Verizon issue: Unrealistic quotas

Striking Verizon employee Curt Fox, of Marlton, works as a sales consultant. His worry? Unrealistic sales quotas coupled with a proposed cut in base pay.

Of course, in any job action, the big ticket items, such as healthcare, grab the headlines. Healthcare has been a key issue in the strike against Verizon and one of the reasons that Fox is out on the picket line. But when the dust settles, the day-to-day work rules and compensation details negotiated at the bargaining table tend to matter most as people go about their responsibilities on the job. As I've been covering the Verizon strike, I've been asking folks on the picket line about the work rule issues that matter to them.

Curt Fox

From what Fox has heard, there's a proposal to cut base pay for consultants by 30 percent. When they are working, he said, consultants get a base pay plus a bonus for meeting sales goals. "The targets for the bonuses have become higher and higher and unobtainable," he said, although, he, like the others, have some good months and nail the goals. 

"Now they want to cut the base pay and make the bonuses contingent on making those goals," he said. He fears the goals will become even more unobtainable, a disingenuous way of creating an even bigger pay cut.

"The real issue is it's not a sales job anymore," he said. "We're trouble shooting equipment, the Internet. They've maybe added 10 job titles to our roles and they are still trying to hold us accountable for sales."

He said when he started at Verizon in October, 2008, he spent about 90 percent of his time on sales, lately, before the strike, it had been 10 percent. Less time to make the sales, more sales to make.

I asked Verizon spokesman Rich Young about this issue: "We are not commenting on specifics at the table.  The negotiating process is very fluid.  Something on the table today could be modified, agreed to or taken off the table tomorrow.  Nothing is final until an agreement is in place and the contract is ratified.

"In general, our focus today is the same as it has been from the beginning.  These union-represented employees work in our wireline business which has been cut in half over the past 10 years."