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Verizon Unions Call for iPhone Upgrade Boycott

Tue, 10/04/2011 - 8:01am
Maisie Ramsay

Apple hasn't even come out with its new iPhone yet and already some are calling for a boycott on the device.

Union groups for Verizon Communications employees are asking their members to hold off on upgrades to Verizon Wireless' iPhone 5 until the operator agrees to a new contract.

"We're asking every potential iPhone customer to take a stand for what is right," said Chris Shelton, vice president of CWA district one, in a call with reporters yesterday.

The "iWon't" campaign was announced Monday, a full day before Apple is slated to debut the new phone. The boycott assumes that Verizon Wireless will get a new version of the device, but that won't be confirmed until later.

The effort is being spearheaded by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, along with allied groups including MoveOn.org and the AFL-CIO.

The groups plan to picket outside of Verizon Wireless and Apple stores, in addition to advertisements and an online campaign through MoveOn.org. Shelton said the unions were "in no way trying to attack Apple. People can get the iPhone for Verizon from Apple and that is the sole reason we're targeting Apple."

The campaign also targets tax loopholes provided to Verizon.

Verizon could not be immediately reached for comment, but a spokesman told Crain's New York that "silly PR stunts that are intended to harm customers and Verizon Wireless employees are not going to change the company's determination to negotiate an agreement which addresses the needs of the wireline business."

Verizon's 45,000 union workers ended a two-week strike in August without reaching a deal on a new contract. The two sides are still in negotiations. Shelton declined to speculate on when an agreement could be reached.

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