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The issue of whether company workers will join a union usually causes diverse reactions from different employers. Some feel that a unionized workforce is hard to deal with and prefer their employees to keep away from entering into alliance. One of such companies is Verizon. Although the incorporation has never declared that its workers should not become unionized, over the years it has striven to prevent them from joining. This essay will discuss Verizon’s efforts to keep its wireless operations employees out of unions and the impact, which this move may have on the economy.
Summary of the Case
Although Verizon claimed at some point that it offered its employees pays and benefits that eliminated the need for becoming unionized, Knutson (2016) provided details of a company that would use all means to keep its employees out of unions. According to the author, the company’s efforts can be traced back to 2000 when a merger led to the formation of Verizon Communications Inc. Shortly after, the chief of the company’s wireless operations department rushed to appeal to the workers not to integrate. He argued that the unionized workforce develops a mentality, which creates a rift with the management. Since then, the company has succeeded to halt any efforts of most of its wireless operations employees to join the union. For instance, this can be seen from a strike that was organized by 40 000 of its staff members a few months ago, on April 13, 2016. Out of these, only 160 workers belonged to the field of wireless operations. Coincidentally, the amount of telecommunication jobs in the US has reduced over the years, and so has the influence of joining into alliance in this industry. It appears to have complemented the less union-friendly approach developed by Verizon.
Back in 2000, about 85 000 workers from the company landline operations staged the strike. After 18 days, Communication Workers Association (CWA) managed to negotiate successfully for a card-check neutrality arrangement that helped settle the protest. Under the agreement, Verizon promised to recognize the union as long as most of its employees signed cards that authorized only one to represent them. Such a strategy was used by another communications company, AT&T, to expand unions. However, Verizon appeared to have sabotaged any effort to make the negotiations successful. After a year of fighting over the details of the deal, the labor association was left with little time to organize the employees before expiry of the agreement. Subsequently, it admitted defeat of the mission. Later a retired official of CWA described the treaty as useless arguing and he stated that Verizon workers did not have a chance to decide whether to join the union without having fear imposed on them. Though often indirect, such threats can be deduced to have kept the company employees from being unionized on several instances. After the aforementioned efforts to make the workforce at the Boston call center join a union, the operations were overhauled and, subsequently, the center was closed, so the staff lost their jobs. The company was accused of threatening its workers; however, it have never denied or admitted that. In another instance in 2004, just when CWA was working to unionize employees at Morristown and Orangeburg, Verizon relocated its operations to the Southern states, which are considered less union-friendly. Although the company claimed that the move was caused by failure of previous locations to accommodate the needed growth, it was seen to have rejected desire to block any efforts of having employees unionized. CWA’s attempts in 2014 to win over Everret and Brooklyn stores employees were successful, but meanwhile the worker who facilitated the Brooklyn process was fired. In summary, there is no doubt that Verizon is determined to keep as many of its employees as possible from joining a union.
Impact of the Case on the Economy
The efforts by Verizon and other like-minded companies to keep their employees out of unions would undoubtedly affect the economy. Although they usually face many claims against their real motives, associations negotiate for better working conditions for their members. Pay is the one, which has a major influence on the economy. Critics have argued that the reason why the American society is struggling with a high level of inequality among its people is the continued weakening power of corporations. There is some truth in this. According to Blodget (2012), in the absence of strong influence of unions, companies have progressively shifted their focus from better conditions for their employees to improving their stock performance. It appears that all efforts are aimed at increasing the shareholder value of organizations, unfortunately, at the expense of workers. Employees are now mostly viewed as opposed to inputs, as costs, which are to be reduced as much as possible. Rank and file workmen are the ones affected while those who are high in the organization hierarchy enjoy handsome salary packages. Consequently, this has over the years culminated into the growing income gap with one section of society earning too much and another one – too little. Unfortunately, those who does not make much money are the majority. Ideally, the economy, in which the larger part is poor, would undoubtedly not perform well. This section of the society would have less purchasing power, and that would harm businesses operating within the economy. It concerns the same organizations that hinder their employees from joining unions, meaning that their efforts can be considered counterproductive. From another perspective, those funds that are supposed to assist development projects, are used to provide help for some needs, such as healthcare, to those who cannot afford them.
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Verizon has managed to keep employees of its wireless operations department from becoming unionized. As it is seen from the aforementioned, it used diverse strategies such as discouraging workers and implementing threatening tactics on those who attempt to join a union. The move may have an impact on the economy including widening the income inequality gap and derailing development projects.
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