Tag Archive: IBEW

Unions May Be Their Own Worst Enemies

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I’m just stunned by the rationale of IBEW Local 102 in endorsing Governor Chris Christie for reelection as New Jersey’s governor.

“The most important remedy to our struggling economy is private sector investment and growth. Governor Christie is the first governor to take seriously the competition within our nation and abroad to attract businesses here,” union business manager Patrick Delle Cava said in a statement.

Huh … wha? Seriously?  The governor who is presiding over the worst employment growth in the northeast is the one you think is serious about creating jobs?

The guy who cancelled the ARC project as one of his first actions?  The guy who inherited a $3.9 billion fund for school construction, and instead of improving school facilities canceled the 50 or so projects in the pipeline?  The guy who has ignored $300 million in federal dollars to stop foreclosures so people can stay in their homes and pay contractors to repair them?

The guy presiding over a nine percent unemployment rate?

Oh, and then there’s the idea that Christie is attracting businesses to New Jersey from other states.  First of all the majority of the money spent to entice employers has gone to keep companies already in the state, not to entice others to relocate here. And today we learn that Hertz is moving from NJ to Florida. Ooops.

All I can figure is these folks believe Christie is going to win no matter what, so they need to get on his good side if they want contracts and his ear.  Because the record doesn’t match the rhetoric.

If Christie is successful in his makeover for President do these unions really think he’s going to be supportive?  That any Republican, no matter how “plain talking” will want to protect the right of workers to organize?  ‘Cause their support of him now is going to propel him in that direction.

My only hope is that the rush of unions to endorse Christie in 2013 will be remembered in 2016 when they all back the Democrat, and the story line is “unions abandon Christie.” It’s a thin hope, but a hope. I guess.

Fight to Save Retiree Benefits

The fight over healthcare is heating up again and two New Jersey

Congressmen are taking up the fight to protect retirees.

New Jersey has over one million estimated retirees covered by

company-sponsored healthcare, but recently some companies have decided

to leave their retirees in the lurch.

Companies have been diminishing healthcare to retirees and last year

several major corporations threatened to outright cancel healthcare

when they went before Congress.

South Jersey Rep. Robert Andrews and North Jersey Rep. Steve Rothman

are collaborating on H.R. 1322, the Earned Retiree Healthcare Benefits

Protection Act of 2011.

The bi-partisan legislation prevents employers from stripping

post-retirement benefits from retirees after many years of dedication

to the company.

Now, 13,000+ member-strong IBEW Local 827 – based in East Windsor,

N.J. – is endorsing the legislation and calling on Sen. Robert

Menendez to sponsor the bill.

“This legislation is needed to protect those who made corporations

profitable today and is needed to keep taxpayer costs out of the

healthcare system under the Patient Protection & Accordable Care

Act,” wrote William D. Huber, President and Business Manager of IBEW

Local 827 in a letter to Sen. Menendez.

The letter was co-signed by Edward Johnson, State Chairman and Hudson

Representative Retiree Committee for IBEW Local 827.

“We need to ensure that America’s retirees are not casualties of

the national healthcare struggle,” said New Jersey retiree Mike

McFadden, who worked at Verizon.

The bill is actively being pushed by ProtectSeniors.org, a D.C.-based

group that is pushing companies to honor their commitments to retired

workers.

“We merely want companies to live up to the financial commitments

they made,” said Paul Miller of ProtectSeniors.Org. “Give us the

health benefits we earned and paid for over decades of loyal service.”

Verizon Strike is Over

The Verizon strike – affecting 45,000 workers on the Eastern Seaboard – is over. The unions agreed to a 30-day return to work, effective midnight August 23, with work beginning Tuesday, which either side can cancel with a 7-day notice. And negotiations will continue as that old contract remains in force. Joint statement from CWA & IBEW:

We have reached agreement with Verizon on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured. The major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues now are focused and narrowed.

Earlier this week there was a large, peaceful protest outside Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam’s house in leafy Mendham, to bring middle class workplace issues to the very front door of a CEO whose compensation (from the very profitable Verizon) is in the millions.

Verizon engaged in a huge public relations campaign to counter the effect of viral strike videos, and picket lines of red-shirted union workers. Newspaper ads. Radio and TV blitz, all about how happy their customers are.

This customer supported the strike (maybe strike-supporting customers didn’t occur to Verizon). My cell phone’s busted, and I wasn’t about to walk it in to Verizon. Now I can.  

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: