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McCamy Taylor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 05:06 AM
Original message
FISA Civil Immunity: 500,000 Telecom Jobs Held Hostage
Edited on Wed Jul-09-08 05:09 AM by McCamy Taylor
I. The Telecom Industry Giveth Jobs

Remember how big companies keep themselves from being sued? They farm out a little bit of business to every local attorney, so that if someone decides to take them to court, the plaintiff discovers that all the legal muscle in town has a conflict of interest.

Did you know that in recent years, under the Bush administrations laissez fair FCC, the nation has been reversing the changes that were made when Ma Belle was forced to break up its monopoly? When Dick Cheney proposed to the telecoms that they violate the U.S. Constitution and spy on U.S. citizens without a warrant, there were a number of smaller phone companies, which have since merged. AT&T and Southern Bell combined to make the new, second largest in the land AT&T. Stats here:

Note that AT&T employees just over 300,000. Verizon was able to snap up MCI after the Bush administration FCC and SEC punished Qwest for its refusal to participate in warrantless wiretapping with some unwarranted public accusations that caused MCI to reject Qwests higher bid in favor of Verizons lower bid. Here are some facts about Verizon, which is the number one phone company and which employees over 200,000 people.

Verizon is the 18th largest Fortune 500 Company and AT&T is the 39 largest, and they make so much money it should be a crime. But they also pay out a lot of money in wages and benefits, and many of these are the kinds of jobs that people want---technical jobs, research jobs, the kinds of jobs that are good for local economies.

Way back in the mid 1990s many of these jobs were concentrated in places like New Jersey, but now they are spread across the country.

But where is the job growth? The answers might surprise you: Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Utah are all in the top 10 in terms of numbers of tech jobs added, the most recent data show. Florida's growth is fueled largely by the telecommunications industry there, and North Carolina owes its tech boom to the so-called "Research Triangle" of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.
In addition, Virginia--home to myriad government contractors, Time-Warner's (nyse: TWX - news - people ) AOL unit and MCI, which later became part of Verizon Communications (nyse: VZ - news - people )--has transformed itself into a veritable technology powerhouse. Although almost all of the state's tech industry is located in the Washington, D.C., suburbs of northern Virginia, it leads the nation in concentration of tech workers and ranks near the top in number of tech jobs, average salary and number of jobs added.

II. And the Telecom Industry Can Taketh Away, Or Why Is AT&T Moving From San Antonio to Dallas?

We have all seen the speculation like this:

The gist of the above link: House Democrats gutted the U.S. Constitution and sold their souls for an average of $8000 each from the phone companies. This just does not make any sense. Four well heeled civil liberties loving donors can supply this much money. And some of the people on the list took nothing.

I wonder if there is another election year factor that people are forgetting. The telecommunications industry has spread its jobs over a wide part of the country. The Democrats who represent areas where Verizon and AT&T (and maybe a few more unnamed complicit phone companies) have big operation centers may be worried about something that no one wants to talk about for fear of upsetting stock prices and precipitating exactly the kind of problem they are trying to avoid.

What problem is that? Punitive layoffs in their area. Or, the relocation of a telecommunication center to another area, where the House Representative better represents the phone companies interests.

I studied the list above and noted a few interesting things about it. Except for the big, populated states like New York and California that happen to be blue states, most states had one or two Democratic reps that voted yes on the latest FISA. However, there were clusters of yes votes that correspond to geographical regions where the telecommunications industry is a big employer. Four Dems (including Clyburn) voted yes in North and South Carolina. Four in Florida. Five in Pennsylvania (including Murtha). Four in Georgia. These districts are clustered around cities like Atlanta, Tampa, Belle Glade, Charlotte where the telecoms have big operations or where they may be thinking of expanding.

Texas is a very interesting case. There were yes votes from Democrats all around the San Antonio area, where AT&T had its 22 state regional office---until a few days after the FISA vote, when it announced that it was moving its big headquarters to Dallas. (See the wiki entry for AT&T above)

Now, when I say that there were yes vote from Dems all around San Antonio, I did not mean from within San Antonio.

Charles Gonzales (D) District 20, San Antonio voted no. So did Lloyd Dogget (D) next door in Austin, 30 minutes from San Antonio.

The move to Dallas did not get rave reviews from the NYT: /

The company said it was moving to Dallas to be closer to crucial offices of suppliers like Cisco Systems and the mobile phone makers Nokia and Research in Motion as well as major airports that will make it easier for executives to travel around. About 700 of San Antonios 6,000 employees will make the move, including much of the senior management team headed by Randall Stephenson, AT&Ts chairman and chief executive. Some departments will stay behind, like the companys telecommunications network group.

There may be benefits to staying San Antonio, though. For landlines, the Dallas area is split between AT&T and archrival Verizon. In San Antonio, AT&T has the market virtually to itself.

And according to an unscientific poll of visitors who cast votes on, the Web site of the popular personal finance magazine, San Antonio is the 10th-best city to live in. Dallas trails at No. 15. Worse, even Mr. Stephensons hometown of Oklahoma City ranks higher than Dallas, coming in at No. 11.

And then there is this:

City officials surprised by announcement of the corporate departure

Look, I don't want to mask my disappointment, said Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, whose congressional district includes AT&T facilities and buildings. But I don't want to overreact. This is not like they are picking up their whole operation and moving.

That must take guts, voting against FISA when AT&T has a big headquarters in your district. Rep. Charles Gonzales has done some other bold things, like speak out against Alito at his confirmation hearings.

Here is an issues scorecard for Rep. Charlie Gonzales. As a Texas resident, take my word for it, he qualifies as a commie by the standards of this state.

Makes you wonder. Did AT&T announce the move of their regional headquarters to Dallas immediately after the FISA vote in the House to emphasize to members that those who did not support the bill would see their districts punished?

In an MSNBC poll taken this spring jobs were the second most important thing on voters minds after the price of gas. /

If the telecoms can pick up jobs and move them out of a noncompliant representatives district to a different city or state this close to an election, that is a lot more dangerous politically than any campaign contribution. For some cities, such an act could be devastating to a local economy that may already be on the edge.

III. Half a Million Jobs Is a Lot of Families, Mortgages, Futures

Just to give you an idea of how many jobs half a million represents, Wal-Mart employees 1.2 million people full time. And its jobs are suck Wal-Mart jobs. The telecom industry has lots of well paid union employees with good benefits.

This gives the nations two largest phone companies half a million hostages when dealing with Democrats in Congress. We all know how corporations do business. Just look at American Airlines. As oil prices have gone up, their profits have gone down. So, they have responded by cutting their executives fat bonus checks and laying off workers when the workers refused to accept another round of pay cuts.

The Bush administration may have shown the members of the House alarming information about possible terrorist attacks. They may have threatened to paint them as soft on terror this fall. But think about it. Does the base of the average Democratic Representative care about accusations about weak on terror? This is the House. These guys represent small safe islands of homogeneous Democrats . The economy is their number one concern. Even if Cheney blows up something, they will not blame it on Congress.

However, if AT&T and Verizon are threatened with billion dollar lawsuits and announce that they are laying off workers right before the fall election in your Congressional district ---and your voters know that you voted to give lawyers a chance to bleed their employer dry---the union leaders may tell your constituents to vote Republican. Never mind that the judgments will not be paid, since the suits will be tied up in court forever and will eventually be tossed out by the business friendly Supreme Court. The whole episode can be used to cause economic panic among workers who already are scared to death of the tanking economy.

The number one thing that House members live for is to protect the economic well being of their constituents. That is the way that you get to them. Threaten the livelihood of their communities. And the nation's two largest phone companies have positioned themselves to have a big effect on the a whole lot of American communities.

IV. In This Situation Only the Senate Can Stand Tall

We can not expect every U.S. House Representative to be Charlie Gonzales, voting against FISA even though AT&T has a huge regional center with thousands of jobs in their district--which they can move away a week after their vote.

The Senate has to fight now, because only the senators are able to resist local economic pressures. Whole states are immune (for the most part) to the damage which AT&T and Verizon can cause by juggling their headquarters or their jobs, and a whole states economy will not go under if one of these companies temporarily cuts back its workforce.

If what I suspect happened in Texas really happened, I doubt that the House will have the backbone to fight the telecoms. Not with the economy in the shape it is now.

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Horse with no Name Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 05:12 AM
Response to Original message
1. Excellent. As always. K&R.
I have to wonder what kind of player GTE was in Texas...and what the carrot and the stick were when GTE initially pulled out of San Angelo in favor of Dallas? Any ideas?
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fasttense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 05:48 AM
Response to Original message
2. Monopolies rule our nation. n/t
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rox63 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 07:10 AM
Response to Original message
3. Lots of jobs have moved from blue areas to red areas of the country in recent years
I think that's also connected to how the Congress-critters representing those areas vote on matters of interest to the corporations. Nothing to do with economic conditions, availability of skilled workers, etc. It has to do with holding people's livlihoods and the laws of the country hostage to corporate interests.
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Horse with no Name Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 07:15 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Look at the maps of the BRAC closings
Edited on Wed Jul-09-08 07:17 AM by Horse with no Name
same effect.
In some districts...the areas were told that their bases were closing. Then their magical Fairy Republican-Godmothers appeared and snatched the bases back for their ever-so-grateful constituents during election year. The mostly-Democratic areas were left to eat shit and we all lived happily ever after. The.End.
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 09:14 AM
Response to Original message
5. Corporate fascism at its finest. Another piece of the puzzle falls into place.
Excellent post and thank you for the info.

This is so discouraging. These corporate assholes have been practicing this for years and they ARE VERY GOOD AT IT.

Maybe the Senate COULD resist but the chances ain't lookin' so good.

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McCamy Taylor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Senate can do it if their will is strong enough. The House did their part last winter.
Now it is up to the Senate to fight back. All they have to do is come up with a bill that Bush will veto. That will show the American people that Bush is the one who does not care about security.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 02:07 PM
Response to Original message
7. Should I write a letter
Your article unfortunately seem well researched and eminently plausible. We appear to be truly and royally screwed.

I have to admit that this kind of thing always causes the old cynicism to kick in. If big corporations want us to go to war with Iraq, congress will oblige. If big corporations want us to turn our elections over to black boxes, congress will oblige. If big corporations want us to do without universal health care, congress will oblige. If big corporations want to make sure that we never get enough people in public office who want to change things, congress will write and pass whatever unconstitutional laws are necessary to oblige.

You have to admit the that logical course of action in this case would be to go out back and sit in the shade with a cool lemonade and a good book. Why bother?

Remember the old Mitchell Trio Poem:

Should I Write a Letter to My Congressman

Each congressman has two ends
A sitting end and a thinking end
And since a congressman's entire career depends upon his seat
Why bother, friend
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bluesmail Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 04:59 PM
Response to Original message
8. AT&T, aka IT&T, aka Verizon (the beat goes on ala Sony/Cher)
IMO adopted the Mafia/Mob protocols, i.e. once we have a use for you, we'll take care of you, BUT IF you ever do wrong to our Telecons Family,(read as Mob/Mafia/organized crime) You will be injured/disappeared. We are over, America :patriot: For now...This July 9th 2008 is the day democracy died.
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Gman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 06:26 PM
Response to Original message
9. Charlie Gonzales is the son of Henry B Gonzales
the legendary congressman from San Antonio. Among other things, Henry B introduced articles of impeachment for both Nixon and Reagan.
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McCamy Taylor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 08:26 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. I wonder if this was a deliberate attack on him.
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Gman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 10:53 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Absolutely not
The AT&T had nothing to do with Charlie. Randal Stephenson and others in the ATT corporation just never liked San Antonio and Dallas backdoored San Antonio on the deal. Of the 700 people or so that have to move, maybe 1% are originally from San Antonio, and they are mostly secretaries.
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drm604 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-09-08 10:36 PM
Response to Original message
11. This makes perfect sense.
It explains a lot. What the hell can we do about this kind of extortion? :shrug:
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