As the CWA and IBEW strike against Verizon enters its second week, the president of the IBEW, Edwin P. Hill, issued this statement on the IBEW’s website [emphasis added]:
August 13, 2011
(Washington, D.C.) — I have received reports that members of two IBEW locals are performing contracting work for Verizon, even as members of our union and the Communications Workers of America are on strike to preserve middle class standards in their contract with the telecommunications conglomerate.
I wish to state in no uncertain terms that IBEW locals are not to engage in such actions while their brothers and sisters are on strike. While we understand the economic pressure that is affecting many workers all across our economy and the short-term need for employment, performing work at a struck company violates a bedrock principle upon which the IBEW, like the entire labor movement, was founded. I am using the full authority of the office of International President to put an end to our members undermining the struggle of others in our union and in the CWA.
What we are seeing as this strike unfolds is the fruit of 30 years of unremitting class warfare waged by corporate America and their political allies against the workers of our country. As our economy continues to slog through the mire of the Wall Street-created crisis of 2008, it is a bitter truth that men and women increasingly desperate for employment will grasp at any opportunity. It is also an unshakable truth that solidarity is our foremost – indeed our only – weapon to fight back against those who would condemn us to a life of subservience.
I call on all IBEW members to live up to this principle in these difficult times, obey the law and stand strong in the common struggle that unites us all. Verizon has made a full assault on our wages, benefits and working conditions, and, having unleashed the forces of anger and bitterness, are whining like children at the mess they have created. The fallout of this conflict is also affecting many others in communities across the Northeastern United States.
We repeat our calls for the company to engage in serious negotiations for a fair contract so that our members can get back to work and help our struggling economy to recover.
As the IBEW has the ability under its union constitution to put its members on trial for violating this infraction, it appears there may be more coming out on this story soon.
However, in the meantime, if members (or their locals) are crossing the IBEW’s picket lines, here are the pertinent sections of the union’s constitution that individuals could be put on trial for violating:
Article XXV – Misconduct, Offenses and Penalties
Sec. 1. Any member may be penalized for committing any one or more of the following offenses:
(a) Violation of any provision of this Constitution and the rules herein, or the bylaws, working agreements, or rules of a L.U.
(b) Having knowledge of the violation of any provision of this Constitution, or the bylaws or rules of a L.U., yet failing to file charges against the offender or to notify the proper officers of the L.U.
(d) Engaging in activities designed to bring about a withdrawal or secession from the I.B.E.W of any L.U. or of any member or group of members, or to cause dual unionism or schism within the I.B.E.W.
(e) Engaging in any act or acts which are contrary to the member’s responsibility toward the I.B.E.W., or any of its L.U.’s, as an institution, or which interfere with the performance by the I.B.E.W. or a L.U. with its legal or contractual obligations.
(f) Working for, or on behalf of, any employer, employer-supported organization, or other union, or the representatives of any of the foregoing, whose position is adverse or detrimental to the I.B.E.W.
(g) Wronging a member of the I.B.E.W. by any act or acts (other than the expression of views or opinions) causing him physical or economic harm. [Emphasis added.]