You may have recently seen a bunch of people pacing the streets in red shirts. Here's why:
Facing cuts to benefits, 45,000 unionized workers at Verizon Communications have gone on strike — a figure that includes a few dozen in the Watertown area.
I went on the trail today to see what I could find, locally, about the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers strike. Here's what I learned:
* About a half-dozen strikers are pacing the Verizon facility on Coffeen Street, wearing red shirts and signs that bemoan the state of America's middle class.
* They're planning something of a more significant rally tomorrow at the same location. A state lawmaker or two might show up, I'm told.
* Protestors were also picketing the Verizon Wireless store in the Town Center plaza off Arsenal Street.
But it looks like they were on a lunch break or otherwise chased away when I went there shortly before noon. I spoke with a sheriff's deputy who was on the scene, who told me that when he got there, there was nobody there. A few burly dudes, employees of the store's property management company, were with him. They told me that the picketers weren't allowed on the private property.
Keep in mind, Verizon Wireless is not the same thing as Verizon Communications. It's a "thriving, nonunion joint venture," according to this NYT story.
The picture I took — which is really awful, and I apologize for being such a bad photographer — shows the quiet scene in front of the Verizon store. Perhaps fittingly, I took it with my Verizon Wireless iPhone that I bought from that same store. Coming full circle and stuff...