Yes, yes, I’m sure those of you on my personal Facebook account have seen me posting about the Verizon strike by now. I mentioned it only briefly in my last health update. But it has gone on for a while now. (5 weeks!)
First of all, some people want to ask why they’re striking. Are they looking for more pay? (This is where the “union thug” mentality comes in.) But in this case they are partly looking to keep what they already have. Namely, benefits. Verizon wants to drastically make cuts in that department. They will become more expensive for us per pay period, meaning more of a financial burden. Then, we need to start paying a deductible. THEN, the benefits themselves are cut, too! So, we will be paying MORE, for WORSE insurance.
Besides the insurance issue, Verizon also has a bunch of unreasonable demands that pushed the two unions (CWA and IBEW) into going on strike. One is that they can move a worker on a tour out of state for up to two months without seeing their family! Can you imagine how anyone could agree to that? They want to close centers, and more them…and if you still want your job, you have to move with practically no notice, and no moving expenses! They also want to close call centers and such and move them overseas where they can pay workers a small fraction of what they pay here! (For a horrifying read, click this link on their overseas location in the Philippines, paying their workers $1,78 an hour. They chased a group of investigating union reps from our country out of there with guns and a SWAT team! Way to go, Verizon! *sarcasm*) They want to freeze pensions. You get the idea…there’s a REALLY good reason the unions are on strike. NO ONE would want to work under these conditions.
Verizon dropped another bombshell on us, because of how “bad” the workers were being on strike. The medical, vision, and dental insurances (and life, as well, it turns out) would be cut off if they didn’t come back to work by May 1st. An agreement couldn’t be reached, so sure enough, we lost it all. This was a really low blow for us, because of all my health issues. (My CA125 is on the rise, so my cancer could be coming back, so REALLY REALLY bad timing. Thankfully I still have Medicare from my SS Disability, but that only covers 80%.) In the meantime I’ve had to literally cancel all non-essential appointments (i.e. regular dental check-ups, etc.), but we’ve also had to cancel more crucial appointments like Kenzie’s psychiatrist, because she has no insurance at all to pay for it. And, since there is no prescription coverage, either, as our medications run out, if they are too expensive, we have to pretty much not take them. (I’ve been off my migraine preventative for weeks and am absolutely miserable!) My asthma inhailer, which I had no choice but to refill (or it could cost me my life) cost me almost $60 with a prescription discount card…instead of $9 with a copay on insurance. Verizon has not done this to us before during our other strikes.
The thing that should be scaring the the general public is this: the workers on strike, those in the unions, had to get background checks before coming in your homes to do repairs to your phone lines. That is a good thing. I mean, you wouldn’t want a convicted murderer, or a child molester coming into your house and coming in contact with your family. BUT, the scabs that Verizon hired to fill in during the strike (the UNTRAINED SCABS, mind you) have not had background checks! You do not know who is coming into your home! Some of them aren’t even technicians… There was one report of an untrained scab dropping a pole on someone’s house! (See report here.) One scab in Massachussetts, who was driving for Verizon on a suspended license and intoxicated on the job, ran down a picketing striker! (See article here.) For the safety of all customers, everyone should have a background check! It’s just common sense, so they know who they’re sending into people’s homes unsupervised.
Hopefully we’ll see an end to all of this madness soon, as the union leaders and company heads are in Washington DC with Labor heads to hash this out with mediation. I could see Verizon claiming poverty and wanting to cut back on benefits and pay and such if they were floundering and needed help. They’re not. They’re making 1.8 billion in profit (not revenue, profit) a month. Their CEO, Lowell McAdam is making $18 million a year in salary! Other heads in the company are making similar high figures. The past few years they received special tax breaks. These tax breaks actually caused them to have a NEGATIVE income tax owed. (Some of those tax breaks, I believe have been from promises of installing FIOS everywhere….empty promises, as we are still waiting on that to happen.)
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has shown his support at the CWA rally, accusing Verizon of corporate greed. (See video and article here.) Hillary supports it, as well. Other celebrities have shown their support. Senators have pleaded with Verizon on the union’s behalf, You’d think that with so many people criticizing Verizon, telling them to end this nonsense, they’d be ready to do it. You’d think with their sales down due to the picketers blocking Verizon Wireless store locations in certain markets where the strikes are happening, they’d be just as anxious to resolve this. Call wait times for customer service are upwards of 5 hours. I’ve heard of scheduling for installs or repairs for landlines starting in July. They can’t keep up business like this, scabs or not.
If you’re still reading, and wondering why people like my husband are still wanting to strike after 5 weeks with no pay (IBEW, my husband’s union, has no strike fund) and 3 1/2 weeks with no insurance…big corporations need to know that they can’t treat their workers like they do. And remember, all the rights everyone enjoys in their workplace today wouldn’t be had if it weren’t for unions fighting for them!