A Tale of Two Democratic Candidates: The Verizon Strike

Today, nearly 40,000 Verizon workers went on strike making it the largest strike in the U.S. since 2011. How the two Democratic presidential candidates responded to this strike is a great example of two things, and is helpful information for those still undecided between the two candidates.

1. The difference in leadership style between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

2. What a POTUS free from any corporate campaign backing or relationships can do.

Bernie showed up at the picket line in Brooklyn to back up the Verizon workers and thank them for their courage to stand up to corporate greed.

Bernie didn’t just roll up in his caravan to take the stage to speak. They parked several blocks away and he walked almost 10 minutes to the line. Where does this 74 year-old man get his energy?

Bernie loves walking in the cities he visits. He’s done this for decades, and still does it. No doubt it makes his secret service team nervous. Walking on the street gives Bernie the opportunity to shake hands, give hugs, take selfies and wave at people. He looks accessible as people on the street are like, “Uhhh, is that Bernie Sanders walking down the street?”

Bernie has been involved with the Verizon workers union for a long time. Note how he addresses the crowd, “Brothers and sisters,” and goes on about how proud he is of them. Bernie’s language consistently contains the words, you, we, or us.

In March, Bernie was one of 20 senators who signed a letter to Verizon management to encourage them to settle on a fair deal. Last October, Bernie rallied with the Verizon workers union including the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Times Square. Yesterday, before his rally in Buffalo, Bernie stopped by a union hall where local shop stewards with the Communications Workers of America were meeting to discuss the strike.

After Bernie’s visit to the picket line this morning, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam wrote a scathing post in LinkedIn, “Feeling The Bern of Reality — The Facts About Verizon and The ‘Moral Economy,” stating that “the senator’s uninformed views are, in a word, contemptible.” Interesting choice of words because Bernie’s upcoming speech at the Vatican on Friday is about creating a moral economy that benefits all not just the rich.

Putting aside comments from his fellow Verizon executives, McAdam gets pummeled in the comments, and further makes himself look like the greedy corporate executive people despise. He’s feeding into the very narrative Bernie speaks of and voters are relating to.

What’s missing in McAdam’s rant is although he complains about $1.4B in health care costs, Verizon’s revenue has spiked from $120.6B to $131.6 since 2013. Operating cash flow in 2015 was $38.9 billion. They have plenty of money to address what the workers are asking for. The union states Verizon has outsourced 5,000 jobs to Mexico, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. McAdam’s compensation has risen 16% topping out at $18.3M.

Bernie’s come back? His message of corporate greed. Yes, Mr. McAdam, you are cutting costs at the expense of your workforce to increase shareholder return on investment and pocketing $18M for yourself in the process which is 200x greater than the average Verizon worker’s comp. How is this right?

Bernie is not playing safe waiting to be POTUS to boldly stand up to the CEOs of the corporatocrcy. He’s doing it NOW.

Hillary on the other hand made a statement this morning that Verizon should make a fair offer to its workers, and that’s it. She has not ever physically joined any of the Verizon worker pickets or rallies. And it’s not really surprising, not because she doesn’t care but let’s look at her ties to Verizon.

Verizon is one of the key partners in the $100M Clinton Health Matters Initiative (Part of the Clinton Foundation.) Hillary was paid $225K in May 2013 to speak at a Verizon event. Several Verizon executives have personally donated to her campaign. Hillary Clinton has to be protective of her Verizon relationship as well.

You cannot successfully serve two masters because the interest of the people and the interest of the corporatocracy are different things. Bernie’s position is bold fighting for workers joining them, something new, whereas his opponent’s position is more like being Switzerland which is not a bad move but it is an example of how the status quo will remain the same.

UPDATE: 5 hours later, Hillary showed up at a picket line in Manhattan briefly but did not speak like Bernie did. Read the comments of this post. You’ll see where the Verizon workers are placing their loyalty.

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