(Image from NewYorker.com)
Very few people have taken note of the striking Verizon workers. Its just another protest by people whose jobs are not long for this world anyway, right?
Time was that most people who worked for big companies were unionized workers under contracts that gave them rights, benefits and a decent living wage. These days not so much. Verizon’s workers are fed up with the company’s continuing eroding of jobs, wages and protections.
But here’s what is going to happen, if the Verizon unions don’t win this strike on any level.
Verizon will outsource the jobs currently done by these workers. Verizon’s stores will be outsourced and given over to small businesses. The tech side of the business will also be outsourced to small business entities. These small businesses will have to bid for the work from Verizon or purchase the franchise store rights. Then these businesses will employ workers at smaller wages (because they can’t pay higher because they have their own costs to bear on the business) and with few if any benefits. These jobs will be contingent on the contracts from Verizon continuing year to year. And as costs for these small businesses grow, Verizon can then discontinue the contracts and find another small business hungry for work. What does Verizon get out of this? Smaller costs for itself. Less need to pay into benefit plans, less need for worker wages or salaries. Verizon can put the costs of paying a smaller company to do outsourced work into a place where it doesn’t have to worry about anything.
Any of this ring a bell? If you are a worker for any small company who does work for a larger corporate entity, this might just be your working scenario. Your company does its best to pay you, but they might or might not give you healthcare benefits, leaving you to negotiate the ACA and pay out of your own pocket for healthcare (and even with subsidies its often hard to bear the costs). You might have to work long hours and weekends, simply because the company cannot afford to hire extra shift workers.
And the biggest part of all this? Anyone been paying attention to the push from the conservatives/GOP for entrepreneurship in the United States? Start a business, employ workers, they say. Well this is part and parcel of that push. Small businesses contracting with larger corporations for work – whether in the US or out of it – bidding low and damning workers to substandard living. Large corporations get to hold onto more of their profits and pay out higher dividends for those who invest in that company’s shares.
This is the scenario workers are seeing, over and over again. Unions, once the bastion of worker rights are being torn apart in order to keep profits up. American capitalism at its finest.
Verizon workers want what all workers want. A living wage, benefits to care for themselves and their families, a way to retire when they get old. Take a look at your community. See what small companies exist in and around. Find out how those companies survive. I will bet you that you find a few whose existence is contingent on larger corporation contracts.