Stuck in the Middle with U-nions


    Unions, bruised and battered over the past few years, stand in the middle of a struggle over fundamental American values. Do Americans wish to swing toward a society demarcated by lower and upper classes or a society more equitably constituted by working, middle and upper echelons?

    As Verizon would tell it, the decline in revenues over the past few quarters or so justifies an immense reduction in its union employees’ health care and pension benefits, affecting nearly 45,000 union employees. All the while, top-level Verizon executives continue to make millions of dollars in annual compensation. Does this sound fair?

    Fairness has lost its meaning in 21st-century America. Fairness is not efficient, fairness is not always economically logical, and fairness is for suckers who don’t know how to play the game. But while not perfect, fairness is what has propelled so much of American history – fairness to women, immigrants, different religions.

    The decision by Verizon to squeeze out its middle-class employees is not just an attack on the bedrock of our republic, it’s an attack on the very ideas that have permeated America’s fabric since its inception. It is an attack upon what is right for the American worker, the laborer whose work supports the freedoms we enjoy every day. Verizon has chosen this moment to fundamentally undermine unions, believing the political winds to be blowing in its favor. But what is fair and just is always on the tip of every American’s tongue.

    Published in the Richmond Times Dispatch on 8/28/2011.

    • Matt_H

      Don’t forget the Wal-Marts of the world, along with most other American employers who are vehemently anti-union – the list would more than fill up this space.  What’s worse, is that for most politicians, it doesn’t matter.  Even two members of the Virginia General Assembly are on Verizon’s payroll is high capacities.

    • Will Radle

      This is an issue of ethics. Greed and a collapse of ethics enables some to take food and health care off the tables of families who help generate the revenues necessary for the company to survive and thrive.

      What is the compensation multiple between “top-level” executives making millions and the employees?  Is it set within a competitive market?  

    • Will Radle

      I appreciate the follow-up, Progressive86.  The links you provided are a good source of data and insight from Verizon employees.  We need to support fair treatment for the entire team.  Employee compensation has been falling behind while executives have been increasing what they withhold from shareholders.

      Have employee shareholders sought to unite with other private shareholders?  It’s the owners and the employees who are hurt most in the current situation.

    • Will Radle

      Just saw a news report saying that Verizon’s chief executive took home more than the company paid in federal taxes.  More importantly, they said Verizon spent more on lobbying Congress than it paid in federal taxes.

      Does anyone think Verizon should be pulling its weight and get off the public dole?