5 Key Reasons to Back the Working People at Verizon

Most of you know what led to the Verizon Strike. Contract talks between Verizon and members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) began in June of 2015.

The workers’ last contract expired on August 1, 2015 and on April 13, 2016 the strike began.

CWA and IBEW Union representatives allege that even though Verizon made $39 billion in profits over the last three years, the company wants to “gut job security protections, contract out more work and send jobs overseas, and require technicians to work away from home for as long as two months without seeing their families.”

All Americans who are watching the Strike play out in the press or are seeing strike activities and hearing discussions in their towns… well unlike our readers, they may not understand the importance of backing Verizon workers.

So whether you’re a Union Member fluent in these concepts or a concerned citizen, this is an article worth sharing with those who may benefit from a bit more insight.

5 Key Reasons to Back the Working People at Verizon:

1. Verizon makes billions each year, yet they still expect people to do more with less.

The corporation raked in $9.6 billion in profits in 2014, $39 billion over the last three years – and $1.8 billion a month in profits over the first three months of 2016. And from 2010 to 2014, Verizon executives made more than $249 million. Apparently, Verizon corporate bosses are unsatisfied with their massive profit margins and want to make working people do more with less. In negotiations thus far, Verizon has asked its loyal workforce for huge cuts to retirement security and benefits to people injured on the job, increases in employee health-care costs, and elimination of job security. Additionally the company wants to uproot technicians to work away from home for as long as two months without seeing and taking care of their families who depend on them. These are life-altering changes to the men and women at Verizon who are just trying to pay their bills and ensure a brighter future for their families.

2. Verizon plays dirty.

Instead of putting forward reasonable negotiating terms, Verizon has invested resources in training 15,000 employees to take over in the case of a work stoppage. Verizon has also given its non-union employees a mobile surveillance app that can monitor and take geotagged photos of union members throughout negotiations. Essentially, it’s a tattletale app with the sole purpose of intimidating people from coming together in union at work.

3. Verizon wants to get rid of good union jobs and outsource instead.

The men and women in union who work at Verizon have worked hard to create better workplaces for themselves and those that follow. But just like in 2011, Verizon wants its employees to give them the thumbs up to contract out work, replacing good, hometown jobs with cheap labor. Since 2005, the percentage of Verizon employees in union has dropped from nearly 70 percent to less than 30 percent.

4. Verizon refuses to expand FiOS.

Consumer demand for high-speed Internet is higher than ever. Several years ago, Verizon got tax breaks and rate hikes in exchange for expanding FiOS, its high-speed Internet, phone and video connection, throughout the Northeast. But in 2012, Verizon announced it would no longer expand its FiOS service, leaving customers in many places without access to high-speed Internet. Why would the company not want to increase its customer base for a popular service? Some believe Verizon is choosing not to repair and modernize its outdated copper wire system and grow FiOS because the company doesn’t want to invest in the people who maintain and install the service.

The company has also been accused of redlining poor and minority communities. In New York, the FiOS expansion was concentrated in affluent city suburbs, while low-income, urban areas were left behind. Other communities that have been excluded from the FiOS expansion include Bethlehem, Pa., Baltimore, Md., and Roanoke, N.C. Verizon is now trying to get out of the business of landlines all together, which will mean poorer service and even fewer options for many customers, especially in poor and rural areas that are already on the wrong side of the “digital divide.”

“On the one hand, Verizon refuses to build its high-speed FiOS network in lower income areas. And on the other, they are systemically ignoring maintenance needs on their landline network,” said Ed Mooney, vice president for CWA District 2-13, which covers Pennsylvania to Virginia. “This leaves customers at the mercy of a cable monopoly or stuck with deteriorating service while Verizon executives and shareholders rake in billions.”

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5. Verizon has a long history of ripping off taxpayers through tax evasion.

Verizon isn’t just looking to cut costs by slashing benefits and eliminating jobs; one of America’s most successful businesses is also taking money from taxpayers. From 2008 to 2013, Verizon received a tax refund of $732 million from the IRS, which resulted in a corporate income tax rate of minus two percent. That’s right, a negative income tax rate! Verizon is also culpable of stashing money abroad to avoid paying income taxes. In 2012, Verizon stored $1.8 billion in offshore tax havens.

RELATED: A Message to Verizon Workers from Bernie Sanders

Verizon’s position is clear: make money, no matter the cost to our families, our communities and our country. Which makes our position just as clear: we must stand with the working men and women at Verizon who have gone strike to protect not just their own livelihoods, but also family-sustaining jobs for those that follow. So please, stand with working people at Verizon!

A Message from Bernie Sanders

A Message from Bernie Sanders after his stand with Verizon Workers:

“Yesterday the CEO of Verizon said that I was “contemptible.” He doesn’t like that yesterday I walked the picket line with striking Verizon workers, or that I think Verizon needs to pay its fair share in taxes.

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“Verizon’s attack reminded me of what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in New York City in 1936:

‘We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

‘They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

‘Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.’

“Like FDR, I welcome the contempt of Verizon’s CEO. I welcome the hatred and contempt of every Wall Street banker, hedge fund manager, pharmaceutical lobbyist and fracking executive trying to stop our campaign.”

Ensuring Transparency in Reporting For Employer and Labor Relations: The “Persuader Rule”

You’ve probably watched one before.

An anti-union video so painfully corny, you probably had to turn it off after a few seconds.

Anti-union videos — like this one from Target — fliers and other materials are the bread and butter of consulting firms who specialize in “union avoidance.” A nefarious industry that steps in for employers and attempts to squelch working people’s right to a union voice on the job.

Thanks to a new transparency rule released by the Department of Labor called the “persuader rule.”

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The “Persuader Rule” Defined
Some employers hire labor relations consultants to develop and implement their message in union organizing campaigns. Workers need to understand the source of the views, materials, and policies that are being used to influence their decisions so they can make the best, informed decisions about whether or not to be represented by a union or support its collective bargaining positions. That’s where the Persuader Final Rule comes in, realigning the Department’s regulations with the text of a law passed by Congress, the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA).

This Final Rule requires that employers and the consultants they hire file reports not only for direct persuader activities – consultants talking to workers – but also for indirect persuader activities – consultants scripting what managers and supervisors say to workers. Workers often don’t know that their employer hired a consultant to manage its message in union organizing campaigns, including by scripting speeches by managers, talking points, letters, and other documents. Consultants may also direct supervisors to express specific viewpoints that don’t match those supervisors’ actual views as individuals – something workers may find relevant in assessing the information they receive from their supervisors.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka weighed in on the new rule:

“It takes great courage for working people to come together to form a union. Working men and women deserve to know who their employer is hiring and exactly how much they are spending to discourage workers from forming a union.”

Ultimately, employees deserve to know whether third-party union busters are being employed to influence their decision about forming a union with their co-workers and there needs to be assurance that employees are given more information about the source of the campaign material that helps them make a more informed choice in exercising their rights. Thanks to the “Persuader Rule” American workers now have that transparency.

Elizabeth Warren Skewers Federal Reserve Regulator Who Played “Pivotal” Role in 2008 Financial Crisis

This video of Elizabeth Warren ‘roasting’ a bank regulator who refused to regulate responsibly has been viewed over 1.8 million times — in just 3 days.

On April 5th, Republicans tried to use their Senate Banking Committee hearing to show that regulating banks costs too much. Elizabeth Warren turned that on its head, opening her questions saying, “I want to focus on the other side of the equation, and that is the cost to American families of failing to regulate.”

Nor would she stand for ‘tenure defenders.’

“Did you have your eyes stitched closed?” she asks Leonard Chanin, Republicans’ lead witness and former Deputy Director of the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs at the Federal Reserve Board in response to his dogged refusal there was any hard data available prior to regulation failures that led to the economic collapse of 2008.

A ‘prime example’ of the hands-off regulatory approach that may lead to the next.

“You did essentially nothing,” Warren told Chanin, who has since left the Federal Reserve to work for a private law firm advising big banks. “Now, your failure had devastating consequences.”

 

Major Win for Unions in a Supreme Court Split

Unions Win Fee Victory as Supreme Court Ties 4-4

by Adam Liptak, New York Times

A case that seemed poised to deal a major blow to public unions ended in a 4-4 tie on Tuesday at the Supreme Court, effectively delivering a big victory to the unions.

When the case was argued in January, the court’s conservative majority seemed ready to say that forcing public workers to support unions they had declined to join violates the First Amendment.

But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February changed the balance of power in the case, which was brought by California public schoolteachers who chose not to join unions and objected to paying for the unions’ collective bargaining activities on their behalf.

A ruling in the teachers’ favor would have affected millions of government workers and weakened public-sector unions, which stood to lose fees from both workers who objected to the positions the unions take and those who simply chose not to join while benefiting from the unions’ efforts on their behalf.

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Under California law, public employees who choose not to join unions must pay a “fair share service fee,” also known as an “agency fee,” typically equivalent to members’ dues. The fees, the law says, are meant to pay for collective bargaining activities, including “the cost of lobbying activities.” More than 20 states have similar laws.

Government workers who are not members of unions have long been able to obtain refunds for the political activities of unions like campaign spending. The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915, asked whether such workers must continue to pay for any union activities, including negotiating for better wages and benefits. A majority of the justices seemed inclined to say no.

Relying on a 1977 Supreme Court precedent, the appeals court in the case upheld the requirement that the objecting teachers pay fees. Tuesday’s announcement, saying only that “the judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court,” affirmed that ruling and set no new precedent.

View the Complete Details on The California Teachers Association Fact Sheet >>

Union Built PC and CWA District 3

A Meeting of the Minds and A Mission

 

At the Request of CWA District 3 VP Richard F. Honeycutt, Union Built PC was honored to present their new district-wide and locally customizable grievance application at the District 3 Meeting in Daytona Beach Florida on March 22nd.

CWA-communication-workers-of-america-logoThe Grievance Manager Application was custom designed to District 3’s specifications, which includes one-click escalation from local to district control, and customizable email and text alerts at both district and local level. This system also allows for convenient, secure access to all grievances and arbitrations and documents from anywhere an internet connection is available.

Pete Marchese, Director of Operations and Barry Diederich, Director of Software addressed the Local Officers and took them through the operation of their Grievance Manager Application. Union Built PC could not help but notice the District 3 Mission Statement:

“Our Mission is to work together as a Team to build our Union.

We will develop and execute specific action plans, including education and open communication to all Locals in an effort to further build trust.”

… And its similarity to the Union Built PC Mission Statement:

“Helping Unions Excel in Everything they do”

There is no doubt in our minds that we will succeed in our mutual missions and that the Union Team at Union Built PC has provided CWA District 3 with the tools necessary to accomplish this and more.

Union Built PC would like to thank District 3 VP Richard F. Honeycutt, Assistant to VP Nick Hawkins and retired Assistant to the VP Don Larotunda for allowing us to provide them with our Grievance Manager Application.

We would also like to thank District 2-13 VP Ed Mooney for allowing us to build District 2-13s Grievance Manager. Union Built PC now has Grievance Manager tracking grievances and arbitration in real time in District 2-13, District 3 and in select Locals in District 1, CWA.

Click Here to Download the Grievance Manager Brochure or Request a Free Demo

Attention NJ Transit Commuters: Resources to Navigate the Rail Strike

About 105,000 people rely on NJ TRANSIT every day and railroad officials are already warning that if the strike happens, their contingency plan will only be able to accommodate around 40,000 commuters.

NJ TRANSIT RESOURCE CENTER: How To Get Around If NJ TRANSIT Shuts Down

Commuters are hoping today’s in-person negotiations could be the difference that will ensure their trains will keep running.

“We will not be able to provide the level of service or capacity that our rail service currently provides to our customers,” NJ TRANSIT Interim Exec. Director Dennis Martin said.

RELATED: NJ TRANSIT Strike… The Clock is Springing Forward Fast

union-nj-transit-railworker-strikeOfficials plan to increase bus service, PATH trains light rail and ferry service, and to rely heavily on park and rides. Still, car traffic getting into Manhattan could be disastrous.

“It’s gonna be very disruptive a lot of people are gonna be stranded,” a commuter said.

Some New Jersey towns have come up with their own contingency plans, intending to have Jitney vans shuttle residents to Newark so they can take PATH trains to the city.

“We don’t have enough Jitney capacity to handle our own residents so we’re going to limited to that and proof of residency will be required,” said one town administrator.

The strike deadline is midnight Saturday, March 12. If the strike happens, NJ TRANSIT plans to gradually scale down service starting on Sunday.

Union leaders said the major issues that divide the two sides — wage increases, workers’ health care payments and contract length — are still on the table. Both sides said progress was made Tuesday.

In regard to healthcare, union workers are protesting NJ TRANSIT’s demands for workers to put up 20 percent of their healthcare costs.

Martin questioned how the raise would be paid for at a board meeting on Wednesday, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.

“The structure of the settlement and the amount of the settlement will determine how we have to fund it,” Martin said.

When asked about raising fares to cover the costs, Martin said he “can not rule out” the possibility.

The unions have been operating without a new contract or raise since 2011.

Union Built PC and many of our team members are based in NY Metro. We have seen commuter-impacted strikes before and it is no laughing matter. We want to encourage you to plan ahead. If you’re a commuter who may be impacted by the strike click here for resources to navigate the NJ Transit strike.