Back to work...

   I will be returning to work on Tuesday. We will be working under the old contract until the new one gets worked out. The two sides must be close or we would not be returning to work. It feels good to be going back to work. There will be plenty of work to be done when we get back. The over-time in the next month should easily make up for the two weeks of lost pay. I am proud that we fought to keep what took 50 years to bargain for. Lets hope we get a new contract without many concessions…

  

Strike, Days 13 & 14: Good news, everyone!

Hi!

I’ve got actual good news. The unions and the company came to an agreement, and we’re going back to work on Tuesday under the same contract. I never thought I’d be happy to go back to that place, but it will be nice to not have this stress of my slowly depleting savings account any longer.

Since I didn’t do an entry from yesterday’s picket line, I’m coupling it with todays.

Day 13:

Friday was a pretty good day. First of all, a guy drove by with a big moustache decal on the front of his beat-up pick-up truck. I pointed at my top lip and gave him a thumbs up, which he appreciated.

Nicki sent me a txt to ask if anymore pretty tattooed girls gave support, because she was going to kill them if so (I’m fairly sure she was mostly kidding…)

Around lunch a wonderful woman named Joan came by and dropped off lunch for all of us! She was the same lady that brought up Dunkin’ Donuts on Wednesday! She’s retired CWA who moved back here from Texas recently and is really incredibly sweet to keep bringing us food. So, thanks Joan!

After my shift I came home, picked up Nicki and we went to Charlestown beach on the recomendation of a coworker (copicketer? That just sounds dumb.) It’s a gorgeous beach, I can’t believe I’ve never been there! The sand is very soft, there was very little sea weed and the walk into the water is quite steep, so you don’t have to walk far out to get deep.

After heading home and showering, I fixed myself a spaghetti sandwich and we went to a friends’ house for some games.

Day 14:

Started waaaay too early for a Saturday morning:) It was surprisingly quiet when we first got there, and I could have nearly fallen asleep under the shade of a tree with the gentle breeze blowing.

*Warning, next bit’s a little icky. Skip ahead if you don’t want to hear about poop stuff…* I had a bit of a case of gurgle guts this morning, so I ran over to my friendly Stop & Shop to use the facilities. While I’m sitting on the toilet, checking facebook (like ya do) a guy rushes into the stall next to me, whips his pants down and just lets loose. I mean, wow. BUT (here’s the gross part…) I guess he missed the toilet initially, becuase I glanced over to see several small brown puddles on the floor in front of the toilet. Bleugh!!!! I quickly vacated the premises after that!

*End gross stuff*

Awhile later I was back walking the line when a guy in an SUV drives by, beeps, waves and then points to the car behind him and shakes his head. Immediately behind him were ladies in minivans who both beeped, yelled something incoherent and gave us the thumbs down. Right after them a third minivan drove by and gave us the thumbs up. “What the hell was that?” one of my cowalkers (I like that better!) asked. “Just a mini caravan of hate.” I replied, to which a lady in the last minivan, who was stopped at a light said “That;s because they’re ignorant!” and smiled at us. This all happened in the span of 30 seconds.

A couple minutes after that a car with three PTG (Pretty Tattooed Girls) stopped at the light, beeped, waved and gave me a thumbs up. Then one of them yelled “I love your beard!” to which I responded “Thanks, I grew it myself!” (grandpa Cote would be proud of that one). So thanks, more PTGs!

Then I got home, ate a big bowl of spaghetti and got the word that we’re going back to work! Now I’m off to mow the lawn and get everything back there nice, big party coming up next weekend!

The Beginning

I have spare time and decided to start a blog about my life at Verizon. I hope to write an informative blog and to interact with anyone who may read it. I do not plan to censor this blog, but reserve the right to do so. I have a few basic rules to follow. If you can’t follow the rules, your post will be deleted.

The Rules:

1: Keep it civil!
2: No profanity
3: No name calling

I feel that these are pretty simple rules and that they will be broken many times during the labor dispute.

I welcome comments, suggestions, and opinions…

Strike, Day 9: Man, now my shoes are wet!

Hi.

Today sucked. Even delicious oven-toasted sandwiches didn’t put it in the green.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Phew.

Returned from “camping” at a friend’s uncle’s place in VT for the weekend, which was a blast. Great times with great friends in a beautiful area. ATV versus golf cart apple fights, s’mores, fireworks & a crystal clear lake surrounded by mountains. I mean, fucking hell what a great weekend!

Then I wake up this AM and the skies have opened up (again). I found out last night that we were ousted from the VZW (or even from the street that leads to it!) due to some injunction the company won. So I was reassigned to a VZ garage this morning.

It. Fucking. Rained. I mean day 1 was heavy rains, but there were breaks in between. This was just non-stop downpours the whole time. Plus, in an effort to not further the destruction of my sneakers I wore a pair of beat up flip flops. The blister on my left pinkie toe and rip under my right pinkie toe inform me that was a mistake.

Today’s title was something I overheard that made me laugh. One union brother walks up to another (both completely saturated with rain) and splashes in a puddle. The splashee then says, in a faux-whiny voice “Aw c’mon! Man, now my shoes are wet!”

On the bright side of things I met a few new people today that I’ve talked/IM’d too in the past. I’ve also been told by a few outside techs, once they learn who I am, that they appreciate the job I do and that I’ve never just passed them off on someone else, etc. I’m not tooting my own horn here, but it’s nice to hear from the people I’m paid to help that I do a good job. Especially since I’ll never hear any such thing from the company.

One of the guys showed me a couple ads the company put out in various local papers today. Full page ads that anyone with half a brain would read and realize were total corporate BS to win public favor. I can’t even imagine how much they paid for multiple full page ads in various major publications. The jist of them are “Hey, we’re not being ridiculous at all, those union workers have it way better than you, and make your service work worse than it should!” Blugh.

Also, I read today that a company called ActiveVideo sued (and won!) against Verizon for patent infringement for $115 million, and is trying to get the FiOS service shut down entirely! While this would surely mean I would no longer have a job, I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t bring me just a little joy to see the whole fucking company collapse. It would be terrible, but a little funny.

I’m off tomorrow (we’re on an every-other day schedule now), but Wednesday I’m heading to a store front in Narragansett because they’re apparently always understaffed.

When I got home I found my new gazebo half-collapsed because it collected a ton of water in the sagging roof and some of the poles bent at the middle. Trying to fix it only made matters worse and now it’s totally ruined. That was a bummer.

On top of that I keep getting overly discouraged over stupid little things I know I shouldn’t get discouraged about. Doesn’t change the fact that I’m in my basement listening to Eleanor Friedberger all mopey and blogging. Ho hum.

Strike, Day 2: The haunting Torgo theme

Hi.

First let me say, today was a much better day. I started it off with an Allie’s donut, so right there it’s a good day. Plus, my picket assignment took me to a Verizon Wireless store *much* closer (read: walking distance) to home, which is nice because the less gas I have to use right now the better.

It was nicer out today. Gorgeous, in fact. Things were less organized, though. When I arrived there was only one other guy there, a splice tech from Warwick, I think. He wasn’t in charge, wasn’t sure who was, so we hung around. I contacted my picket captain who said some more guys should be on their way (apparently there was some big meeting at 234 Washington this AM that I failed to hear about…) and eventually a few more guys showed up. Some of them had signs and so the picketing began. Other than one guy I know from my office, I’d never met any of these fellas before, but they were all pleasant guys. We chatted, we walked, I heard some terrifying shit that made my brain squirm.

It’s funny, on the exterior I was trying to remain calm, but some of the stuff these guys were saying was just freaking me the hell out. I try to take it in stride, because who really knows how accurate any of it is, but still: squirmy brains.

Another thing: I’m confused by the negativity our strike is met with. I got everything from disaproving shakes of the head to thumbs down to the invisible treatment. I had to check my sign a few times to make sure it said I was on strike against Verizon and not “IMA EAT YO BAYBIES!” or even, Odin forbid “All your base are belong to us!”. (Side note, that would be a great extra sign to wear…)

One brave fellow even said “Boo unions!” over a loud-speaker in his truck as he drove away from us. On the other hand maybe he was just filming a Red Stripe commercial.

I just don’t understand the negative response to this or any strike. We’re not being greedy, we’re not asking for anything new or extra. We just want to keep our jobs and have a decent choice for health care. Unions protect the workers, why is it that so many so-called “working man” politicians are against them? I understand the businessman’s side of things: They want to make as much money as possible while having complete control over their workforce. Unions make sure there are checks & balances so they can’t just treat their workers like serfs.

I’ve heard the argument that unions make businesses shut down because they demand too much. Sure, that’s happened, but is it always the case? No! By that argument every politician should be fire because some of them are b-holes. Well…

Moving on.

The negative was vastly out-weighed by the positive and every time someone came by and wished us luck or gave us support, hell even beeped their horn and waved, it gave my heart a little swell of pride. So go fuck yourselves, negative Nancies.

After I finished walking I hobbled home. This daily walking for hours is not the level of physical activity my body is used to. By the end of the shift my back hurts, my feet are sore, my bad knee aches and my left hip hurts so much I stumble around like fucking Torgo!

Nicki had the day off so we decided to head to her parents house for a swim in their pool before going to a friends VJ Day cookout. On the way out the door Nicki asked if we could cancel our vacation plans for October if we had to (we’re heading to Universal in FL). My heart broke a little. I’ve been looking forward to drinking butter beer and checking out Diagon Alley since I first heard that Universal was opening a Harry Potter theme park!! (Brief aside, I’m a huge nerd, in case you don’t know me in real life.)

I said that yes, we have trip insurance so if it comes down to it we could. But damn, I really don’t want to have to do that. I know that people are worrying about feeding their kids, keeping their houses, etc and I totally respect and understand that. I’m not saying my vacation is more important than any of that, it just seems like such a symbolic concession: canceling a vacation that’s already paid for. Maybe it’s just me.

Time to wrap this thing up, I must’ve been bitten by the long-winded bug. Sorry. Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

Strike, Day 3: Firefighters galore!

Hi.

Today was even better than Day 2! Picketing again at the same VZ Wireless as yesterday, had a couple extra guys today. Maybe half an hour into picketing a dude walks up, asks us what’s going on, I give him “the spiel” and he says “Wow, that’s crazy. You guys rule.” He then proceeds to walk the line with us for close to an hour, just shooting the shit. He tells me he’s a volunteer fire-fighter in West Greenwich, born & raised in Florida. Really digs the whole union thing. (Side note, I never know what to say when someone I respect tells me they admire me for doing this. I’m just walking in front of a store with a sign so I don’t lose my job. You people put your fucking lives on the line to save other people!) Long story short, very cool guy. After he walked away I realized I forgot to get his name. I probably would have forgotten it anyway (bad memory, too much second-hand pot smoke as a kid) but still.

A reporter from a local paper came by to get a statement from us about why we were on strike, etc. I let the more experienced union guys do the talking, I tend to say stupid shit when I’m on the spot like that. While she was talking to us some local firefighters drove by in an Engine, honking, hooting & hollering. This makes me glow inside every time. Not just when public servants do it, anyone showing support, commenting on my posts, anything. It’s good to know I’m supported. So thanks! The reporter took a few candids of us walking the line and was on her way.

The retired partner of one of the guys walking with me showed up with coffee, grabbed a sign and started walking with us. About five minutes after that the firefighters drove by again on their way out of the plaza (they went food shopping) and stopped to give us a couple boxes of freeze pops. These guys fucking rule!

A few of the guys took off to go to a big meeting at noon in Cranston, so pretty soon we were down to three. At least until 12.30 when a buddy of mine showed up. He was heading to the meeting but put the wrong address in his GPS and ended up in our neck of the woods (about 20 minutes south). He grabbed a sign and walked with us, even though it was his day off from picketing.

Around 2.30 a few guys showed up to relieve us so we headed back to my place for awhile (so I could show off my game room, mostly. Again, nerd). We ended up shooting the shit for an hour and by then I was feeling completely wiped so I cancelled some plans (Sorry Chrish & Ross!), took a shower and crashed on the couch. I spent the rest of the night clearing off the DVR. Glorious laziness.

Now I think I hear bed calling my name after a few chapters of "Ghost Story" by Jim Butcher. It’s the latest book in the Dresden series and I highly recommend the books if you’re a nerd and/or like hard boiled detective stories.

Oh, one last thing. I clearly did not apply enough sunscreen today. If I could get a decent photo of my neck line, I would post it. It’s ridiculous.

Strike, Day 1: ...and it rained.

Hey there. If you’re reading this, you probably know me so I’ll skip the introductory phase.

Today was my first day on the picket line striking against Verizon. There’s lots of articles out on the web about why we’re on strike but the short version is the company is posting enormous profits in a time of economic recession, the new CEO voted to give himself a 20% raise 4 days into his job (he makes $55k a day. Think about that for a second…) and yet they’re trying to cut all sorts of things from their employees and shift a number of jobs out to Mexico and India. That sucks.

Stepping off my soap box.

I woke up around 6 AM, just too much activity in my head to let me sleep. I tried for awhile, to no avail. Between my first day of striking and being pretty close to the end of "The Fall" by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan, I just wasn’t sleeping. So I finished my book, did some ranting online about corporate greed, etc, tried to get #verizonstrike trending (go do it!) and then got ready to head to 234 Washington Street in Providence. I made sure to pack a change of clothes, as I was planning on heading to Woonsocket to hang with friends tonight once I was done picketing.

I kissed my wife (and cat!) and headed out the door. It was raining heavily when I got to work, er… strike and many of my fellow union brothers & sisters were already drenched. Despite my rain jacket I quickly became completely soaked as well, right down to my undies.

It’s an odd sensation, walking around wearing a sign, barred from and barring all passage to the place I dreaded stepping into in the past. Crying out at the top of my lungs for a fair contract with my coworkers, I walked the line for five hours in the torrential rains.

Oh, and I forgot my knee wrap, so that sucked. By the end I was so exhausted, sore and wet that I blew off my friends to just come home and take a hot shower. A couple of Nicki’s friends came over, we played a few games, they left, we had dinner and watched Psych all night.

Just before setting up this account I had to login to my bank account and cancel all my automatic payments. It’s strange how heart-breaking that feels, not being able to know, without a doubt, that your bills will get paid. I’ve never truly had to worry about that before. I do now. I’m fairly certainly Verizon’s big wigs never will, and I hate them for putting 45,000 workers (and, lets be fair, lots of middle management and non-union workers) in this position so they can afford the summer home in Malibu.

Thanks for reading.

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