CWA, as part of a coalition of more than 20 labor unions and activist groups, has launched a national campaign to fight back against Wall Street's overwhelming power in our nation's economy and politics. Take On Wall Street will push for a tough, concrete agenda to make the economy fairer for working families.
This election season has made clear that Americans are frustrated by a corrupt, rigged system that rewards the billionaire class over working families. Wall Street destroyed the economy in 2008, and while many families still haven't recovered from the effects of that recession, Wall Street is now doing fine.
CWA President Chris Shelton outlined the campaign and how CWA activists already are gearing up for the fight in a Huffington Post column.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a key advocate of Wall Street reform, headlined the launch, along CWA Secretary Treasurer Sara Steffens and leaders from financial reform, consumers, labor and other groups.
Sen. Warren rallies activists at the campaign launch of 'Take on Wall Street.'
"This will not be an easy fight," Senator Warren said. "Wall Street has money – they have money and access to a lot of senators and congressmen. We are in this fight because someone has to be willing to fight back – and that's us."
CWA Sec.-Treas. Sara Steffens tells the coalition that, "we're all in to take back our economy for working people."
The campaign agenda includes five key goals:
Close the "carried interest" loophole that allows hedge fund managers to pay a lower tax rate than other working Americans.
Pass a Wall Street "speculation" or "sales" tax on sales of derivatives, stocks, bonds and other financial products.
Break up the big banks and protect working Americans' investments.
End the CEO Bonus Loophole.
End banks' predatory lending and other damaging practices.
In San Diego, CWA Local 9509 successfully ended its grievance strike with AT&T West, following a nearly week-long walkout by the local's 1,700 members.
CWA Local 9509 members went on strike at AT&T West on May 19, forced out by management's refusal to provide the local with copies of the recording usage reports. These are the recordings of service representatives' monitored calls that are the basis of management attempts to discipline, suspend and terminate call center workers. The local represents about 500 customer service representatives.
Local 9509 President Chris Roberts said, "The entire local participated in the action and members stood together, walking picket lines and holding rallies at garages and the call center. We know what solidarity means," he said.
Local 9509 President Chris Roberts rallies members in San Diego.
CWA members at OFS in Sturbridge, Mass., and Norcross, Ga., voted nearly unanimously to authorize a strike if a fair contract can't be reached. With just days until the May 28 expiration, the nearly 300 OFS workers, members of Locals 1400 (Sturbridge) and 3263 (Norcross), are mobilizing and supporting their bargaining committee.
Lisa Bolton, CWA Vice President for Telecommunications & Technologies, said: "The proposals that OFS has given us are downright insulting. During leaner times, OFS workers made big sacrifices year after year to help this company succeed. Now it's our turn. OFS is now reaping benefits from that hard work, and it's time that they negotiated a fair contract that reflects workers' contributions."
OFS, once part of the former Lucent, is owned by Furukawa Electric and is that company's top performer. OFS's profits have more than doubled over the last year. In the same time period, OFS made nearly 23 times more than in 2014. OFS is a leading manufacturer of fiber optic cable and products.
The NABET-CWA Local 52031 bargaining team has reached a tentative agreement at PBS that provides wage increases, maintains the current scheduling process and compensates workers who have been affected by wage discrimination at the Crystal City and Springfield, Va., production facilities.
CWA's research department made an extensive information request of management and discovered a pattern of wage discrimination affecting mainly African American workers. In addition to salary increases, the proposed contract includes lump sum wage increases for longtime workers and those on the job for 10 years or more. Any employee (with the exception of editors) who earns less than $85,000 a year will have their bonuses folded into their base pay over the three year contract term. All members will receive a $1,000 signing bonus.
The tentative agreement covers 45 members; the local has scheduled a conference call on June 1 for members to get more information.
Verizon workers, families and allies are standing strong on picket lines, pushing for a fair contract from the very wealthy Verizon. The 39,000 Verizon workers – members of CWA and the IBEW – have been on strike since April 13.
This week, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and several members of the House of Representatives joined CWAers on the picket line outside a Verizon Wireless store in Washington, D.C. They were among the 88 Members of Congress who signed on to a letter to Verizon calling on the company to bargain fairly with workers.
Joining Verizon workers on the picket line in D.C. were House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representatives Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Mark Takano (D-Cal.), Barbara Lee (D-Cal.), Gene Green (D-Tex.), David Cicilline (D-RI), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), Mark Desaulnier (D-Cal.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
Last weekend was a family affair as Verizon workers, spouses and kids made signs, marched and spread the word that it's time for a fair contract.
In Ohio and Illinois, 158 DirecTV workers have joined CWA. Supporting the workers and the campaign were officers and activists from Local 4320 and 4217. From Local 4320: President Jay Walther, Organizer Phil Pennington, and activists John Vogel and Rob Ordorsic. From Local 4217: President Travis Young, Vice President Gary Dengler and activist Keith Asher.
In Mississippi, 170 DirecTV techs have joined CWA. Presidents Mike Hodges, Local 3509; Kim Sadler, Local 3511 and Shayne Scruggs, Local 3517, led the effort with the support of activists from the three locals and District 3 staff.
A unit of 69 DirecTV workers at the Eden Prairie Care Center in Minneapolis has joined CWA. The campaign was led by officers and organizers from Locals 7200 and 7250 and with support from NewsGuild organizer Cat Salonek.
Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild Exposes Gender and Racial Pay Disparities at the Washington Post
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The Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA Local 32035, released a disturbing report this week revealing a big pay disparity at the Washington Post between men and women with the same jobs, and between white employees and employees of color.
According to the report, which examined the pay of every union-represented employee of the paper, male Post reporters earned an average of $7,000 more than women. Male columnists made an eye-popping $23,000 more than women doing the same jobs. Male editorial aides made $7,000 more than their female counterparts.
In nine of 12 job titles the report looked at, white employees earned significantly more than their non-white colleagues. Assistant editors of color made about 15 percent less than white assistant editors.
Fredrick Kunkle, a NewsGuild co-chair who works at the Washington Post, said: "We believe the problem is widespread at the Post and that the organization, despite complaints about disparity that go back decades, has not done enough to track or correct the situation. But we're hoping the company will take a fresh look at the data and engage with us in ways to address the issue. We recognize that this is a longstanding and complex problem not just at the Post, but society in general, and we're eager to collaborate on ways to address it."
TU Activist to Deutsche Telekom: ‘Please Support Our Call for Respect’
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Angela Melvin, a T-Mobile US call center worker from Wichita, Kan., and a leader in the new TU-CWA Local 6547, urged Deutsche Telekom shareholders to crack down on its American subsidiary's flagrant disrespect for U.S. labor law.
TU activists Angela Melvin and Josh Coleman join ver.di members in leafleting outside the Deutsche Telekom meeting in Cologne.
Deutsche Telekom is the parent company of T-Mobile and T-Mobile US.
"Dear shareholders, please support us in our demand for respect and fairness," she said, speaking at the annual meeting in Cologne, Germany. "I think that we have earned this and that you will also profit from it."
Melvin called out Deutsche Telekom's two-faced treatment of its workforce. In Germany, the company recognizes and respects workers' right to a union voice. Yet in the U.S., Deutsche Telekom allows T-Mobile US managers to harass and intimidate employees – even after the National Labor Relations Board found the company guilty of engaging in nationwide labor law violations.
Melvin was recently elected chief steward at her call center and will sit on the national steering committee of TU-CWA Local 6547. She traveled to Germany with Kevin Elder, a T-Mobile US call center worker from Albuquerque, and Josh Coleman, interim chair of TU-CWA Local 6547.
Before the annual meeting they sat down with leaders of the 2 million-member German union ver.di, which represents workers at Deutsche Telekom and has been a key partner in building TU. The TU activists were also able to meet with workers at a T-Mobile store in Cologne, as well as call center workers in Dusseldorf.