Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Boston's Verizon

"FiOS rollout in Boston could take up to 6 years" by Curt Woodward and Jon Chesto Globe Staff  April 12, 2016

Verizon is finally ready to offer its high-speed fiber optic service to Boston — a victory for city officials who have long sought meaningful competition for high-speed Internet and TV service in a city dominated by Comcast Corp.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the Verizon move Tuesday, a $300 million investment that will roll out in select neighborhoods beginning this summer but will take six years to cover the whole city. Boston has also agreed to speed up permitting for the infrastructure upgrade and to begin the process of licensing Verizon as a cable TV provider.

“Today, 90 percent of Boston residents have only one option for broadband,” said Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston chief information officer. “The free market only works for consumers when companies compete for their business. And when this project is complete, the majority of Boston residents will have real choice for the very first time.”

Verizon’s surprise decision follows years of attempts by Boston officials to persuade it to offer the broadband service here.

City officials said the deal was brokered by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft over a lunch meeting at Kraft’s home in Chestnut Hill in September....

No lover of unions he. Just ask Jeff Saturday.


Also seeWhy Verizon is finally offering cable TV competition in Boston

So they can break a union?

"East Coast Verizon workers go on strike" by Katie Johnston and Katheleen Conti Globe Staff   April 13, 2016

When 36,000 Verizon employees walked off the job Wednesday, the action represented one of the biggest work stoppages in the country since the last strike at the telecommunications giant in 2011. The workers’ aggressive stance reflects the turmoil in an industry undergoing rapid technological change while its veteran workforce fights to protect its jobs.

The striking workers, including about 5,000 in Massachusetts, are repairmen, installers, customer service representatives, and other East Coast service workers for Verizon’s wireline business, which provides land-line phone and FiOS service. The action came a day after Verizon announced a $300 million investment to bring high-speed fiber-optic FiOS Internet and TV service to Boston.

The workers, represented by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, have been without a contract for nearly eight months. The unions say Verizon wants to freeze pensions, make layoffs easier, and rely more on contract workers. The telecom company has said there are health care issues that need to be addressed for retirees and current workers because medical costs have grown. The company also says it wants greater flexibility in managing its workers.

“Unfortunately, union leaders have their own agenda rooted in the past and are ignoring today’s digital realities,” Marc Reed, Verizon’s chief administrative officer, said in a statement. “Calling a strike benefits no one.”

Myles Calvey, business manager for IBEW Local 2222 in Dorchester, said the technicians on strike are highly involved in new technologies, including maintaining fiber-optic networks and upgrading streaming services. Bringing FiOS to Boston will further increase demand for their services.

“The good news is we’re going to have FiOS in Boston,” Calvey said. “The bad news is we’re going to be on strike.”

As the rate of union membership nationwide has declined, from 20 percent of the workforce in 1983 to 11 percent today, strikes have become increasingly rare. Last year there were 12 major work stoppages; in 1970, there were 381.

Verizon Communications Inc., which has a total workforce of more than 177,000 employees, was formed in 2000 following the mergers of several cable and telephone companies. Three of the five contract negotiations since have led to strikes — all of them among the biggest strikes in recent years. Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University, said the frequency of strikes is a result of “workers who are militant and are employed in an industry that is undergoing some real major changes.”

“In past negotiations, the workers at Verizon were trying to see what they could gain from Verizon; now they’re trying to see what they can protect,” Chaison said. “It epitomizes the predicament of the labor movement. Negotiations are primarily defensive actions to protect jobs.”

Public support of unions has declined in recent years, although Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was quick to join workers on the picket line in Brooklyn.

They were surprised to find they had been removed from the voting rolls. 

You can call down there if you don't believe me.

“Both sides are I think gambling with what the public reaction is going to be,” said Russ Davis, executive director of the workers’ advocacy group Massachusetts Jobs With Justice. “Everything that’s being talked about in the presidential race is relevant to this fight. For us, Verizon is the poster child for what’s wrong with the American economy. It’s a highly profitable company. There’s no reason for them to demand concessions.”

I don't think so; most Americans support workers like them, not corporate behemoths and chieftains.

Verizon, which generated a $17.9 billion profit last year, is the country’s second largest telecom company, after AT&T.

But you workers gotta give back!

Each Verizon contract has chipped away at long-established benefits, said Keith Bonasoro, a 19-year veteran who was among the approximately 100 Verizon workers picketing in Bowdoin Square Wednesday. Job guarantees, pension plans, and free health care benefits have all gone away, he said.

Without the union, “these jobs would be off-shored in a heartbeat,” said Bonasoro, 44, of Weymouth. “Nobody chooses this. What we’re doing here is we’re protecting American jobs. They want to constantly off-shore, outsource good middle-class jobs that support our community. There’s growing public sentiment against corporate greed.”

Bryan Phillips, a third generation Verizon worker from Pembroke, said he fears for his job every time a contract is up.

“I didn’t want to go on strike, none of us did, but at the same time, enough’s enough. Not just for Verizon but everywhere,” said Phillips, 38, who has been a technician for 18 years. “You don’t see anyone [in other companies] go on strike, because they’re all afraid. They’re afraid they’re going to lose their jobs. But if we don’t fight for these jobs, these jobs won’t be here.”

In addition to sending call center jobs overseas, and outsourcing work here to low-wage contractors, Verizon has been pushing to transfer workers away from their families for months at a time, according to the unions. Tom Juravich, a labor studies professor at the University of Massachusets Amherst who wrote about Verizon in his 2009 book “At the Altar of the Bottom Line,” called Verizon’s work practices “positively 19th century.”

Verizon said that the company has trained thousands of nonunion workers to fill in for striking workers, and that employees from other departments will be sent to replace striking workers.

‘‘Let’s make it clear, we are ready for a strike,’’ said Bob Mudge, president of Verizon’s wireline network operations.

The company did not respond to questions about whether customers experienced service disruptions on Wednesday.

The majority of Verizon Wireless workers are not part of the strike, although one organized location in Everett is participating in the work stoppage, and the union is picketing other wireless locations.

Scott Garland, a central office technician who works on network equipment, was picketing with other technicians Wednesday morning in Milton. He said Verizon’s proposals would hurt longtime workers and customers, as the company turns its attention to newer technologies.

“Corporate heads have decided to let much of the network wither away,” said Garland, 41, who has been with the company for 17 years. “They’re really trying to take away everything those who built the network, and from the consumers themselves.”


Turns out they don't even need you:

"Technology helps Verizon ride out one of its biggest strikes ever" by Brian Fung Washington Post   April 18, 2016

WASHINGTON — Verizon’s worker strike is about to enter its second week as tens of thousands of employees, outraged about the telecom giant’s efforts to outsource jobs and redeploy labor from one part of the country to another, remain on the picket line. Verizon’s landline and FiOS customers who phone in seeking help are, for the moment, being routed to contractors or management employees who’ve been temporarily detailed to company call centers.

But a decision Verizon made at least two years ago to cut the human out of many customer interactions is blunting some of the strike’s effects, company executives say. The technology-driven shift — from hold music and long wait times to instant, digital self-service — could give Verizon a greater ability to withstand one of the biggest walk-offs in company history. And that may have implications for labor negotiations.

You have been eliminated!

Today, even more customers are clearing up their service issues without a human’s help. Self-service now accounts for more than 60 percent of all service transactions, said senior vice president Tami Erwin.

‘‘The self-serve environment . . . has allowed to us be very personal, very predictive and very proactive,’’ she said.

Just without another human (blog editor shaking head).

The use of technology saves ‘‘multiple millions of calls per month,’’ executive vice president Bob Mudge said last week.

What once used to require talking to a service representative, such as upgrading to a faster Internet speed, can now be done with several clicks online or from a living room TV set. Even Verizon’s FiOS routers are ‘‘self-healing’’ — users can instruct them to reboot themselves if there’s a problem.

Verizon said the strike has led to minimal disruptions in service, though Erwin acknowledged the temporary workers are ‘‘never going to be as good at serving our customers as our front-line employees.”

Increased use of technology means Verizon may be able to hold out for far longer in response to worker demands, especially when you factor in the back-end technological changes that have made it easier for Verizon’s temporary workers to learn their ‘‘new’’ jobs.

About a year ago, the company began putting some salaried employees through training, Mudge said. Many of Verizon’s tens of thousands of temporary call-center replacements — including lawyers, public relations officials, and corporate tax employees — have been trained using software that guides the worker through potential problems a customer might describe. Other management-level employees have taken jobs that include going out in bucket trucks. 

Looks like they have been preparing to do what I said for a long time.

Management and union representatives appear to agree these technologically driven trends are not at stake in ongoing discussions. But outsourcing call-center jobs and requiring workers to relocate for months at a time — potentially resulting in disrupted families — remain top disagreements....

Can't we all get along?

I have been told my whole life we are all ion this together!


Did you see who was walking the picket line with them?

Also see: 

Just Over the Verizon

State Settles Over Verizon Overcharges

Over the Verizon

Verizon Workers Win Strike 

That's when I got cut off.

RelatedComcast to kill the cable set-top box