Video produced and edited by Libby Rainey and Josh Hirschfelt-Kroen
Verizon worker Jesse Mason was fired after he began organizing with his coworkers in Washington state. Jesse was fired the day after he was photographed at a vote count party for two other unionizing Verizon stores in the region. We spoke to Jesse about the company’s union-busting campaign and how workers are fighting back. Below is a full transcript of the video:
Jesse Mason: My message to Verizon after firing me is, y’all are really bad at this. I am so disappointed in modern union busting.
Verizon Wireless fired Jesse Mason shortly after he started unionizing his stores in Washington state.
Jesse: It’s really clear to me that Verizon fired me for my pro-union activity. Managers had always been really nice to me. I was a really good employee. I sold the most accessories and added the most new lines in the fourth quarter of last year. But as soon as they find out that pro-union, that I’m trying to unionize the store. Absolutely night and day.
News: “Verizon Workers from Everett and Lynwood voted to unionize.”
Jesse: I went to a vote count party for the Everett Lynnwood stores to officially be certified by the NLRB as joining CWA. I was photographed, I was in the newspaper. My next shift after that, I come in, work my whole shift, and then at the end of the day, they told me that I was immediately separated from Verizon.
Jesse filed a charge with the NLRB alleging Verizon retaliated against him.
Austin Hitch, Verizon worker: He worked really closely with me in my store in helping our store get organized. My store successfully unionized, so they couldn’t fire me but I’m sure that they would love to if they could.
Jesse: I really wanted our stores to join that movement. Unfortunately, at my store, people were really scared of retaliation and Verizon decided to reinforce that by firing me.
Austin: Verizon’s trying to cast the blame on the union as a third party organization that’s gonna come in and ruin our “Verizon Family”. But the truth is pretty simple: the union is the workers. We are the ones that do the work. You don’t see Howard Schultz coming in and making your caramel macchiato, and you don’t see Hanz Vestberg coming in and selling a phone. We are Verizon. We do the work and create the billions in dollars in profit that Verizon has, and it’s time to get our fair share.
Last year, Verizon recorded $4.7 billion in profits. The company is pouring big money into an anti-union campaign. But Verizon workers are fighting back.
Jesse [at protest]: So I have one message for Verizon and their in-house team of union-busters. You’re really bad at this. You spend millions of dollars on these highly paid people. And the best anti-union strategy you can come up with is to illegally fire me.
Jesse: I read a lot of labor history, and companies used to hire Pinkertons to shoot or beat up people like me that were trying to make the workplace better. The best you can do now is fire me over some bullshit and you know that I’m gonna get it back.
Jesse: All it’s gonna do is show everyone around the country that even if Verizon or other companies do retaliate against workers, it doesn’t work. We’re going to get our jobs back after being fired, and we’re gonna come back and win the union.
Jesse [at protest]: If you’re listening to this, and you have your job, and you’re thinking, “you know what, I am inspired. I wish something like that would happen at my workplace. You can’t just wait around for the organizer to come around. You are the organizer!” [crowd cheers]