Lowell McAdam, Verizon’s CEO, is a dollar and cents kind of a guy.
Over the last three years, Verizon booked profits totaling $39 billion, but that’s not enough dollars and cents for McAdam–he wants more.
To get more, he is demanding that Verizon’s union employees, who belong to the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), accept steep cuts to their health insurance plan, allow Verizon to close some of its call centers and move some of those jobs overseas, and accept job assignments that would require them to live away from their families for months at a time.
As a result of McAdam’s demands, Verizon’s union workers went on strike nearly four-weeks ago.
A few days into the strike, McAdam, whose 2015 compesation was 243 times greater than the average Verizon employee, visited a CWA picket line in DeWitt, New York and told those on the picket line that he didn’t understand why they were on strike–it didn’t make dollars and cents to him.
A video showing McAdam’s befuddlement went viral, and Amanda Poe, a CWA member who works for Verizon in Willmington, Delaware, wrote him a letter explaining why she is on strike.
The letter contains a powerful message that even a clueless multi-millionaire should be able to understand.
Poe, a single mother of two teenage daughters, said that the strike is about more than dollar and cents; for her, it’s about being able continue being a good mom.
One of her daughters was born with a severely cleft palate and lip that required several expensive surgeries. The operations have been a success, but years later her daughter continues to receive expensive follow up treatment.
Fortunately, Poe has health insurance, won by her union through hard-fought struggles, that has covered most of the expenses.
But Verizon, even though it is flush with profits and facing a profitable future, wants its striking workers to accept steep health care cuts.
“Changes to the health care coverage offered by Verizon could prevent us from getting the help (my daughter) needs to compete her health care plan,” wrote Poe to McAdam. “Affordable health care is not an option–it is a necessity. Is she worth it? Absolutely.”
Verizon also wants to close call centers such as the one where Poe works.
If McAdam shuts down her call center, Poe may still have a job, but in order to keep her job, she will have to commute hours a day to keep it.
Instead of spending time with her daughters at home and during their extra-curricula activities, Poe will be driving to and from work.
“Changing my work location would take away much of what I hold dear — spending my time with my children. I am sure that is not the intention of the move, but please realize it is the result. I am not just a number Mr. McAdam. I am someone’s mom.” wrote Poe.
Poe was joined by thousands of other Verizon striking workers as they took to the streets to explain to McAdam and his Wall Street bosses why Verizon’s workers are on strike during a nationwide day of action on May 5.
In New York, 2000 Verizon workers marched to Verizon wireless store on Wall Street to demand a fair contract.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, 250 Verizon workers and supporters demonstrated at Verizon’s annual shareholders meeting. Fifteen union members and community supporters were arrested in an act of civil disobedience to protest Verizon’s greedy contract demands.
“As long as corporate executives put short-term profits ahead of the workers who make those profits possible and the communities they promised to serve, the calls for a change of course at Verizon will only grow stronger,” said protester Bianca Cunningham before she was arrested,
Cunningham is a former Verizon Wireless worker who was fired in September while helping her fellow employees form a union.
In all, 400 actions, mostly at Verizon wireless stores across the country, were held to demand a fair contract.
As part of the day of action, the striking unions set up a website where you can show your support for Verizon workers standing up to corporate greed by donating to a solidarity fund.
Money in the fund will help workers facing financial difficulties while they remain on strike.