Paying the Price for a Wrong Vote on Fast Track

Jan 21, 2016 - Paying the Price for a Wrong Vote on Fast Track

January 21, 2016

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T-Mobile Update

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The AFL-CIO Office of Investment recently sent a letter to T-Mobile, outlining how the company's confidentiality agreements conflict with federal whistleblower protections for reporting securities law violations.

As a T-Mobile shareholder and longstanding advocate of strong safeguards for employee whistleblowers, the AFL-CIO urged the company to investigate its use of confidentiality agreements for internal investments and take corrective action.

The letter stated, "T-Mobile should amend the terms of its confidentiality agreements to explicitly permit communications with governmental entities. T-Mobile employees who have previously signed confidentiality agreements should be informed that they are not prohibited from contacting governmental entities."

Last August, a National Labor Relations Board judge ruled that T-Mobile had violated U.S. labor law in two call centers when it silenced employees with such agreements. This practice was exposed as particularly egregious in Maine, where a customer service representative had filed a sexual harassment against her supervisor. The company's human resources department forced her to sign a nondisclosure agreement and told her that if she discussed the situation with her co-workers she could lose her job.

Read the full letter here.

Read more here.

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation got a rare apology from T-Mobile US CEO John Legere after he blasted the group for "stirring up trouble" and a few other unprintable phrases. But T-Mobile still hasn't addressed the group's criticism of its operation.

EEF said TMUS's "Binge On," plan, its latest marketing tactic, reduces the quality of all streaming video, then lies about it to plan users. EFF called for an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission, sparking Legere's rant.

EEF is a longstanding membership organization that advocates for consumers' interests and digital rights.


Democracy Update

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It took just four months for democracy activists in Alaska to gather more than enough signatures for a ballot initiative that would automatically register Alaska citizens to vote as they sign up for the Permanent Fund Dividend. The PFD is paid annually to Alaska citizens, based on the state's oil revenue. PFD Voter Registration is projected to register as many as 70,000 Alaskans to vote in its first year, and also would fix out-of-date registration for tens of thousands more

The PFD Voter Registration ballot initiative group and Democracy Initiative supporters, including AFA-CWA Flight Attendants and other union activists, the NAACP, League of Women Voters, Our Alaska, Tanana Chiefs Conference and many others, gathered 42,540 petition signatures, far more than the 25,000 required to put the issue on the 2016 ballot.

The group delivered the boxes of signed petitions to the Division of Elections on Jan. 14.


Democracy activists in Alaska deliver more than 40,000 signed petitions to the state Division of Elections.


GE Sells Appliance Park Facility

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General Electric Co. is selling its Appliance Park operation in Louisville, KY – where some 4,000 IUE-CWA Local 83761 members build GE stoves, dishwashers and other appliances – to Chinese-owned Qingdao Haier Co. for $5.4 billion.

Haier will keep the unit's headquarters in Louisville and also agreed "to continue to market the current portfolio of GE brands for a period of 40 years."

IUE-CWA President Jim Clark said that the IUE-CWA represented plants in Louisville, KY, and repair shops around the country are considered the flagships of GE's appliance enterprise. The interest of many companies in buying this operation "is a direct result of the hard work, dedication, and partnership of our IUE-CWA membership, who build some of the best appliances in the world, both efficiently and expertly."

"We have built very positive relationships with our other non U.S.-owned corporations, and we remain optimistic that we will be able to work closing with Haier to keep our appliance business in Louisville strong and successful," Clark said.

Dana Crittenden, president of IUE-CWA Local 83761, said the deal ends years of uncertainty for workers and will enable the plant to build on its Appliance Park legacy.


Organizing Update

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NJ Child Care Workers Vote CWA

Workers at La Casa de Don Pedro's Early Childhood Division in Newark voted overwhelmingly to join CWA Local 1037 in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board.

The group includes teachers, assistant teachers, administrative assistants, receptionists, drivers, family workers, janitors, cooks, substitutes, and wraparound staff.

They are joining the 1,000 child care providers and 10,000 other workers already represented by CWA Local 1037.

A strong internal committee led the organizing effort from the start. After workers demanded recognition using a mission statement signed by the majority of the workgroup, they stuck together right through to today's election, said District 1 Organizing Coordinator Anne Luck-Deak.

"I'm so proud of my colleagues for standing in solidarity to build our union," said Diane Gonzalez, who works at La Casa de Don Pedro's Broadway location. "Now the real work begins. As we move into contract negotiations, we will fight to improve our wages and working conditions, and we will fight to expand resources for the child care services we provide and improve the learning conditions for the children in our classrooms. This is a victory for us and it is a victory for the families we serve."

The union organizing effort at La Casa grew out of the Better Beginnings campaign – a partnership between New Jersey Communities United and CWA – which seeks to organize child care professionals, working parents, and early childhood development specialists around fights for expanded resources and increased funding for early childhood development. NJCU is a progressive, grassroots community organization committed to building power for low and moderate income people, predominantly in Newark.

The lead organizers on the La Casa organizing and the Better Beginnings campaign are Fareeda Mabry, CWA; and Leah Owens, NJCU. Also supporting the organizing effort were: Luck-Deak; Trina Scordo, Executive Director, NJCU; Ken McNamara, president, CWA Local 1037; Paul Karr, communications director for Local 1037/NJCU; Roberto Cabanas, Lead Organizer, NJCU, and Hetty Rosenstein, CWA NJ Area Director.


Ami Bera Faces Consequences for TPP Vote

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California Democrat Rep. Ami Bera voted to "Fast Track" the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Now he's realizing that his vote has consequences.

Two local Democratic clubs in Bera's district (CA, 7th) voted not to endorse a 2016 election bid by Bera because he voted for Fast Track authority for the TPP, siding with big corporations and trade negotiators over the interests of working people in his district, and for other contentious votes.

"When you look at the votes and voting history, all public record, what the club members and delegates have found is that Dr. Bera is aligning himself with (House Speaker) Paul Ryan and (California Rep.) Tom McClintock, and less with the Democratic Party," said Robert Longer of Local 9421 and a member of the South County Democratic Club.

CWA pledged to hold members of Congress accountable for their votes. That's exactly what's happening to Rep. Bera and others.

In the 2012 and 2014 elections, CWAers backed Bera's successful campaigns for a swing congressional seat in Sacramento. CWA activists knocked on doors, volunteered at phone banks and joined forces with other labor unions to help in voter turnout and get Bera over the top.

In the months leading up to Bera's vote on fast track, grassroots activists and union members told Bera that TPP would be a bad deal for U.S. workers. They picketed and wrote letters describing how this secretive trade deal would move jobs overseas, weaken environmental standards and harm communities. Demonstrators occupied his office. And in one memorable action, dozens of workers, environmental activists and veterans marched through Bera's district carrying giant Q-Tips, urging Bera to "clean out his ears."


West Virginia Right-to-Work Update

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The West Virginia Senate, by a 17-16 party line vote, approved the "right to work for less" bill today. That measure will go to the Republican-controlled House of Delegates next week.

But it's far from over. The State Supreme Court is determining how to fill the vacancy created when State Senator Daniel Hall resigned last month to become a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. Hall was elected as a Democrat in 2012, but switched parties after his re-election in 2014.

Hall's switchover made the makeup of the Senate 18 Republicans and 16 Democrats, and Republicans began plotting their attack on union workers and collective bargaining rights.

The makeup of the Senate is critical to sustain the governor's expected veto of the "right to work for less" bill and other legislation that attacks union workers.

Governor Earl Tomblin (D) said that he believes a Democrat should be appointed, to respect the will of the voters who put Hall in office, and will follow the Supreme Court's direction.

Meanwhile, the "right to work" crowd is losing the economics argument. The Republican-led legislature had commissioned a West Virginia University study that found that so-called "right-to-work" policies led to more employment growth than states without those laws. But the Economic Policy Institute recently analyzed the economic impact data and discovered the study is "fraught with several problems." In fact, the errors are so glaring, they are "enough to allow serious researchers and conscientious policymakers to disregard the WVU study results." When corrections are made, EPI concludes, the relationship between "right-to-work" and employment growth actually "disappears."


Union members from across West Virginia are keeping up the fight for bargaining rights.


CWAers, Activists Honor Dr. King with Renewed Fight for Justice

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About 40 CWAers joined labor, community and civil rights activists for the AFL-CIO's annual conference on Civil and Human Rights that pays tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in actions and events.

CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings addressed the nearly 1,000 participants who were organizing around the theme "Change the Rules, Be the Power."

CWA Executive Board members participating were Vice Presidents Linda Hinton (District 4) and Richard Honeycutt (District 3) and at large board members Carolyn Wade, Local 1040; Vera Mikell, Local 2205, and Anetra Session, Local 6327.

CWA activists from the National Women's Committee, National Committee on Equity and Human Rights and the Ad Hoc committee also attended. The conference ended with a parade and peace walk in Washington, D.C.

Workshops covered racial justice, gender justice, criminal justice, movement building and other subjects. In the "Hands Off My Voting Rights" session, CWA Director of Democracy Programs Tova Wang outlined the systematic attack brought by the 1 percent and corporate interests to hijack our democracy and block people from exercising their right to vote.

Wang also previewed a new analysis of how the attacks on unions, voting rights, and campaign finance laws are part of a concerted, anti-democratic effort. The report is the latest project of the Democracy Initiative Education Fund.

CWA and Every Voice Center co-authored the report, " Democracy at a Crossroads: How the One Percent Is Silencing Our Voices."

"This report explores how attacks on voting rights, campaign finance laws, and unions are taking place at every level of power – state legislatures, Congress, federal agencies and the Supreme Court – to shift power away from average Americans. Using this knowledge, advocates and activists will be able to understand what is at stake and fight back to build a democracy that is of, by, and for the people," Wang said.

Read more here.


CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings addresses the 1,000 participants at this year's AFL-CIO conference on civil and human rights honoring Dr. King. Cummings leads CWA's civil and human rights work.


Bargaining Update

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AFA-CWA Leaders at United Take Action Against Management's Stalling Tactics in Bargaining

Leaders of the joint Continental, Continental Micronesia and United Airlines Master Executive Council voted unanimously to begin an intensive strike information and education campaign for some 24,000 Flight Attendants. Specifically, that means information on the right to strike and how AFA-CWA's CHAOS strategy works to bring pressure on company to come to terms on a collective bargaining agreement.

United Airlines Flight Attendants have been mobilizing for months and are frustrated with management's stalling.

The Joint MEC leaders also determined that after AFA-CWA and company negotiators meet in mediated bargaining in February, they will assess the need for a strike vote based on the status of the contract negotiations.


 

CHAOS – Create Havoc Around Our System – is a strategy which could include intermittent strikes, system-wide strikes and other non-traditional work actions. The form CHAOS would take at United, should it prove necessary, will be unique.

One of the most powerful aspects of the CHAOS strategy is AFA-CWA's ability to adapt it to the specific facts of each campaign, to keep airline executives off balance with the element of surprise, and to take advantage of weakness in the company's strategy. This strategy is designed to maximize the pressure on management to reach an agreement while minimizing the risk to Flight Attendants. The threat of CHAOS has been employed successfully by AFA-CWA to induce a labor settlement by effectively calling management's bluff when it's stalling, refusing to reach a meaningful settlement, or engaging in union busting.

AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson said, "We are standing up for our fair share of the profits we help create. This isn't just about United, it's about setting the new standard for Flight Attendants across the industry."

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TNG-CWA Kicks Off Nationwide Campaign to Support Digital First Media Bargaining

The NewsGuild-CWA launched a national, coordinated campaign to win fair contracts for the nearly 1,000 TNG-CWA represented employees of Digital First Media. The campaign will build on the strength of the 13 bargaining units at DFM publications and online news sites nationwide.

Read more here and here.

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NY Library Workers Unanimously Ratify First Contract

CWA Local 1120's newest members at the Monroe Free Library in Poughkeepsie, NY, unanimously ratified their first contract that provides wage increases and improvements in benefits and working conditions.

The staff joined the union in September 2014 after the library board attempted to block workers from organizing. They then launched their successful mobilization campaign with support from local elected officials and the community. In a NLRB election, they voted 11-0 for a union voice.

The unit includes workers in reference, circulation and children departments; clerks; and coordinators.

Read more here.


CWA Local 1120 members at Monroe Free Library celebrate their first contract.


Feeling the Bern

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CWAers in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY, collect signatures to get presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on the ballot.

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In Des Moines, Iowa, CWAers and members of the National Nurses Union and American Postal Workers are getting ready to caucus for Bernie Sanders
on Feb. 1.