Afraid that Verizon's sale of their landlines and DSL network to Frontier Communications will result in another Fairpoint or Hawaiian Telcom
, unions in West Virginia have been working overtime to scuttle the deal with some solid results. The unions have been running ads locally complaining the deal is good for nobody but Verizon, and have been successfully lobbying
to pass a law that would make Verizon's favorite tax-dogding financial move (the Reverse Morris Trust
, which allows them to sell off networks without paying any taxes) illegal. The unions last week visited the FCC to ask the agency to reject the deal
Following the rally, CWA President Larry Cohen, Collins and a group of CWA members met with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. Collins and other CWAers also met with the chief of staff for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and other FCC officials. Inside the FCC, CWA presented Commissioner Copps with letters from 71 West Virginia legislators who oppose the deal; letters expressing concern or opposition from 18 county commissions, and petitions from more than 5,000 West Virginia citizens calling on the state Public Service Commission to reject the deal.
Unions have significantly more pull in West Virginia largely because it's a less profitable state Verizon has never really cared much about. Regulators in the state have repeatedly complained that Verizon has let infrastructure there crumble, union workers say they aren't being given the tools to do their jobs
, and consumer complaints in the state have consistently risen as a result. As we've explored, Verizon is now pulling out of rural America
How much luck unions have in getting the FCC to listen isn't clear. It's highly unlikely that the FCC will ban the deal, though they will probably try to impose some conditions protecting consumers in the 14 impacted states. Of course traditionally, conditions mean nothing if nobody bothers to enforce them, and that's been a problem with previous Verizon deals of this kind
, and telecom deals in general.