Bernie Sanders on Wednesday stood in solidarity with unionized Verizon workers who have gone on strike, but Verizon's CEO insists that the candidate's "uninformed views" about major corporations "are, in a word, contemptible."
"Big companies are an easy target for candidates looking for convenient villains for the economic distress felt by many of our citizens," Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam wrote in a LinkedIn post published Wednesday. "But when rhetoric becomes disconnected from reality, we've crossed a dangerous line."
Specifically, McAdam took issue with Sanders' suggestions that Verizon and other major corporations don't pay their fair share in taxes, invest enough in America or treat their employees well enough.
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Sanders on Wednesday stopped by a Communications Workers of America (CWA) protest in Brooklyn, New York, where Verizon workers were on strike."You are telling corporate American they cannot have it all," he said, commending them for making the tough decision to go on strike.
He slammed Verizon for refusing to engage in fair negotiations with its workers and attempting to take away their health care benefits, while paying McAdam around $20 million a year in compensation. A week earlier, Sanders also stopped by a CWA protest in Philadelphia.
McAdam, however, argued in his LinkedIn post that Sanders "oversimplifies the complex forces operating in today's technologically advanced and hyper-competitive economy." Verizon, he said, will continue to offer generous health benefits, even though the company has "proposed some common-sense reforms to rein in the cost of these plans."
Meanwhile, the CEO said his company pays its fair share of taxes -- "a 35% tax rate in 2015, for anyone who's counting" -- and invests in American cities. He pointed to a $300 million project announced just yesterday, in partnership with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, to bring fiber into Boston. The project, he wrote, will make Boston "one of the most technologically advanced cities in the nation and expand broadband access for its residents."
McAdam's post follows a similar editorial from GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, which was published in the Washington Post last week. Immelt similarly slammed Sanders' message of fighting "corporate greed" and charged that the senator has not even stopped by the company's operations in his own state of Vermont. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Sanders said he has, in fact, visited the plant.
"The plant is in Rutland, Vermont, and of course I've visited," Sanders said. He said the CEO may have thought otherwise because "I visited a while back, and maybe Mr. Immelt does not know about everything that I do."