On August 6, the contract between Verizon and their unionized employees in the northeast region expired, unleashing one of the largest labor strikes in years. Despite numerous attempts at the bargaining table with union leaders, Verizon is persistent with their agenda that harms tens of thousands of their middle class employees. While this is nothing new on the American corporate stage, Verizon is further contributing to a dangerous trend that harms the majority of Americans while benefiting a select few.
Since he took office February 4, 2010, US Senator Scott Brown has yet to host a public town hall or open forum. His schedule has included more than 250 stops for ribbon cuttings, groundbreaking ceremonies and photo opportunities – even a slew of book signings to market his autobiography. But Brown has yet to offer a single opportunity for Massachusetts taxpayers to gather in an open, public setting and ask questions of their senator.
Verizon’s third attempt to undercut local authority over cable and broadband operations in Massachusetts has ignited a spirited defense of franchising procedures that have served the state for nearly thirty years. Senate bill 1687, known to opponents as the Verizon bill, was introduced on Verizon’s behalf earlier this year by state senator Michael Rodrigues of Westport.
The misleadingly named “Secure Communities” is a secretive deportation program launched in 2008 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under this deeply flawed initiative, the biometric fingerprints of everyone who is arrested – not convicted - for any offense whatsoever are automatically matched against FBI and ICE databases. ICE then decides who should be detained and deported.
Today, temporary employees rejoiced, knowing that this will be the last they will be cheated out of pay and vacation hours, or subjected to unsafe working conditions. What was first planned to be a protest by workers and their allies instead resulted in an unusual alliance between workers and management, jointly championing rights for a traditionally marginalized workforce and sending shockwaves throughout an historically rogue industry.
A group of twenty Verizon technicians and two other employees who formerly worked for Verizon Select Services (VSSI) have voluntarily gained union recognition from Verizon management.
Concerned about security and the lack of any "say so" in their future, the former VSSI techs began signing union cards several months ago. Once they established that a strong majority desired collective bargaining rights and union representation, union leaders requested recognition from Verizon management.
A bill currently under consideration in the Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary could lead to increased liability for Massachusetts companies.
Last year, Massachusetts taxpayers sent $19.9 billion to the Pentagon to fund the trillion dollar wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, sustain over 800 military bases in Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Egypt, Afghanistan and other countries all around the world, and “improve” our vast stockpile of nuclear weapons – among a number of other very expensive projects.
Massachusetts also gives much more than money: 105 Massachusetts soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and over 600 have been wounded. Hundreds of military families, friends and neighbors are left in pain and turmoil.
Frances Fox Piven (professor, CUNY Graduate Center) and Cornel West (professor, Princeton University) hosted a national webcast teach-in on Tuesday addressing the roots of the current economic crisis and what people are doing to fight back. The event streamed live from Judson Memorial Church in New York and was moderated by the New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera.
Many years ago, in a situation that still produces much pain, close friends were thinking through treatment for their gravely ill child. They had exhausted conventional and experimental therapies; their doctors were urging them to do what they could to make their son feel comfortable and loved. Then, suddenly, after years of suffering, our friends had smiles on their faces. A cure was available! For a brief moment, I shared their joy but then realized that we were victims of quackery.