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Verizon Spends Billions To Buy AOL & Yahoo Then Cuts Thousands Of US Jobs

2015-07-25_Mass_Rally_Stand_Up_To_Verizon

Verizon’s Greedy Corporate Businesss Model Is Exactly
What Is Wrong With Our Economy

Continuing our “What’s wrong with the economy” series using Verizon as a case study…

You can read about Verizon’s decision to lay off 4,800 American workers in yesterday’s NH Labor News.  (You might have missed it in the mainstream press, under all the election headlines.)  The cuts include seven call centers as well as some retail stores.

How is Verizon going to serve its customers, once all those call centers are closed?  The company “is offshoring customer service calls to numerous call centers in the Philippines, where workers are paid just $1.78 an hour and forced to work overtime without compensation.”  (Wow.  Not exactly a living wage.)

Guess what else was in the news yesterday.  Verizon’s agreement to buy Yahoo for $4.83 billion.  So…right now, Verizon is laying off thousands of American workers while it’s spending billions to acquire another company.  Does that make any sense to you?

And I’m feeling déjà vu.

Remember that Verizon workers had to strike, earlier this year, after working without a contract for eight months while the company demanded employee concessions?  That was at the same time Verizon was buying AOL for $4.4 billion.  Does that make any sense?  Why would a company that can afford to buy another company need draconian cuts to employee pensions, health care, and benefits for workers injured on the job?

And when Verizon “buys” another company, what, exactly, does it purchase?  AOL and Yahoo sell ads on the internet, they don’t have much in the way of bricks-and-mortar assets.  So, Verizon is spending billions of dollars to… buy another company’s stock.  After spending $5 billion to buy back its own stock.

Doing the math here?  Looks to me like… between 2015 and 2016, Verizon will spend a total of $14 billion on shares of corporate stock.  At the same time it is closing US call centers, laying off American workers and demanding concessions from its unions.  Money coming out of workers’ pockets, going into the pockets of stockholders.

While you’re getting mad, remember how Congress has structured our tax system.  Investment income is taxed at about half the rate of wage income; and it’s completely exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes.  So the next time you hear a politician talking about how those systems are “going bankrupt”… ask them what would happen if they taxed investment income the same way they tax our wages.  I’m guessing it would fully fund Social Security and Medicare, as well pay down a good chunk of our federal debt.  But back to Verizon.

This is what’s wrong with our economy: CEOs and directors would rather purchase stock than pay workers. And so workers’ pay has been stagnant since the 1970s… even as our productivity has kept rising.

Meanwhile, the stockmarket is in the stratosphere.  And Verizon’s stock price keeps rising.

VZ stock chart

And Verizon’s corporate officers are doing just fine. (Read the rest of our Verizon series, starting here.)

And the Federal Trade Commission has already signed off on Verizon’s offer to purchase Yahoo … so it looks like Yahoo stockholders will be getting all those billions of dollars, while Verizon’s American workers face unemployment and its Philippines employees work unpaid overtime.

Because the folks who make corporate decisions would rather buy stock than pay workers.


Things weren’t always this way.  Once upon a time, it was illegal for corporations to repurchase their own stock.  But in 1982, the SEC created a regulatory “safe harbor” — and since that time, stock buybacks have skyrocketed.  Last year, corporations spent more than $650 million buying back their own stock.  All of that is money that could have been used for job creation or wage increases or facility expansion.  Sadly, some of that money came from the pockets of workers who were laid off, had their wages cut, or were forced to accept benefit cuts. (Read more about what Verizon “bought” with their 2015 $5 billion buyback program here.)

Once upon a time, corporate mergers and acquisitions were more closely regulated; but once the regulations were loosened again, mergers have risen to an all-time high.  Last year, corporations spent $5 Trillion buying up other corporations.  Again, that’s money which is not being used for job creation, wage increases or new plants and equipment.  And, again, some of that money came from the pockets of employees declared “redundant” when their company was acquired.  (Read more about AOL layoffs when Verizon acquired the company here.  Read more about Yahoo layoffs expected when Verizon acquires that company here.)

Source: Third Way

Source: Third Way


Do the math yourself. It adds up to more than $5.5 Trillion that corporations spent — just last year — buying stock rather than creating jobs.

And some folks wonder why our economy is in such a mess.

Unions Matter: The Verizon Workers’ Victory

Its Meaning Historically & for the Future of the Labor Movement!

By Steven Weiner for Unions Matter

2015-07-25_Mass_Rally_Stand_Up_To_VerizonAs a long-time supporter of unions, who was a member of Local 2627’s Executive Board, part of District Council 37 in NYC, I want to say how proud I am of my union brothers and sisters who went out on strike recently. Nearly 40,000 women and men, represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, withstood an onslaught by one of the largest US corporations, Verizon. Yet after nearly six weeks on the picket lines, they emerged victorious! A big reason for their success was expressed by Verizon worker Pamela Galpern in the midst of the strike: “What we’ve seen has really been tremendous resolve on the part of the strikers…to show that working people are prepared to stand up and to fight to protect our jobs and our families’ future.”

I believe that the powerful and hopeful meaning of this victory is explained in the issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known titled “The Fight in Each of Us–& in Economics.” In it, Ellen Reiss, Aesthetic Realism Chairman of Education, explains the relation among three things: 1) the failure of our profit-driven economy; 2) the ethical battle that goes on in every person; and 3) what motivated these unionized workers that resulted in such a clear and resounding victory over Verizon. For the good of America’s working men and women, I can’t think of anything more useful and needed at this time than what is said here. For example, Ms. Reiss writes, with passion and clarity:

“Decade after decade men and women in unions fought hard for and got better wages and working conditions­—lives of greater dignity and ease—for millions of working people. Because of the courage of unions, bosses were forced to lessen their robbery of those who worked for them. And that is why, as I have described in this journal, there has been such a fierce effort to kill unions, including through hideous propaganda and legislation: if unions are able to continue their beautiful work, having those who truly earn the wealth get more and more of it, the profit way will be finished.”

I urge union officials across the nation to read this issue and have others know about it. Click here for the link.

Massive Strike Against Verizon Ends As Tentative Agreement Is Reached

Union to take down pickets.
Company agrees to add good union jobs on the East Coast.
First contract for retail wireless workers.
Improves workers’ overall standard of living.

2015-07-25_Mass_Rally_Stand_Up_To_VerizonFor over six weeks now, 40,000 Verizon workers have been on strike. They have been standing in opposition to proposed cuts and potential plans to offshore American jobs.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez along with federal mediator Allison Beck, stepped in to help me help resolve this massive strike.

“I’m encouraged by the parties’ continued commitment to remain at the bargaining table and work toward a resolution,” Secretary Perez said. “We will continue to facilitate conversations to help the unions and the company reach an agreement.”

On the 44th day of the strike, Perez announced that a tentative agreement has been reached between Verizon, the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

“Today, I am pleased to announce that the parties have reached an agreement in principle on a four-year contract, resolving the open issues in the ongoing labor dispute between Verizon’s workers, unions, and management,” said Perez. “The parties are now working to reduce the agreement to writing, after which the proposal will be submitted to CWA and IBEW union members for ratification.

“This tentative resolution is a testament to the power of collective bargaining. I commend the leadership of Verizon, CWA, and IBEW for their commitment to resolving these difficult issues in the spirit of constructive engagement,” Perez continued.

Perez concluded by stating, “I expect that workers will be back on the job next week.

CWA praised the announcement and the tentative agreement. The agreement includes provisions that include improving working families’ standard of living, creating good union jobs in our communities and achieving a first contract for wireless retail store workers.

“The addition of new, middle-class jobs at Verizon is a huge win not just for striking workers, but for our communities and our country as a whole. The agreement in principle at Verizon is a victory for working families across the country and an affirmation of the power of working people,” said Chris Shelton, President of the Communications Workers of America. “This proves that when we stand together we can raise up working families, improve our communities and protect the American middle class.”

“This tentative contract is an important step forward in helping to end this six-week strike and keeping good Verizon jobs in America,” said Lonnie R. Stephenson, President of the IBEW. “We will be sharing the details of it with our members for approval in the immediate days ahead.

“My thanks to our members, along with those of the CWA, who made numerous sacrifices to finally come to this point,” added Stephenson.

“Our members look forward to returning to work serving their customers, working under a strong pro-worker and pro-jobs contract,” Stephenson concluded.

The strike against Verizon was not only about the contract for the 40,000 unionized workers at Verizon, it was about taking a stand against corporate greed for all working families.

“We thank the members of CWA and IBEW. They negotiated well with Verizon and elevated working people throughout the country. We applaud them for their solidarity and hard work,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO.

Some say that unions are relics of the past and are no longer needed. This agreement shows that unions are the only ones to stand up for working families against the greed of Corporate America.


Author’s Note:

United_we_bargainI am pleased to write this story and congratulate all of the members of the IBEW and CWA who stood strong for 44 days. A long term strike like this can take a serious toll on workers’ families and tests the strength of their resolve.

Your strength and perseverance prevailed. Now Verizon Wireless workers all across the country will see the benefit of a strong labor contract.

Non-union workers will also see how standing together against corporate greed is the only way we are going to rebuild a strong middle class.

United we bargain, divided we beg.

Verizon: Lining Their Pockets With Taxpayer Money While Workers Walk Out In Strike

NALC Members Stand With IBEW and CWA Members Against VerizonVerizon is not just a case study of what’s wrong with our economy – it’s also a classic example of what’s wrong with our politics.

A couple of years ago, the Sunlight Foundation investigated 200 of America’s most “politically active” corporations, and how much each one received in federal contracts and financial support.  Verizon was #14 on their list.  Look at the report and do the math yourselfLess than $100 million in political spending, and they received $3.5 billion back from the federal government… which would mean Verizon got about $35 back for every dollar of political spending.  And that’s just in federal contracts and federal financial support.

But their lobbying has had other benefits, too.  According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Verizon spent about $12 million on federal lobbying last year.  They had 98 federal lobbyists promoting the corporation’s interests on issues including immigration, international trade, healthcare and the environment.  But the leading issue was taxes.  LOTS of lobbying on taxes.  (See it all here.)  Which might explain the corporation’s federal tax rate.  According to Citizens for Tax Justice, Verizon’s effective federal tax rate is… negative.

————–

And that’s just at the federal level.  Verizon has a business segment of “State and Local Government Solutions.”

The National Institute on Money in State Politics shows more than $22 million in political contributions from Verizon-affiliated organizations to candidates for state and local office. (Who knew?  Verizon has “Good Government Clubs” in California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania and Virginia. “Clubs” ??!?)

Can’t help but notice Verizon’s recent press release: “Verizon selected as provider on $150 million Commonwealth of Virginia network and communications contract.”  The National Institute on Money in State Politics tracks $3 million in political contributions to Virginia politicians.  Can’t help but wonder if there’s a connection.

(Can’t help but wonder how many other states would show the same pattern, if anyone took the time to look.)

————–

Meanwhile – can’t help but notice – the corporation is racking up OSHA violations and FCC penalties and financial redress via the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

————–

Nearly 40,000 Verizon workers are now on strike, after working without a contract since last August.  Read more NHLN coverage here.

Verizon Workers Announce Strike Deadline of Wednesday, April 13th

TELECOM GIANT MAKES $1.8 BILLION A MONTH IN PROFIT, BUT SEEKS TO DESTROY GOOD JOBS FOR NEARLY 40,000 EAST COAST WORKING FAMILIES

After trying for ten months to reach a fair contract, nearly 40,000 Verizon workers from Massachusetts to Virginia will go on strike at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, April 13 if a fair agreement is not reached by then. The Verizon strike will be by far the largest work stoppage in the country in recent years.

“We’re standing up for working families and standing up to Verizon’s corporate greed,” said CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor. “If a hugely profitable corporation like Verizon can destroy the good family-supporting jobs of highly skilled workers, then no worker in America will be safe from this corporate race to the bottom.”

Even though Verizon made $39 billion in profits over the last three years — and $1.8 billion a month in profits over the first three months of 2016 — the company wants to gut job security protections, contract out more work, offshore jobs to Mexico, the Philippines and other locations and require technicians to work away from home for as long as two months without seeing their families. Verizon is also refusing to negotiate any improvements in wages, benefits or working conditions for Verizon Wireless retail workers, who formed a union in 2014.

“More and more, Americans are outraged by what some of the nation’s wealthiest corporations have done to working people over the last 30 years, and Verizon is becoming the poster child for everything that people in this country are angry about,” said Edward Mooney, Vice President, CWA District 2-13.”  This very profitable company wants to push people down. And it wants to push communities down by not fully repairing the network and by not building out FIOS.”

With negotiations at a standstill even as workers have offered hundreds of millions of dollars in healthcare cost savings, support for a fair contract is growing. Last month, 20 U.S. Senators sent a letter to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam calling on him to “act as a responsible corporate citizen and negotiate a fair contract with the employees who make your company’s success possible.” And the working families of Verizon are reaching out to the public about the threat the corporation is posing to communities up and down the East Cost, including a new 30-second ad about the company’s efforts to offshore and relocate jobs.

“Verizon is already turning people’s lives upside down by sending us hundreds of miles from home for weeks at a time, and now they want to make it even worse,” said Dan Hylton, a technician and CWA member in Roanoke, Va., who’s been with Verizon for 20 years. “Technicians on our team have always been happy to volunteer after natural disasters when our customers needed help, but if I was forced away from home for two months, I have no idea what my wife would do. She had back surgery last year, and she needs my help. I just want to do a good job, be there for my family, and have a decent life.”

The Verizon negotiations began in June 2015, and the workers’ contract expired on August 1. At the same time, Verizon’s CEO is making 200 times more than the average Verizon employee, and the company’s top five executives made $233 million over the last five years.

“For months and months, we’ve made every effort to reach a fair agreement at the bargaining table,” said Myles Calvey, IBEW Local 2222 business manager and chairman, T-6 Verizon New England. “We’ve offered Verizon hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings and yet they still refuse to provide basic job security for workers. We have to take a stand now for our families and every American worker.”

Even after significant worker concessions on healthcare, Verizon is attempting to make devastating cut backs, including:

  • Offshoring and contracting out even more customer service work to Mexico, the Philippines and other locations.
  • Cutting job security for all workers.
  • Requiring technicians to work away from home for as long as two months, without seeing their families. For anyone trying to balance work and family life, this is impossible.
  • Refusing to negotiate improvements to wages, benefits and working conditions for Verizon Wireless workers, who formed a union with CWA in 2014.
  • Freezing pensions at 30 years of service and forcing retirees to pay extremely high health care costs.
  • Slashing benefits for workers injured on the job.

Verizon’s corporate greed isn’t just harming workers’ families, it’s hurting customers as well. Service quality has deteriorated to the point that New York State’s Public Service Commission has convened a formal hearing to investigate problems across the Empire State. In the last few weeks, regulators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have launched similar inquiries into Verizon’s operations.

For years, Verizon has been cutting vital staff — it has nearly 40 percent fewer workers now than a decade ago. Verizon has failed to hire the personnel necessary to properly roll out FiOS, the high-speed broadband service that is still unavailable to many of its customers. In cities like Philadelphia and New York, Verizon has failed to meet the buildout obligations under their citywide cable franchise agreements.

“Verizon wants to force through changes that would make it easier to uproot workers and hurt our communities,” said Betsy Derr, a customer service representative and CWA member in Bloomsburg, Pa., who’s worked at Verizon for over 16 years. “My job could be relocated about 70 miles away.  With three more hours of time commuting every day, I’ll be gone before my stepsons get up and maybe home for an hour before they go to bed.”

New TV Calls Verizon “The Poster Child Of Corporate Greed”

With contract negotiations for 39,000 workers stalled, Verizon Workers Blast Company’s Corporate Greed in new TV ad.

Verizon workers call company “the poster child of corporate greed”

as they prepare to go on strike, if necessary

NEW YORK — Frustrated with the unproductive pace of negotiations towards a new contract for 39,000 Verizon workers from Massachusetts to Virginia, the Communications Workers of America has launched a regional TV and digital ad buy calling the nation’s 16th largest company “the poster child for corporate greed.”  The ad can be viewed here: http://standuptoverizon.com/poster-child/. 

Verizon made $1.5 billion a month in profits in 2015—and $39 billion in profits over the last three years—while insisting at the bargaining table that workers accept major cutbacks in health care coverage, job security, pension protections, and benefits for injured workers.  Verizon also adamantly refuses to bargain a fair first contract for wireless retail store workers in NY and Massachusetts.  Continued management intransigence on these issues, which has left workers without a contract since August 1st of 2015, could lead to a strike that would affect consumers from Massachusetts to Virginia.  

In the new advertisement, which will start running this weekend, retired Verizon worker Ernie Hammel – 29-year former field technician – tells customers, “This company is the poster child for corporate greed.” 

Following clips of national TV reports about growing economic inequality in the country, the advertisement shows that Verizon’s CEO makes more than 200 times as much as the company’s average worker.

“For a communications company, Verizon executives seem to have trouble hearing their customers and their workers,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President for CWA District One, which covers Verizon workers from New Jersey to Massachusetts.  “A company this profitable should not be making the wealth gap in America even worse by cutting benefits and destroying job security, while a handful of executives line their pockets with $50 million a year in compensation.” 

“Americans are outraged by what the corporate elite has done to working people in this country over the last 30 years,” said Ed Mooney, Vice President for CWA District 2-13, which covers the workforce from Pennsylvania to Virginia.  “And Verizon typifies everything that people in this country are angry about.  If we have to walk, Verizon will be a national target for anger at corporate greed.”

Verizon workers, represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), have been working without a contract since August and are growing increasingly frustrated that the company is still attempting to make devastating changes, including: 

  • Eliminating job security and allowing the company to force transfer workers anywhere in the company’s footprint, away from their families, for up to two months at a time.
  • Refusing to negotiate a fair first contract for 100 Verizon Wireless workers who organized into CWA in 2014.  No raises, no benefit increases, no improvements to working conditions.
  • Freezing pension accruals at 30 years of service.
  • Vastly expanding contracting out and offshoring of union jobs. This comes on top of Verizon’s outsourcing of thousands of call center jobs to Mexico, the Philippines and other overseas locations in recent years.
  • Gutting the Family Leave Care plan, which provides paid leave to care for sick family members or care for a newborn.
  • Gutting the Sickness and Accident Disability Plan, which provides benefits to workers injured on the job.
  • And continuing their oppressive, bullying tactics of harassment and intimidation every day on the job.

“Verizon workers are the backbone of this company, and executives have lost sight of what makes this company so profitable,” said national CWA President Chris Shelton.  “Verizon workers have helped executives pocket $249 million in the last five years while their own families are worrying about job security.  We’re all tired of waiting for Verizon executives to agree to a fair contract.  It’s time to let customers know what is going on, and why we’ll be on strike if the situation doesn’t change soon.” 

Verizon is falling short on commitments to its customers as well. The company refuses to build out FiOS in many underserved communities up and down the East Coast, and has abandoned upkeep of the traditional landline network, leading to extensive service problems for consumers.  Even in New York City, where Verizon pledged to make FiOS available to every customer by the end of 2014, the City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications issued a report finding that the company was evading the buildout commitments it made under its 2008 video franchise agreement.

In a strike vote conducted last summer, 86% of Verizon workers supported walking off the job if a fair agreement could not be reached.

PA Public Utilities To Investigate CWA’s Claims Of Infrastructure Neglect By Verizon

In response to CWA petition on hazardous conditions across the state, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Announces Hearings into Verizon’s Systemic Neglect of Telephone Infrastructure

p 13 top left Chester Co Honeybrook Rte 10 & WoodlandVerizon’s Negligence Statewide Results in Broken Poles, Sagging Cables, Ungrounded Conduit, and Abandoned Equipment

PUC Has Received Thousands of Complaints of Inadequate Service; Customers Unable to Receive Medical Calls, Call 911 

WASHINGTON – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) commended the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission today for its decision to hold hearings into the unsafe conditions at Verizon locations throughout the state, following a CWA petition that detailed hundreds of dangerous locations across 13 counties.  The PUC announced last week that the case has been assigned to Administrative Law Judge Joel Cheskis who will preside over hearings examining Verizon’s maintenance practices and quality of service. 

Image courtesy of CWA

Image courtesy of CWA

CWA, which represents nearly 5,000 Verizon workers in the state, has examined Verizon’s equipment in areas of the state where the company has refused to build its new fiber network and only offers service through traditional copper wiring, which is often left in a state of virtual abandonment. At multiple locations across the state, CWA documented severe instances of poles designated for removal that were broken or unstable; portions of old poles suspended in the air; terminals and other equipment not attached to poles; cables hanging perilously close to the ground; plastic coverings and splice boxes placed over damaged cable and other equipment that pose a risk of insect and animal infestation, and other similar unsafe, service-impacting conditions. 

“Pennsylvania families are paying top dollar every month for reliable telephone service and safe neighborhoods and streets. They deserve better than Verizon’s reckless disregard for public safety and service,” said CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney. “CWA members across the state are climbing poles and fixing equipment every day to make sure that communities get the service they deserve and the service they pay for. Despite its billions of dollars in profits, Verizon knowingly is leaving its infrastructure in a state of disrepair, risking the safety of telephone workers and Pennsylvania residents.”

Since 2012, the PUC has received more than 6,000 complaints of inadequate service.  Because the PUC often transfers customers to Verizon before taking a complaint, the real number of complaints is likely even higher.  Many of these complaints document multiple days without service over several months, and have led to missed medical calls and an inability to call 911 in emergencies.

The union says that the dangerous conditions are due to Verizon’s systemic underinvestment in its traditional landline network.  CWA also asked the PUC to order Verizon to take immediate actions to correct these dangerous conditions throughout the Commonwealth, and to fine Verizon for what appear to be willful failures to safely maintain its equipment.  According to CWA’s petition, the PUC has the authority to fine Verizon up to $1,000 per day for each safety violation.

New York Residents Hold Rally Demanding Verizon Keep Their FIOS Promises

Elected Officials, Co-Op City Residents Demand Verizon Stop Denying Co-Op City High Speed Internet Choice 

Rally Comes After Poll Shows 72% of Co-Op City Residents Want FiOS Option

New York – State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, State Assemblyperson Mike Benedetto, Councilman Andy King, union members and Co-Op City residents came together today to demand Verizon stop stalling and offer its high-speed FiOS internet, phone and television in Co-Op City.  The demand comes days after a poll showed that almost three quarters of Co-Op City residents want the option of Verizon FiOS service.   

“I want every constituent in my district – including Co-Op City – to have a choice in their communications provider. Competition means choices and helps bring rates down. Co-Op City residents have shown unequivocally that they want FiOS. In a recent poll, 26% of residents said they would ‘definitely sign up for FiOS’ if it were available and 46% said they would ‘consider signing up.’ That means 72% of Co-Op residents polled are interested in getting FiOS,” said State Senator Hassell-Thompson. “Verizon’s franchise agreement with the City mandates that the company make FiOS available to every resident. That’s what they promised, and that’s what residents want. We believe we have an opportunity here to make that happen. We’d like to see all the parties come together and have a discussion of how to make that a reality.”

“I believe that the residents of Co-Op City deserve a chance to make a choice for their cable and internet services. I wonder why Verizon is not giving them this choice,” said State Assemblyperson Mike Benedetto.

“Residents of Co-Op City want FiOS because they want a choice. If there’s competition and more choices, you can get a better deal,” said Ross Harrison, a Co-Op City resident and Verizon worker who installs FiOS in Manhattan. “Building FiOS in Co-Op City would guarantee us work, and would make for better community relations between Verizon, CWA and Co-Op City. Right now residents feel like they’ve been abandoned.”

“Co-Op city residents want FiOS, and our members want to build it. According to its franchise agreement with the City, Verizon has an obligation to make FiOS available to every NYC resident, and Co-Op City residents are clearly residents of NYC. Building FiOS would mean choices for Co-Op City residents, and would help keep good jobs in the Bronx,” said Keith Purce, President CWA Local 1101.

Last year, a damning audit of Verizon’s FiOS rollout by the New York City government found that Verizon has failed to meet the terms of its franchise agreement, which requires the FiOS network to be available to any household that requests service by June 2014. 

Currently, thousands of street blocks, including Co-Op City, cannot get any service at all.  Millions of New Yorkers cannot get FiOS service, leaving them dependent on their cable company for TV and internet service. 

The City Council held a hearing on the issue and an investigation found that Verizon call center representatives did not offer an explanation for a lack of service or any estimate of when service would be available.  

Expanding FiOS creates competition with the cable monopoly, improving quality and lowering prices while delivering good jobs.


Background on Verizon Failure to Invest in Promised Infrastructure

Verizon has been systematically refusing to invest in its infrastructure throughout the East Coast.  In a letter to the FCC it admitted that it had only spent $200 million or $3.50 per customer over the last seven years to maintain its copper landline network in eleven states and the District of Columbia.  The Communications Workers of America filed letters in six states and Washington, DC calling on them to investigate whether Verizon was neglecting its responsibility. 

In August, it was the only major U.S. telecommunications company to turn down federal funding to build broadband in unserved, primarily rural, communities, leaving many residents in eight states and the District of Columbia without access to vital communications options.  The company was offered $568 million over six years by the Federal government to bring broadband to 270,000 locations in Washington, DC, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

In New York State, the company refuses to avail itself of Governor Cuomo’s $500 million New New York Broadband Fund, which offers up to 50% subsidies to companies willing to build high-speed service in underserved areas.  For years, Verizon has steadfastly refused to bring its high-speed internet service (or FiOS) to areas like Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Rome, Utica and numerous other upstate New York cities, as well as much of Eastern Suffolk.  At a series of hearings held by New York State, elected officials from Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, the North Country, the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley decried the lack of FiOS in their communities.

Sen. Schumer Urges Verizon to Re-Hire Unjustly Fired Union Member

Image courtesy of CWA District 1

Senator Charles Schumer and workers Image courtesy of CWA District 1, All Rights Reserved.

Call Comes After Feds Serve Verizon With a Labor Complaint For Attempting to Silence Brooklyn Workers

Workers are the First Retail Workers to Form a Union in Verizon Wireless & Are Seeking a Fair First Contract

New York, NY – Senator Chuck Schumer joined CWA in front of the wireless store where the unjustly-fired Bianca Cunningham worked and urged Verizon to re-hire her and settle its contract with the Communications Workers of America.                                

Image courtesy of CWA District 1

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer Image courtesy of CWA District 1, All Rights Reserved.

“I am proud to stand with members of the CWA as they work to build their union and settle a fair contract with Verizon. First, we’re  joined today to tell Verizon to ‘Bring Back Bianca!’ Bianca Cunningham—a hardworking employee at Verizon Wireless– who was unjustly fired. Second, we’re urging Verizon to finally negotiate and settle a fair first contract so that its hardworking employees can live a better quality of life,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “Unions are ladder to the middle class for so many hard-working people. And when we have vibrant unions, like CWA, we have the opportunity to build contracts with fair wages and benefits that can strengthen and grow the middle class.” 

“Verizon just announced $5.5 billion in profits in the fourth quarter of 2015 and pays its retail workers about 300 times less than the company CEO,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District One.  “But management would rather intimidate its workers by firing their leader for standing up for her rights than settle a fair contract.  It shouldn’t take Federal charges for Verizon to bring Bianca back and settle fair and just contracts.” 

Image courtesy of CWA District 1

Image courtesy of CWA District 1, All Rights Reserved.

In November, the Federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) authorized the issuance of a federal complaint against Verizon for violating federal labor laws when it fired Bianca Cunningham in an attempt to silence Brooklyn Verizon Wireless workers.

The 65 newly-unionized Brooklyn workers are the first retail workers in all of Verizon Wireless to form a union. Management is also targeting other union activists.

Verizon Wireless workers are fighting for raises, better benefits and a voice on the job to improve working conditions and protect themselves against unfair metrics that drive commissions and management favoritism.

CWA Calls For New Investigation Into Verizon’s Failure To Maintain Telephone Infrastructure

CWA Petitions Maryland Public Service Commission to Investigate Verizon Service Quality, Given Lack of Investment in Telecom Network 

New Evidence Shows Verizon’s Systemic Neglect of Telephone Infrastructure Leads to Inadequate Service Quality, Dangerous Conditions

The picture above is from Frt. 1525 Walker Avenue, Parkton in Baltimore County, MD shows the remnants of a deteriorated black plastic wrap and exposed wires. There is no hard case to protect the exposed wires and the temporary plastic wrap did not last. Exposed wires are susceptible to damage from weather and animals. Damaged wires cause service outages. The discolored wires indicate long exposure to weather.

The picture above is from Frt. 1525 Walker Avenue, Parkton in Baltimore County, MD shows the remnants of a deteriorated black plastic wrap and exposed wires. There is no hard case to protect the exposed wires and the temporary plastic wrap did not last. Exposed wires are susceptible to damage from weather and animals. Damaged
wires cause service outages. The discolored wires indicate long exposure to weather.

Annapolis, MD – The Communications Workers of America (CWA) today filed a letter with the Maryland Public Service Commission calling on the PSC to re-open an investigation into Verizon’s quality of service on its copper network, which is the primary network serving much of the state, including Baltimore.  The letter included photos of deteriorating telephone equipment that pose a severe threat to service quality.  

The request comes on the heels of a request in September after Verizon admitted in a letter to the FCC that it had only spent $200 million over the last 7 years to maintain its copper landline network in Maryland and ten other states and the District of Columbia.  

“Verizon makes a profit of over $1.5 billion every month,” said CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney.  “And yet it refuses to expand its high-speed network to Baltimore and other communities in Maryland, while systematically letting the existing network deteriorate.  Verizon needs to stop hoarding its cash and start investing in its customers and employees.” 

CWA, in the course of representing its more than 3,300 Verizon workers throughout Maryland, examined Verizon’s equipment in areas of the state where Verizon has not built its new fiber network (or FiOS) and only offers service through traditional copper wiring.  The investigation documented numerous locations that are so damaged as to impact service quality.  This includes poles that are damaged, unsecured and broken, damaged and exposed cable and splice terminals, by-passed damaged cable, and equipment that shows evidence of damage caused by animals.  

The union says that Verizon’s systemic underinvestment in its traditional landline network violates the terms of the alternative form of regulation that the company is currently operating under. 

Maryland law sets out a standard that permits the Public Service Commission to adopt – and Verizon to operate under – an alternative form of regulation.  Verizon is only allowed to operate under this alternative form of regulation if the Commission finds that it protects consumers by – at a minimum – producing affordable and reasonably priced basic service and by ensuring the quality, availability and reliability of telecommunications services throughout the State of Maryland.  The lack of investment, as evidenced by the deteriorating physical plant puts the quality, availability and reliability at risk. 

Verizon’s lack of investment is not limited to Maryland.  The union filed a similar petition in Pennsylvania, where a lack of investment has led to dangerous conditions and service quality complaints.

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