Angry about how a highly profitable corporation like Verizon is threatening hundreds of layoffs, telephone union leaders and some potentially laid off workers held an unprecedented briefing with the staffs of five members of Congress and both Massachusetts senators.
The meeting was convened in Senator Kennedy’s office at the Boston Federal Building and was attended by leaders of all the Massachusetts IBEW telephone workers’ unions.
“Despite being a very profitable corporation, Verizon announced it wants to cut 8,000 jobs nationally and as many as 500 jobs in Massachusetts,” said Myles Calvey, Business Manager of Local 2222 and Chairman of the IBEW System Council T-6. “If Verizon is allowed to do this, it will lead to suicides, foreclosures and broken families. This is nothing but pure corporate greed.”
“These are hard times. A half a million people are losing their jobs every month. Businesses like General Motors and the Boston Globe that are losing money have cut staff and forced workers to take steep concessions,” said Dan Manning, a FiOS installation technician from Medway who will likely be laid off. “But with Verizon there’s no excuse. There is still plenty of work for us to do. Verizon management says it wants to provide high speed internet for America. Yet now it’s orchestrating a slowdown by not marketing FiOS — just to get rid of us.”
Anticipating a possible sell-off of Verizon’s landlines in Massachusetts, union leaders described in detail how the company has a strategy of under-investing in its wireline infrastructure while using its profits to expand only the wireless side of the business. The company’s facilities, equipment and landlines deteriorate. Service quality declines, and customers are unhappy — making them receptive to a landline sale.
Verizon then uses an obscure tax loophole — the Reverse Morris Trust — to structure tax free deals to shed its wirelines in rural states. In northern New England, using the loophole resulted in tiny FairPoint Communications taking over the landlines in 2008. Today, FairPoint is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Verizon is now proposing a similar landline sale in fourteen states.
“We’re not going to go quietly,” pledged Calvey. “We’ll fight them every step of the way.”