June 24, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Last month Verizon announced plans to market more than half its headquarters at 140 West street in Lower Manhattan, prompting the Communications Workers of America to decry Verizon using $185 million in federal funding to rebuild the building after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, only to abandon the property and community in favor of selling and leasing the space for luxury apartments and retail. Watch Video
Numerous CWA locals from the area and throughout the state rallied outside the property on Thursday to express their anger and frustration with Verizon’s plans for 140 West Street. They were joined by other unions, including John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and elected officials such as Bill de Blasio, who has been endorsed by the union for mayor.
The union says over 1,000 workers will be uprooted from the building when they are moved into a new facility in Downtown Brooklyn.
Councilwoman Margaret Chin, whose District 1 includes Lower Manhattan, said local businesses have contacted her office to express their concerns.
“We’ve heard from local businesses that have been selling goods for years to Verizon workers they will be hurting if Verizon leaves Lower Manhattan,” said Councilwoman Chin.
But Verizon says that it wasn’t obligated to create or keep jobs in the area after receiving the federal money to rebuild the building’s communications network after being destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Richard Young, a Verizon spokesman, said that the CWA is making false accusations regarding the use of the federal relief money and that plans to lease or sell space at 140 West Street will complement Lower Manhattan’s dynamic economy.
Keith Purce, president of the CWA local representing the bulk of the communications workers at the building, Local 1101, said that Verizon is reneging on a commitment it made after the terrorist attacks to remain in Lower Manhattan.
“In 2005, the company held a press conference with elected officials and said they would keep the building open by committing to bring in 1,300 workers and their executive officers to make 140 West Street their home,” said Purce.
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