Striking workers from Verizon showed up at the monthly meeting of the New York City school board Wednesday night to protest a $120 million contract that the Department of Education approved with the company.
The school system’s Panel for Education Policy agreed to allow Verizon to provide data services to the department.
Technicians from the Communication Workers of America, who have been on strike against the telecom giant for almost two weeks, loudly decried the deal.
The demonstration was held at Murry Bergtraum High School – which ironically is located across the street from Verizon’s principal headquarters in lower Manhattan.
Hundreds of protesters jeered panel members inside the school auditorium.
The controversy over the education department contract actually predates the strike. The Board of Education had already postponed a vote on the deal earlier in the year.
According to the New York Daily News, Richard Condon, the school system’s special commissioner for investigation, discovered that Verizon had an indirect role in the corrupt activities of Willard Lanham, a sub-contractor of the Department of Energy. Lanham reportedly stole $3.6 million from the city.
Verizon strikers told reporters that the contract vote should be delayed until their labor dispute is resolved.
“It’s not that we don’t want them to get the contract,” said Max Nelson, a Verizon technician. “We think it’s unfair that they’d be negotiating for a $120 million contract while we’re on strike.”
The demonstration was supported by several prominent New York City lawmakers, including City Comptroller John Liu, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson.
"A suitable action would be to wait until an agreement is reached [between Verizon and its workforce],” Liu said in a statement.
“You don’t get the contract if you didn’t do the last one right or legally,” said Stringer.