“Everybody needs to be wired and we’re the people who do that.”
— Vinnie Galvin, striking Verizon worker, quoted by the Associated Press.
With all respect to Mr. Galvin, everybody doesn’t need to be wired. And by not realizing that fact, he’s ruining his future.
I dropped my landline many years ago because with my wireless phone, I didn’t need it. Earlier this summer, I cancelled my cable modem service, because with my wireless Internet card, I didn’t need it.
In both cases, I’m using Verizon Wireless, which unlike Verizon’s wired service, is not unionized. While Verizon’s landline voice and data customers back East are experiencing disruption, Verizon Wireless customers aren’t affected. That sends a message to customers: avoid services provided by strike-prone union workers.
(The Verizon strike doesn’t extend to California, but if it does, there are going to be plenty of customers unhappy that they went with landline and FIOS instead of wireless).
That’s not the lesson the union Verizon’s striking workers belong to want us to get. The Communications Workers of America says they’re defending “middle-class” jobs.
(Where have we heard that union talking point before? Yes, the “Middle Class Taxpayers Association,” where “middle class” is a euphemism for “labor union.” As to why the unions think they need a euphemism, that would be an interesting story.)
The OB Rag played stenographer for the MCTPA without mentioning its union and Democratic ties. Downplaying the union/Democratic control must be in the unspoken talking points. (Actually, the stenography is more literal than I thought. The OB Rag story, presented as being written by “staff,” is a nearly verbatim press release from the group.)
But no amount of clumsily orchestrated propaganda and deflection can hide the momentous shift in telecommunications away from wired and toward wireless. I’m one example of that, and my choices were based purely out of convenience, not of ideology.
I like having my Internet and phone with me wherever I go. And as wireless data gets faster, from 3G to 4G and beyond, others will make the same decision. Wireless is the future, and Verizon is feeling the forces like every other company in telecom. From an article on the Atlantic’s Web site:
“As much as this story represents the long erosion of labor’s power and the corresponding rise of health care costs, it also represents a secular collapse inside telecom. Between 2006 and 2011, Verizon landlines have declined from 47 million to 25 million — nearly a 50% collapse in five years.”
Judging by Verizon worker Galvin, the strikers’ mindset is firmly planted in the world of three decades ago — when Galvin said he entered the telecom industry. Instead of preserving their middle class jobs, the strikers have just hit the accelerator on the road to obsolescence.
Unions don’t have to end up this way. An enlightened union and enlightened company can outcompete rivals, Southwest Airlines being the classic example. I fly Southwest whenever feasible, even if their prices aren’t the absolute lowest, because the airline provides good quality service at a consistently reasonable price. Of course, air travel isn’t going to become outmoded anytime soon, unless scientists make fairly drastic progress with improved technology.
Some friendly advice for the striking Verizon workers: Stop your counterproductive strike, do your job as best as you can for the present, and train as much as possible in new technology and look for new opportunities. You’ll have a much more secure future than by pretending that your jobs are as important as they used to be.
Employees are not entitled to benefits from Verizon any more than Verizon (or any other company) is entitled to have customers. Both must be earned on the merits.
As a journalist, I know very well that the only way to survival is by mastering technology. No union, company or government can protect you when your skills become outdated. Just ask the Middle-Class Buggywhip-Makers Association.
(DISCLAIMER: This is my opinion, not necessarily that of the North County Times, my employer).