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Mar 17, 2016 - Big Union Win at DirecTV

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Organizing Update

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DirecTV Call Center Workers Join CWA

In Huntsville, Ala., DirecTV call center workers knew exactly what they wanted: union representation.

"Thanks to the hard work and the dedication of CWA members and organizers, employees at the DirecTV call center in Huntsville are now represented by CWA," said CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt. "Lots of people worked on the campaign and did amazing work. CWA Local 3905 President David Betz played a big role in the effort, and I am proud of him and everyone who made this happen," he said.

This victory wouldn't have been possible without the incredible work of Betz and Local 3905's members and leadership, and a determined inside committee. CWA District 3's assistant to the vice president, Nick Hawkins, and Tracy Binkley, CWA campaign lead, also worked closely with the Local to make it all come together.

DirecTV is owned by AT&T. The management neutrality and card check provisions that CWA bargained with AT&T are the reason that workers can make a fair choice about union representation.

Betz said the "fast and furious" organizing drive lasted just eight days. The group worked from 6 a.m. to midnight each day to make sure every employee had the opportunity to discuss joining CWA. There was a tremendous response from DirecTV workers, who take calls from customers around the country. Concerns included favoritism in the workplace and miscommunication about the company's policies.

Danielle Turner-Myricks, who works at the call center, said, "I feel happy to be protected by our union at DirecTV."

Princess Pettigrew, another worker, said, "I have never been a part of a union, I'm excited to have one now! Somebody has got our back at work."

Left: Danielle Turner-Myricks and Princess Pettigrew celebrate their CWA organizing win. Right: Workers at the DirecTV call center in Huntsville, Ala., are the first in the country to say "Union Yes."


First Transit Workers Join CWA

Denver-area First Transit clerks, dispatchers and supervisors voted resoundingly to join CWA last Thursday.

The workers voted 15-to-2 in a National Labor Relations Board election in Commerce City, Colo. The organizing committee united their coworkers and demonstrated a strong, public show of support for CWA in their workplace. CWA Local 7777 President Audrey Deguio, Vice President Marlene Jimenez, former Local Organizer Tim Marquez and CWA District 7 Staff Representative Katie Romich worked with this dedicated group throughout the union drive.

First Transit is a national transportation contract service provider that maintains three regional transportation district contracts in the greater Denver area. The company employs more than 5,000 employees nationwide.

Bargaining Update

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Verizon Workers Say 'Enough is Enough'

CWA Verizon members have been saying it for months: Verizon is the poster child for corporate greed. A hard-hitting ad that started running on broadcast and cable television this week will help make sure that everyone recognizes Verizon for what it is: a greedy company that lines the pockets of executives with millions of dollars in compensation while trying to cut workers' benefits and destroy job security.

Watch the ad here.

The 39,000 workers at Verizon, members of CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, have been fighting for fairness since before their contract expired last Aug. 1. Now they are saying, "Enough is enough."

Verizon made $1.5 billion a month in profits in 2015 – and $39 billion in profits over the last three years – while insisting at the bargaining table that workers accept major cutbacks in health care coverage, job security, pension protections, and benefits for injured workers. Verizon also adamantly refuses to bargain a fair first contract for wireless retail store workers in New York and Massachusetts.

"For a communications company, Verizon executives seem to have trouble hearing their customers and their workers," said Dennis Trainor, CWA District 1 Vice President representing Verizon workers from New Jersey to Massachusetts. "A company this profitable should not be making the wealth gap in America even worse by cutting benefits and destroying job security, while a handful of executives line their pockets with $50 million a year in compensation."

"Americans are outraged by what the corporate elite has done to working people in this country over the last 30 years," said Ed Mooney, CWA District 2-13 Vice President, representing workers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. "Verizon typifies everything that people in this country are angry about. If we have to walk, Verizon will be a national target for anger at corporate greed."

In a strike vote conducted last summer, 86% of Verizon workers supported walking off the job if a fair agreement cannot be reached.

CWA's Website Has a New Look

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If you've visited our website this week you may have noticed a few changes. We've unveiled an updated look which makes it easier for CWA members or others browsing our site to find the information they need.

There's even more going on behind the scenes. All pages on the site are now fully responsive – which means they will be easy to read and use on any screen – desktop, laptop, tablet or phone.

Among the improvements are improved search capabilities. Give it a try – the first 10 people to find the oldest story on the site will receive a special CWA spiral-bound notebook. Submit your entries here.

Flight Attendants Rally for Rest on Capitol Hill

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Hundreds of AFA-CWA Flight Attendants and other activists rallied at the U.S. Capitol on March 16, calling on Congress to ensure that 10 hours minimum rest for Flight Attendants is included in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization.

Airline workers from the Air Line Pilots, Transport Workers, Association of Professional Flight Attendants, Machinists and others joined the rally and the day of lobbying on Capitol Hill.

Flight Attendants and supporters visited all 541 congressional offices after the rally, and talked to Members of Congress and staff about the need for 10 hours minimum rest for Flight Attendants.

At the rally, AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson said, "We are going to get our 10 hours rest and flight fatigue management program in 2016." She reminded the crowd that, "what we legislate we don't have to negotiate."

CWA President Chris Shelton said the 10-hour minimum rest period was a critical safety issue, and rallied the crowd to get it done, pledging that CWA would be in the fight for as long as it takes.

Currently, the House version of the FAA reauthorization bill includes 10 hours minimum rest and an FAA regulated Fatigue Risk Management Plan (FRMP). The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has voted to include AFA-CWA proposed language to address fatigue and establishing an FRMP for Flight Attendants, but the Senate language does not match the House version that requires an irreducible 10 hours minimum rest between duty periods for Flight Attendants. AFA-CWA continues to press forward to achieve 10 hours minimum rest equal to the pilots.

Flight Attendants from all carriers – mainline, regional, niche, charter, low cost or ultra-low cost – are unified in fighting for the 10-hour minimum standard.

Left: On the steps of the U.S. Capitol, Flight Attendants make their message heard. Right: AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson addresses AFA-CWA Flight Attendants and other airline union members who rallied then spent the day lobbying Members of Congress on the need for 10 hours minimum rest.

Tennessee Is Not For Sale

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Tennessee Is Not For Sale

United Campus Workers CWA Local 3865 activists and allies flooded the Tennessee State Capitol last Tuesday to protest Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's scheme to outsource all facilities maintenance, management, and security at state colleges and universities.

As the Haslam administration delivered a "business justification" presentation to lawmakers – claiming that privatization would save the state money – protesters lined the hallway outside and unfurled three scrolls listing more than 5,000 people who had signed a petition against outsourcing. Chants of "Tennessee is not for sale!" and "Governor Haslam step off it, put people over profit!" rang up and down Legislative Plaza.

Campus physical plant and maintenance staff, faculty, clerical and administrative worker members had the support of nearly 200 allies, which included CWA Local 3805 President Ray Mehaffey, students, clergy, community activists, ATU, SEIU Local 205, the UT Diversity Matters Coalition, the Tennessee chapter of the Sierra Club, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, fast food and homecare workers fighting for $15, and more.

As the rally ended, many protesters returned to the legislative hearing, packing the room with red UCW-CWA shirts. Workers showed that they weren't fooled by the empty promises of out-of-touch politicians. They know that outsourcing would certainly lead to job cuts, smaller salaries, slashed benefits, higher turnover and degraded services. They understand that privatization often does not result in big savings for the government, as hidden fees and cost overages and more add up.

But UCW-CWA members were not the only ones at the hearing to see the holes in Haslam's scheme. Knoxville State Sen. Richard Briggs, whose district includes the University of Tennessee, raised questions about the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of privatization.

"We need to search for savings, but we don't need to change for the sake of change at the expense of our hardworking citizens and the small businesses in our community," Briggs said to applause. "If the university is running an efficient operation, we need to keep it."

He added, "To date, I've not received any complaints from anyone about the quality of operations or the maintenance of the services. On the contrary, I hear nothing but compliments. And in private conversations with senior UT officials and administrators they also have expressed concerns that special events such as football games, conferences and snow days will not be adequately covered or covered at a great expense."

UCW-CWA members also met with their state representatives and senators before boarding buses, vans and cars to head home.

Workers are moving the needle. UCW-CWA has been turning the seemingly impossible into reality ever since those first campus workers came together 16 years ago to demand a voice on the job. Forward together, not one step back!

UCW Local 3805 members rally outside the state Capitol in Nashville before heading inside to convince lawmakers to oppose Governor Haslam's outsourcing scheme and to roll out the more than 5,000 signatures of citizens opposed to outsourcing of critical public services.

What If We Passed a Budget that Lifted Up Working Families?

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We're demanding prosperity for working families, not austerity.

On March 15, the Congressional Progressive Caucus unveiled its budget proposal, "The People's Budget," which levels the playing field and creates economic opportunity for all. Unlike the other plans being introduced this budget season in Washington, this one actually makes sense.

The People's Budget would tax Wall Street speculators and close the tax loopholes that companies use to ship jobs overseas. It would provide debt-free college to every student, invest $1 trillion into repairing the nation's infrastructure, and adequately fund voter protection agencies. This budget would also ensure that workers displaced by job-killing trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership will get the assistance that they need to get back on their feet.

Get all the details here.

At the press conference, CWA President Chris Shelton said, "The federal budget says a lot about what kind of nation we're going to be going forward. The People's Budget is one that we can all be proud of, as it will restore power to working people and begin the path to rebuilding our middle class. For too long, our government has failed to make the investments that we need to ensure a vibrant, growing economy."

Shelton added, "We all know that it's a tough fight to get good ideas like these enacted given the unfair power that big campaign donors have to corrupt the legislative process. And that's why it's so very important that the budget also establishes a system for public financing of elections to end this corrupt system."

The People's Budget is practically the polar opposite of the plan championed by House Republican leaders – and that's why it works. A new economic analysis by the Economic Policy Institute found that, by fighting back against the massive spending cuts championed by conservatives, The People's Budget would actually push unemployment down to 4 percent and increase the gross domestic product (GDP) by 3 percent. That's something all members of Congress should get behind.

CWA Chris Shelton speaks at a Capitol Hill news conference with members of Congress who have proposed a progressive, "people's budget."

Election 2016: Millions Signing on to the Political Revolution

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In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, CWA President Chris Shelton said the presidential campaign by Senator Bernie Sanders will go forward, "because Sanders has said repeatedly that this campaign is not about him but about the political revolution our country needs to restore a government and an economy that works for working families."

With a focus on fair trade, affordable college, securing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and reining in Wall Street and the Big Banks, Americans are coming together in support of the grassroots economic and political movement we need.

Clockwise, from top left:

CWAers, including retired CWA Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Rechenbach, are joined by Postal Workers and National Nurses Union members outside the Bernie bus in Cleveland.

In Cleveland, CWAers, members of Locals 4309 and 4340, retirees and D4 staff, get ready to walk for Bernie.

CWA 6355's volunteer team at the Affton High School, before the start of the Sanders rally in St. Louis. From left: Steven Davis, Natashia Pickens, Bradley Harmon, Khaila Jones and Marcia Gant.

Todd Leyda, president of CWA Local 4302, introduces Sanders at a rally in Akron, Ohio.

CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings introduces Senator Sanders at a huge rally at Affton High School in St. Louis.

It's Time for Senators to Do Their Job

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President Obama nominated Merrick B. Garland to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court. Garland currently serves as the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

CWA President Chris Shelton released the following statement:

President Obama has done his job by putting forward an undeniably qualified, highly-regarded nominee. Now it's time for senators to fulfill their own constitutional responsibilities and give Judge Garland a full hearing and a timely up-or-down vote.

The American people expect their elected representatives to do their job and stop playing politics. Our country needs a fully constituted Supreme Court, Judge Garland deserves a fair hearing and the American people are entitled to a government that works, not one hobbled by obstructionism.

It's Bad Trade Deals, Stupid

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In a post on Medium, CWA President Chris Shelton said that the pundits, the media and others were just coming to realize what working families have been saying all along: free trade is a disaster for workers and our communities. Read more here.

Help Us Awaken Democracy

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Will you join us for Democracy Awakening? For three days, thousands of people will converge on our nation's capital to demand a democracy in which voting rights are protected and the integrity of the vote is not undermined by big money.

CWA members already are making plans for April 16-18. Get more information here.

Saturday, April 16 will feature teach-ins, workshops and direct action trainings by leaders from 200 groups that have signed on to this fight.

On Sunday, April 17, activists will rally and march on the U.S. Capitol. The rally begins at 1 p.m. at 3rd St., NW, in front of the Capitol reflecting pool. After the march, participants will hold a faith rally and prayer vigil in front of Union Station, beginning at 4:30 pm.

Monday, April 18, is a day of mass civil disobedience to save our democracy, along with advocacy and lobbying on Capitol Hill. Together we're pushing for a Congress of Conscience – one that stands up for our democracy rather than stands in its way. Many CWA activists, including President Shelton, will engage in actions that focus attention restoring our democracy.

Remembering Five CWAers Who Died on the Job

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CWA President Chris Shelton called on CWA members to join Workers' Memorial Day events on April 28.

"Participation in Workers' Memorial Day 2016 will be of particular significance to CWA as we lost five members to workplace fatalities during 2015 and the first part of 2016," he said.

This year, CWA mourns the deaths of:

  • Wanda Holbrook, 57 years old, a member of IUE-CWA Local 84436, Ionia, Michigan. Employed as a maintenance technician for Ventra Ionia Main, Wanda died on July 7, 2015, after being crushed by robotic machinery,
  • Dennis Martin, 51 years of age and Daniel Anderson, 33 years of age, members of CWA Local 3676, Goldsboro, North Carolina. Employed by SPX Transformer Solutions, they died while performing transformer work on November 30, 2015,
  • John Hare, 51 years of age, a member of CWA Local 2222, Annandale, Virginia. Employed by Verizon, John died on December 14, 2015, after falling from a ladder while performing telecommunications aerial work, and
  • Fred Bosch, 42 years of age, a member of CWA Local 3112, West Palm Beach, Florida. Employed as an outside plant technician by AT&T, Fred died on January 15, 2016, after suffering an electrocution while performing aerial work.

This year, union members from across the labor movement will come together to call for work in this country that is safe and healthy, pays fair wages and provides all workers with the freedom to form unions without the threat of retaliation.

Click here for more information and materials.