Comcast Needs To Take A Lesson From Verizon: Unions Aren't the Enemy You Think They Are.

Comcast has certainly had some lousy luck with contractors. Most recently, a Comcast contractor got all nasty on 74 year old trying to get broadband service. Before that, Comcast contractors were caught literally torturing kittens. And who can forget the unfortunate overworked Comcast tech who famously fell asleep on someone’s couch while on hold with Comcast’s repair center.

I don’t think Comcast actually wants these results. To the contrary, I think they are horribly embarrassed about them and really are doing what they can to weed out bad contractors and hire good contractors.

But Comcast needs to learn a basic lesson here. Having a quality work force is not compatible with cutting costs by hiring the cheapest contractors available. To have a quality work force, you need to invest in your workforce, make long term commitments to provide a good wage and good living conditions and, dare I suggest it, permit workers to come together in collective bargaining units so that workers and management can negotiate realistic contracts that meet everyone’s needs?

Meanwhile Verizon just averted a strike by reaching a tentative new contract with Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The contract, as usual, provides concessions on both sides, but will certainly cost Verizon a bundle more in pay raises and in future benefits than Comcast’s labor force, which depends largely on hiring local contractors and non-union labor.

But in exchange for its financial concessions, Verizon is preserving a skilled and experienced workforce with a proven track record. A workforce that, because of its union-negotiated benefits, will likely remain relatively stable and dedicated even during difficult economic times. Rather like buying itself a large bundle of wireless minutes so it doesn’t run over and pay huge charges, Verizon has ended up paying more in salary and benefits to avoid a boatload of customer service headaches.

Comcast already missed the boat once by opting to build a crappy network that can’t handle broadband capacity like Verizon can handle with FIOS — even though FIOS cost more to build. Perhaps Comcats should consider a similar lesson in its labor practices and encourage, rather than resist, efforts to unionize its workforce.

Stay tuned . . . .


  1. Harold,

    Hold that thought.

    Comcast is not the only one with contractor problems. Verizon just suspended all door to door solicitation as a result of an arrest of a verizon contractor for masturbating while what a woman in her yard. Verizon has also been identified as the number one source of phishing by third parties due to lax security.

    As to the contract. Well the union rolled Verizon again. I say that because the first line management will take it on the RIF chin over the next 3months. Watch what was MCI take a huge cut in management positions to offset the union contract provisions. Was there for 20yrs and I know how this works out.

  2. Nice piece from a definite union shill.

    Having a union is a lot like having to negotiate with your mother in law to kiss your spouse. The relationship is bound to fail.

    The reality is that unions can only ‘guarantee’ one thing.. a strike. You can also count on dues, which will automatically be deducted from your pay check. Union contracts also typically include the power to levy fees, fines and assessments on members.

    The Company is not required to give away anything it doesn’t want to give. Negotiations are a two way street. You might get more but you might also get less.

    And in the case of a strike all company pay and benefits stop. The company can still operate and the law says that ‘permanent replacements’ can be hired. You can lose your job.

    Read the contract carefully. Under the union’s thumb, you may well lose some of your constitutional rights. You’re definitely ‘guilty until proven innocent’. Have an opinion that’s different than your union leadership? Good luck.

    The bottom line? The union’s only objective is to perpetuate the union. If you want to accellerate the exodus of jobs overseas and put the breaks on competitiveness, put this self-interested third party between the company and it’s workforce.

  3. Wow Ryan that was quite the anti Union rant you had going on there. I am a 19 year Union worker and I can tell you from experience that Unions were created to give the working man and women a voice in the work place, reasonable working hours, better benefits to help raise a family, and protection from compant management who could punish or fire someone on a whim. Are all Unions perfect? What in this world is always perfect. You can find good and bad stories about anyone or any company out there but the main purpose of a Union stands strong on it’s history of fighting for the middle and lower classes who otherwise would be silenced.
    I have had differences from time to time with my Union leadership just as I have had with my parents, my wife, and my good friends, but being mature adults it has been worked out, not always in my favor and not always in theirs, but the on thing I do know is that my medical is completely covered because of the Union. My pay, overtime,retirement benefits AND 401k plan,my right to have myself heard when I feel there is a safety issue, and many, many other benefits a thanks in a very large part to years of a strong Union backing me up and fighting for a piece of the pie rather than the fat cats at the top reaping the benefits of my labor.
    Most people that hate Unions are the ones who wish they could have what Unions get. Go ahead and blame the Unions for jobs going overseas but no matter Union or non-Union nobody I know would take the pay they are giving to the workers overseas so the work would go there anyways.

  4. First I have to deal with the misconception that unions are holding anyone under their thumb. As with anything in the United States, union ranks are filled with members there by choice 100%. Corporations, companies, firms, etc. that use an organized workforce do so by choice as well by affirming with a signature on a contract that is made to be open for either party to revoke at a time that is appropriate for both. Jobs are being shipped overseas due to the excessive greediness of non union non signatory entities that refuse to reinvest the profits that were made in this nation with the american worker and instead subcontract manufacturing or services to a lesser paid less expensive body to maximize their income. Which is part of capitalism but not part of americanism. Finally, union leadership is elected just like our governmental officials and are subject to answer to the body of rank and file members. It will always remain the right of the membership to make each leader answer to them. PS, my joint bargaining agreement includes a clause of a no strike no lock out agreement meaning we are unable to strike… as do most, please be armed with facts instead of opinions next time you would like to bash on the union.

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