The strike by 36,000 Verizon workers -- represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) -- is about to enter its second month. The striking Verizon workers have disappeared from the media’s view.
"The ideology of the 1% is that they can do whatever they want, even if it doesn't make sense," CWA District 1 strike mobilization coordinator Peter Sikora told Truthout. "It's part of the 1%'s war on workers."
The corporate media have identified some of the key issues in the strike -- wages, medical and retirement benefits. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. In 2011, 43,000 Verizon workers struck; in 2016, 36,000 are on strike. What happened to the missing 7,000 workers, 16 percent of the workforce? Their disappearance is part of the big squeeze, the outsourcing of labor costs to maximize profit. Verizon workers see the writing on the wall and wonder when their jobs will be outsourced. Rightfully suspicious, Verizon employees ask why the company does not temporarily increase local staffing to meet demand requirements or distribute heavy volume calls to other nearby -- and unionized -- centers.
Verizon is a very profitable company -- and its customers are paying for it. It reported 2015 revenues of $131.6 billion and $17.9 billion in profits. In 2015, Verizon sold off $15 billion of its assets and bought back $5 billion of its stock -- all to goose the stock price and increase the bonuses of top management. From 2008 to 2013, while Verizon made over $42.4 billion in U.S. profits, it received a total tax refund of $732 million from the IRS. Verizon's effective U.S. corporate income tax rate over this six-year period was minus-2 percent. In 2012, Verizon stashed $1.8 billion in offshore tax havens to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. Since 2003, Verizon has used clever dodges to avoid paying its fair share of New York State taxes.