Verizon Strike Underscores Union Irrelevance

Wednesday, 24 Aug 2011 09:37 AM

By Ronald Kessler

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When I was a Washington Post reporter years ago, the Newspaper Guild called a strike. Two weeks later, the guild brilliantly realized that management could continue to publish the paper indefinitely. The guild ended the strike by accepting exactly what the paper had offered in the first place.

I lost two weeks of pay in the process.

Last week, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers did much the same thing: They ended a two-week strike from Massachusetts to Virginia against Verizon by agreeing to continue to bargain.

“We claim no victory,” said Ed Fitzpatrick, president of IBEW Local 2222, which represents the Boston region. “They claim they want to clearly bargain a contract, and now they have agreed to bargain a contract.”

“What was the point of all this?” asked Jeff Rafos, a CWA Local 1101 cable splicer. “Why give up our paychecks just to start talks all over again?”

If a tea party member ever engaged in violence, it would be page one news. But the media generally downplayed widespread reports of sabotage against Verizon. Customers — including police departments and nursing homes — lost service as union members sliced cables and gutted equipment boxes.

Because it affected critical infrastructure, the FBI is investigating the vandalism.

In Toms River, N.J., one person was hospitalized after Verizon workers surrounded cars and employees who were trying to enter the Verizon facility there. Nails were strewn across a parking lot entrance. The 2010 Toyota of a Verizon worker was damaged.

Lori Roman, founder of Regular Folks United, a conservative website that promotes limited government and liberty issues, remembers what it was like to deal with unions when she was a General Motors supervisor in the 1980s.

Because of union rules, workers at a parts warehouse could deliver parts to a building next door but could not return with needed parts. Instead, a second worker was assigned to make the return trip.

At a Buick engine plant, General Motors had to designate relief workers who ended up reading newspapers most of the day because they were assigned to relieve so few assembly-line employees.

“You learned quickly that if you questioned the work rules and took on the union, they could physically hurt you,” Roman says.

Before the enactment of fair labor laws, unions served a legitimate purpose. Now they mainly get in the way and reduce the ability of companies to compete, stifling creation of new jobs. A Toyota executive tells me the greatest reason the company resists unionization is that unions introduce an “us versus them” mentality that poisons labor relations and reduces efficiency.

If management has no use for unions, neither do workers. In the 1950s, unions represented as much as 39 percent of the private sector workforce. Today, only 7 percent of the private sector is unionized.

As noted in my story Obama Rigs Unionization Voting, the Obama administration is making a desperate attempt to save unions. But especially in these tough economic times, unions have become an anachronism that should go the way of the horse and buggy.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. His latest, "The Secrets of the FBI," has just been published. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via email. Go Here Now.








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