Memo to Star-Ledger Editorial Board

re: Verizon strike

Yesterday, S-L ran an editorial: Can you hear us now? Knock it off. It says, among other things, that striking union members are:

… childish …

… militant …

… irresponsible …

… knuckleheads …

Our Ledger friends ask whether the good people of New Jersey will even want Verizon workers in their houses ever again after witnessing them in the act of striking. Witnessing what? S-L reports the FBI is investigating 90 acts of ‘sabotage’. That’s 90 ‘incidents’ over 9 days of striking, in states from Massachusetts to Virginia, with 45,000 people out on strike. Really?

Strikes are a challenging business for both sides as S-L notes in their first paragraph (then promptly forgets). Their story deals only with striker behavior. And they have to pull from the entire Eastern Seabord for alleged stories of BB guns, blocked trucks, and cut cables. They, like many right-wing websites, are particularly scandalized by a worker “using his young daughter as a roadblock for Verizon trucks”. I thought you should see that video. Does she look scared to you? Maybe she knows the well-financed PR assault her Daddy’s up against.

What about what may be bad actions of scabs? Did S-L even consider the longstanding union-busting tradition of management sabotaging equipment so that striking workers are blamed? No. (Let alone snafus like managers rusty at dangerous ‘hands-on’ work [apparently] doing stuff like blowing transformers).

A few things for S-L to consider:

$258 million: compensation for Verizon’s top 5 execs over the past 4 years

$6 billion: Verizon’s annualized profits for 2011

$6,800: increased health care costs to each worker if Verizon wins

This isn’t about getting rich off this company. Top Verizon execs have that covered. It’s about retaining living wage jobs; that’s what unions are supposed to do. The company’s asking for about 100 give-backs including freezing pensions, cutting paid holidays, and exporting jobs to foreign companies.

Where’s Star-Ledger’s outrage at that? The people on strike are the people who built Verizon, literally. Verizon’s claiming their back’s against the wall because the market’s transitioning from land-lines to wireless. Investment experts say even if Verizon succeeds in cutting worker benefits there’s no guarantee it will stop their market share loss in landline. And the union makes the case its workers helped build Verizon’s highly-profitable wireless side, which is not unionized. So why not support workers earning a living wage, and trying to keep their jobs in America?

So, difficult as strikes are – we get that, S-L – maybe you’ve overplayed the inconvenience to this company its workers built, that wants to shave worker benefits to rake in even more money. And maybe you haven’t noticed many of its customers support the strike.

Jump for a video on the strike from the workers’ side:  

Comments (9)

  1. Hopeful

    dealing with Verizon, is that if I have a phone problem I talk to knowledgeable, helpful union guy here in the states. Internet problem? Then it’s a very nice person (in the Philippines? India?) who keeps repeating a script and is no help at all.  

  2. Hetty Rosenstein

    Thank goodness for Rosi and the fantastic writers at Blue Jersey!  I will add one more example of Corporate Thuggery that the SL wasn’t upset about – 22 years ago today Gerry Horgan was killed on the picket line when a scab ran him over.  He left 2 small children. We honor him to this day by wearing red on Thursday.

    CWA has 10 examples in this strike of management scabs barreling through the picket line in cars and nearly hitting strikers or actually hitting strikers.

    Do you think the SL is demanding justice for Gerry Horgan and is appalled and the continued risky and aggressive conduct of management scabs?

  3. nsodano

    The greed of Corporate America is a repacious thing… never satisfied with just a huge profit.  They always need more and think that others need less.  

  4. KendalJames

    Thank you so much for this post. Shame on the SL edit board for what I can only imagine will go down as one of their most thoughtless and off-the-mark editorials of all time. Simply absurd.  

  5. 12mileseastofTrenton

    is virulently anti-union.  Especially the editorial board, which reflect ownership policy.  Always has been.

    Next time you hear some blowhard complaining about the “liberal media,” bring this topic up.

  6. Jersey Jazzman

    … put to rest the idea that elites have a problem with public worker unions?

    They have a problem with unions – period.

  7. brendanod

    I ha a union Verizon employee at my house a few months back.  He told me that management told them that for every land line phone customer they lost, they gained 2 DSL customers.  He also told me that most   alarm systems are required to be monitored using the copper network because of its reliability.

    If Verizon wasn’t still making money off their copper network they would dismantle it.  They maintain the network because it still makes money.


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