CWA e-Newsletter: Apr. 9, 2015 | Communications Workers of America

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CWA e-Newsletter: Apr. 9, 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.

CWA Local 1180 Wins EEOC Case

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For years, the City of New York paid minorities and women substantially less than white men, a broad pattern of discrimination that the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says the city needs to remedy with raises to the workers and back pay and other damages totaling more than $246 million.

The EEOC, which enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religious affiliation, issued the ruling on Monday in response to a complaint that CWA Local 1180 filed on behalf of more than 1,000 Administrative Managers against the city during the administration of the city's previous mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

"The findings are a federal indictment of the systemic inequality of the City's personnel practices that this administration has inherited, and that our Mayor has repeatedly stated he wishes to correct in our City," CWA Local 1180 President Arthur Cheliotes said. "I am hopeful that this administration will take up the EEOC's offer and engage in the conciliation process the EEOC has proposed to correct this institutional discrimination and finally end inequality in the ranks of the City's workforce."

In its investigation of Local 1180's complaint, the EEOC said it found "structural and historic problems" that resulted in the wages of women and minorities being "much less than their white male counterparts' in similarly situated jobs and titles."

New York City now has until Friday, April 17, to make an offer and negotiate that $246 million judgement with the EEOC, or else the case will move to the U.S. Department of Justice, which will file a lawsuit against the city.

"The E.E.O.C. determination puts the federal government's weight behind Local 1180's 40-year Journey for Justice. Whether male or female, Black, Latina, Asian or white, workers need to be organized in a union to fight and secure their rights under the law and receive equal pay for equal work," Cheliotes said.

The ruling received wide coverage, including in New York City newspapers:

The New York Times
New York City Discriminated in Paying Managers, Commission Finds By MARC SANTORA | APRIL 6, 2015

The New York Daily News
EEOC: New York City owes underpaid minority female employees $246 million BY ERIN DURKIN, DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU | Monday, April 6, 2015

The New York Post
NYC should pay $246M to female minority employees over discrimination: commission by Yoav Gonen | April 6, 2015


Western New Yorkers Stand against "Fast Track" and TPP

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Trico Plant No. 1 in Buffalo, NY, is a monument to the dashed hopes of an American city.

It is an all too familiar sight in too many cities where bad trade deals – like the North American Free Trade Agreement that shuttered Trico's doors and moved its windshield wiper manufacturing operations to Mexico a generation ago – leave empty shells where people once raised families and built communities.

Trico Plant No. 1, which was once Buffalo's largest employer, provided a somber backdrop to a rally as CWA activists – working with the New York State AFL-CIO, environmental and economic justice advocates – fight to prevent the proposed "fast track" for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal from devastating more American communities.

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership would close the doors on more U.S. businesses and open new doors to outsourcing American jobs," U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY, 2th District) said at the rally. "History has taught us that trade deals like this are bad for workers in this country, so we stand together in opposition to the TPP and fight to keep jobs here at home."

"U.S. workers have paid a steep price for bad policies of the past," New York State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Terry Melvin said. "We stand united in the fight for not one more job loss."

Tom Roulley of CWA Local 1122 had a simple question for those in attendance: "If TPP is such a good trade deal then why is it so secretive and why must it be secret for four years after it is signed? Why? Because it is not a good deal and they have to hide the details; because if people knew what was in it, it would never pass."

The first step in that battle is to stop Congress from approving "fast track" authority on trade deals. Called Trade Promotion Authority, Congressional approval of a "fast track" up-or-down vote would mean an expedited process in which members of Congress strip themselves of their rights to debate and amend the 1,200-plus page TPP bill. Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, have been publicly declaring their opposition to "fast track" authority.

NAFTA cost the United States nearly 700,000 jobs and places like Buffalo, NY, and other manufacturing centers across the country, continue to feel the negative impact of that trade deal. Besides Trico, other notable employers that fled Western New York since NAFTA in 1994 include American Axle, Nabisco Niagara Falls, the Carborundum Co., and Buffalo Color.

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New York State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Terry Melvin speaking about the dangers of bad trade deals to our economy as U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY 2th District) and CWA activists looked on yesterday.

"Fast Track," TPP Roundup

Unions, environmental, progressive and community groups and others have been participating in public discussions on the devastating effects of "fast track" and TPP on good jobs in our communities. For instance, tonight [Thursday, April 9] at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center at 922 San Pedro Ave., San Antonio, TX, members of the Texas Organizing Project, MOVE San Antonio, Texas Fair Trade Coalition, CWA, San Antonio Central Labor Council, Sierra Club, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Fuerza Unida and San Antonio residents will hold a "teach-in" on "fast track" and TPP.

Courting Every Possible Vote against "Fast Track"

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CWA Local 2201 President Richard Hatch and Dolores Trevino-Gerber OF CWA Local 2222 urged U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA 8th District) to vote no on "fast track" for TPP.

Leading Immigrant Rights Groups Oppose "Fast Track," TPP

Groups in the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a national coalition of grassroots organizations fighting for immigrant rights at the local, state and federal level, issued a statement that they are opposed to any attempt to "fast track" TPP through Congress. Past similar deals have caused crippling poverty in many countries, the group said. Among the groups that have signed the statement are CASA, Center for Community Change, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Michigan United, Promise Arizona, One America, Workers' Defense Project, Alliance for a Just Society, Voces de la Frontera, and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Global Day of Action; Followed by a Huge Rally

In every state and internationally, there will be a Global Day of Action on Saturday, April 18 to defeat TPP and investment treaties. Check out this site for more information or to find an event in your community. Click here for global events. And, on Monday, April 20, the U.S. Trade Representative's office building at 600 17th Street, NW, Washington, D.C., will be the scene of a huge rally to stop "fast track" and bad trade deals.

Good Jobs, Green Jobs

On Apr. 15, union and environmental activists will rally on Capitol Hill, telling members of Congress to reject "fast track" trade authority for trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The action is part of the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference, which focuses on the connections that environmentalists and workers are making to support sustainable jobs and sustainable communities.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Vice President Joe Biden, and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune will address the group.

Click here for more information.


Ferguson Election Makes History

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Voters in Ferguson, Mo., went to the polls this week and made history, electing two new African-American city council members. Now, 50 percent of the council members are African-American, in a community where two-thirds of the residents are African-American.

CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings said, "CWA members played an important role in helping to change the Ferguson City Council and that's the first step toward changing the system of inequality that has marked the community and too many others for too long. One of our endorsed candidates, Ella Jones, was elected to the council. We've built strong relationships with partners in Ferguson and will continue to press on to gain economic and social justice for all."

CWA sponsored get-out-the-vote radio spots featuring Patricia Bynes, the Democratic committeewoman from Ferguson, for about a month. CWA Local 6355 and other CWA activists walked neighborhoods, met with candidates and phone banked every member in Ferguson to ask for their support for the endorsed candidates.

"Members have been working hard for social and economic justice since we started our union," said Bradley Harmon, president of CWA Local 6355, a founding member of the Don't Shoot Coalition. "Many of us work in underserved communities delivering social services and understand how in particular our society needs to work on issues of racial inequality. It's been part of what 6355 has been doing for years in our campaign to restore the public good."


Big Money Elects "Mayor 1%"

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Although Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia eventually succumbed to the bludgeoning effects of Rahm Emanuel's big money donors, he scared the living daylights out of Chicago's incumbent mayor in Tuesday's runoff race.

Despite the final outcome, Garcia showed in the race the power working people, people of color and progressives can exert when they fight for their principles. Progressives were unable to add Chicago to a growing list of gains that includes mayors in New York City, Jersey City and Newark. But, Garcia's showing points to a larger battle brewing in the country of ordinary folks challenging big money politics not just against Republicans but within the Democratic Party.

Garcia's run was simply amazing. He took on Chicago's much vaunted political machine, coming from behind the pack in a four-way race on Feb. 7 to force this week's run-off. He never had much money, and was badly outspent, but he had the message that spoke to the hopes and aspirations of the city's working class, people of color and progressives, who had long felt ignored and disrespected by Emanuel. It's not for nothing that Emmanuel earned the nickname "Mayor 1%." His policies favor the rich at the expense of Chicago's working class.

CWA and our progressive allies are fighting the flood of big money that is destroying our democratic process and this year's Chicago Mayor's race was a big example of what is wrong. The corrupting power of big money in politics rears its ugly head even in a race between Democrats. The Chicago Tribune reported that Emanuel raised more than $30 million for this campaign, including more than $18 million from an "elite group of donors, many of whom received some City Hall benefit." That is not counting a well-funded SuperPAC that blanketed Chicago airwaves with negative advertising during the campaign attacking Garcia and misrepresenting his positions on issues. One individual wrote Emanuel a check for $500,000. This is not what democracy looks like.

Many unions, including CWA, and working people and political leaders from communities of color and progressive organizations supported Garcia but, in the end, labor was split as some unions backed Emanuel and others opted to stay on the sidelines.


Bargaining Update

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AT&T

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AT&T members from CWA Local 3250 get ready for the countdown to contract this Saturday.

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In Indianapolis, members of CWA Local 4900 are mobilizing for a fair contract at AT&T Midwest.

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Bargaining is down to the wire at AT&T Midwest and AT&T Legacy and CWA members are stepping up mobilization to get management on track before contract expiration on Saturday night.

By a 93 percent vote, District 4 members overwhelmingly approved a strike authorization, giving CWA leaders the authority to call a strike if a fair contract can't be reached. Last week, Telecommunications and Technologies members also approved strike authorization by an overwhelming 'yes' vote.

United/Continental

Negotiations for one contract covering Flight Attendants at United Airlines are continuing. In 2010, United and Continental merged, and in 2011, AFA was certified as the bargaining representative for the post-merger United Flight Attendants. These negotiations are the first to integrate the two separate contracts. AFA-CWA negotiators and United management have agreed to a July 23 deadline to reach agreement. (Contracts in the airline industry don't have set expiration dates.) Read more here.

Helena Labs

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In Beaumont, Tex., members of CWA Local 6139 at Helena Labs make sure management gets the message: we want a fair contract.

CWA members at Helena Labs in Beaumont, Tex., are fired up for a new contract, and have been showing their support for the bargaining team in lots of ways. On the first day of bargaining, workers made signs for their cars that called for fair wages and a fair contract; they also wear black to show their solidarity. The contract covering 164 workers, members of Local 6139, expires April 30.

The bargaining committee includes: Marc LaRousse, President Local 6139; Calvin Carter, Vice President, Local 6139; Local 6139 members Joyce Baker and Robert Millard, and Stephanie Collier, D6 staff.


Texas State Employee Lobby Day

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Texas state employees, members of CWA Local 6186, marched on the capitol yesterday to take a stand for the future of the state and their jobs. Activists called on the legislature to restore funding for public services, protect state employee benefits and enact real across-the-board raises.

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CWAers Push State Public Service Commission for High-Speed Internet Access for All New Yorkers

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Over 200 CWA members traveled recently to Albany, NY, to lobby their state assembly members in favor of access to high-speed internet for all New Yorkers and to picket the Public Service Commission, which has failed in its promise to review the state of telecommunications in the state.

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Some 200 District 1 CWAers met in Albany to lobby legislators for high-speed broadband access for all.

Last year, PSC promised to conduct a study of the state of the telecommunications industry as a first step towards implementing new policies which would provide access to high-speed internet for all New Yorkers. PSC was going to compel Verizon to extend FiOS throughout the state and improve customer service quality for telephone networks.

CWAers chanted "What do we need? Good Jobs!" and "PSC! PSC! We don't want monopoly!" outside of the PSC hearings, making it clear that workers and consumers in New York deserve public commissioners that listen to them when they say every New Yorker deserves high quality service and access to high-speed internet. Doing that would mean good jobs for New York telecom workers.

Members of the New York State Assembly heard from CWA members as well. Activists spoke to their elected officials in favor of a series of bills that would force PSC to conduct its promised study, protect workers and consumers in the event that Verizon sold or transferred its network to another company, restore mandatory fines for telecommunications companies that failed to meet service quality standards, and prevent Verizon from forcing customers onto fixed wireless service called VoiceLink.

VoiceLink would destroy jobs and would not support needed services such as internet access, medical monitoring "LifeAlert" services, and credit card processing for small businesses.


Next CWA Telephone Town Hall Call is April 16

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The next CWA town hall call is Thursday, April 16, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. The call will last half an hour.

Sign up for the call at http://cwa-union.org/cwacall.