Workers from Lynnwood and Everett Verizon stores gather at an Everett restaurant on March 6, a day before they announced plans to unionize. (Contributed photo)

Workers from Lynnwood and Everett Verizon stores gather at an Everett restaurant on March 6, a day before they announced plans to unionize. (Contributed photo)

Verizon workers in Everett, Lynnwood voting on union effort

Results are expected April 15. If workers vote in favor, they would be the only unionized Verizon stores outside New York.

EVERETT — Employees at two Verizon stores in Everett and Lynnwood are voting on forming a union, joining scores of other workers pushing to unionize nationwide.

If workers vote in favor, the stores would become the only unionized Verizon stores in the nation, aside from three in Brooklyn, New York, according to an organizer with the Communications Workers of America union.

“There’s really a movement of workers right now across the country and we’re going to be successful,” said Austin Hitch, a specialist at the Verizon stores in Everett and Lynnwood.

Workers at an Everett Starbucks store announced plans to unionize in February. And on Friday, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, voted in favor of creating the first Amazon union.

At the Verizon stores, workers want to bargain over staffing levels and pay, Hitch said. They also want advanced scheduling notice and a better work-life balance.

Hitch said voting began March 25, and results are to be announced April 15. About 15 Verizon employees voted on union representation.

The workers would be represented by the Communications Workers of America, which has more than 700,000 members nationwide.

“We have nearly unanimous support for this union,” Hitch said.

Conversations about a union began about four years ago, he said.

“Over the years, Verizon has really cut our support out from under us,” he said. “In my nine-year career, there have been three or four layoffs.”

For example, the company outsourced IT positions, he said. During the pandemic, Verizon switched employees from working at one store to two, he said.

In 2020, Verizon reduced the number of open stores by up to 70% due to COVID-19. Despite the closures, Verizon sees brick-and-mortar stores as an important part of its future, the head of global commerce for Verizon Media told the retail news site Chain Store Age in a 2021 article.

Verizon did not respond to a request for comment on Friday about unionization.

Hitch said store employees range from 20-year veterans to workers of just a few months.

In a letter to Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg sent March 7, the workers asked the company to recognize a union voluntarily.

“Our customers are best served when all employees are healthy, respected and compensated fairly,” they wrote.

Hitch said the company instead sent an executive to be an “in-house union buster” and used “manipulative” tactics to discourage a union.

One Verizon employee said the company told her she would lose her job or apartment if she voted in favor of unionization, according to a Wednesday news release from the Communications Workers of America.

“I knew that wasn’t true, and that my colleagues, who are all essential to keeping this store up and running, would continue to stand together in our fight for better working conditions,” Natalie D’aigle, a specialist at the Verizon stores in Everett and Lynnwood, said in the release.

Another Verizon employee, Katie Hill, is a part-time worker and also runs her own business. She said schedules are random every week and she never leaves work on time.

“A union will give us the voice we need to help bring consistency and balance to our workplace,” she said in the news release.

In a report filed Feb. 11 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Verizon wrote that “it respects our employees” rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in compliance with applicable law, including the right to join or not join labor unions.”

About 24% of the company’s workforce is represented by unions, the report states.

Colin Hull, an organizer with Communications Workers of America and a former Verizon employee, told The Daily Herald only a small number of Verizon retail stores have formed unions. Most of those union members work in Verizon’s landline business, he said.

Hull was part of the effort to unionize five Brooklyn stores in 2014. Hull worked with the Snohomish County workers on their recent union push.

“We’re going to have many more workers joining us,” he said, “when they see that we’re successful.”

Jacqueline Allison: 425-339-3434; Twitter: @jacq_allison.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal owner Tom Harrison at his brick and mortar storefront on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Near-death experience planted seeds for downtown Everett toy store

Former attorney Tom Harrison survived 9/11. It caused him to ask what’s important in life. Today, he runs MyMyToyStore.

Sean Jones, membership executive of Everett's Freedom Boat Club, helps club member Carolyn Duncan load equipment onto her boat before she and a friend head out crabbing onThursday, Aug. 11, 2022, at the Port of Everett in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New Everett franchise offers boats at Everett Marina

Freedom Boat Club’s newest Washington location is in Everett, with six boats available to its members.

Devin Ryan, left to right, talks with Donald Whitley and Drew Yager before a test ride at Bicycle Centres Wednesday in Everett, Washington on August 24, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
New hands take the handlebars for Bicycle Centres

Longtime employees Devin Ryan, Aron Chaudiere and Ryan Brown bought the business that’s been around since 1976.

A truck drives past a sign displaying fuel prices on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Diesel prices stay high for truckers, farmers

Gas prices have fallen steadily this summer, but diesel costs have started to climb again.

FILE - Test engineer Jacob Wilcox pulls his arm out of a glove box used for processing sodium at TerraPower, a company developing and building small nuclear reactors, Jan. 13, 2022, in Everett, Wash. A major economic bill headed to the president has “game-changing” incentives for the nuclear energy industry, experts say, and those tax credits are even more substantial if a facility is sited in a community where a coal plant is closing. Bill Gates' company, TerraPower, plans to build an advanced, nontraditional nuclear reactor and employ workers from a local coal-fired power plant scheduled to close soon. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Everett nuclear research facility gets $750 million infusion

Bellevue’s TerraPower, which operates an Everett facility, got a hefty investment to fund research.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Business briefs: Leadership Snohomish County names new executive director

Plus a new short-term, career programs at Edmonds College, state grants for small businesses and more.

Tim Leonard, owner of the Machine Shop, is closing the arcade this fall. (Photo by David Welton)
Arcade owner to pull plug on beloved Whidbey Island business

Tim Leonard, owner of the Machine Shop in Langley, recently decided he’ll call it quits this fall.

Jennifer Sadinsky is the owner of Grayhorse Mercantile, one of Langley’s newest stores. (David Welton)
Shopkeeper brings taste of Europe to Whidbey Island

A first-time business owner’s dream of opening a cheese shop became a reality this year.

Toggle’s Bottle Shop is closed permanently on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Citing landlord dispute, Toggle’s closes in downtown Everett

The popular taproom shuttered Sunday. “Everett needs a cooperative landlord-tenant relationship in the commercial district,” a co-owner said.

The Think Tank Cowork building located in Everett's historic downtown district has been beautifully preserved and updated.
Bridge the work and work-from-home divide with Coworking

Shared workspace in Downtown Everett offers the amenities you want + flexible packages

Rick Winter (left) and Gary Yang, the founders of the former UniEnergy Technologies, stand with one their latest batteries, the Reflex, August 10, 2022. (Dan DeLong/InvestigateWest)
‘Chaotic mess’: Clean energy promises imploded at Mukilteo battery maker

UniEnergy Technologies absorbed millions in public funds, then suddenly went dark. The company is accused of providing tech to China.

Eviation's all-electric plane in flight Tuesday morning in Moses Lake, Washington, on Sept. 27, 2022. (Eviation)
Arlington’s all-electric plane, Alice, takes first test flight

Eviation Aircraft’s battery-powered plane logs successful first flight from Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake.