Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Remember the Verizon strike? Well the issue didn't go away.

I received this from the AFL-CIO, Manny Herman to be exact.  No, he is not a band leader, he is the organization's "Online Mobilization Coordinator".  I am sure Verizon is terrified.  Back in August last year, some 45,000 Verizon workers struck. We covered this on this blog, here is one blogpost  but if you search for "verizon strike" on this blog a few will come up.  The strike died real fast as, like most strikes called by the Labor bureaucracy, it wasn't intended to be a strike to win.

Now here they are again. "For months Verizon workers have been struggling for a fair contract" the AFL-CIO tells us through Manny Herman.  Have they?  What does that "struggle" consist of?  An
 e mail to president Obama? The treatment of workers by Verizon is "is unfair, insulting and wrong" says Manny and to show just how militant the strategists atop the AFL-CIO are, they're holding rallies this week to let Verizon bosses know that they'd better watch out.  "It's time to treat workers right and negotiate a fair contract now" Manny announces defiantly. They never thought of using the strike to advance this struggle?  Of course not.  Where might that lead for god's sake?

There are some markers here, some tell-tale signs that reveal what Manny is really communicating to the employer.

"Fair contract"  Fair contract means a deal that the bosses will accept, that is OK with them, a deal that "please, please", will be a little less devastating than what's on the table. Verizon workers aren't asking for much.  They just want a to keep what they have, screw the future Verizon workers, screw the millions of workers who work three jobs to earn what Verizon workers do---just keep our heads above water.

Most workers don't like this, see its weakness and divisive consequences.  But the leadership press this issue. "The alternative is worse, we can't win" we are told. "If we fight, we can only lose" is the mantra of the Labor officialdom. You can only be worse off.  When faced with such a scenario, the only alternative is "every man for himself". To fight the boss and our own leadership appears such a daunting task, and indeed it is but it's an unavoidable one.

Here is the AFL-CIO communication.  It is not the product of stupidity although many of those who are involved in generating it are stupid. It is a conscious strategy.  It does not appear stupid, out of touch, infantile by accident. It is not new. It is the same demoralizing, worthless information we have heard before. So far it is very successful, it makes us feel helpless and depressed.  Manny and his employers have no answer to the capitalist offensive.  They have no independent view of the world so how can they have a solution to capitalist crisis that doesn't originate in the heads of the strategists of capital?  But they have to pretend that they are fighting for workers' rights and living standards.  The best they can come up with is this. We know it's worthless but are not quite sure what we can do.

When we understand it as a conscious strategy it is much easier to fight the power behind it.

   Dear Richard:

There's something happening this week, and it's big: Verizon-one of the greediest companies in America-will be getting an earful from people all over the country.

For months, Verizon workers have been struggling for a fair contract. These workers just want a decent middle-class life. But as they've tried to protect health care, retirement and even benefits for job-related injuries, they've had to listen to Verizon claim it has no money for these basic protections.

Verizon workers have seen the company rake in billions of dollars in the past four years while paying top executives $283 million. And it just keeps getting worse: Verizon recently tripled the compensation of its CEO, Lowell McAdam-from $7.2 million to $23.1 million A YEAR.

This treatment is unfair, insulting and wrong. That's why, this week, those of us who've had enough of Verizon's greed are coming together to rally and tell the company: It's time to treat workers right and negotiate a fair contract now.

Click here to find a Thursday rally near you:

This Thursday, union allies, clergy, academics, community leaders and more of us will make our voices heard all over America. Standing side by side, we can send a strong message to Verizon and CEO Lowell McAdam: We're not going to stand by as you take advantage of hard-working men and women and destroy the middle class.

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