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On Sunday, 45,000 Verizon employees went on strike to protest the company’s push for employees to give back $1 billion in health, pension, and other contract concessions. What makes these demands particularly galling is that Verizon is both highly profitable and already a model of poor corporate citizenship.
Despite earning over $32.5 billion over the last 3 years, Verizon not only paid nothing in corporate income taxes, it actually received nearly $1 billion (the same amount as the concessions they are seeking) in tax benefits from the federal government during that time.
If Verizon thinks its employees should pay $1 billion more for their benefits, we think Verizon should pay A LOT more for the benefits it receives from the federal government.
In fact, if Verizon paid its corporate income tax at the official rate of 35 percent, it would have owed more than $11 billion (rather than negative $1 billion). This alone is enough to avoid the recent cuts in the debt deal to student loan programs..
For its part, Verizon has disputed the claim that it does not pay enough in taxes. Their math however is misleading because it includes taxes that they will owe in the future, not those they actually pay in a given year.
Verizon’s tax dodging is now so infamous that it has become one of the primary targets of US Uncut, a grassroots organization dedicated to getting corporations to pay their fair share.
The Communication Workers of America (CWA), who is leading the strike along with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), also notes that while calling for a benefit cut from workers, the top 5 executives at Verizon received more than a quarter of a billion dollars in compensation over the last 4 years.
Given their record on taxes and compensation, it’s hard to believe Verizon will come around to being a good corporate citizen anytime soon, yet unions and the public alike need to keep up the pressure by asking Verizon: Can you hear us now?