The reason you see so many cellphone stores and ads everywhere is because wireless is a very lucrative business. Wireless companies are pulling in billions and their executives are raking in the bucks. But they are also squeezing their workers, their customers and our government.
Right now Verizon is greedily trying to put the squeeze on its workers, cutting pensions, sick pay, health insurance, even disability for employees injured on the job. If this story sounds all too familiar, this part won't: Their workers are fighting back with a strike! And you can join them!
Consumed By Greed
The giant telecom company Verizon, currently raking in the billions ($6 billion in profits and a $10 billion dividend on $108 billion in revenue last year), while paying no taxes, is putting the squeeze on its workers, and they are fighting back. With all those profits, the company has been consumed by greed: Now Verizon is asking for $1 billion in concessions from its workers.
Kenneth Quinnell lays it out in Union Workers Stand Up to Extreme Demands from Verizon over at Crooks and Liars:
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.
How MUCH Greed?
Laura Clawson writes in, More than 45,000 Verizon workers strike, at Daily Kos Labor:
Verizon's demands 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.
Meanwhile, Verizon is doing just fine:
• 2011 annualized revenues are $108 billion and annualized net profits are $6 billion.
• Verizon Wireless just paid its parent company and Vodaphone a $10 billion dividend.
• Verizon’s top five executives received compensation of $258 million over the past four years.
Paying No Taxes?
Verizon, with $108 billion in revenue and huge profits, is not paying taxes. Citizens for Tax Justice, in Verizon Pushes for $1 Billion in Concessions from Workers, While Receiving Nearly $1 Billion in Subsidies from Uncle Sam, explains, (emphasis added below because I got mad when I read it.)
Despite earning over $32.5 billion over the last 3 years, Verizon not only paid nothing in corporate income taxes, it actually received nearly $1 billion (the same amount as the concessions they are seeking) in tax benefits from the federal government during that time.
… In fact, if Verizon paid its corporate income tax at the official rate of 35 percent, it would have owed more than $11 billion (rather than negative $1 billion). This alone is enough to avoid the recent cuts in the debt deal to student loan programs.
CTJ also points out that, “…the top 5 executives at Verizon received more than a quarter of a billion dollars in compensation over the last 4 years.”
Just 5 people got more than a quarter billion. (CEO Lowell McAdam’s compensation works out to about $55,000 per day.) The company pays no taxes, which means the rest of us—an entire country—has to cut student loan programs, and on top of that they are trying to take disability pay away from workers who are injured while they work to make those executives even richer.
The Is About You
This is about you because this is happening to everyone. These Verizon workers are putting everything on the line for you — trying to do something about it. They going on strike to try to get your wages and pension and health care back, or keep those things from being taken away from you. Don't forget that when you hear the corporate propaganda from FOX News and the rest of the corporate media, telling you about “union thugs” and “union bosses.” This is about you and if you are anywhere near a Verizon worker picket line you should go join them.
What You Can Do
Easy: sign a petition.
More fun: Click here to learn how you can support the strike. And you can join them! Click here for a map of local picket lines that you can join. I especially like this one: Adopt Verizon Wireless a store to picket and leaflet.