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.
There is no need for Verizon to pursue the level of cuts to compensation for their workers that they are after. Verizon had a $6 billion profit last year (on revenues of $108 billion) and just paid a $10 billion dividend. Over the last four years, the company has a total of more than $19 billion in profits. Verizon's profits not only make them one of the richest and most successful companies in the country, they are outperforming the overall communications industry. The company's chair, Ivan Seidenberg makes more than 300 times what the average Verizon worker makes. The top five executives have been paid more than $250 million in the past four years. On top of all this, it turns out Verizon not only paid $0 in federal taxes last year, they also received $1 billion in subsidies.
Verizon is looking for $1 billion in concessions, an average of $20,000 per family that is supported by a Verizon worker, and will not back down from any of their demands. The workers, on the other hand, have shown a willingness to make concessions, particularly when it comes to health care benefits.
The extreme concessions Verizon is seeking include:
-Continued contracting out of work to low-wage contractors, which means more outsourcing of good jobs overseas.
-Eliminating disability benefits for workers injured while on the job.
-Elimination of all job security provisions.
-Eliminating paid sick days for new hires and limiting them to no more than five for any workers.
-Freezing pensions for current workers and eliminating them for future employees.
-Replacing the current high-quality health care plan with a high-deductible plan requiring up to $6,800 in additional costs.
Verizon's attack on its workers is not new. In recent years, it has cut is percentage of unionized jobs nearly in half. The company has also outsourced more than 25,000 jobs. Verizon's cell phone division is mostly non-union.
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:
Find picket lines to participate in if you are in the area.
Watch even more in-depth video of the protests: