Dear Mr. McAdam,
Last week, I took a drastic step. Instead of going in to work at Verizon, I stood outside with a picket sign. I’m on strike because it’s time for you to listen to us.
I’m a cable splicing technician in Roanoke, Va., which means I install and fix Internet, cable and phone service. I’m proud to say I’ve volunteered to serve wherever the need is greatest. I went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and Central Florida after bad storms there.
Yet on a work call the other day, one of the managers said technicians like me were “tools to accomplish a task.”
Maybe that manager chose those demeaning words poorly, but that comment stung with more truth than I can easily admit.
We’re not tools. We’re the public face of Verizon. We talk with customers. We solve problems. We restore service. And we help our company make $1.5 billion in profits every single month.
As ordinary working people, we do our jobs and also do stuff like coach Little League and volunteer in our communities. I enjoy time with my three grandchildren: Hope, Elijah and Lucas. I want to work hard, then come home and spend time with my wife.
The coming home thing has become an issue. I imagine, from your military service as a Navy engineer and in your early career with Pacific Bell, you know about traveling on a moment’s notice to get the job done. I’ve done my share of that.
One reason I’m a Roanoke tech is Verizon’s job description said the need for out-of-town travel would be “low.”
Increasingly, that hasn’t been the case. Out-of-town assignments have become arbitrary, disruptive and extended. Your managers have started pulling technicians from our home communities and sending us across the state, sometimes 300 miles away, to work for weeks at a time. These last-second moves are turning our lives upside down.
And now you want to make these reassignments even worse by sending us with just a few days’ notice anywhere from Massachusetts to Virginia for up to two months?
It’s crazy, and it’s not even smart business.
When you send us for long out-of-area assignments, it downgrades the Verizon service in our home areas. In Roanoke, for instance, we struggle with backups and delays, and that means unhappy customers.
Instead of shipping us out, Verizon should focus on maintaining and repairing the copper network and, wherever possible, expanding FiOS. It baffles me that you refuse to install high-speed broadband in my part of the state. It’s not for lack of demand - my customers and my neighbors clamor for it. People stop me on the street every day and ask, “When are we going to get FiOS?” It is hands down the best service around. Let’s build it out!
Treating us like tools isn’t good for Verizon’s bottom line.
There is another way to be, and that’s treating us like family. I’m a second-generation Verizon worker. My mother spent 36 years with the company, starting out as an operator. Over the decades, I’ve often felt like part of the Verizon family.
In 2014 my wife Robin developed several pulmonary embolisms. It was terrifying. She had two blood clots in her left lung and two blood clots in her right. Recently, her condition led to spinal fusion surgery. I help administer her medication and hook up her Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation device, which helps to relieve her pain.
I also drive my wife to her weekly doctor appointments. I love my wife, and it’s important for me to be there for her. I’m her only caregiver. My wife takes Warfarin, which is a blood thinner. I worry that if she falls and I’m not around, she could bleed out and die in no time flat. She’s already had two emergency room visits.
I’ve explained this your managers and even provided a note from my wife’s surgeon, yet Verizon continues to send me miles away from home at the drop of a hat.
All this helps explain why that “tool” comment hurts so bad.
As I said, I’m not a tool. That’s why I’m on strike. I want you to know we’re men and women, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, partners and caregivers. Techs like myself have and will do everything possible to help Verizon succeed, but we’re at our breaking point.
Please listen to us. Please confirm that the ugly “tool” comment was just that, a comment and nothing more.
This article was reprinted from Medium.com.
Photo: Dan, his mother, and his grandchildren on the picket line. | Dan Hylton