WASHINGTON – In the wake of Verizon’s announcement that it will freeze its pension plan for salaried workers, the Pension Rights Center and the Communication Workers of America have joined together to launch a new web site, www.VerizonRetirementWatch.com. The site is a clearinghouse of information on Verizon’s actions, a forum for employees to communicate with one another and an organizing tool for fighting the company’s unfair decision.
“We have heard from more than 400 Verizon employees who are devastated by the prospect of losing their retirement security,” said Karen Friedman, the Pension Rights Center’s policy director. “They feel betrayed. This web site is a way for them to exchange ideas and to take action. Employees have successfully fought benefits cuts before. By connecting people on-line, we hope to be able to get Verizon to reconsider its decision.”
VerizonRetirementWatch.com features “Verizon Voices,” where Verizon employees can share their stories about how the pension freeze will affect them.
“I am 56 years old. I don’t have 25 or 30 years to recover from this loss in my earnings,” said Margo Bryerton, a 17-year Verizon employee. “Now I have to consider taking a second job. Now I have to worry about making my mortgage payments when I’m retired.”
Verizon employees are not alone in organizing on the web to fight cuts in their retirement plans. IBM employees, whose pension plan was just frozen as well, have two sites, www.cashpensions.org and, in conjunction with the Communications Workers of America, www.allianceIBM.org to challenge cutbacks in their benefits. Workers point out that both Verizon and IBM are profitable companies, making $7 billion and $8 billion respectively in 2004, and can well afford to continue keeping their pension promises.
“It is unconscionable for corporations that are making huge profits to be reneging on their promises to workers,” said Friedman. “Freezing pensions may be a short-term way to increase profits, but it has long-term consequences – not just for the employee but for the larger society, as the workforce ages and more retirees are less able to provide for themselves.”
Founded in 1976 as an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, the Pension Rights Center is the nation’s only consumer organization dedicated solely to protecting and promoting the retirement income security of American workers, retirees and their families.