Jun 29, 2017 - NAFTA Has to Change | Communications Workers of America

Jun 29, 2017 - NAFTA Has to Change

June 29, 2017

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Passenger Service Agents Lobby Congress to Strengthen Assault Protections

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American Airlines and Envoy Passenger Service Agents from across the country gathered in Washington D.C. to lobby Congress on strengthening protections for passenger service agents in the FAA Reauthorization bill.

With the high tensions that are increasingly common with air travel, Passenger Service Agents face numerous challenges at work, including dangerous situations like verbal and physical assault from passengers. Passenger Service Agents have reported being verbally and physically assaulted by customers, including being hit, having luggage and equipment thrown at them, being pulled over counters, and getting spat upon.

Zuzana Uhnakova, a Passenger Service Agent from Miami with American Airlines, said that the meetings with Members of Congress and their staff were productive. "Now they are aware of what is really happening to us. In December, I was assaulted by a passenger. We've been verbally abused every day. I'm here not only for myself, but for every agent."

Heyda Delgado, an American Airlines Passenger Service Agent from San Juan, said, "They were surprised that the law isn't taking us seriously. They aren't seeing what goes on behind the scenes. They were very receptive."


CWA Passenger Service Agents met with Members of Congress and their staff including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), staff of Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX), and staff of Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).


CWA Applauds Inclusion of Worker Protections by House Transportation Committee

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CWA issued this statement on the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill marked up by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:

CWA commends the leaders and members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee who voted to include important safeguards for airline workers and the aviation industry in the markup of H.R. 2997.

We appreciate the work of Chairman Bill Shuster and the efforts of Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and other representatives to include these critical provisions.

The reauthorization bill includes:

  • A requirement that Flight Attendants receive a minimum 10-hour rest period – equal to the flight deck – and that carriers establish a Fatigue Rest Management Plan for cabin crew.
  • A requirement that airlines submit to the FAA an Employee Assault Prevention and Response Plan to report physical and verbal assaults on passenger service agents and establish protocols for the immediate notification of law enforcement, including federal law enforcement.
  • The language of H.R. 2150, the "Flags of Convenience Don't Fly Here Act," which safeguards U.S. airline jobs and the U.S. aviation industry from devastation by the "flags of convenience" model.

On the 10-hour rest issue, AFA-CWA Flight Attendants rallied and met with members of Congress and staff on Capitol Hill and in district offices, with tens of thousands of calls and letters written to their representatives. CWA passenger service agents, who have faced increasingly serious incidents of physical and verbal assaults by airline passengers, mobilized to contact their representatives, organizing "lobby days" in Washington, D.C., and meetings in district offices.

CWA urges the House of Representatives to adopt these important safeguards for workers and the airline industry. CWA is pressing Senators to include these provisions as well.


Local 6137 is CWA Strong

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CWA Local 6137 in Corpus Christi, Tx. makes internal organizing a daily priority, and it shows. They represent 472 AT&T employees, and 463 of them are CWA members – 98%!

Local President Kristie Moeller Veit says the key to keeping their union strong is talking to everyone. "We show up and have frequent face-to-face conversations with members, new hires, and non-members to help get ahead of problems," Veit says. "In this social media driven world, it's more important than ever to develop real and personal relationships. It's the best way to get people involved."

The local has 50 stewards who understand their workplaces and who have been thoroughly trained to use their individual strengths to organize effectively.

In their conversations, members and stewards emphasize that local union representatives are there to represent everyone.

"Local union representatives are hourly employees like them and have the same concerns with the employer and workplace," said Moeller Veit. "We always emphasize that everybody's in the union together, and we're all part of the solution."


Local 6137 is focusing on internal organizing to make CWA Strong.


GOP Health Care Bill Would Throw 22 Million off Insurance

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Republicans are trying to ram their health care bill through the Senate before the voters who sent them to Washington realize just how bad this plan is. Originally, Senate leadership wanted to vote on the bill this week before Senators headed home for recess and faced their constituents, but strong public backlash against the plan forced them to delay the vote – for now.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the GOP's legislation will raise premium and out-of-pocket costs for working families and 15 million Americans will lose their health care over the next year – including 4 million who are on their employer's plan. About 22 million people would lose coverage by 2026. It allows insurance companies to charge older Americans five times the rate of other insured persons in what many are calling an "age tax."

Health care providers and experts have criticized this bill, from the American Medical Association, which says the bill violates doctors' principle of "first, do no harm," to health care associations that are warning of the devastation to services to all people living in rural areas.

Like the House bill, the Senate plan is a massive tax giveaway to the wealthy and corporations.

The fight is only beginning. Please call 1-855-980-2280 or click here to tell your Senator to oppose this devastating attack on health care. It's not a health care bill; it's a $700 billion tax giveaway to the wealthy.


CWAers and allies rallied at Senator Marco Rubio's (R-FL) office in Miami, Fl., calling on him to oppose the GOP tax giveaway to the top 1%.


NAFTA Update

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100,000 Demand NAFTA Renegotiation that Benefits Working Families

CWAers, along with allies from the broad coalition that derailed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), delivered more than 100,000 petition signatures to the International Trade Commission (ITC) demanding that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) be replaced with a deal that benefits working people. The petitions were delivered as witnesses arrived for hearings on NAFTA renegotiation.


CWAers and allies joined Rep. Rosa De Lauro (D-CT) (top) and former CWA President Larry Cohen to deliver more than 100,000 petition signatures to the ITC.

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CWA Testimony on NAFTA: Remove ISDS, Strengthen Labor Enforcement, and End Call Center Offshoring

As part of public hearings about NAFTA renegotiation, Dan Mauer of CWA called for three specific areas of NAFTA in need of overhaul – the removal of the undemocratic ISDS provision; the inclusion of a robust labor chapter with an enforcement mechanism that actually works, in contrast to weak and ineffectual labor chapters in agreements such as CAFTA; and a series of reforms and revisions to put an end to call center offshoring. 

Read Mauer's full testimony here.

Watch video of the hearing here.


AFA-CWA: We're in This Together

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At the union's annual board of directors meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., AFA-CWA leaders from across the union protested in solidarity with Mesa Airlines Flight Attendants who are bargaining for a fair contract, and reviewed AFA-CWA's accomplishments in uniting all Flight Attendants under the "Stronger Together, Better Together" banner and building public awareness of their critical role as aviation's first responders.

At the protest outside Mesa Airlines headquarters, AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson said, "Flight Attendants have worked for far too long under bankruptcy pay and work rules. With 10-20% lower pay than other regional airline crews working flights for the American and United brands, Mesa Flight Attendants often must choose between paying utility bills or buying food. The Flight Attendants took a 99.56% strike vote to back up their bargaining demands. We will turn up the heat until Mesa management agrees to a fair contract!"

AFA-CWA leaders discussed ongoing legislative initiatives including:

  • Requirement of a ten-hour minimum rest period and a Fatigue Risk Management Plan, giving Flight Attendants parity with the flight deck.
  • Opposition to the "flag of convenience" model for aviation that carriers use to evade good labor standards and protections.
  • Securing the cabin as first responders, and addressing threats including onboard cellular voice communications, knives and dangerous weapons on aircraft, cabin air quality, and more.

CWA President Chris Shelton addressed the board and tied tough bargaining at Mesa and other airlines to "Wall Street greed, pure and simple. Mesa Airlines operates flights for very profitable American and United Airlines, but it pays Flight Attendants substandard wages – as much as 20 percent less. We know the 1,000 Mesa Flight Attendants will get the good contract they deserve, but it's some of the toughest bargaining around."

He also called out Wall Street's push for regulatory approval that allows government-controlled carriers like Emirates Airline and other Gulf carriers to undercut Flight Attendant compensation, disregard worker rights, and attack good airline jobs.


AFA-CWA leaders from across the union gathered in Phoenix, Az. to discuss ongoing legislative initiatives and to protest in solidarity with Mesa Airlines Flight Attendants who are bargaining for a fair contract.


Labor Luncheon

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The South Florida Central Labor Council held a Living Wage "Know Your Rights" Labor luncheon in Miami, cosponsored by CWA.

"I've been working for $9.06. This cannot pay my bills. And they're always trying to cut my hours. My co-workers with families cannot make ends meet. We need a living wage for all," said one worker.