Will Verizon workers strike out?

By Diane Seo and Suzy Hansen

By Salon Staff
Published August 10, 2000 7:02PM (EDT)

Read the story

How sad it is that we have given up on unions. Most people do not realize that once our unions are gone, there will be no one left to protect the workers. Everyone should get involved when unfair labor practices are so blatant. Americans have to stick together or we will find all of our jobs in Mexico.

-- Carol Squires

Look no further than the transportation industry to see why unions are necessary. There is not a single non-union trucking company that does not make their drivers break Department of Transportation regulations to get the work done. After leaving a Teamster job in 1997, I worked for seven companies in a row that expected their drivers to work more hours than legally allowed by the Department of Transportation. If we had no unions at all, companies would go back to having people work 16 hours a day for less pay and no benefits. I now work for Verizon as a member of IBEW and will never cross a picket line. Go CWA! Good luck in your fight against corporate greed and stockholders that only care about the bottom line, not the company or its employees!

-- Thomas J. Fay

I am writing to educate you regarding the working conditions that the customer call representatives face on a daily basis. I am currently working 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. tours with a lunch break at 4:30 p.m. During that 8.5 hour time before lunch, I am allotted one 15-minute break. Any other time off the line, whether to go to the bathroom or leave my desk for any reason, is closely monitored. Any deviation from the schedule is frowned upon and listed in our daily logs.

We are instructed to complete all paperwork while the customer is on the phone or between calls. We are unable to close our keys to catch our breath between calls. This does not relate to good customer service at all. And don't even start with the sales quotas we are given. I have been employed with the company since September 1999 and am not allowed any sick days or personal days off until January 2001. If I am out for any reason, I am placed on final warning. If I go out again in the following three months I am fired.

The working environment in my office is one of customer service reps trying to overcome exhaustion and company indifference to our needs while trying to provide "outstanding service" (which we are required to say on every phone contact)to our many customers.

I like my job but would like to be treated with some humanity and respect. I am not a robot but Verizon is only concerned with their bottom line. Please support our union: They are trying to make a better job environment for the common folk -- people like you and me.

-- Mary Ellen Maloney

As someone who has spent time on the front line of both sides of the labor issue, it has become increasingly obvious to me that unions are falling out of favor for one reason. Unions are no longer in the business of protecting workers. They are in the business of protecting themselves. As the American people come to the realization that labor unions are irrelevant, the unions find their membership rolls decreasing, causing the unions to feel the sharp pinch of declining revenues. As a result, organizing becomes much more aggressive.

The single quote that sticks out for anyone who has spent any time working in labor issues is this: "The unions are negotiating with Verizon for assurances that they will be able to organize employees without management interference ..." This is a tactic used by unions called "neutrality." What it means is that management must remain silent and cannot tell employees anything about unionization. It is a gag order. With this gag order in place, the unions are free to say anything, even lie to the workers (whose best interests they are supposed to have in mind), for the eventual goal of winning an election (if the union allows the members to even have a vote). Please remember, this organizing drive is about money to the union, and they will paint it in any light to receive favorable public relations. What they really want is for management to shut up, and the workers to pay up.

-- Matthew Sweer

Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------