In the spirit of the 99% Spring, CEJ joined PUSH Buffalo, Citizen Action, SEIU 1199, the National Fuel Accountability Coalition and more than 100 grassroots, and community and faith leaders for non-violent direct actions confronting two 1% corporations - Verizon and National Fuel.
One-hundred plus people poured out of two school buses that we drove to the Verizon Wireless store on Walden and into the building, where we delivered a statement to CEO Lowell McAdam that we aren't going to stand for Verizon's corporate greed any longer.
Once inside the store, Ina Ferguson-Downing, speaking into a bullhorn, highlighted Verizon’s refusal to negotiate a fair contract with its union workforce and the company’s push to outsource jobs overseas, and cut employee healthcare, retirement, and disability benefits, despite making more than $19 billion in profits and paying its top executives $283 million over the past four years.
After clergy delivered a letter to CEO Lowell McAdam calling on him to end Verizon's practice of destroying good jobs, we boarded the bus for our next destination - National Fuel, where we were met by dozens of CWA leaders, who greeted us in solidarity against corporate greed.
During a demonstration at National Fuel’s headquarters in Williamsville, four area ministers joined with the twelve organizations that comprise the National Fuel Accountability Coalition to call for a community dialogue about the company’s practices that heighten the crisis of heating costs in neighborhoods across WNY by misallocating customer funded conservation monies.
“As people of faith and community leaders, we are troubled by the anti-community and anti-worker decisions of corporations like Verizon and National Fuel,” said Reverend Merle Showers, a minister at Niagara Frontier City Ministries. “If these companies are to remain fixtures in our communities, they must be good corporate citizens and put people first instead of putting profits over people.”
For the past 5 years, National Fuel has charged all customers a fee to fund a $10 million a year Conservation Incentive Program, or CIP. Instead of investing in weatherization, National Fuel spent CIP funds on a bloated corporate advertising campaign. Last year National Fuel ran over 2,000 commercials with public conservation monies.
“The National Fuel Accountability Coalition believes a community partnership is necessary to ensure that programs like CIP put people first, not corporate profits,” said Jen Mecozzi, PUSH Buffalo organizing director.