Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Saturday, August 02, 2003
Go to the new DM blog.


Have We Not Heard The Chimes At Midnight?


Quick roundup about tomorrow morning's Verizon strike. Basically everybody agrees that at 12:01AM, the union will strike against Verizon. WaPo makes an interesting observation:

[I]ndustry observers say that unless a strike drags on, disruptions may be limited because the sluggish economy has held down business expansion and the widespread use of cell phones has reduced reliance on land lines.

Verizon has been working feverishly to get managers ready to backfill craft jobs, and is better prepared than ever to deal with the work stoppage. Combine that with the above observations and the company is in pretty good shape to weather the strike. I have both union and non-union friends, and for their sakes I hope the company will emerge in okay shape and that the strike won't hurt the folks on the line. The idea that cell phones might mitigate some of the impact is particularly interesting. Anecdotally I know many people use their wireless phones in lieu of land lines for long distance calls, with "no roaming/LD" packages being so cheap, and in many cases have completely abandoned the wired network, exclusively relying on their cell phones. However, there are still people who use the traditional telephone network, such as my friend David who I helped moved to a new apartment yesterday. He could be effected, as the NYTimes reports:

Neither side was voicing optimism yesterday, with the unions saying that 78,000 workers would walk out at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow if no new contract was reached by then.

The strike would involve workers in states from Virginia to Maine. It is not expected to affect regular phone service, but might cause delays in installing new phone lines.

And yeah, the union certainly isn't expressing optimism. The Northeast Bargaining Update says "We remain far apart on all major issues as expiration draws near." Mid-Atlantic says:

With only hours now until the expiration of our contract we are still where we started, which is to say that we have not accepted a single concessionary demand. With so little time left, we are on course for what we've always known; this contract will be won in the fight,
...
In a few more hours this battle will be completely in the hands of our members, and our contract and our Unions could not be in better hands.

Special Instructions to MOBILIZERS - NORTH: "Shock and Awe"

Where I come from, them's fightin' words. Since I've been on a poetry kick lately, here's a poem written by Rachelle Klemunes, a Local 13500 member:

COLOR US UNITED
Friday, August 01, 2003

RED ON THURSDAY, BLACK ON FRIDAY
08-02 AT MIDNIGHT WILL BE OUR DAY!
SOLIDARITY WILL BE STRONG,
WE'LL STAND TOGETHER ALL DAY LONG.

"THANK YOU FOR CALLING VERIZON"
THEY WILL SAY, WHILE OUTSIDE WE
STILL MARCH AWAY! "HOW MAY I HELP
YOU?" THEY WILL ASK, BUT STILL OUTSIDE
WE SHALL LAST.

DAY AFTER DAY, NIGHT AFTER NIGHT.
WE WILL NOT GIVE UP THE FIGHT!
WHILE THEY SLEEP WELL IN THEIR BEDS
THE LOSS OF BENEFITS ROLL THROUGH
OUR HEADS!

CWA WE MUST STAND TALL,
AND IN THE END THEY WILL FALL!!!
"NO GIVEBACKS" WE WILL SHOUT
AND RAVE---JUST STAND TOGETHER
AND BE BRAVE!!!!!!

To all my friends, students and colleagues at Verizon, on both sides of the picket line, I wish you all the best in the days (hopefully not weeks or months) ahead.

ntodd

[Update: Marketplace had a story earlier this week about the impending strike:

Officials from Verizon and its two unions are trying to work out a deal before with federal mediators before a deadline set for Sunday. And though industry observers are expecting another strike like the one that hit the nation's largest phone company in 2000, the impact of a strike this time around is likely to be different. Why? When management and labor sat down at the negotiating table 3 years ago, the fight was over how to split up the bounty of a brand-new company. Now, in this post-boom telecom industry, they’re said to be fighting over who loses the least. Since Verizon’s only ace in the hole may be wireless, its local phone workers may not have a strong hand to play at the bargaining table.

Stay tuned...]


[Update, 9:04PM: Forbes has an article (via Reuters) about the strike:

Verizon has trained its white-collar workers to handle union tasks such as installing telephones, climbing telephone poles to repair lines, and fielding customer service calls.

As my friend Gary Kessler would say, lemme say this about that: climbing poles is not a small feat. When teaching at the Verizon facility in Marlboro, MA, I've hung out with pole climbers on many an occasion. It's tough training and tough work, and there are many who have failed to become linemen of the county because they couldn't make it up past six feet on the pole.

One more thing. The longest strike for the old Nynex was 17 weeks. This one could conceivably go 30-40 weeks. Not good for either side. Are there really even two sides? I'm not so sure.]
 
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