Of course, in any job, or in this case, the Verizon strike -- the big ticket items, such as healthcare, matter the most. But once the dust settles, the small work rule issues tend to make the biggest day-in-day-out difference on the job.
So lately, when I've been out on the picket line, I've been talking to people about the work rule issues that particularly resonate with them. Mary Beth Gambone, of Skippack, who just retired from Verizon after 32 years, most of them as a technician, worries about a proposal to send just one Verizon tech into tough neighborhoods instead of two.
The company, she said, would also like to send two people, but instead of two techs, the two people would be a tech and a guard. The tech would do the job; the guard would watch the truck and tools.
This bothers her for two reasons. "We want to have someone who is capable of doing the work" because, in a tough neighborhood, she said, the crew would prefer not to linger longer than necessary for safety reasons. A standard job, for example, is running a wire between a house and a terminal pole. Alone, that job might take about an hour, but with someone there to hand up the tools and hold the ladder, it takes much less time.
Secondly, the guards, she said, would not be union employees of Verizon, but instead, non-union subcontractors, meaning less work for union members. Gambone is a secretary-treasurer of Local 13000, Communications Workers of America, one of two unions on strike against Verizon.
I asked Verizon spokesman Rich Young about this: "Many of the rules, provisions and agreements in the contract were put in place decades ago when Verizon and its predecessor companies with the sole or dominant providers. Many of these rules are no longer applicable in today’s highly competitive marketplace."