Tower technicians with the Tower Climbers Union/CWA rallied yesterday outside Verizon’s shareholder meeting in Salt Lake City, UT, to call out the telecom giant for shirking responsibility and driving worker injuries across an already dangerous industry.
Workers held signs that read “Safety First in the Workplace.” Local allies and state union representatives joined them. The rally included approximately 24 protesters, some of them members of the Utah AFL-CIO, with a large banner addressing Starbucks’ union-busting activities.
During the sparsely attended shareholder meeting, CWA representative and tower technician Tommy Schuch raised his concerns to Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg during a shareholder comment period that Verizon should address improved safety standards. In a statement, the CWA said that Vestberg agreed to a meeting.
It was likely that Vestberg would want to appear conciliatory to discussions since the CWA represents over 30,000 workers at Verizon Communications. To date, the Tower Climbers Union has only one Nevada QualTek office of approximately 12 climbers that has voted for union representation. They have been seeking a contract since last May.
Crown Castle will see their presence in Houston
The Tower Climbers Union said it was doubling down on its demands for safety standards and will be at a rally outside the Crown Castle shareholder’s meeting in Houston, TX on May 18. Crown Castle is the country’s second-largest tower owner.
Crown Castle President and CEO Jay Brown might not be as politically appeasing as Vestberg was since Crown Castle has no union structure and has been a leading advocate of tower technician safety and requires crews working on their towers and other structures to conform to or exceed industry best practices. Some of the company’s subject matter experts have helped to develop industry safety standards. The Tower Climbers union has not compiled a set of safety standards nor established an apprenticeship program.
The CWA Tower Climbers Union recently unveiled safety survey data compiled from 103 tower technicians who completed the survey that tower technicians designed. Unfortunately, it didn’t receive high marks from industry safety professionals.
During the meeting, Verizon’s shareholders elected each of Verizon’s 12 directors to a one-year term. Shareholders also voted in favor of three management proposals:
- Approved the compensation of the company’s named executive officers as described in the 2023 proxy statement;
- Agreed with the Board recommendation that future advisory votes on executive compensation be held annually; and
- Ratified the appointment of Ernst & Young LLP as the company’s independent registered public accounting firm.
All five shareholder proposals were defeated: report on government requests to remove content; prohibit political contributions; amend executive compensation clawback policy; shareholder ratification of annual equity awards; and adopt an independent chair policy.