Verizon’s strike pits its past against its future

42 Comments

More than 45,000 Verizon (s vz) workers are striking this morning, causing the telecommunications provider’s stock to drop slightly. Others are concerned about what the strike could mean for telecom equipment vendors, but a better question might be how much will Verizon’s legacy employees drag down the company as it competes against more modern I.T. companies? The line between computing and communications is blurring, and Verizon is clearly aware of that, as it focuses on faster broadband, pay TV and also cloud computing.

However, the company has a rich past that stretches back decades. Heck, its previous CEO was a former lineman who actually spliced cables for telephone wires. The striking workers, who are responsible for maintaining Verizon’s wireline telephone network as well as its fiber-to-the-home FiOS network, are being asked for the usual share of rising healthcare costs, but also that they become more flexible. As Verizon’s wireline DSL business shrinks, the company is still supporting an expensive workforce that’s responsible for a business that may soon represent a much smaller portion of Verizon’s profits.

Verizon is competing now against companies such as Amazon (s amzn) and Rackspace (s rax), which don’t have unionized workers, and against pay TV providers which sometimes do. As Verizon gets more digital, mobile and cloud-focused, its culture has to shift from one where a person has a single job for 40 hours a week with set time off to one where people work all out to deliver services and innovation for decent paychecks or the chance to take home a piece of the pie. There’s plenty of room for debate over whether this is a good thing, but it’s certainly the thing that Verizon has to adjust to. Will its workers let it?

42 Comments

Michael

Flaws exists on both sides- but the major one still belongs to Verizon’s corporate greed- they are not airlines- they are not US auto- they are not newspaper- but make billions in measurements of quarters not year end- the top execs among the most well-paid- IBEW and CWA will and can be reasonable – but not at the expense of the backs of the people who built this new network- they are no Steve Jobs in this group- they invented or upstarted nothing with this company- yet want all the new wave corporate glory- let’s not have dwindling middle class America infight – what the big boys and girls want us to do –

Take care Michael
VZ COT IBEW local 2222

John

I once used to be a call center rep for TimeWarner cable. I was making 30,000 a year. Unions make 75,000 a year plus benefits that are out of this world ( pension, free medical).
Keep in mind most of these ppl that work in call center only have a highschool degree. You tell me how verizon is suppose to compete paying those high wages. If it was’nt against the law, verizon woulda fire all the union work force and highered a more educated workers with still some of the best wages in today’s market.

Mike

Unions are lairs. I am a non-union verizon employee. I am an engineer. I pay about 3000 dollars for healthcare every year. I have techs that work for me and they all make 20,000 thousand dollars more than me each year. Not to mention they dont pay a dime to healthcare, they get pension and I do not. I have a master degree and they all have highschool degrees. This is the realty of the verizon unions. They will lie to get thier way. They have no loyalty. The wireline, which is union, is loosing money. The other nonunion section of verizon are paying the union wages. My guess if the union dont wake up, verizon will sell the wireline and whom ever takes it will go bankrupt and only than the idiots union member with highschool degrees will find out there leaders have mislead them.

Robert L. Howdershell

Stacey Higginbotham just who are you??????????????

enough

so tired of hearing about how bad verizon workers have it..suck it up and get back to work..Leave the non union members out of this..go collect your unemployment…entitled whine bags

truedat

Hope all you union haters like INDIA —– because thats where you will probably have to move in order to get a job after you get your wish of killing off the unions. Verizon and other big corporations are not gonna treat you well out of the goodness of their hearts. But dont just take my word for it, ask former Verizon employees that it’s already happened to.

The real kicker here is that somehow Verizon paid no federal income tax the past 2 years on billions of $$$ in profit.They also took 1.5 billion $$$ in bailout money from the government. So how do they repay the country ? They ship jobs to India and try to takeback everything the union members have.

Matty150

Ask the workers in India, China, and the Phillipines what kind of retirement they get, what kind of health care they enjoy, and maybe you can ask for the same. This will be the price of free trade lower standards of living. This was supposed to bring jobs, yet it has caused us to be linked globally with workers who will do for less .

Jonn

I love how you all say that the company isn’t hurting, but in actuality it is. When you see Verizon’s profits, you see the company as a whole- Verizon Business, Verizon Telecom (Wireline Services), Verizon Fios, Verizon Wireless. What you don’t see is that all these other divisions of Verizon are supporting Verizon Telecom (Wireline Services). They have consistently lost money for the past 5 years. Think about it. How many people do you know that have home phone service through an old fashioned telephone provider and not magic jack or some other internet phone service. How many people do you know are rushing out to buy home phone service. Not to mention the add ons (call waiting, call forwarding, caller ID, etc.) were always the big money makers for home phone service. These things don’t sell anymore- YET Verizon is expected to support the same amount of union workers, who expect to pay nothing for healthcare, get automatic raises every year (the union employees do not want merit based increases as the rest of the company gets)while they work in a division that does less and less business every year. How does that make sense? If you had someone that worked for you that did less work than other people in the company but expected a great salary, free benefits and automatic raises every year while their division lost money are you telling me that you would give it? Be serious.

Michael

Jonn- Verizon likes to play that same shell game – keep everything in seperare piles- that way we can strangle the union with pots/landline – as if that is the only thing we do to help generate revenue- we installed the Fios-we take care of the wireless backbone of fiber- t-3 and t-1s – that fiber to the prem is still an access line that Verzion doesn’t give us credit for- instead just saying “oh look we lost another landline!” – as they encourage us- family and friends to switch over- When we were the cash cow no one complained about taking those profits to build up wireless in those toddle years. Many union members outside or inside tecs-and reps have some of the best skill sets in the country that help maintain today’s technology too- We are not greedy- did not ask for anything just given a take it or leave it offer- with language to move work anywhere anytime- so in a way we are greedy – greedy to protect and fight for that good job. Many of us toolk them when most did not even want them- now that they are dying we have to give it up because you can’t find work thus don’t have? Sorry but I respectfully disagree. Unions are legal and have rights – without them many lage compainies will outsource- higher illegals- move overseas- and with that a goodbye to middle-class America.

Rich

Unions suck… suck the life right out of this country. I lost my job over a year ago and I don’t give a damn what the concessions are, I’d take a job over no job any day. Just like the greedy CEOs, the greedy union heads have mainly their best interest in mind. As any cult leader does, they’ve brainwashed the members into believing what they want. I am contacting Verizon in the morning to see if there’s a union job I can fill.

In this economy where there are millions like me, the union picked the wrong time to strike. After talking to lots of people about it, it seems that many are finally seeing unions as what they are.

truedat

you lost your job so you for some reason now consider unions your enemy because they have benefits?
Your logic is kinda flawed. If there were no unions do you really think that the corporations would treat people better out of the goodness of their hearts ? WRONG ! What would happen is that everyones standard of living would go down.

CWAUNITED

Rich maybe if you were in a Union job you wouldn’t have lost it…Rich if in fact Verizon were to hire you do you think they will pay you a fair wage…I doubt it…they will pay you cooley wages…they may give you benefits..but they will be cr*p….this is all about Verizon wanting to bust the union so they can put more in their greedy lil pockets…you’re bitter but displacing it in the wrong place.

Rich

I will say this slow and carefully so you can’t twist it into something it isn’t as you did before.

I don’t care HOW strict or subpar Verizon employees feel their jobs are becoming, fact is… YOU HAVE A DAMN JOB! Think it’s hard making ends meet with paycuts and benefit contributions? Try it when your income drops to $400 a week on unemployment. Until you have lived it, you can’t comprehend it.

Millions of people are out of work and fighting for work and you’re all whining about having to give up some of your cushion.

Join the millions of us who have NO cushion at all while you watch your savings dwindle to nothing. Then your crying will be warranted.

Liz Spano

As a former Verizon employee, and the wife of a current Verizon employee, I can honestly say that Verizon DOES NOT care about the customers or the employees. I used to be a customer service representative and after many years with the company, I quit my job…Imagine being a well paid individual in your early twenties and quitting a job without another in place. While driving to work, I would imagine driving over a bridge into the water. Do you know why? Because after being followed into a bathroom by managers to make sure you are really going to the bathroom was not the way I envisioned my ideal workplace. In addition, being told that because I was in the bathroom for 7 minutes I should consider that my 15-minute break. I apologize for not being able to time my body with the ever changing schedule that Verizon demanded I adhere to. Oh yeah, and about the customers…I LOVED talking to my customers and helping them understand their bills…I sympathized when Verizon would pass charges along to them in order to make money. The day I decided to quit was the result of the conversation I had with my manager who scolded me in front of my coworkers because I did not sell an 85 year old woman a package worth $80 after I explained to her why her bill was 19.12 instead of 19.11 the month before. While my husband still works for Verizon, I am proud to be a union members wife. I have a new job (ironically as a manager of one of the oldest union companies)and see how the union and the company works together. Verizon is a company that treats their employees bad. They do not understand that those employees helped them get to where they are. The union members are willing to work with the company however Verizon does not. While people may say, be happy you have a job in this economy, I don’t think they understand that unless these people strike there may not be a job. These people are fighting for their jobs and standing up for what is right. Perhaps if more people did this then the economy would not be where it is today. Be the change you want to see – don’t just complain about it…that is what the strong members of CWA are doing.

truedat

good post Liz. I’ve heard similar stories a thousand times from people I work with that were lucky enough to escape that job title. This is what we need to do.Just tell the public the truth to counter the company BS and they will be on our side in this fight. Good luck to you and your family.

not so sympathetic

Do you think the public will be on your side when they find out that you currently don’t pay anything for your medical benefits and that you have one of those premium plans that the government will be taxing the company for providing in a few years from now? Most people already contribute quite a bit to their health insurance and their coverage isn’t nearly as good as yours.

kc

I have worked as a management and union employee. A few years ago our management department had an opportunity to join the union. It was voted down and 1 week later the pension plan was eliminated for management employees saving the company 3 billion over 10 years. We lost some excellent workers due to this decision. As a union employee I am fortunate to work in a department that management tries to work out problems. But the underlying procedures are still present. For example, you can provide excellent customer support but if you do not meet your stats you are repremanded. The stats are the bible at Verizon. With so much pressure on stats workers feel inclined to pass the buck if the customer has a complex problem that will take time to work out. Its not uncommon for a customer to say “I’ve been transferred numerous times and I cannot get help”. Take my word for it. There is a sickness with that company that weeds out excellent employees for those that meet the stats providing mediocre service. One of the strengths a union employee has is that the Union I belong to honestly believes in providing a safe work environment AND provide excellent customer support, since the union understands a satisfied customer will retain services Verizon provides.

truedat

even the title of this article is slanted! The union workers like myself work on the backbone circuits of the wireless network and also on FIOS, which is about as fantastic and futuristic of a product as you can get.Please take a minute to find out the truth ,which is as follows. —- A healthy,highly profitable company is looking to takeback every benefit the union has ever gotten for us while the top executives get 20 million dollars a year. That is the god honest truth.

Verizon Worker

Verizon as a whole is doing well, propped up my Wireless profits. But the wireline business, where all the unionized worked are, is not. But let’s forget all that and look at the “consessions”: paying part of healthcare, tieing workers reviews to their raise, poor job performance = being laid off, no more pension but a 401K, limited sick days. Yea, they are trying to make the like the rest of the company! Suck it up union, time to pull your head out or become unemployed.

MikeyC

I feel terrible for the union guys in that instead of sleeping in their trucks at the end of my street they are now awake and having to picket in this heat? What is this world coming too…

CWA Wireless

I’m disappointed that hard work means nothing. This strike affects wireless employees also. There are 70 union verizon wireless employees in New York Metro that are picketing for their jobs also. We work hard to build and maintain a better network. We pay our health dues that go up each year and why is it that this year our contract can not be renewed as previous ones? Where is our fair share? I’m not asking for riches, only to be able to support my family in this economy.

Hoffa

Fire that lazy entitled union labor!!!! Healthcare premiums??? Get a grip on reality. Many out of work people would gladly trade places.

CSSC Rep

Get the facts first before you pass judgement. I have 11 years with this company working as a call center representative. The job has changed and not for the best. It is a very stressfull job but I do appreciate a steady paycheck. Yes, Verizon is asking us to contribute to our healthcare premiums but at the sametime they are also looking to cut our pay by 30% if we do not make our sales objective. When I was hired for this position I was hired as a Customer Sales Representative. Customer Service is no longer important to the company, if a rep is obeserved not offering a product to an irate customer or a customer who is calling to make payment arraingement because the bill is too high, you will be suspended with out pay. Don’t believe the hype that the corporate giant is putting out to the media. Verizon is a mega billion dollar company, there is no need to cut our pay, our healthcare and our pension.

cssc rep

HOFFA what is exactly that you do for a living I am a call center representative that has worked fOR the company 16 years.I agree that their are people out here who would love my job but if Verizon has their way you could be fired without Cause.You wake UP and find out they moved your job 100 miles away w/o notice or tell you we are going to take 30% of your pay check away and you must make 70%of your sales objective in order to get the rest of your pay and pay into your healthcare and freeze your pension as of DEC 2011 no longer be payed overtime and be forced to work after your shift ends w/o any prior notice or be subject to dismissal.Don’t believe that that HEALTHCARE PREMIUMS is the only reason we are walking educated yourself on the situation. WE ARE FIGHTING FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS AND THOSE WHO HAVE NO JOBS SO THAT WHEN THEY DO GET ONE THEY ARE TREATED WITH RESPECT FOR THE HARD WORK THEY DO !!! ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU HELPED TO MAKE A COMPANY 61 BILLION AND YOU HAVE TOP EXECUTIVES MAKING MILLIONS AND HAVE MANSIONS AND SUMMER HOMES OFF OF your HARD WORK ARE THEY TAKING PAY CUTS NO!!! CORPORATE GREED IS THE REASON WE ARE STRIKING !!!

striker

IT’S FOOLS WITH YOUR MENTALITY THAT ARE BRINGING THIS COUNTRY DOWN..THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT ON UNION LABOR AND SO WAS VERIZON..WHEN UNIONS WERE STRONG SO WAS THE ECONOMY..WAKE UP! THIS IS NOT ABOUT HEALTHCARE…PEOPLE LIKE YOURSELF ARE SO NAIVE..KEEP ON BUYING INTO THE CORPORATE BS..IT’S ALL ABOUT PROFITS FOR THE CORPORATE ELITE..ASK VERIZON HOW MANY JOBS WERE SHIFTED FROM THE USA TO THE PHILLIPINES, MEXICO, AND INDIA…IF WE STILL HAD THESE JOBS HERE, OBVIOUSLY THERE WOULD BE LESS PEOPLE OUT OF WORK MORON…CORPORATE GREED HAS BEEN KILLING THIS COUNTRY SINCE THE 1980’S..UNTIL THE PUBLIC STARTS TO REALIZE WHATS REALLY HAPPENING IN AMERICA AND FIGHTS BACK, THINGS WILL NEVER GET BETTER…

Evelyn Roberts

We are not the peons that Verizon seems to be trying to make us to be now. We are dedicated workers who value each task with sincere loyalty of years and years of faithful service.

Hoffa

…….loyalty and years of service will get you a cup of coffee. Coming to work each day w/a good attitude and working hard will provide all the job security you need.

Verizon Stock Holder

Verizon is performing better than most when it comes to JD Power and their bottom line. Seems to me keeping the troops happy is what they would want to do. As a stock holder I am very disappointed that is the exact opposite of what the management team is doing. Keep the status quo, keep the troops happy and make my stock go back in the right direction.

VZ employee

clearly “union members wife” is not what you claim to be. While the CEO gets more than 18 million dollars and the company is making huge profits they ask the little guys who built this company to make sacrifices. by ridiculous demands you mean healthcare and pension benefits? and it’s not just current employees People who worked and gave their all to this company for 40 years and retired are getting the shaft.

truedat

Verizon’s excuse to demand that the union giveback everything they’ve ever gotten is that the wireline side of the business is shrinking.Well it’s true that people are giving up their old copper land line but who do you think takes care of the wireless network? Your cell phone call does not go up into space and come back down straight to the cell phone of the called party.It goes into a central office where union people maintain the backbone of that wireless network.Union people also work on FIOS (which is where alot of the lost landlines went to,by the way) and if you say that FIOS is a money loser then I guess that former CEO Ivan Seidenberg should reimburse the company about 80 million dollars of bonus money back. Please get the truth out to the masses!

LV

I understand the need to strike (although from what I hear, Verizon’s benefits are still better than most). What I DO NOT understand is how these striking workers can justify the harassment of non-union employees. It is NOT acceptable to be threatening HOMES and CHILDREN because of an employment strike!!!!!

Union Members Wife

Verizon is doing well as a company now but if they don’t start making changes that could all change in the future. The union has to start being resonable. Some of the things that Verizon is asking to change is perfectly acceptable. Unionized employess need to come back to reality. Verizon wanted pay increases to be based on job performance and asked that employees help pay for their health insurance with an exception to employees who need diabetic medications. The union should agree to that and then Verizon should keep giving a pension. Verizon is hiring other jobless people for a fraction of what their current employees make. People are out their begging for jobs so it’s not really a wise time for unions do go on strike with ridiculous demands. When all the current employees are on the unemployment line because they have been replaced with cheaper labor I hope their union saves them.

Jersey lineguy

I am lineman from NJ, and I just want you to know that you have no clue about what you are talking about. So it says that you are a union members wife? So if your husband is an ideal worker for the company, does a great job and just because he doesnt kiss his boss’s ass means that he will make less money than the guy who does. How would you feel about that? That is part of our culture already in some garages with what types of work that you recieve. Would you want less money coming in because of this? Look, I know there needs to be some concessions made here, but our union has worked hard for what we have in place, and we need to show our thanks to all of the Union members who fought for what we have now….

Guest

You obviously not a wife of a union member. If you’re one, you’d understand what they’re fighting for. How do you like you’re husband paying over $6000 for the premiums before you’re insurance benefits can kick in? How do you like having your husband have a pay cut of about 20K from his 50K salary per year? These people are not afraid of paying for the health care as long as it is at reasonable price. High premiums and high deductibles. This company wants to freeze your husband’s pension. How would you feel about that? Limiting sick days to 5 days a year? And cutting off disabilities benefits? For example your husband get sick for more than 5 days, so he reach his 5 days sick leave limit, he needs to go back to work else, he’ll fired, then when he arrived at work he just got worst and worst and need to be hospitalized. Hmmm do u think the company will still care? Because he already capped his sick days. Better think about all of that. Also think about what the company’s boasting about. Their boasting billions in their profits and paying their CEO a 55K salary per day. I could understand if this company is shrinking bad.

Bill Van

Amen Folks this is fact. I like to deal in facts. I as a Union member believe in give and take, but we give much more and yet the company will keep taking. The middle class is all but gone! Who will buy then.

Jill Manies Beesley

Verizon is hardly hurting, their profits tripled last year, and the CEO raked in $18M. I might understand these concessions more, if the corporation was hurting, but they are not.

Stacey Higginbotham

It’s not a function of whether or not it’s hurting, but if it’s equipped to compete in the long run against other businesses without unionized workers.

Keith Chow

deunionize workers = lower wages,
lower wages = lower consumers spending.
How does that help the economy?

Comments are closed.