“You can deal with the name calling, you can deal with the picket lines, but it’s crazy when they’re an inch from your face screaming that they’re going to kill you and your family.”
According to Megan McArdle at the Atlantic Monthly, some 45,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) are striking against Verizon. So far, the CWA has allegedly engaged in behavior that would be the envy of a third world revolutionary. The FBI is currently investigating some 90 allegations of sabotage on Verizon landlines since the strike began on August 7, 2011. Two of these lines served a hospital and a police station.
One Verizon manager believes demonstrators intentionally dented his pickup truck. Several non-union employees “allege they have been tailed by bands of protestors and run off the road.” When another manager attempted to deliver union members their last paychecks, they swarmed his vehicle screaming profanities and insults.
What is odd about this whole business is why the union is choosing now to strike. The catalyst was clearly the inability of both sides to come to an agreement on a union contract. In typical “class warrior” fashion, union thugs are screaming foul (and cutting life critical landlines) in response to Verizon’s fat profit margins.
While it is true that Verizon has a very profitable business, the company generates the lion’s share of its profits from the wireless segment, which is staffed by non-union employees. The landline portion of the business is in secular decline as households switch from landline phone service to cell phones. As an example, my family has not had regular phone service since 2003.
Thus, while the company’s profits “have improved since 2008, the striking workers aren’t generating those profits.” In essence, Verizon’s wireline business is a cost center.
According to Richard A. Epstein at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, the 7 percent of the labor force that is unionized “generates 95 percent of the social disruption to labor markets.”
What’s worse, these particular demonstrators appear to be especially tone-deaf: 1) unemployment is at 9.1%, 2) Verizon’s landline business is unprofitable, and 3) the union is using tactics reminiscent of the Al-Mahdi Army.
The bottom line is that Verizon’s union workers are simply not worth the price they are demanding.