Walking through downtown D.C. in recent weeks, it was hard to miss the Verizon workers picketing in front of the building they worked in before going on strike for decent pay and a decent chance at keeping their union alive in newly developed parts of the newly re-named company. The banner that hung from a window promoting this glorious company seemed a little ludicrous in light of the marching and chanting going on beneath and the long string of cars honking in support as they passed.
But it turns out I had completely misunderstood. The marchers themselves, it turns out, were promoting their company’s good name. That’s right. It was all a publicity gimmick dreamed up by those shrewd business wizards at Verizon.
Well, not quite, but the comments of unnamed geniuses cited in the Washington Post Aug. 25 suggest that those wizards would have been proud of themselves if they had thought of the idea. Here they were wracking their brains like they hadn’t done since they got admitted to MBA programs over the problem of how to teach the public to love the name Verizon and pronounce it correctly, when a solution happily fell in their laps.
Of course there may be a few oddballs who see a strike as a possibly negative image for a company, people who worry over whether workers are paid a “fair” or “decent” amount of money and so forth. But the general public will use Verizon’s services because, not only will it not have many choices in the matter, but it will be able to say “I know that name. It makes me feel warm to use the services of a corporation whose name I’ve heard. I like helping the successful succeed.”
The ramifications for labor negotiations are revolutionary. With strikes now, under the proper circumstances, being desirable for public relations campaigns, the danger of inducing one can be given a lot less weight. And because strikers will no longer want to make a lot of fuss about the “injustices” they’ve experienced, it should – experts would say if I knew any – be easier to quickly end a strike after the media has been saturated.
Needless to say, this serendipitous breakthrough should not become an excuse to loosen any legal restrictions on striking and picketing. The benefits of publicity, after all, should not overshadow the long-term advantages of landing significant population quantities in prison where labor costs are decidedly advantageous.