Wall-to-wall union

Verizon contract negotiations continue in Philadelphia where one of the biggest issues is Verizon's reluctance/the unions' desires to unionize the non-union Verizon Wireless.

You can read my Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer story by clicking here.

AT&T, Verizon's chief rival, is union wall-to-wall, says Jeffrey Keefe, a Rutgers University professor who spent several years researching employment in telecom. In 2006, when AT&T bought out Cingular, which had earlier purchased AT&T's struggling mobile division, unions were allowed to organize Cingular workers if a majority of workers, on a site-by-site basis. signed cards asking to be unionized. They did and they were, primarily represented by the Communications Workers of America.

In March, AT&T said it would acquire T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom in Germany, pending regulatory approval. T-Mobile is unionized in Germany, but not here.

"T-Mobile is non-union and the union fully supports the acquisition of T-Mobile," Keefe said, adding that he expects AT&T will follow the same pattern it did with Cingular.

"Verizon has taken a completely different approach. It is aggressively anti-union in its wireless division," he said. "It can manage better without the union.

"They brought in a whole new management that has not had experience with unions and doesn’t want to," Keefe said, commenting on Verizon chairman Ivan Seidenberg's pending retirement. "We’re in a period of successorship at senior management – Ivan Seidenberg comes up through New York Telephone, but  the new senior management comes out of wireless, so they have no union experience at all and they don't want to."