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 . . . .