Is Verizon Abandoning CWA?
by Matt Stoller, Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 01:11:05 PM EDT
Andrew Cuomo is on Verizon's case.
In a filing yesterday at the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC), Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo criticized Verizon for providing "chronically poor" telephone repair service in many parts of the State, and called for the PSC, which regulates Verizon, to set stricter standards and mandate customer rebates for inadequate service.
Currently, the PSC requires Verizon to repair 80% of phone lines within 24 hours of receiving a customer repair request. However, the Attorney General's office analyzed five years of data (2002-2006) and found that Verizon had consistently failed to meet these regulatory standards. Specifically, 20 out of Verizon's 35 "repair service bureaus" across the State chronically failed to meet the PSC's standards. These repair bureaus serve a total of 4.8 million customer phone lines, about 62% of Verizon's New York customers. In total, Verizon failed to comply with the standards 35% of the time, although in some individual bureaus the failure rate was as high as 82% of the time.
The Attorney General found that the bureaus with failing scores include seven areas where Verizon is aggressively building out its new fiber-optic internet, video, and telephone network, including Westchester, Northern Queens, parts of Rockland and Putnam counties, and all of Long Island. Other regions with poor service include Buffalo, Albany, the Bronx, the Hudson Valley, Syracuse and Utica. The Attorney General noted that Verizon appears to be neglecting to maintain its copper-wire telephone service in favor of dedicating resources to expand its fiber-optic services, and that it has no effective plan to address this problem.
We know that Verizon is screwing their workers and trying to destroy CWA by playing around with their business structure. It's pretty obvious that they are going to do this with their fiber service as well if they can get away with it. And this has nothing to do with profitability for the shareholders, only management. CEO Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon got $109 million the last five years despite a shareholder return of negative five percent. Is Verizon, through shoddy maintenance, throwing away its wireline business as well?
CWA President Larry Cohen's strategy is not coherent. On the one hand, CWA has its speed matters campaign, pushing for a universal build-out done by Verizon and company and funded by the government. As part of this campaign, CWA is pushing for an 'open internet' but in its lobbying work the union leadership is strenuously against net neutrality. On the other hand, they are protesting Verizon moving jobs out of the unionized part of the company. I don't know why Larry Cohen thinks that Verizon's Seidenberg intends his broadband unit to stay unionized, but that trust is misplaced.
Now obviously I'm going to bring this back to net neutrality and our common interests. The progressive movement, including CWA, wants a universal broadband network built and maintained by a high quality unionized workforce. The difference is that CWA is spitting in the face of its allies in that quest by pushing against net neutrality. I still have not heard a coherent explanation as to why they have that policy stance, and based on some of the emails I get, there are lots of CWA locals and members that agree with me. My guess is that Cohen and the leadership of CWA thinks that in a high speed world, net neutrality won't matter, so why not trade it away in return for concessions the union really wants? This is a profound misunderstanding of the strategic situation. Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg is going to use his control of a non-neutral network to crush the internet (and the netroots), and then he will continue to undermine CWA. And when Ed Whiteacre retires, AT&T and Cingular will do the same. This can be stopped. We are pushing for the Employee Free Choice Act, for universal build-out, for PEG, for all the nice media reform pieces. We want CWA on our side so we can fight together and remove the overpaid bad faith actors such as Seidenberg from positions of privileges.
Net neutrality is what divides us from being a unified movement pushing for a unionized and universal high speed network built with public money. I would hope that CWA members make their voices heard and ask CWA's President Larry Cohen to come on to right side, for net neutrality and for universal build-out and against Ivan Seidenberg's control of the internet.
Larry Cohen's email is as follows: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm going to email him and ask him to reconsider CWA's stance on net neutrality in the context of Verizon's poor business decisions, and I hope you will too, especially if you are a CWA member. Labor is our friend, so be polite. CWA is almost there with their 'open internet' plank on speed matters. If you're not sure what to ask for, you can just send him this post. The email I wrote to him is on the flip.
My name is Matt Stoller, and I am a liberal blogger at a site called MyDD.com. I am writing to you because I'm wondering if you would reconsider your union's stance on net neutrality. Given Verizon's multiple indications that the company is not interested in either the welfare of their workers, shareholders, or customers, and that the company often does not respect the law, it might be useful consider their credibility when handing them control of the internet.
I have included a blog post I wrote below on the issue, and would appreciate any comments or thoughts you have on the matter. I have several friends who are members of your fine union, and there are CWA members who read my blog. All of these people would very much appreciate you considering this request. I don't think we are very far apart, considering your Speed Matters campaign, but the issue of net neutrality really is quite critical to the millions of progressives who use the internet to organize our lives, our culture, our jobs, and our politics.
If there's anything I can do for you or if you would like to discuss this in greater detail, please let me know. In solidarity,