A labor dispute between the telecommunication company Verizon and its workers in the Philippines led to a confrontation on Thursday with a local police SWAT unit.
The dispute has been going on for a month, and involves 4,000 workers and labor unions protesting over job outsourcing and low wages.
"Executives repeatedly have claimed that Verizon offshores few jobs, and none that affect our members. Recently, our union was contacted by call center workers in the Philippines who revealed that Verizon was lying to our members and the public about the extent of the offshoring of good American jobs, so we sent four CWA members to the Philippines to learn the truth," said Chris Shelton, President of Communications Workers of America in a statement.
According to the union members, they were chased and detained for questioning by security forces and armed police with what in their opinion appeared to be automatic weapons.
"When our members uncovered how Verizon is padding its incredible profit margins by replacing good paying American jobs with poverty-wage jobs abroad, Verizon sent armed guards and a SWAT team after them," Shelton said.
"It was like being in a movie -- they were dressed all in black with masks and automatic rifles," said Tim Dubnau, one of the four union representatives involved in the chasing. "At first they were demanding that we get out. One officer even hit the door with his gun. But we didn't open up, we knew our rights."
Workers were taken to a police station and later released, without charges.
"Verizon is offshoring customer service calls to numerous call centers in the Philippines, where workers are paid just $1.78 an hour and forced to work overtime without compensation," the CWA stated.