Members recently received letters from Verizon announcing that it is canceling group benefit plans for striking workers. This is an action which employers often take in strike situations to try unsettle the resolve of the strikers.
At CWA, we have faced this issue many times in the past and always protected our members and their families so that no one is harmed as a result of management’s ruthless act. This will be true for this strike as well.
Rather than attempting to negotiate a fair settlement with the workers, Verizon has decided to go the punitive route, trying to break the striking workers. Verizon has never attempted to approach this situation in good faith and this is another example of that. The Communications Workers of America say they are familiar with the tactic, though, and that they will make sure to take care of the working families affected by this move.
For those who are following along with the Verizon strike and want to do what you can do to get involved, there are a bunch of ways for you to get directly involved or show your solidarity. Forty-five thousand Verizon workers are on strike because the massively profitable company, which pays no taxes, is demanding major cuts in employee compensation and refuses to negotiate fairly with workers. The Communications Workers of America filed a unfair labor practice grievance again Verizon on Friday.
One creative way to get involved is the "What Verizon's Name Means" contest sponsored by the CWA. The union is asking creative supporters to come up with a translation that reveals what Verizon's name really means.
Janette Spoor, a Communications Workers of America activist, asked Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (R-NY) what she will do to help American workers whose jobs are being sent overseas. Rather than answering the question, Hayworth goes on an unrelated rant on American exceptionalism and how the United States has offered more opportunity to its citizens than any other country. She argued that this is true because the government stayed out of the "free" market.
The audience wasn't happy with the answer and pressed her to answer the question. One man pointed out that the greatest growth in American history came when Franklin Roosevelt was president and government was more involved.
Hayworth continued to spout her Tea Party-free market rhetoric, but the audience wasn't having it. She was called out for her support for various free trade acts and her refusal to vote to close tax loopholes that benefit companies that outsource jobs. The same man then blasted her "You are the problem, not the answer," and "Ma'am, you are not the teacher here, you are a congresswoman."
When she was asked about the outsourcing of jobs by Verizon and the subsequent strike, Hayworth refused to discuss the topic: "I am not talking about Verizon right now...This is not the Verizon meeting."
She continued by saying that the solution to jobs was taxes that are more "free" and flat.
Sam Seder takes a look at an amazing clip from a large rally against Verizon.
More than 40,000 workers -- members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers -- went on strike this week after Verizon refused to even begin to bargain fairly with the workers. The workers on strike include "telephone field technicians, call center workers and cable installers from Massachusetts to Virginia."
Verizon has canceled multiple bargaining sessions and refuses to back down from any of their original concession requests, something that flies in the face of the basic idea of negotiating. Workers say they are prepared to return to work as soon as management shows a willingness to sit down and work out a fair agreement.
The assault on Verizon's workers is part of a larger battle taking place across the country, where conservatives in government and business are blaming unions and working families for larger problems that unions either have nothing to do with or the alleged problems don't even exist. Corporate profits are at the highest proportion of the national income that has ever been recorded, and they continue to increase. At the same time, the percentage of national income that makes up wages has slipped below 50 percent of the overall total for the first time in recorded history, and the decline goes on. Not surprisingly, Verizon is an active member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the same organization behind the assaults on unions in numerous states.
There are a number of ways you can get involved of follow the developments in the strike:
Google and Verizon released a new plan this week for how the Internet should operate (see Susan's post for more background), if they got to rule the world. We'd keep Net Neutrality for the wired Internet (at least for consumers not corporations), but they could set up fast lanes and slow lanes for the wireless Internet. Wireless is of course the future of the Internet, but then again that is exactly the point.
Their proposal has devided the tech industry, as the NYT reported today, with Facebook, Amazon, eBay and venture capitalists raising serious concerns with the Google/Verizon evil deal:
It set off a flood of reaction, much of it negative, from Web companies and consumer advocacy groups. In the most extreme situation that opponents envision, two Internets could emerge — the public one known today, and a private one with faster lanes and expensive tolls. [snip]
The wireless Internet is quickly emerging as the dominant technology platform, said Matt Cohler, a general partner at Benchmark Capital, a prominent venture firm in Silicon Valley that has invested in start-ups like Twitter. “It is as important to have the right protections in place for the newer platform as it is for the older platform.”
The media has trashed their evil deal and over 300,000 people have signed an open letter demanding Google drop this proposal.
It's a giant corporate power-grab and Google who claims to "do no evil" is doing exactly that with this evil plan. That's why MoveOn, the PCCC (where I work), CREDO Action, Color of Change and Free Press are holding a rally at noon tomorrow in front of Google headquarters. The event is at the corner of Amphitheatre Parkway and Charleston Road in Mountain View. Click here to RSVP.
For people in the San Francisco area, there will be a bus leaving from the San Francisco Opera House at 11 a.m. You have to RSVP to get on the bus, as seats are limited.
This deal can be stopped, but only if President Obama and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski understand just how angry we are at the prospect of our rights being trampled online by Google and other corporate giants. So, please join us, or if you don't live in the Bay Area, pass along the info to your friends.
Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, who was an enthusiastic Obama supporter, isn't very happy about the Google-Verizon agreement:
The word from Washington is that the White House is pressuring, or more diplomatically, “signaling” the F.C.C. to go slow on Barack Obama’s promise to protect “network neutrality.” The depressingly familiar reason why this might be so is that the White House has finally awoken to the huge political costs that this vital economic principle would incur. The less depressing, but also familiar reason is that senior economic policy types in the White House are continuing on their deregulatory crusade, facts notwithstanding.
[...] As much as anything else, the economic success of the Internet comes from its architecture. The architecture, and the competitive forces it assures, is the only interesting thing at stake in this battle over “network neutrality.” And yet, the most senior economic advisers in the White House don’t seem to know what that means. They could, if they took the time. Barbara van Schewick’s extraordinary new book, "Internet Architecture and Innovation," is perhaps the best explication of this point so far for those who should be studying these hard, new policy questions.
But instead, policymakers, using an economics framework set in the 1980s, convinced of its truth and too arrogant to even recognize its ignorance, will allow the owners of the “tubes” to continue to unmake the Internet — precisely the effect of Google and Verizon’s “policy framework.”
Oblivious and arrogant. Where have we seen this before?
But cut through the platitudes the two companies (Googizon, anyone?) offered on today's press call, and you'll find this deal is even worse than advertised.
The proposal is one massive loophole that sets the stage for the corporate takeover of the Internet.Real Net Neutrality means that Internet service providers can't discriminate between different kinds of online content and applications. It guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies.
It's what makes sure the next Google, out there in a garage somewhere, has just as good a chance as any giant corporate behemoth to find its audience and thrive online.
What Google and Verizon are proposing is fake Net Neutrality. You can read their framework for yourself here or go here to see Google twisting itself in knots about this suddenly "thorny issue." But here are the basics of what the two companies are proposing:
I read a couple of dozen articles about the Google-Verizon deal, and this one from Gigom seems to have the most detailed version of events:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just called off the “closed door” network neutrality negotiations it was conducting between major ISPs, Google, Skype and the Open Internet Coalition, after news broke Wednesday afternoon that Google and Verizon had reached an independent deal on the issue outside of the FCC negotiations. The end of these talks, which had been roundly criticized because they were being held in secret, may be a sign of hope for the FCC to push ahead with the public debate. However, it’s more likely another example of how powerless the agency has become.
The FCC released a statement today from Edward Lazarus, FCC chief of staff, saying:
“We have called off this round of stakeholder discussions. It has been productive on several fronts, but has not generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet – one that drives innovation, investment, free speech, and consumer choice. All options remain on the table as we continue to seek broad input on this vital issue.”
The FCC decision comes less than 24 hours after hysterical and confused reports of a Google and Verizon deal on net neutrality began circulating around media outlets and Washington.
I wish I could tell you what’s going on behind the scenes and how exactly Google and Verizon plan to compromise, but the general framework seems to abandon the idea of network neutrality for wireless networks and may involve some pay for prioritization.
So far, Google and Verizon have reportedly come to an agreement that discriminating against some traffic will be permitted on wireless networks, but not wireline networks (which we should have realized already given how closely the success of Google’s Android platform is tied to Verizon’s wireless business). The deal may or may not involve paying for prioritization of content. (For a closer look of the issues they’re likely discussing check out this filing from January when Google and Verizon laid out their points of agreement and disagreement.)
So Verizon Wireless is one of sponsors of the Friends of America Rally this Labor Day weekend, an anti-environment, pro-coal event. Most of the other sponsors are in the coal industry and there is even a link to the National Mining Association’s anti-Waxman-Markey petition on the home page.
Credo Action wanted to know why Verizon would sponsor such a reactionary event with such polarizing figures--especially ones that have gone out of their way to foment violence. From their email:
Before we launched our campaign, CREDO Action reached out to Verizon Wireless to confirm its sponsorship of the pro-coal "Friends of America" rally. Becky Bond, our Political Director, then sent a cordial follow-up to give Verizon Wireless a heads-up that our campaign had launched. Verizon replied as follows:
"This is how our response is going over with the activists. Becky once lived in a tree for a while. At least now I know where the emails are coming from."
— James Gerace, VP of Corporate Communications at Verizon Wireless
You got that?
If you don't think that Verizon Wireless should support global warming deniers and practitioners of mountaintop removal mining, then Verizon Wireless thinks it's okay to dismiss your concerns because you must have "lived in a tree for a while."
If they're going to try to mock us for opposing right wing demagoguery, then we'll just have to make more noise.
Let's remember how this campaign started. Verizon Wireless apparently sees nothing wrong with co-sponsoring a rally put on by Massey Energy, the biggest violator of the Clean Water Act in history; sees nothing wrong with giving a platform to people who deny global warming; sees nothing wrong with giving the emcee microphone to Ted Nugent who famously said:
Obama, he's a piece of sh — . I told him to suck on my machine gun...Hey Hillary [Clinton] you might want to ride one of these [machine guns] into the sunset, you worthless b — ch.
Apparently these are the values and sentiments Verizon Wireless feels comfortable associating itself with. You can violate the law, pillage the Earth and publicly insult Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the most vulgar way. Verizon Wireless is fine with that. But when we express common sense concerns about environmental stewardship, Verizon Wireless thinks we're tree-hugging nuts.