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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  • dorachild

    Here is a link to a more articulate response to the people who complain about the Verizon strikers.

  • Bornhere

    As I was heading to the R train this morning (on the north side of Montague), a Verizon worker handed me a flyer and thanked me when I accepted it. It was one of the least terrorizing experiences I have ever had on Montague Street.

    I can have very mixed feelings about today’s unions; but I have clear feelings about corporate top earners whose extraordinary income can become more and more extraordinary, while the actual workers earn progressively less than “their share.” ALL should pay/contribute/earn their fair share. All. Fair.

    The noise? I would hate to live on Montague Street, especially in a front-facing apartment during a strike. Or not during a strike. I hope the baby gets some sleep. I hope the workers get some satisfaction.

  • Eddyenergizer

    ^thanks for the laugh :))

  • Blank

    My significant other is one of those so called ‘SCABS’. I’ll let you in on a little something he makes a little less $60k a year AND pays for his healthcare. He works for Verizon normally but was sent off to do the job a Union worker who makes far more than he does and doesn’t have to pay for their health benefits. He was told he’d lose his job if he didn’t go, and yet the ones he is replacing simply walked away from theirs and are now complaining about the fact that they did.

    I understand the panic in the thought they’ll be weeding out jobs, which isn’t fair, so protest that all you would like. The thing is its time to start paying for your health care like the rest of the workers in America. Health Care is sadly a privilege in this country, which is a whole other can of worms to deal with. You can’t expect Verizon to take away profit from its Wireless side to pay for the landline workers. It wouldn’t be right, it wouldn’t be fair. We all like to jump on and attack big businesses whenever we’re given the chance but let’s be honest, is it really getting us anywhere? What they do may be seen as a tactic to get more money, which in essence it is, but it’s also a tactic to keep the business afloat. How do you expect to keep your job or keep making what you do if the business begins to suffer? Now I’m not saying they’re suffering now, but with this economy no matter how much a business makes it is in danger.

    Instead of stressing about being out of work and trying to use it as a sympathetic ploy how about you go back to work?! I know crazy idea huh, to actually work while the contract is sorted out. Verizon is simply learning it doesn’t need the union members right now since it so easily replaced everyone. If you get back to work it’s just another thing to hold over their heads plus by actually earning your paycheck you’d be taking more money from them, since the replacement workers are making a lot less then you would on the job. If you have the time to strike and complain that you don’t have enough money to support your family you have the time to get back to work. Nothing is being solved or can be solved here; the only people who can settle this are those in the negation rooms and the government should it choose to intervene.

    You can fight and work at the same time, and there is nothing wrong about that. There is no shame in needing money to support a family no matter the situation. Right now union workers could be banking cash and doing what they can to get by instead of standing out on the street and keeping babies awake. If you really believe you must continue to protest then fine so be it, but at least be peaceful. Any negative actions will only be used against the Unions.

  • Anon

    I second JM’s comment from 1:24–this original post is incredibly biased. Homer, you should be embarrassed for publishing it as is and not taking the opportunity to start a reasonable and nuanced discussion, as JM suggests.

  • Work2blocksaway

    I work two blocks away, and I wait until 6pm to go to Verizon to pay my phone bill. I am part of a union, and sympathize with the workers. I think the whistle are a bit much during lunch, but as was posted earlier this is an urban enviorment. You choose to live on a commercial and busy street, expect noise.

  • Homer Fink

    @anon (not THE anon btw) – there’s no question that the protesters are LOUD and that they are being so by design. They are in FACT waking up babies and disturbing the peace and denying residents of Montague Street the quiet enjoyment of their homes. Yes, it’s terrorizing some folks.

    As for an anti-union bias, that’s hilarious. My grandfather was a union leader at Con Ed for decades. My mother was a Teamster (she worked in the school system and it sounds totally badass saying so). I am a long-time member of AFTRA. So as far as my bone fides regarding unions, I’m probably deeper in than most folks reading this thread.

    If I have any bias it’s against folks who have little or no respect for the other humans they share space with. Being gratuitously loud, engaging in acts of vandalism is no way to take the high road and have your point of view heard. In a country with almost 10 percent unemployment, it’s going to take a lot more finesse on the union’s part to gain the support of the general population.

  • JM

    Hey Homer, thanks for the non-answer answer to my original question! As you evidently are the king of the labor movement, perhaps you could enlighten us as to what this “nuanced approach” by the labor movement should be when they are under attack on every front (including a mostly biased anti-union media)? If I remember my labor union history correctly, is not the purpose of a strike to hit the company in the only place they respond to, the profit margin, when they will not reasonably negotiate with the workers? The workers should try and keep people from patronizing the Verizon store by humming and handing out cupcakes perhaps? (although I do love me some cupcakes, especially made by a union shop). I have again made 2 trips past the workers over the course of the afternoon and both times they chanted and clapped as many pedestrians clapped in support. I wished them luck and they thanked me and a gentlemen with a stroller in front of me who did the same . I stand by my original claim that your post is biased and inflammatory.

  • Livingston

    Aren’t the protestors a bit confused? They are picketing the Verizon Wireless store — this is the part of the business that is MAKING money. The strikers are from the landline side of the business — the unit that is LOSING money and customers. Regardless of what is eventually negotiated (if at all), these guys and their jobs are quickly going the way of the dodo.

    BTW, I was forced to join a union and pay dues to keep my part-time, minimum wage after-school job in high school. Figured out at age 16 what a racket they are and has left a strong distaste ever since.

  • Homer Fink

    @JM – sir, this post is about the NOISE the protesters are making in Brooklyn Heights, which is the focus of this blog. The issues at hand are 100000000% irrelevant for this post. There is a link to a New York Times story about strike and its issues if you care to know more. Again, the only “bias” in the story is against a barrage of excessive noise 8 hours a day on Montague Street.

  • JM

    Sir, with your long family history of unionization, would you explain to me how the strikers tactics at this and other locations is any different from the accepted past practice of strikers, (which you and your parents benefited from financially by belonging to strong unions which helped elevate your standard of living)?
    Yes the noise IS the point. If the neighbors effected would complain to, and threaten to boycott Verizon, they might be forced to come to the table and fairly bargain, thus ending the noise problem. BTW…the only ugly thing I’ve witnessed my several travels by the site was not the workers chanting “help us win, don’t go in” and clapping, but rather the “neighbor” who screamed obscenities from a window, that I frankly, sir, wouldn’t want my napping toddler to hear. (also,in full disclosure, I do not, nor have I ever belonged to a trade union). This blog could have helped explain the situation, it’s root causes, and suggested ways the hood could help the workers end this sooner, but chose rather to fan the flames and fuel the anger. BTW,The NYT article you link of course, does not even fully explain the deplorable actions of the company either.

  • EHinBH

    Middle class jobs! That is hilarious. These people bilk Verizon for millions of dollars and hold them hostage for absurd benefits that nobody in the corporate world could dream of. End unions!

  • Arch Stanton

    EHinBH, Once again you have proven to us, just how stupid you are. Why don’t you take an IQ test, so you can prove it to yourself.

  • AEB

    My, my EHinBH! And while we’re at it, let’s rescind all child-labor laws.

    Always in favor of making the world a safer place for those who hold all the cards.

  • Jorale-man

    I’m actually surprised there are that many families who actually *live* on this stretch of Montague. It seems like if you buy on a commercial street – as opposed to a residential one like Hicks or Remsen – you should expect more noise. It may not be 34th Street in Midtown but it’s still a pretty busy area.

  • Seriously, Dude

    @Jorale-man: Wow, you’re really an ass.

  • Kepolas

    I am one of 125,000 non-union Verizon employees and I am extremely upset and disappointed with the behavior of the Verizon union employees currently on strike.

    A lot of people on this blog seem to be saying that these poor blue collar workers need to have their demands met by Verizon since they are a large corporation with deep pockets.

    As a non-union worker in the company, I pay a portion of my own healthcare and 401K like most working people in this country. The pay and benefits that we (both union and non-union) receive is competitive in the industry. When you factor in the additional benefits that union workers receive from not having to contribute to the health care and retirement, they are actually receiving more than their non-union counterparts.

    45,000 union workers are currently on strike, but they have been temporarily back-filled by only 10,000 non-union Verizon employees. Miraculously nearly 80% of the work is being completed in the absence of the union workers.

    If you do the math, 12,500 new non-union workers can replace 45,000 union workers. I hope Verizon fights against these union bums and breaks the unions once and for all. This country was founded on hard work, integrity, and personal responsibility – qualities that the modern union workers sorely lack.

  • More Importantly

    BEEBOP is still missing.

  • JM

    Kepolas- “When you factor in the additional benefits that union workers receive from not having to contribute to the health care and retirement, they are actually receiving more than their non-union counterparts.”….THAT’S why you want a union, so you receive better
    pay and benefits for the hard work you do!
    If it were not for labor unions, even you, would not have an 8 hour base work day, 5 day work week, child labor laws and work place safety standards and protections to name just a few of the historic, documented and factual benefits and accomplishments of the union movement in this country. In states now run by Tea PArty Republican governors trying to strip union rights, some are also against child labor laws! And safety regulations etc.
    What do you think will happen when the union’s are done away with?

  • frenchbull

    they are a bunch of thugs

  • will

    Here is the issue. I am on strike. For the person who is a non union employee we are not striking for health benefits. Most of us have no problem paying into our health care. THERE ARE 100 topics of discussion as a whole. Everything the union has worked for verizon wants to take back and make it the 1940’s again. Please research before you opine. At least you’d be speaking from a more informed place. For anyone that’s inconvenienced I apologize. But for all your complaints I guess that you’ve forgotten that the country you love so much has a doctrine that says WE THE PEOPLE. The corporations are trying to return this country back to slave labor. Stop being isolationists and jus t worrying about what’s happening in your own home. WE THE PEOPLE. Know what’s effecting the people outside of your circle. Or what’s effecting us now will effect you later. Trust me this is a bigger issues thats being made to seem like a isolated one.

  • BH Resident

    Will, it’s nice to hear from someone who’s actually on strike. But you’re missing the point completely. We are not frustrated by the fact that you are on strike. Strike all you want. The issue (and content of the original post) is HOW you go about it. Show some respect. Don’t expect people to be understanding of your cause or show an interest in what you’re fighting for if all you show them is rudeness and disregard. Just turn it down a notch. You can start by taking down the sign asking people to honk. Unnecessary. Show some understanding of how you are acting is affecting people’s lives. People who go to work just like you and people who want to enjoy their homes, just like you.

  • Stuberry

    I am one of those scabs and will gladly keep working for the wages they are paying me, gladly keep paying my own health care, because I now can. Verizon would be much better without the union thugs as they would then be hiring much more competitive and dedicated individuals that know what is like to be out of work. You union indoctrinated must realize you are nothing more than a liberal political pawn. I find it funny how you criticize the large corporations making millions; you ever take the time to see how your union bosses are living or find out how much of you union dues went to a liberal political candidate. Just might be an eye opener.

  • the Where

    Get ready for some brain dead Tea Party types to hijack this thread:

    you’re on the front page

  • JM

    the Where…ain’t that perfect, Homer & the BHB are now writing the headlines for this deplorable anti union tea party blog. Well done BHB!

  • truedat

    The top dogs are laughing their butts off as union and non union middle class people fight with each other on these boards and all across the country. I came across a little story on the web yesterday that really sums it up fantastically.

    A corporate executive , a union worker and a non union worker are sitting at a table about to have breakfast. On the table are a dozen doughnuts. The corporate executive puts 11 doughnuts on his own plate, points to the remaining doughnut and says to the non union worker “watch out I think the union guy is going to take your doughnut!”

    The top few execs at a healthy, profitable company make 60 million a year and then want to take away every benefit their union workforce has.And then the non union workers are mad at the union workers for having those benefits in the first place. Unbelievable.

  • truedat

    There are 5 big lies that Verizon is trying to get away.

    1.They want you to think that the wireless network is somehow separate from everything else
    and is maintained by little elves or maybe Elvis. The union worker maintains that network.

    2.They want you to think we are on strike because they want us to pay a little of our healthcare costs. The list of things they want take back includes pension,overtime,holidays,wages,etc…

    3.They want you to think that cell phone calls are the only thing that makes them money.I just cant believe they lose money on all these high capacity ckts (from ds0 to OC192 level) keeping Wall Street,hospitals,banks,airports,police and firehouses etc… up and running. And how about FIOS?
    If FIOS is a money loser then Ivan Seidenberg owes the company 80 million dollars in bonus money back! (I personally think it’s a GREAT product that no other company can touch)

    4) When Verizon talks to Wall Street about how things are going they play up how much money their “landline” side of the business is making but now at contract time they want the public to think we are given jobs out of the goodness of the companys heart.

    5)Verizon doesn’t want you to know that they’ve already sent alot of non union American jobs to India and if they bust the union or weaken our “job security” language in the contract they will surely send alot more jobs overseas. How does that help our economic recovery?

    We need to get the truth out there by all means because the 15 second newsbite is not doing justice to what is being fought for.

  • the Where

    @truedat, you are avoiding the actual subject of this post. When will y’all just STFU and respect your neighbors.

    Oh and most of the union members seriously need to go to business school to understand the concept of operating divisions and how they work.

  • Topham Beauclerk

    One can only suppose the Montague St resident who objects to the noise created by the striking workers chose to love on Montague St because she couldn’t afford to live elsewhere in our fair neighborhood. Let her suffer the consequences without complaint or get a second job to support her translation to one of the many quieter streets in the Heights.

    And if she could look up for a moment from soiled diapers to consider the state of employment in this country, perhaps she’ll be able to bear the noise with greater equanimity.

  • Silliness

    Oh, Topham, you silly nut.