CWA e-Newsletter: Apr. 23, 2015 | Communications Workers of America

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CWA e-Newsletter: Apr. 23, 2015

CWA e-Newsletter

Want to be in next week's CWA Newsletter? Send your stories and photos to blog@cwa-union.org or @CWANews. Follow the latest developments at www.resistancegrowing.org.

Trojan Horse and Activists March Against "Fast Track," TPP

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More than a thousand activists rallied and marched – pulling a 15-foot papier-mâché Trojan horse – on Monday past the U.S. Chamber of Commerce down to the U.S. Trade Representative office building in a full-throated protest against the trade agenda that the nation's corporations are trying to ram through Congress.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), shown above center, marched with CWAers and other activists to protest "fast track" and TPP.

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CWA President Larry Cohen said the Trojan horse symbolizes what the USTR has become.

"On the outside, some nice words," Cohen said, "nice words about the environment, nice words about working people. But inside, is corporate America. Inside, is the Chamber of Commerce, inside is profits and greed and investors."

To watch a short video of the rally, click here.

Monday's protest brought together a broad and diverse coalition of people and organizations united against this awful legislation. The National People's Action (NPA), a network of grassroots organizations across the country that work to advance a national economic and racial justice agenda, organized the rally and march with Campaign for America's Future, Alliance for a Just Society and USAction. NPA had just concluded its Populism 2015 Conference, attended by more than 700 of its activists and 75 CWAers.

"Working people are rising up against backroom deals that destroy our democracy and threaten our communities and the environment," NPA Executive Director George Goehl said. "We won't stand idly by while our government trades worker protections for corporate profits and democracy for secret agreements. We've seen this movie before and we know it does not end well."

Political commentator Jim Hightower said the most telling thing about TPP, why they are trying to "fast track" it through Congress, is that they don't want people to learn what's in it. "That tells a story right there," he said. "They say, 'trust us.' I would sooner trust a coyote with my last lamb chop than to trust this bunch with our democracy."

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told the audience he voted against past trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA and "most favored nation" status for China. Every administration pushing those deals told critics about all the jobs that would be created.

"They were wrong then and they are wrong now," Sanders said. "TPP will be a disaster for American workers because our people should not have to compete against people around the world who are working for pennies an hour. We should not have our laws overturned because of corporate desire for profits and contempt for health and the environment."


T-Mobile US Law Breaking to Become Focus of German Government Investigation

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CWA President Larry Cohen and leaders of ver.di, the union representing workers at T-Mobile's parent company, Deutsche Telekom, talked with German media about the unprecedented legal decision that found T-Mobile US guilty of nationwide labor law violations.

Meeting in Berlin, Cohen and ver.di leader Lothar Schröder met with Manager Magazine, Handelsblatt, a business publication; and Reuters. Deutsche Telekom no longer can wash its hands of T-Mobile US's conduct, they said, noting that Deutsche Telekom had long insisted that the company did abide by American laws.

Read some of the German media coverage here.

This week, ver.di Chairman Frank Bsirske is submitting a petition to the German Bundestag, or parliament, for organizing neutrality and the respect of workers' rights at Deutsche Telekom sites abroad. It will ask the German government to exercise its shareholder powers and investigate Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile. The German government owns about 32 percent of Deutsche Telekom.

National Labor Relations Board judge Christine Dibble ruled in March that T-Mobile US engaged in nationwide labor law violations that were directed from the very top of the company in Bellevue, Wash.

Cohen also addressed the congress of ver.di, and he recognized and thanked ver.di activists and leaders for their solidarity in the effort to help T-Mobile US workers gain union representation. He celebrated the 11 worksite-to-worksite CWA/ver.di partnerships as examples of effective global solidarity.


CWA, AFSCME Meet with the Congressional Black Caucus on "Fast Track," TPP

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CWA President Larry Cohen, AFSCME President Lee Saunders and CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings, held a productive conversation with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on Wednesday about "fast track" and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

The discussion with the CBC was frank and constructive. An overwhelming majority of the CBC expressed their opposition to "fast track."

Many of the members – Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY 13th District), Terri Sewell (D-AL 7th District), Al Green (D-TX 9th District), G. K. Butterfield (D-NC 1st District), John Lewis (D-GA 5th District), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX 18th District), and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO 5th District) – recalled passionately the historic bond between labor and civil rights and spoke of the need to stick together to defeat "fast track" and the TPP.

CBC members spoke of broken promises from successive trade deals, NAFTA, CAFTA, and the U.S.-Korea trade deal. The TPP, they said, would be no different, if not worse.


Building a Movement for People, the Planet and Fair Trade

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About 1,000 progressive and grassroots activists, including 75 CWAers, spent last weekend in Washington, D.C., expanding their fight for justice and an economy that puts people and the planet before profits.

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CWA President Larry Cohen drives home the threat that "fast tracking" TPP would pose to American jobs.

Below: The Populism 2015 Conference brought together a dynamic group of activists, across ages, races and genders, committed to combating climate change, addressing racial and gender inequality, raising wages and getting big money out of politics.

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The Populism 2015 conference, "Building a Movement for People and the Planet," was organized by National People's Action, USAction, Campaign for America's Future and Alliance for a Just Society. It was a dynamic meeting of activists, across ages, races and genders, who are committed to combating climate change, addressing racial and gender inequality, raising wages and getting big money out of politics.

CWA President Larry Cohen talked to activists about the threat of "fast track" authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and CWAers and others shouted out exactly what they're doing in their communities to get members of Congress to listen to constituents and vote "No" on "fast track." CWA then held a workshop on TPP for conference participants.

In addition to CWAers, activists from the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Postal Workers Union joined the weekend meetings and actions.

On April 20, participants took to the streets to rally against "fast track" and the TPP. They demonstrated outside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, heard from union leaders outside the AFL-CIO, then marched to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. (See the first story in this newsletter for more details).


Bargaining Update

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AT&T Midwest, Legacy T

As CWA workers at AT&T Midwest and Legacy T continue to work without contracts, mobilization is in full swing to support the bargaining committees. Tomorrow, April 24, a contingent of CWAers will attend the AT&T annual meeting in Spokane, WA, to make it clear to executives and shareholders: CWA members are fighting for a fair contract.

The bargaining committees are reporting some progress and negotiations are continuing.

The contracts covering about 13,000 District 4 AT&T Midwest workers and about 4,500 Legacy T workers, members of Telecommunications and Technologies.

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Members of CWA Local 4123 in Michigan rally for a fair contract at AT&T Midwest.

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Showing solidarity with the bargaining committee at CWA Local 7250 in Minneapolis.

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CWA members from District 6 rally outside AT&T Headquarters in Dallas.


NewsGuild Members Shine at 2015 Pulitzer Prizes Announcement

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The photojournalism team at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the gifted Buffalo News editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis and New York Times reporter Eric Lipton are among the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winners.

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New York Times reporter Eric Lipton, with Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Washington Bureau Chief Carolyn Ryan looking on, is a 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner. (Photo by Ruth Fremson/ The New York Times)

Below: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch newsroom erupts as the photo staff was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography on Monday, April 20, 2015. (Photo by Robert Cohen)

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They are joined by scores of Guild members whose newsrooms won Pulitzers for their collective work in the areas of breaking news (The Seattle Times staff); investigative reporting (The Wall Street Journal staff); and international reporting (The New York Times staff).

In addition to the top awards, individual Guild members and Guild-represented staffs accounted for more than half of the finalists, two in each of the 14 Pulitzer categories.

"Once again, we are thrilled – but not at all surprised – to see that so many dedicated and talented Guild members have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize," NewsGuild-CWA President Bernie Lunzer said. Read the full story here.


In the Media, Cohen Blasts Effort to Push Through "Fast Track" for TPP

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As some lawmakers this week tried to "fast track" the Trans-Pacific Partnership legislation, also called Trade Promotion Authority, CWA President Cohen was on the air and in the media, pointing out the groundswell of opposition across the country and across the political spectrum to "fast tracking" bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Watch Cohen and AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka talk with MSNBC host Ed Schultz here.

Earlier, Cohen talked about Democrats standing up against a bad deal on Ed radio. Listen here.

In Daily Kos, Cohen said that "this Fast Track for secret, unread trade deals must be a wake-up call that our democracy is in trouble," and called for people to mobilize "like we never have before."


Global Day of Action to Stop "Fast Track"

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The AFL-CIO organized more than 60 protest actions against "fast track" and the TPP in communities across the nation over last weekend.

For instance, in New York on Saturday, the Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body brought together a coalition of groups made up of community members, environmental activists, people of faith and labor unions, including CWA Local 1103, to oppose "fast track" for the TPP. Speakers included Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and county-elected officials and groups like Food & Water Watch, Mount Vernon United Tenants and the Working Families Party.

The event was part of a Global Day of Action to stop "fast track" and defeat the TPP and investment treaties.

Here is a link to some of the actions that took place.


"Fast Track," TPP Roundup

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Protesting a Rush Job on "Fast Track"

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Activists from CWA and Public Citizen protested outside the Dirksen Senate Office Building Wednesday as the U.S. Senate Finance Committee feverishly worked on a "fast track" bill. The Senate expects to bring up the Hatch-Wyden-Ryan Fast Track Bill for a vote soon.

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Colorado Activists Write Opinion-Editorial Urging Rep. Polis to Vote No on "Fast Track"

CWA Colorado Political Director Dave Felice collaborated with Sam Schabacker, the Western Region Director for Food & Water Watch, on an editorial in which they urged Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO 2nd District) to help "preserve Colorado's exceptional quality of life, safeguard workers' rights and empower small business" by rejecting "fast track" and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the biggest trade deal in history."

Read the rest of the article here.

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IUE-CWA Young Leaders Take the Lead to Fight TPP

Young leaders from the IUE-CWA Mentorship and CWA Next Gen programs came together to plan TPP actions in Minneapolis, MN; Dayton, OH; and Louisville, KY, last week. Richard Shorter, IUE-CWA Division Lead Activist for Next Gen, led the day of action for young IUE-CWA members. "We were very excited to have the opportunity for young workers to take the lead to raise awareness about TPP, and also have some fun with these public actions," he said. The theme for the actions was "Manufacturing is Not Dead," and "No on TPP." During the demonstrations, the young workers handed out leaflets to the public about the dangers of TPP and fighting "fast track," and asked them to make calls to their legislators. Our young members are ready to stand strong in the fight against the TPP!

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Fear the Reaper

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Young workers from IUE-CWA 1140 hit the streets in Minneapolis with the "TPP Grim Reaper" to raise awareness that the TPP is an American job killer!

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Strategy from a Senator

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Before going out to talk to the public in downtown Dayton, OH, about the importance of manufacturing jobs and fighting the TPP, IUE-CWA Local 755 young members played host to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) (center) who came to talk to them about strategy to fight "fast track" and the TPP on Capitol Hill.

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Spreading the Word

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Young workers and elected leaders from IUE-CWA Local 761 in Louisville, KY hit the streets to spread the word about the TPP!

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Broadcast Report on Raleigh, NC, News Conference Calling on Rep. Price to Reject "Fast Track," TPP

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The local Fox50 News Station was on hand last week, to report on a news conference by activists in Raleigh, NC, calling on U.S. Rep. David Price (D to oppose "fast track" legislation and stand up for good jobs and consumer rights. The report is available here. About 20 activists representing CWA, National Organization for Women, Witness for Peace Southeast, Workers' Right Project at NC Justice Center, and Food & Water Watch turned out for the press conference, then marched to Rep. Price's district office to deliver letters from constituents opposing "fast track" and the TPP.

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A Brave Stance on Earth Day Rally against "Fast Track"

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CWA and coalition partners such as Bold Nebraska and environmental groups braved a torrential downpour on Saturday to hold a rally marking Earth Day in Omaha outside the office of U.S. Rep. Brad Ashford (D-NE 2nd District) to make the community aware of "fast track" for the TPP.

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More than 100 Texas activists rally outside of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson's (D) office, telling the congresswoman that "fast track" is the wrong track.

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More than 100 activists from CWA, Sierra Club, New York State AFL-CIO and Working Families Party picket outside of Rep. Lee Zeldin's (R-NY) Long Island fundraiser.


Americans For Financial Reform, AAPI Groups Speak Out Against "Fast Track"

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Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) groups called on Congress this week to reject "fast track" authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

AFR, the leading voice for Wall Street accountability in Washington, argued that the TPP's expansion of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) poses a significant threat to financial regulations in the United States and around the world. Under ISDS, foreign banks and investors would be able to skip traditional court systems and directly sue national governments in international tribunals made up of for-profit arbitrators, rather than full-time judges.

"It could allow financial companies to challenge new rules put in place to protect consumers and investors or ensure the stability of the financial system, and force U.S. taxpayers to pay for any losses in profits claimed due to these rules," it said in a statement. "The biggest banks already have disproportionate power in shaping global financial regulatory policy, and the distortions in public policy created by that power has had disastrous effects. The last thing we need to is to increase their power still further."

Congress also felt pressure from 30 organizations representing a wide range of AAPI organizations. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the groups wrote, "We are very concerned about the unprecedented level of secrecy that negotiations have been conducted in. Leaked texts have shown that the Fast Tracking of sweeping trade agreements like the TPP will have serious implications for AAPI workers and families."

Signers included the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, Boat People SOS, National Asian Pacific American Student Coalition of the United States Student Association, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.


Surging Grassroots Opposition to "Fast Track"

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From Seattle to Pittsburgh, a broad coalition of labor, environmental, social justice and faith leaders are successfully pressing local governments and political parties to say "no" to "fast track."

This week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Pittsburgh City Council and New Jersey's Hudson County Board of Freeholders all passed strong resolutions opposing "fast track" for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In Florida, the Broward County Democratic Party voted in favor of a resolution opposing "fast track" and requesting that Congress fully debate and be able to amend the treaty.

Tonight, in Cleveland, OH, labor, environment, and community groups will again gather in a town hall to urge U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to oppose "fast track" legislation and stand up for good jobs and consumer protections. And, on Monday, leaders from New York City's labor, environmental, social justice and faith communities will rally and testify in support of City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal's resolution declaring New York City a "TPP-free zone."

These are just the latest efforts by grassroots activists to put the brakes on the TPP. Last week they witnessed the Ohio Democratic Party pass a resolution telling the state's congressional delegation to vote "No" on "fast track" for the TPP. Ohio's Board of Mahoning County Commissioners recently voted in favor of a resolution urging their congressional representatives to oppose "fast track." There have also been anti-"fast track" resolutions from the city councils of Seattle; Los Angeles; Bellingham, Wash.; Madison, Wis.; Fort Bragg, Calif.; and Guadalupe, Ariz. In California, the city councils of Berkeley and Richmond have both passed resolutions declaring themselves TPP-free zones. So did Wisconsin's Dane County Board of Supervisors.