CWA's bargaining team representing 2,000 CWA members covered by the AT&T National Internet Contract reached a three-year tentative agreement providing substantial wage increases and other improved benefits.
"This tentative agreement is a huge victory for our members who fought hard and mobilized for a fair deal," said CWA Vice President for Telecommunications & Technologies Lisa Bolton. "Not only will this new contract provide significant wage increases, but it will also protect health care benefits and provide improvements in job security, scheduling, and other working conditions."
The tentative agreement contains general wage increases, including significant increases in the current wage schedules for workers in the two lowest paid job titles. These are life-changing wage and benefit increases for these workers, who have struggled to keep up, especially in higher cost areas like Las Vegas. These workers, Internet Assistants and Customer Assistants, will see an overall pay raise of $5,000 to $8,100 over the life of the contract. Workers in all other titles will receive a compounded wage increase of 7.7 percent over the contract term.
The bargaining team included Staff Rep. Ruth Marriott, Mayette Arii of CWA Local 9413, and Tim Skaggs of CWA Local 6215.
CWA reached tentative agreements with DirecTV covering 2,100 technicians, warehouse, and administrative workers in the Southeast (1,088 workers in District 3), the Midwest (153 workers in District 4) and the Southwest (896 workers in District 6).
Effective Dec. 25, 2016, the 2,100 DirecTV workers will be covered by the wage progression schedules in contracts covering CWA members at AT&T in those regions, depending on workers’ job titles. The DirecTV workers also will receive wage increases every six month until they achieve the top of the wage progression scale.
The tentative agreement provides for health care coverage; disability, savings, and pension benefits; a grievance and arbitration process; coverage under the national transfer plan and other benefits.
Ratification votes will follow the regular guidelines used by each of the respective districts. DirecTV workers will be receiving details and more information. The ratification must be completed by Nov. 1.
More than 10,000 DirecTV workers, including technicians, customer service representatives, and administrative workers have joined CWA in the past year. These are the first tentative contracts negotiated for DirecTV workers.
NewsGuild-CWA members at Time Inc. approved a revised settlement offer by a 3-to-1 margin, ending a two-year dispute with the company.
Guild-covered employees, who work for Time, Sports Illustrated, People, Fortune and Money, will receive raises totaling 14 percent over the term of the contract, which ends March 31, 2019, a year longer than Time Inc. offered in a June proposal that was rejected. Additionally, all bargaining unit employees will receive a $2,500 signing bonus.
The contract strengthens certain job protections and entitles employees who are laid off in certain cases – such as subcontracting, out-of-seniority layoffs, or layoffs conducted without first seeking volunteers – to receive an extra week of severance pay for each year of service.
CWA members and other activists are fighting back against a plan by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to make big cuts in the rates charged to connect cell phone towers to high-capacity data networks.
These rate cuts would make it harder for telecom companies like Frontier and AT&T that are actually building out high speed networks to rural areas to continue those investments. It would benefit companies like Sprint and T-Mobile that don’t do anything to expand high speed Internet access to the 34 million Americans who still don't have it, and would result in the loss of good telecom jobs.
CWA President Chris Shelton said the FCC plan would "take profits from our employers, the unionized companies, and give them to anti-union, anti-worker companies. It won't benefit consumers but would be a windfall to T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon Wireless."
That's why CWA members are gearing up, signing a petition that calls on the FCC to stop this attack on good telecom jobs. The deadline to submit petition signatures to the FCC is Oct. 19, so sign it now.
The FCC's proposal to cut data costs for companies like T-Mobile and Sprint would allow these companies to pick the pockets of our members and other telecom workers.
Donald Trump Uses Foreign Steel in His Buildings
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Last week in Pennsylvania, Donald Trump told workers that U.S. and Pennsylvania steel would again be used to build the skyscrapers of America, "just like Pennsylvania steel built the Empire State Building."
But Donald Trump doesn't build with steel or aluminum produced by U.S. workers. Instead, he spends millions of dollars on building supplies in China.
A Newsweek investigation revealed that "[Donald] Trump has been stiffing American steel workers on his own construction projects for years, choosing to deprive untold millions of dollars from four key electoral swing states and instead directing it to China – the country whose trade practices have helped decimate the once-powerful industrial center of the United States."
The report found that in at least two of Trump's last three construction projects – his Las Vegas hotel and his hotel in Chicago – Trump opted to purchase his steel and aluminum from Chinese manufacturers rather than U.S. corporations based in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. It concludes that Trump "is not someone who ever attempted to lead by example by only buying products made in America."
Verizon Workers Can Now Be Fired if They Fix Copper Phone Lines
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Verizon has told its field technicians in Pennsylvania that they can be fired if they try to fix broken copper phone lines. Instead, employees must try to replace copper lines with a device that connects to Verizon Wireless's cell phone network.
This directive came in a memo from Verizon to workers on September 20. "Failure to follow this directive may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal," the memo said.
The memo and other documents were made public by CWA, which asked the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to put a stop to the forced copper-to-wireless conversions.
The wireless home phone service, VoiceLink, is not a proper replacement for copper phone lines because it doesn't work with security alarms, fax machines, medical devices such as pacemakers that require telephone monitoring, and other services, the union said.
CWA President Chris Shelton: Attention, Donald Trump, Avoiding Taxes Doesn’t Make You Smart
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In an opinion piece in the Saint Louis Dispatch, CWA President Chris Shelton criticized Donald Trump for bragging about not paying taxes:
Donald Trump only cares about guys like Donald Trump. On the cusp of the second presidential debate, it's pretty clear that the GOP nominee mainly wants to game the system for people like himself.
Working people pay taxes, every single payday, in every single paycheck. We might not like it, but we know that paying taxes is how our country pays for first responders, health care, transportation systems, inspection of food and medicines, and so much more. Public services are critical to our lives, no matter who we are or where we live, and it's our tax dollars that support them.
Donald Trump pretends to connect with ordinary working people. But sometimes we get a look at the real Trump, and it’s not pretty.
Though he's refused to release his tax returns to the public, newly disclosed documents show that Trump could have avoided paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, following a $916 million loss he declared on his 1995 return.
When Hillary Clinton said that Trump hasn't released his tax returns because they would prove he didn't pay any federal income taxes, Trump’s response was, "That makes me smart." Then he took it a step further, declaring that any taxes he paid "would be squandered."
Sorry, Donald Trump, avoiding taxes doesn't make you smart. In fact, it makes you phony and irresponsible. It shows that you're unwilling to support the public services that hundreds of millions of Americans at every income level depend on. Does anyone believe that tax dollars are "squandered" when used to keep our country safe from terrorism? Or by providing health care or hot meals to low-income children?
One Candidate Walks Picket Lines, the Other Crosses Picket Lines
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Donald Trump talks a good game, but he forgets that you have to "walk it like you talk it." But when he's crossing a picket line, it's full steam ahead.
Read this open letter to Donald Trump from a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, calling out Trump for crossing the IATSE picket line of "The Apprentice," Trump's reality TV show.
We know which side Hillary Clinton's on. She's walked our Verizon picket lines and supported CWA and union members in our fights for fairness.
Political Action Update
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California and Nevada
California and Nevada CWA members went door-to-door for Hillary Clinton and Catherine Cortez Masto, who is running for U.S. Senate in Nevada.
Volunteers at the CWA Local 3112 Union Hall phonebanked for U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy.
Members of CWA, USW, and UFCW called union families to get out the vote for Hillary Clinton, U.S. House candidate Monica Vernon, and Iowa State Senator Chris Brase. Read more here.
CWA Local 6355 called members to encourage them to support CWA-endorsed candidates and vote "no" on Amendment 6, a voter suppression measure that would require Missourians to present a state-issued photo ID in order to vote.
CWA activists in New York and New Jersey are spending their Saturdays in Pennsylvania, knocking on doors to help elect Hillary Clinton for President. If you want to join the road trip to PA on Saturday, Oct. 22 and Saturday, Oct. 29, learn more and sign up here.
District 4 Vice President and head of CWA Women for Political Power Linda Hinton and local activists mobilized for Hillary Clinton on CWA Local 4603's phonebanking night.
Join the Debate!
Here's a great opportunity to make your voice heard at the next President debate, to be held on Sunday, Oct. 9, in St. Louis.
The ABC and CNN moderators have agreed to consider the top 30 questions submitted and voted on by the public at the Open Debates Coalition website. Here's your chance to have the candidates address your concerns, by submitting your question or voting on others. Click here to weigh in.
Texas AFL-CIO Honors Two CWA Retirees at Building Dedication
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This week, the Texas AFL-CIO honored their former president and former president of CWA Local 6137, Becky Moeller, for her service and leadership with the unveiling of the "Becky Moeller Auditorium" at their newly renovated headquarters, refurbished with 100 percent union labor.
The upper floor of the building was named for Rosa Walker, former director of the Texas AFL-CIO and CWA retiree.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke at the dedication ceremony.
CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings with Becky Moeller, CWA retiree and former president of the Texas AFL-CIO (left), and Rosa Walker, CWA retiree and former director of the Texas AFL-CIO (right).
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CWAers joined members of People for the American Way and other allies at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court, calling on the Senate to "Do Your Job" and hold confirmation hearings on the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
It's been more than 200 days since Garland was nominated by President Obama. Senate Republicans have been blocking any action on the nomination, pursuing this obstruction despite a court term for this year and next that is jammed with issues that are critical and need the full court to resolve.
Democracy activists tell the Senate, "Stop the obstruction and do your job," in a rally outside the Supreme Court.