By Penny McQuaig
Today, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

  • Preserving the employer-based healthcare system which is governed by the  Employee Retiree Income Security Act (ERISA);

    Creating greater consumer value in the healthcare marketplace;

    Providing more affordable health insurance options for all Americans;

    Placing an obligation on all Americans to have health insurance coverage; and

    Offering health coverage and assistance to low-income, uninsured individuals and families.

There are provisions included in the new law that reflect some, but not all, of Verizon’s priorities. The legislation requires all Americans to have health insurance and provide for assistance to low-income individuals to help them afford coverage. The legislation begins to set up a competitive marketplace to provide more options. However, due to the varying effective dates included in the legislation, we expect that Verizon’s costs will increase in the short-term. These cost increases are primarily driven by two provisions.

The first is a provision that affects the Medicare Part D subsidy for prescription drug coverage. Because Verizon offers retiree prescription drug coverage today, the government provides a 28 percent subsidy to help offset the financial burden of offering that coverage. The subsidy was intended to help employers continue to offer prescription drug coverage for retirees so that these retirees would not have to use the Government Medicare Part D program. However, changes affecting the Part D subsidy will make it less valuable to employers, like Verizon, and as a result, may have significant implications for both retirees and employers.

Additionally, there is a provision that taxes high-value health plans expected to begin in 2018. Many of the plans that Verizon offers to employees and retirees are projected to have costs above the thresholds in the legislation and will be subject to the 40 percent excise tax.

We continue to follow the legislative process closely and will keep you informed as we have more information and have analyzed the impact to our employees, retirees and the company.



This legislation was passed by the Senate on December 24, 2009 and the House of Representatives on March 21, 2010. The House also passed additional legislation intended to make certain changes to this legislation, which is awaiting action in the Senate.

With these moving parts, it is difficult at this point to gauge the precise impact of this legislation on Verizon, our employees and our retirees.

Verizon offers access to health care coverage to almost 900,000 employees, retirees and their families at a cost of nearly $4 billion a year. As a major purchaser of health care, Verizon has been actively involved in the Health Care Reform debate. Through Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg’s leadership, the Business Roundtable proposed a specific plan on how to achieve much needed reform. The proposal contains five specific principles:

This message was sent to us all by verizon.  As of today we still have not heard any information from CWA as to what was in the bill and what it might mean to it’s members.  Richard Trumpka, who is President of the AFL-CIO, the federation that CWA is under, met quite a few times with the President Barack Obama, about the health insurance bill.  He was also in the House of Representatives when they voted.  I am sure that he has passed information down to AFL-CIO members, so why have we heard from our employer and not our union?

What do you think?  Are we getting the information that we need to be a strong and progressive union or does this union need a whole lot of improvement?

If improvement is needed, What would you suggest?


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  6. New York CWA Local Dissenters Victimized by Union Terror; File Complaint
    Submitted by Carl Horowitz on Fri, 05/28/2010 – 16:58
    Email to friendPrinter-friendlyAnyone who believes labor unions have forsaken menace as a tool to be used against internal dissent hasn’t hung around Communications Workers of America Local 1101 lately. A civil complaint filed in Brooklyn, N.Y. federal court against the Staten Island-based union this past February provides apparently damning evidence that the labor organization is run by thugs and thieves. Salvatore DiStefano and Sebastian Taravella, union members and longtime heavy equipment operators for Verizon, allege they were continuously subject to harassment and violence after reporting an illegal union time-padding scheme to the Verizon security team. The pair is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

    According to the complaint, DiStefano, an employee of Verizon’s Staten Island Garage, in the summer of 2007 was in the presence of a first-level union supervisor, Bob Rios, who told crew members that if they performed three “fiber to premises” jobs in a given day, they could falsely put in for a full day’s pay regardless of how early they finished. DiStefano openly refused to participate in this scam. He then voiced his disapproval to fellow union members. Taravella, also a garage employee, expressed the same view. In May 2008, the pair went to Verizon’s corporate security staff, informing them of the scheme. Corporate security, however, did not keep the resulting report confidential. Big mistake.

    Outsiders might have seen DiStefano and Taravella as whistle-blowers; CWA Local 1101 saw them as rats. The union hierarchy proceeded to subject the pair to unrelenting abuse. Bosses brought them up on phony charges of “harassment” and “discrimination” against fellow members. As punishment, during or about November 2008 DiStefano and Taravella were terminated from employment at the Staten Island Garage and relocated to other garages, demoted in rank, and given “final warnings.” When the pair complained to union officials Pat Lascala and Richard Meltz, they allegedly were told, “You guys did it to yourself.” In March 2009, shop steward Manny Rincon allegedly put a dead rat in Taravella’s locker. A month later, union member Chris Tremble called DiStefano a “rat” while hitting his face and head, and leaving him with two herniated disks. DiStefano complained about the incident to union officials, who promptly accused him of “starting a fight.” DiStefano eventually was terminated in July 2009. In October 2009, a union member, Joe Sedita, threatened Taravella with death for allegedly getting a fellow employee fired. All the abuse took its toll. Taravella and DiStefano since have been undergoing counseling.

    Union officials not only took no action against acts of wrongdoing, they openly encouraged them. In November 2008, the aforementioned Richard Meltz allegedly told members to “do whatever you want with those two guys.” And at an August 2009 garage meeting, two local vice presidents, Joe Macaleer and Mike Luzzi, told rank and file that Verizon was “having a lot of problems right now ‘due to a couple of troublemakers'” and that “We have to learn that we can’t call corporate security because we don’t want those people getting involved in our business.” Macaleer allegedly stated: “I don’t want nobody in this room to call corporate security any more. [And] I don’t care if somebody come to work with a gun saying they’re going to shoot people, you don’t say anything…we have a lot of problems here due to the fact there are ‘spies in the room.'” He then added, looking directly at the plaintiffs, “You know who you are.” Finally, the complaint alleges that Macaleer told members, “(W)e have to deal with these spies on a personal level, like take them outside of the yard, off the company property and off company time and take care of them, because we can’t be ratting each other out.”

    These allegations carry more than a ring of truth. It is the nature of any racket to protect participants by creating a wall of silence and exacting vengeance upon those in their ranks violating it. Some 40 years ago New York City cops operated in this manner, inadvertently supplying the raw material for such movies as “Serpico” and “American Gangster.” All evidence strongly suggests that Communications Workers Local 1101 leaders operated an illegal featherbedding ring. That one or more Verizon employees may have taken part can’t be ruled out either. DiStefano and Taravella’s only crime was standing tall in the face of corruption and intimidation. Their lawsuit hopefully will yield a measure of justice for themselves and integrity for unions everywhere.

    Communications Workers of America (CWA)Joe MacaleerRichard MeltzSalvatore DiStefanoSebastian TaravellaUnion Corruption UpdateVerizonCarl Horowitz’s blog

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