WHEN ANNOYANCE TURNS TO EMPATHY
Following on the heels of my airline rant yesterday I was actually going to go back and finish up the Internet series. But I have spent the last two days waiting, on hold or yelling at Verizon. Because of this I’ve decided to march on Wall Street this Friday.
Quick back-story, the phone jacks in three of our rooms are broken. Which means the only working land line in the house is in the kitchen. Is this the end of the world? No. Is it annoying? Sure. So I called Verizon to get a repairman over here to fix it. They told me it would be two and a half weeks. Two and a half weeks? You’ve got to be kidding. It’s Manhattan 2011, not Cold War Russia.
Finally, yesterday was our day. I made sure someone was home at all times so we wouldn’t miss them; as the day wore on and no one showed up the more I called Verizon to find out where they were. They kept promising we were next on the list. At seven pm it looked iffy, they told me the guys went off duty at eight. At eight-twenty the call came, we would be the first stop today.
I won’t waste words on how many calls were put in today. I won’t tell you I left the gym after half an hour so I could be here for him. I won’t tell you how many supervisors I never got through to. But every now and then someone said we were next on the list for today, for sure.
When I got home Salva, yes I have a housekeeper. Yes, I am in the one percent, but it is not part of the story, it’s part of full disclosure; Salva told me that they just called and said they would be here in the morning.
That did it, two weeks and two days, I called and got someone as high up as I could reach, a nice woman named Michelle who got the person as high up as she could reach, he promised her we would be the first stop in the morning.
But somewhere between my initial call to Michelle and her calling me back I started thinking. The problem is there are not enough guys in the field to do the work.
I remembered a conversation Glenn and I had coming back from the airport Sunday. He said on the plane there were only two flight attendants and that an off duty one, who was hitching a ride, felt so badly for the other two she got up and pitched in. Two women could not take care of a hundred and fifty- seven people on their own.
I thought back to the fact there was no mechanic on sight at the airport when the nose wheel broke and we had to sit for an extra half hour while one was found and made his way there.
I then thought of how many people I had heard have been laid off from Verizon. There must have been heavy cuts in the landline division.
My own sense of inconvience was then put aside by my curiosity, which quickly turned to empathy.
I Googled some figures.
Let’s start with the airlines; some of the heaviest layoffs have been in ground safety, i.e. mechanics. United has let thirty-eight percent of their mechanics go in the last several years. Some of those jobs are gone for good, but sixty percent have been outsourced. Yes, they outsource airplane maintenance. That will make you all sleep well tonight huh?
I made jokes about the flight attendants being nasty and short- tempered. I came across an article that explains their side of the story. Twenty two percent of their jobs have been cut for starters, their benefits have been diminished and they live in constant fear of being let go. I would be pretty darn cranky too.
But meanwhile the CEO’s are bringing home some big bacon.
The most recent year for which I can get an accurate accounting is 2009, the year after the jobs started melting away. But in 2009, the CEO’s took home a combined salary of 34.1 million dollars, while all ten companies together showed a combined loss of 3.3 billion.
And then I started looking at Verizon, 39,000 layoffs took place at Verizon since 2008.
So we have tens of thousands of telephone company employees out of a job, with no new jobs being created. There was a time when a man could support his family and live a decent middle class life working for the phone company
But no, those jobs are gone and not only are those people in dire shape but they are furious and marching on Wall Street.
And of course what knits this all together and why I’m marching on Wall Street this week, how much do you think the CEO of Verizon Ivan Seidenberg took home last year?
$30,000,093.00 and over five years he has taken home over a hundred and one million dollars.
He is the eleventh highest paid CEO in the country.
I believe in capitalism. Big time. I also believe that the CEO should make more than the guy installing the wires. And from Mr. Seidenberg’s resume it looks like he came from a modest background. He went to Cuny City College, he got his MBA from Pace, that is not a criticism, but merely an observation. Fancy guys don’t go to those schools. Nothing was handed to Mr. Seidenberg. He deserves a nice salary. He runs one of the biggest companies around. But thirty million in a year when he’s laying off tens of thousands?
It used to be different, CEO’ s made good money but not that kind of money and there were plenty of jobs to go around. People don’t object to what others get if they feel like they are getting something. The problem these days is fewer and fewer are getting anything.
Friday, any one care to join me?