Prior to Wednesday's strike by nearly 40,000 Verizon employees, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced to a cheering crowd in Buffalo, New York, on Monday that the corporation "in a given year has not paid a nickel in taxes" despite billions in profit.
That didn't sit well with Verizon's CEO, who posted a scathing response Wednesday to the Democratic presidential candidate's "contemptible" and "uninformed views."
"[Sanders'] first accusation – that Verizon doesn’t pay its fair share of taxes – is just plain wrong," Lowell McAdam wrote in a LinkedIn piece. "As our financial statements clearly show, we’ve paid more than $15.6 billion in taxes over the last two years – that’s a 35% tax rate in 2015, for anyone who’s counting. ..."
McAdam added that Sanders "has started to fudge his language – talking of taxes not paid in some unspecified 'given year' – but that doesn’t make his contention any less false."
"Sen. Sanders also claims that Verizon doesn’t use its profits to benefit America. Again, a look at the facts says otherwise," the CEO continued. "In the last two years, Verizon has invested some $35 billion in infrastructure — virtually all of it in the U.S. — and paid out more than $16 billion in dividends to the millions of average Americans who invest in our stock. In Sanders’s home state of Vermont alone, Verizon has invested more than $16 million in plant and equipment and pays close to $42 million a year to vendors and suppliers, many of them small and medium-sized businesses."
McAdam added, "I challenge Sen. Sanders to show me a company that’s done more to invest in America than Verizon."
More from the essay:
Sen. Sanders has also involved himself in our on-going negotiations with the labor unions representing some 36,000 communications workers in our wireline business, a bargaining process that has been going on since last June. At a labor convention in Philadelphia last week, Sanders claimed that Verizon is demanding that workers take pay cuts and reduce health benefits or see their jobs shipped overseas.
Again, Sen. Sanders is wrong on the facts. More egregiously, he oversimplifies the complex forces operating in today’s technologically advanced and hyper-competitive economy.
Our objective in these negotiations is to preserve good jobs with competitive wages and excellent benefits while addressing the needs of our ever-changing business. All of our contract proposals currently on the table include wage increases, generous 401(k) matches and continued pension benefits. Contrary to Sen. Sanders’s contention, our proposals do not call for mass layoffs or shipping jobs overseas. Rather, we’ve asked for more flexibility in routing calls and consolidating some of our call centers, some of which employ a handful of people. We would continue to provide health insurance for active and retired associates and their dependents, but we have proposed some common-sense reforms to rein in the cost of these plans, which in 2015 ran to $1.4 billion a year for these represented employees, retirees and dependents. In fact, our healthcare plans – which provide access to medical, prescription drug, dental and vision coverage – are robust enough to make us subject to the “Cadillac tax” on excessive plans as defined in the Affordable Healthcare Act … the very law Sen. Sanders supported and voted for.
McAdam couldn't help adding a quip: "'Feeling the Bern' of reality yet, Bernie?"
The CEO noted quickly changing dynamics in telecommunications technology amid a global economy needs attention as opposed to "nostalgia for the rotary phone era" — and that Verizon employees need to "engage in an honest conversation" about the future.
"I understand that rhetoric gets heated in a Presidential campaign," McAdam concluded. "I also get that big companies are an easy target for candidates looking for convenient villains for the economic distress felt by many of our citizens. But when rhetoric becomes disconnected from reality, we’ve crossed a dangerous line. We deserve better from people aspiring to be President. At the very least, we should demand that candidates base their arguments on the facts … even when they don’t fit their campaign narratives."
You can read McAdam's entire response to Sanders here.