In recent days many of our local politicians of both parties, and the public have demonstrated support and encouragement for the strikers of the Verizon company. A very profitable company that demands $1 billion in take backs, which will freeze pensions for current workers and eliminate pensions for new hires, slash sick leave and benefits for those injured on the job (these employees often are injured because of the nature of their work), force employees to pay for their health insurance coverage, and eliminate Martin Luther King’s birthday and Veterans Day as paid holidays will not receive public support. At the same time, the company may relocate some of their work overseas. Americans are now aware of the corporate world’s use of present economic conditions to continue the rape of the middle class, and of the increasing difficulty the poor will incur to obtain basic necessities. Verizon, for example, has paid its top five executives over a quarter of a billion dollars in the past four years. It has become more evident that corporate greed can only be balanced for the common good by honest powerful unions and political agitation. Unfortunately, our president is too willing to placate Wall Street. It will take the people to act.
When in Wisconsin the governor decided to decimate the power of the civil servant unions he was met with considerable opposition and two Republican legislators were recalled (a considerably unique political event) because of their support of the Governor. Strikes are becoming more frequent. Hard economic conditions do not call for further debasement of working conditions. In reality, an employed public with adequate wages will lead to growth and reductions in our national deficit.
As many of us, both Republican and Democrat, support the Verizon workers because their struggle is to protect middle class jobs, we need to evaluate the need for workers to hit the streets with strike action as a last resort to have legitimate grievances heard. Our federal, state, and city workers are denied this method of peaceful demonstration by law. This is unconscionable. All workers should be able to strike. No one is denying this to private sector workers. Public sector workers in recent years have taken pay cuts, no raises, increased health insurance premiums and co-pays, furloughs, and threats of layoffs as a matter of course. They often were willing to make these sacrifices in these difficult economic times to avoid layoffs of their fellow employees. Why are they denied the dignity and respect of private sector workers? There was no public outrage over Verizon workers being on strike.
There is no law prohibiting strike action or fines imposed.