Jesse Mason, the Washington state worker Verizon fired last year after he tried to organize two Seattle-area retail stores, went back to work on Monday, as part of the telecom giant’s recent settlement with federal labor regulators.

Link: https://cwa-union.org/verizon-wireless-reinstates-illegally-fired-worker-provides-compensation-lost-wages

The company’s decision to fire Mason mirrored the anti-union tactics employed by other corporate giants like Starbucks and Chipotle to combat a growing unionization wave across the country. Mason’s case may show the limits of that hardball approach: He told The Lever he quickly started working for the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union after he was fired and helped successfully organize Verizon workers in Portland, Oregon. “Verizon thought they could stop me from organizing Verizon stores by firing me, but it just gave me the opportunity to do it full time instead,” he said. And now, Verizon has been forced to give Mason back his job.

Verizon fired Mason last April, days after workers at two nearby Verizon stores in Lynnwood and Everett voted to unionize with the CWA, despite the company’s aggressive union-busting campaign. While Verizon’s legacy operations related to its wired phone, cable, and internet business are unionized, the vast majority of its retail locations are not. In November, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Verizon, alleging that the company illegally fired Mason in retaliation for union activities. The NLRB demanded that Verizon reinstate Mason and pay him lost wages. Verizon settled with the NLRB late last month, and agreed to reinstate Mason and compensate him for lost wages.

The company also agreed to inform Mason’s coworkers of their right to form a union using various mediums. The company said it would post the notices throughout the stores where Mason works, and mail and email copies to the stores’ workers. Verizon also agreed to have management read the materials to workers at a mandatory meeting and post the notice in their Slack workspace. “Not only am I getting my job back, but I get to walk into my old stores with my head held high, knowing I beat Verizon’s union busters,” Mason told The Lever. “Between all the money Verizon spends on union busters, lawyers, and the $23,000 in compensation they’re giving me, they could have saved a lot of money and hassle by firing those union busters instead of me.” The NLRB did not require Verizon to admit guilt under the settlement.

The agreement says that “​​the charged party does not admit that it violated the National Labor Relations Act.” According to a statement from the CWA, the NLRB additionally found “evidence that management at Mason’s retail location misled and intimidated workers in an effort to discourage them from organizing, including threatening to withhold benefits from employees if they voted for a union.”

Jesse Mason, a former Washington state employee of Verizon who was fired after attempting to organize two Seattle-area retail stores, has returned to work as part of a recent settlement between Verizon and federal labor regulators. Mason’s termination, which came after workers at two nearby Verizon stores in Lynnwood and Everett voted to unionize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), was deemed illegal retaliation for his union activities by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). As part of the settlement, Verizon has reinstated Mason and agreed to compensate him for lost wages. The company has also agreed to inform Mason’s colleagues of their right to unionize. The NLRB additionally found evidence that management at Mason’s retail location had intimidated and misled workers in an effort to discourage them from organizing. Mason, who quickly joined the CWA after being fired and helped to organize Verizon workers in Portland, sees his return to work as a victory over Verizon’s anti-union tactics.

Verizon’s decision to fire Mason was part of the company’s larger strategy of union-busting, which has been employed by other corporate giants such as Starbucks and Chipotle to combat the growing wave of unionization in the country. However, Mason’s case has shown the limits of this hardball approach, as he was able to use his termination as an opportunity to organize full-time for the CWA.

Verizon’s legacy operations related to its wired phone, cable, and internet business are unionized, but the majority of its retail locations are not. The settlement with the NLRB requires the company to inform Mason’s coworkers of their right to form a union using various mediums, including posting notices throughout the stores where Mason works, mailing and emailing copies to the workers, having management read the materials to workers at a mandatory meeting, and posting the notice in their Slack workspace.

Mason expressed his satisfaction with the outcome, stating that not only does he get his job back, but he can also walk into his old stores with his head held high, knowing that he beat Verizon’s union busters. He believes that the money Verizon spent on union busters, lawyers, and his compensation could have been saved if the company had fired those union busters instead of him.

The settlement does not require Verizon to admit guilt, but the NLRB found evidence that management at Mason’s retail location had misled and intimidated workers in an effort to discourage them from organizing, including threatening to withhold benefits from employees if they voted for a union.

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