Why I’m On Strike At Verizon
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam is baffled. Recently, he walked up to a picket line and told striking workers, “This makes no sense to anybody. To be honest, I’m not sure why you’re out here.”
Well, it makes sense to me. Let me explain why I’ve joined nearly 40,000 workers on strike from Massachusetts to Virginia.
For the past 16.5 years, I’ve worked as a Customer Service Representative at Verizon’s Customer Sales and Service office in Bloomsburg, PA. I take calls from customers and handle everything from setting up payment to transferring telephone service. I love my job. My mom is a Verizon retiree, and our family is proud to be part of the team that has made this company so successful.
Yet Verizon is treating us like nothing more than numbers on a spreadsheet. The company is planning to close our office and relocate us to Scranton without any consideration of the working families who have put down roots in Bloomsburg. That’s about 65 miles away, or a three to four hour commute every day.
That’s not only a lot of time in the car, but a lot of time away from my family. I have two stepsons, ages 11 and 15. I help them with homework every night, and you can find me cheering at every one of their swim meets and after-school events. Commuting to Scranton means I would be gone before the kids got up and maybe home for an hour before they go to bed – if I’m lucky. I already work a lot of overtime, as much as seven hours each week, because we’re so understaffed. Sometimes, Verizon asks us to work weekends.
I can’t simply pack up my entire life and move to Scranton. My husband and I have joint custody of our boys, which means we can’t just move them out of their school district. Given the choice between giving up custody and commuting, I’ll always choose commuting. We’re looking after my husband’s mother, who recently had open-heart surgery and can’t drive. My mother, who lives just a few miles from me, also needs our help getting to doctor appointments and the grocery store. This is what family does. We’re each other’s strength. We lean on and support one another.
Verizon is making drastic changes to my life – all in the name of saving a few dollars or for management efficiency. Now I have a question for Mr. Lowell McAdam: Is that money worth dismantling the lives of so many families?
I ask because the company’s calculations don’t add up. I work in Verizon’s central office in Bloomsburg. That means this Verizon-owned building’s first floor contains all the switching equipment that makes that network run. It also means the lights will still be on when me and my coworkers move out. The company isn’t selling the building. I don’t see the benefits of forcing us to relocate.
In its latest proposal, the company is offering us an “enhanced relocation payment” of $5,000 to move. Even if I could uproot my family, that doesn’t even come close to the costs involved with selling a home and buying a new one – if you’re lucky enough to be able to sell your house right away.
Verizon has been telling the media that my annual pay and benefits package is valued at $130,000. Wow, that would be awesome. That truth is I make $32 an hour. My pay scale is around $60,000 a year. Though because the Bloomsburg office hasn’t hired anyone in eight years, forced overtime can bump my pay to as much as $70,000 a year. Adding in benefits doesn’t even get me close to what the company is claiming.
At the bargaining table, workers have offered up hundreds of millions of dollars in healthcare cost savings. But apparently this isn’t enough for Verizon. In addition to moving my office to Scranton, it wants to gut our job security protections. The company wants to contract out more work and offshore jobs to Mexico and the Philippines. Verizon says it must make huge cuts, even though it raked in $39 billion in profit over the last three years.
This strike has been very difficult for my family. It’s tough not knowing how long I’ll be on this picket line. We’re pinching pennies everywhere we can. But I know I have to take a stand. That shouldn’t be too hard for Mr. McAdam to understand.
Verizon workers are on strike to defend their livelihoods. Stand with them against corporate greed.
This post originally appeared on By Our Hands.
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