Now to the list of people who are abusing my retirement prospects we can add the greedy CEOs. Verizon announced today that it will no longer be contributing to the defined-benefit pension plans for about 50,000 management employees to save money. Why are they doing this? Apparently the reason is a changing world:
“This restructuring reflects the realities of our changing world. Companies today, including many we compete with, are not adopting defined benefit pension plans or subsidized retiree medical benefits,” Ivan G. Seidenberg, Verizon’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
Translation: If the people we are competing against don’t have to care about their employees why should we? You have to love the joy and warm fuzzy that gives you during this holiday season of giving. This is just another piece in the ever evolving puzzle of capitalistic greed and dwindling compassion. The market is biting us consumers and employees in the behind here. There is no incentive for Verizon to continue to take on a major cost and generous offer when their competitors are not. On one hand you can’t really blame Verizon. I am sure if you polled the workers and asked them would they rather keep their jobs for twenty years or lose their job after having 7 years of top notch benefits they would reluctantly pick keeping their jobs. So Verizon, in jettisoning what little remains of benefits for workers in the company is showing some perverse compassion because it may be saving jobs.
This is the position the American worker is in today. The greatest leverage that companies have, our well-being, is of such amazing bargaining power that we as workers are forced to increasingly concede important ground just to save our jobs. Is there a better case for unionization? We are sacraficing insurance, retirement, and in some cases even over-time pay just to keep our jobs! I had an interesting experience today that actually ties nicely into all of this. I had a job interview with a huge mulit-national company and on the way out the person who interviewed me was talking about the various companies that had bought and sold this particular division. He talked about how he, and his entire division, nearly lost all of their jobs to Singapore. I am willing to bet that they stayed here in Massachusetts only through concessions. This gentleman was just so happy to still have a good job with a company that I am willing to bet he would sacrafice a lot of the benefits he gets just to keep that job.
This is not how it should be. I should not have to worry about retirement at 25. We created Social Security during the Great Depression because we needed that safety net, workers needed protection. We have seen elder poverty on the decline ever since. Unfortunately it is rearing its ugly head again and will continue to do as companies move in the direction of Verizon. I don’t want the government to be funding my retirement, I should be planning for that in the years to come, but I do think that millions of workers will need greater protections than myself. We need government to be a catalyst for figuring out how to solve this problem. We need to unite the greatest minds in our country to both fix Social Security, or create an entirely new way, and to figure out how to get people to plan for retirement earlier. This is our obligation to one another as citizens of this country.
Cross posted at Mass Revolution Now!