I went to work this morning, unaware that the Communications Workers of America (CWA) had struck Verizon. I should know – I work for AT&T, whose workers are also represented by the CWA. But I didn’t and that says volumes about the local that represents my work group. But that is another story for another time.
I got home, logged on to the computer, and read the news. I have to say that this action is long, long overdue. The CWA had the opportunity to strike against AT&T in 2009, but it didn’t. I thought the CWA had lost its nerve, but I guess the Verizon workers boxed the “leadership” of the CWA, which has sold the workers in the telecommunications industry down the river for 30 years or more, into a corner. Bully for the workers and I wish them every bit of luck. They are going to need it, because between workers crossing the picket lines and the “conservatives” dissing the workers for daring to stand up against management, this is going to be a tough slog.
I’m going to address you “conservatives” right here and right now. I put the word conservatives in quotation marks because you aren’t really conservative – you are greedy, selfish, and ignorant. But that’s another post for another day. You say that the Verizon workers make an average of $65,000 a year and that they somehow shouldn’t be striking because they make so much money. That they are greedy. That they should pay for their medical benefits, because everyone else does. That they are lazy and that there are thousands of unemployed workers out there who would willingly do their jobs for half the wages. Not likely. The workers who are striking are skilled technicians who have worked years to perfect their trade. The management claims that they have highly trained replacements are false – most of their replacements are managers who have never done the job before and have no idea how to do the work.
Now, here’s the thing that you “conservatives” can’t seem to understand: there is a connection between the decline of this once-great country and union membership. Unions are the only force that exists that can counter Wall Street and the corporations that run this country. Surely you don’t think politicians, in the pockets of the corporations and Wall Street, are going to fix what is wrong with this country, do you? Do you really think that the circus we just watched about the debt ceiling did anything to help us? You can’t decry the bailout, Obamacare, Medicare, and Social Security and then slam unions. Instead, you should be applauding these brave workers, because someone has to stand up to the financiers and capitalists who are ruining this country. If you applaud our soldiers for defending “our freedoms”, how is it that you can’t bring yourself to defend unions for standing up for working people’s rights?? If the workers at Verizon are defeated, it just means that management will speed up the treadmill more and you are next. How much do you make now? $15 an hour? How about taking a 30 % cut in wages because management and the stockholders are not making enough? What are you going to do about it? Nothing. That’s what. Because you don’t have the balls to organize and demand better working conditions and better wages. The only thing you can do is slam unions and suck up to the bosses.
Trust me. The working conditions that the Verizon workers experience every day are not that different from the conditions that I see at AT&T every day. There are very few craft workers at AT&T who are happy campers – not with the wages, but about the endless pressure to “make the numbers”. And that also applies to the first level of management – a huge number of very unhappy campers. Today, I learned of a manager with 38 years experience who is retiring at the end of the year because he can’t stand the bullshit any longer. On average, his group misses 150 service orders every day. Every day. And you wonder why you can’t get your phone fixed? That’s why.
Go out on the street and ask Verizon and AT&T customers if they are happy with their service. Go ahead. Ask. You won’t find many happy customers. Then ask yourself why. Could it be because the craft people who work for the companies cannot provide good service because they are being disciplined for not making their numbers?
So. For all you union-bashers: wake up. Unions created the middle class in this country because they were the only organized force that existed to push back against the capitalists and their incessant demands for more, more, more, and more. The decline of the middle class parallels the decline of the union membership in this country. If you want to live in poverty, have your kids go to crappy schools, be the victims of crime, and work in unsafe conditions, go ahead and diss the union workers who created the middle class. Go ahead and shoot yourself in the foot, once again.
You ignorant fools make me sick.
A great big salute to the brave workers at Verizon!
Update – 8/11/2011: an anonymous member of CWA Local 1106 writes about the reasons for the strike.