.

  • harumph

    @MathewParker, your lack of understanding is really shocking. I don’t believe these moms are “against” the right of PEACEFUL assembly…I think they [and I] have a problem with the loud, rude noisy assembly of workers.

  • GHB

    No one is denying their right to protest, just a little understanding for families who live nearby. Jeez, u ever live with a baby who’s missed nap time?

  • Hicks St Guy

    @JohnM, “why there’s a union at Verizon? are you kidding?

  • metrotech

    I live in Downtown Brooklyn across the street from the Verizon building there. When the strike first started the protesters were unbearable, using sirens, air horns and whistles. The protesters had to wear ear plugs because they were so loud. Several residents of my building asked them, nicely, to not use amplified sounds (air horns, bull horns, etc). We were not met with kind responses. Instead I was told to go F myself and flipped off. For days they glared at anyone going in and out of my building. However, after a few noise complaints, which the cops have promptly responded to, the protest has dwindled to the occasional chant.
    Good luck!

  • Y

    Fill the the union people in that a wealthy, high up Verizon VIP lives next door to Matthew Parker on his quite block. I am sure Matthew then would either tolerate it happily as they have the right to peacefully assemble and protest and provide them with fresh water and restroom facilities, or he perhaps packs up his stuff and moves to Long Island.

  • Slash

    Someone else may have already suggested this, but you should contact Verizon directly and encourage them to enter into talks with the union; that will be the fastest and most effective way to end the strike.

    And why do you continue to make your 3 month old nap in a loud room? Why don’t you put him in a different room to allow him some quiet?

  • nabeguy

    Wait until they discover the power of airhorns, like the ones opposite my office on King Street. It’s like being in the blue seats at a Ranger game.

  • FrustratedOnMontague

    @Slash There are no quiet rooms in my apartment right now. Have you been on Montague Street lately?

    If this was going on in front of one of these guys’ homes, and their wives and children had to put up with it all day, they would probably bring out the baseball bat. They have proven that they can’t be reasoned with. But since this is not their neighborhood, who gives a shit.

  • Matthew Parker

    Well clutch my pearls, I’ve hit a nerve with some of my more anonymous neighbors.

    @harumph (whomever you may be), you’ll have to pardon my “lack of understanding,” for others desire to deny the right of assembly and protest. Especially in these times when highly profitable corporations are cutting well established benefits to workers in order to eek out even higher profits for shareholders. Apparently there are more shareholders than workers who contribute to BHB.

    I used to live on Montague Street for 8 years and have experienced worse. I stand by my private gated community comment.

  • AnotherMontagueStResident

    I also live on Montague right above the protests and there is not one quiet room in the apt, even with the windows shut. I work from home and I can’t tell you how frustrating this has been. They are not hurting Verizon, they are hurting the residents and small businesses on Montague. Whether or not someone walks into the store only hurts the customer. Verizon is still collecting their monthly fee whether or not your phone works. As a group, they are also shockingly rude to the people on the street, collectively screaming out “haters” if they don’t take a pamphlet. Grow up.

  • harumph

    @MatthewParker, you just don’t get it. NO ONE is asking that they don’t assemble and protest. Just to turn it down a notch. Jeez.

  • PJL

    Fill buckets with cold water and….

  • Disappointed Neighbor

    Wow, the strikers are unreasonable “meatheads” who would respond with the threat of violence if the tables were turned? People fighting for their livelihoods are “terrorizing” the neighborhood because they’re making noise on a public street? I sympathize with the frustration of those who have found the activity disruptive, but the classism evident in this post is depressing.

  • PJL

    Classism? How about some reality: Add the value of their pension, health benefits, etc. to their inflated salaries and I bet most of these ‘middle-class’ employees make more than the folks posting here….

    Who doesn’t contribute to (or fully fund) their pension and health benefits these days? Not to mention that there aren’t too many places left where you can earn six figures w/o a college degree… they should be counting their blessings….

  • dorachild

    Instead of whining and complaining you should be standing up in support of the Verizon strikers.

    The Verizon strike is part of an ongoing effort to kill off all unions. Even if you are not a member of a union and have never been a member of a union you have a direct interest in supporting the Verizon strikers if you are a member of the middle class or the working class. Employers would not offer decent wages, pensions and health insurance at all to any workers if it was not for unions.

  • JM

    OK, to those here who make comments like “we PAY for our healthcare” and “make 6 figure salaries” here’s a brief overview of the situation. These workers wouldn’t be “terrorizing” if they weren’t left ANY choice by a greedy, gov’t subsidized (meaning you frustrateratedonmontague) corp. Take a look at some of their demands and tell me they shouldn’t be “complaining”:

    Verizon not only paid $0 in federal taxes last year, they also received $1 billion in subsidies.

    Verizon is looking for $1 billion in concessions, an average of $20,000 per family that is supported by a Verizon worker, and will not back down from any of their demands. The workers, on the other hand, have shown a willingness to make concessions, particularly when it comes to health care benefits.

    The extreme concessions Verizon is seeking include:

    -Continued contracting out of work to low-wage contractors, which means more outsourcing of good jobs overseas.

    -Eliminating disability benefits for workers injured while on the job.

    -Elimination of all job security provisions.

    -Eliminating paid sick days for new hires and limiting them to no more than five for any workers.

    -Freezing pensions for current workers and eliminating them for future employees.

    -Replacing the current high-quality health care plan with a high-deductible plan requiring up to $6,800 in additional costs.

  • resident

    I’m with Mr. Parker. You live above a busy commercial street in an urban environment, sometimes you have to deal with noise. Yes, it sucks for you and your baby. But it also sucks when your neighbor’s renovation project makes it tough for you to sleep while you’re in the middle of a series of night shifts, or when there’s jackhammering outside your window all day, or when the long line of cars decides to continuously honk while backed up behind a garbage truck. This is an urban environment and you have to deal with the occasional protest (anyone that works near the state building on 42nd and 3rd can attest to that) along with all the other noise nuisances.

    So sure, you can be pissy about it, or can say that since everyone else has capitulated to our corporate overlords and started paying for our ever-increasing health care costs verizon union’s should to. But in the end, they have rights, and if it interferes with your life for a little while, that’s just the way it’s going to be.

  • JM

    PS. Homer, would it kill you to make this piece less TOTALLY biased by pointing out some the facts above and not using the word “terrorize”? This blog might have then helped to ease the tensions in the hood by educating the residents about what’s at stake for the striking workers, rather than inflaming the situation.

  • Eddyenergizer

    I live on Montague between Hicks and Henry, my apartment is in the back of the building, my windows are closed and I can still hear them… it’s not very annoying, but I could imagine if one lived across the street with windows facing the street, it would be extremely unpleasant. They do have a right to protest but I don’t see how making so much noise helps their cause. If they just picketed, chanted (non amplified) and handed out flyers, they’d gain a lot more support. Whistles, air horns and drums just piss people off. Anyway, I’m glad I’m with AT&T…

  • WillowtownCop

    Thank you, JM.

    I’m sorry these uncivilized blue collar types have dared to excercize their rights in a white collar neighborhood. How dare they offend us with their rowdy ways!

    The real outrage here is how companies are not taking care of their middle class workers and turning others against them. I’m sorry for people who have to “pay” for their health insurance. The blue collar workers pay too – its part of their salary. I don’t understand the “I have to pay so they should” mentality – you choose to work a job with no health insurance, so why does that mean everyone else should have to also?

    I’s like to know who ordered the police to be there to protect the scabs that the company hired. Let them pay for their own security.

  • Teddy

    This is one of the reasons I would never live on a commercial street like Montague. Well, at least when Verizon raises landline rates (again) to make up for union demands I won’t be affected because I switched my landline from Verizon to Time-Warner in May. Actually, now I’m thinking of dropping my landline all together.

    I just know that these high school jerkoffs won’t stop me from picking up a new iPhone 5 next month, if they’re still there by then.