Call him "bullhorn Bernie." Insurgent Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders rolled into downtown Brooklyn Wednesday to stand with striking Verizon workers and declare his support for the labor unions that represent them: the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
The rank-and-file workers went on strike this week to protest the telecom giant's decision to freeze pensions, chip away at workers' job security and outsource jobs to contractors. Nearly 40,000 have walked out after negotiations stalled.
"This is just another major American corporation trying to destroy the lives of working Americans," Sanders said to cheers from the crowd — a diverse audience clad in red shirts, with several holding up CWA placards.
"Today you are standing up not just for justice for Verizon workers; you're standing up for millions of Americans," he added, to a great roar in response.
The CWA is one of several unions to formally endorse Sanders, and the strike plugs right into his campaign rhetoric of defending the American worker from the designs of their corporate bosses. His visit is one of the many pitstops the candidate has made in the lead-up to the New York state primary on April 19.
For his part, Verizon's CEO has called Sanders "contemptible" for his attacks on the company, joining the cries of General Electric's Jeff Immelt, who has also fallen within the candidate's broadside against corporate America.
Meanwhile, Sanders' opponent Hillary Clinton released a statement about the strikes, echoing Sanders' condemnation of the bosses and calling for Verizon to return to the bargaining table.
"Verizon should do the right thing and return to negotiations," the statement said. "If elected president, I will do everything in my power to protect workers, protect unions and give businesses the incentives and support to keep jobs here."
— Tony del Fierro (@1111Tony) April 13, 2016