Interesting article in Sept 2009 NY Times - Verizon wants customers to cancel land lines. Verizon paid NO federal taxes and Ivan Seidenberg makes $55,000 a day.
Here is a current article in the Times
Democracy Now covered the strike: http://www.democracynow.org/
Video of GEM, NYCORE, Teachers Unite teachers supporting Verizon on picket line.
This is a letter that came through to a fellow GEM member from a striking mom...
You probably don't know me. I'm on strike with Communications Workers of America, against Verizon Communications. I've been a technician in New York for over a decade and I'm a mother. A lot of lies are being spread about us, about our union, and what our strike is about. You should hear our side because things are hard for working families now, and getting harder.
And I'm scared. At the end of the month if we are still on strike, my family loses its health care. My husband is out of work, and strike pay for a month is less than we made in a week. We can't afford to go to the pediatrician with no health care, period. Our last visit cost $305. Just because we can't afford it doesn't mean we won't do it-like everyone else on the planet we'll just go further into debt.
I'm sure as a parent you've had those moments when you realize just how much you adore your children, that you'd do anything for them, a feeling so strong you can't even put words to it. Think about how you feel when they are threatened, bullied, or hurt. That is how we feel every second on our picket lines, knowing we are fighting for them. We want them to have health care and a stable home. But we also want them to have parents who are not so beat up by working faster and harder with no job security that when we get home at the end of the day, we have a little energy left. Maybe even are in a good mood. Wouldn't that be nice?
My days go like this now: wake up before 6 to feed and change my 8 month old son, then go to the picket line. I watch managers barely trained in the field drive my truck and use my tools to do my job. When we rally and chant they drive right through us; 23 people have already reported being hit by vehicles on the picket lines; the first morning we were out I saw a manager hit my coworker in the leg with his car and an ambulance had to be called. In 1989 a technician in New York was struck and killed right in front of where he had worked by a manager working as a scab. His kids said good-bye to him one morning and never saw him again.
We're out in the sun, the rain, the heat, the horrible New York humidity. We didn't ask to go on strike, the company made demands so insulting we had no choice.
But what's it all for? Ads are running in the papers saying we make $91,000 a year and have 4 weeks vacation. Ads that imply it's our greed that is causing the strike. I have worked 11 1/2 years for the company and never made that much, nor will I if I don't take voluntary overtime for 10 to 12 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week-but only if the company offers it. That part kills me-the company shrinks the workforce so they have to offer overtime sometimes, then calls us greedy for taking it!
Do people who are willing to work 12 hours a day deserve to make good money? Do people who work in unheated manholes in January or up telephone poles in August deserve to bring home a good check to our families? To do work that is dirty and dangerous and that keeps us away from our families for all our waking hours to me seems worth the company paying us well. But I would say the same about the women and men who sit in call centers and offices who handle call after call, who are timed to the second and patrolled like chain-gangs in their cubicles. And I'd guess you work pretty hard too, maybe too hard and you're exhausted and run down too.
And 4 weeks of vacation is only for those of us who are 15 years with the company, so that's not me for another 3 1/2 years thank you very much.
People also talk about "free medical" and "Cadillac insurance plans". We don't live in France people! We don't have money deducted from our paycheck, it's true. But we pay co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance, out-of-network fees etc etc. We already pay thousands of dollars a year for our families, and they want us to pay up to $6800 more. If we all made $91k a year that wouldn't kill us, but we don't. Most of the company isn't technicians-service reps and operators and call center workers make much less than us already.
But let's be honest, it's tough times, right? Everyone is being cut back. Well, not exactly everyone. Verizon isn't having tough times at all-this year they already made 6 billion dollars. And the year's not over! Everyone knows that billionaires got bailouts and people are still getting laid off, foreclosed, and cut back. Our bosses make money that is inconceivable. Like $81 billion for former CEO Ivan Seidenberg. Really? $81 billion and you want me to pay 25% of my medical premiums? That seems a tiny bit hypocritical. When our bosses say "no one has the benefits you do! Why should you be special?" what they are really saying is "no wage worker has what you do! Why do YOU deserve what WE have?"
Well I'm sorry if I look at my son in the morning and think he deserves the absolute best of everything in the world. You'll have to forgive me that greedy impulse.
If a profitable company like Verizon can get the literally 100 concessions they want from us, who's next? How will your family survive with what amounts to a 10% pay cut, if you already haven't taken it? City workers and state workers are already getting choked by the budgets; corporation will be watching to see if Verizon can crush some of the last unions that have preserved a solid standard of living for their members.
We're not striking because we think we deserve more than other people, we want MORE PEOPLE TO HAVE WHAT WE HAVE, or BETTER. But we can't get there by giving back.
I'd rather be in a race to the top than a race to the bottom. A win for us can only HELP your family. We are in the richest country in the world whether it's a recession or not; no family should be worrying about their mortgage and no child should be without health care.
Ways you can help us:
* Tell your friends and family the truth about our struggle.
* If you see us picketing, give us a thumbs up, or a honk. If it's a hot day, a bottle of water is nice or a snack. You have no idea how much a smile and word of encouragement means after 8 hours of picketing in the August sun.
* Don't shop at Verizon Wireless if we're outside. The unions aren't asking people to boycott or cancel their plans, just don't cross our line when we're there.
* Sign and circulate this letter to CEO Lowell McAdams <http://action.cwa-union.org/
c/1153/p/dia/action/public/? action_KEY=2657&tag=cwa-email: 20110808-action-vzgreed> .
The last thing I'll say is, if you thought you could make the world a better place for your kids, would you do it? Of course you would, you're already trying every day. And so are we.
Thank you in advance.
Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/. And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.