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CWA e-Newsletter: Aug. 20, 2015

CWA e-Newsletter

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Bargaining Update

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CWA President Shelton Leads Thousands of AT&T Southeast Workers in Atlanta Rally

CWA President Chris Shelton and District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt joined nearly a thousand CWAers at an informational picket and rally outside AT&T headquarters in Atlanta this past Saturday.


CWA President Shelton marches with CWAers at AT&T rally in Atlanta.

"The only reason this company is successful, the only reason it can buy DirectTV or companies in Mexico, is because the people here today break their backs every day to make this company successful," President Shelton said.

"You should be extremely proud of the mobilization and the solidarity that you show, not only by being here, but every day since bargaining started. That's what's going to get you a contract. We can do all the yelling we want. If management knows you're behind us, they're going to have to move, and they've already started moving, because they knew this rally would be a tremendous success," Shelton told a sea of red-shirted CWA members at the rally. Watch some video of the rally here.

AT&T workers in CWA District 3 turned out in force to tell AT&T that they will not accept higher health care costs, unsafe working conditions and other concessions that the company is demanding. CWA members in nine Southeastern states are working without a contract; negotiations continued this week.



More than 1,000 CWA members marched and rallied outside AT&T headquarters.

Vice President Honeycutt said, "Our bargaining team has been working hard for over two months to reach an agreement but it seems that AT&T is only interested in one-sided negotiations. We have seen an unprecedented amount of mobilization activities throughout District 3 and our members have proven that they are willing to do whatever it takes to secure the contract they deserve."

CWA Local 3204 President Ed Barlow said the way AT&T has gone about bargaining has shown members how much they need their union. "AT&T, we are here to let you know today, we are not playing in Atlanta, GA," Barlow said. "We will fight to win contracts that honor our sacrifices for this corporation. It's our turn."

AT&T is a very profitable company, with profits last year of $6.5 billion and second quarter 2015 revenues topping $33 billion. AT&T also recently completed a $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV.



Left: CWAers on the march for a fair contract. Right: CWA members call out AT&T for its corporate greed.

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CWA Members Hold Day of Action, Stand Up to Verizon across Northeast

Across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in communities including Baltimore, Poughkeepsie, Philadelphia, Manhattan, the Bronx, Roanoke and New Windsor, CWA members held solidarity actions and rallies last week for a fair contract at Verizon.

Thousands of CWAers and members of the IBEW rallied before work and outside corporate offices to let Verizon's management know that we're in this fight for the long haul and won't be intimidated, despite Verizon's boasts that it's ready for a strike.

Yonkers, NY Mayor Mike Spano, said the negotiations "should always be about people, about the men and women who work for this company and we need to make sure you guys get what you deserve. You can count on my support. We are pushy, and we are out there making sure that you get the contract that you absolutely need."

In Salisbury, MD, CWA Local 2106 members protested for two hours outside a Verizon location and were joined by Mayor Jim Ireton. CWA Local 13101 members held two rallies, in Dover and Wilmington, DE.

"We're fighting to maintain what we have and what we've earned over the past 60 years, both for our members and for our retirees to ensure livable wages and, of course, health care and fair retirement packages with a company that can easily afford all of this," said Local 13101 President Jim Ryan. "A company that makes $12 million in profit per day can afford things like that."

Keep up with the latest at



Left: CWA Local 1104 members rally before work in Plainview, NY. Right: NY Assembly Member Brad Hoylman shows his solidarity with members of CWA Local 1101 in Manhattan. Across Verizon territory, CWA members were joined by elected officials at rallies and actions.



Left: In Annapolis, members of CWA Local 2100 stand up to Verizon. Right: In Richmond, CWA Local 2201 members are mobilizing for a fair contract.

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IUE-CWA Local 84717 Begins Bargaining with Delphi



Some 700 IUE-CWA members are mobilizing for a fair contract at Delphi Automotive in Warren, OH. The IUE-CWA bargaining team kicked off negotiations with Delphi last week on the current contract that expires on Oct. 12. IUE-CWA Local 84717 President Edward Salus said, "there's no question that IUE-CWA members are standing strong with our bargaining team. Our unity is strong and we will be able to attain a great contract for our brothers and sisters."

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Catholic Health Workers Fighting for a Fair Contract

Nurses at the St. Joseph Campus of the Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo, NY, members of CWA Local 1168, want a fair contract. Negotiations for a new contract covering the 200 nurses got underway with the hospital's parent employer, Catholic Health, on June 29. The current contract expires on Aug. 31. CWA Locals 1168 and 1133 represent about 3,200 workers at Catholic Health's facilities in the Buffalo area


Jenny Applewhite of 1199SEIU, a union partner in the health care workers' coalition, joins the mobilization and fires up the crowd.

United Campus Workers Take on Attack by Tennessee Governor

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has a new scheme to privatize tens of thousands of jobs and jeopardize public service in every county in the state.

The governor wants to outsource all building and facilities services in all state buildings, including the University of Tennessee and TN Board of Regents systems. Thousands of jobs in every county and on every campus are at stake, along with jobs in hospitals, prisons, parks and recreation, and military facilities. The proposal would cover every range of jobs, from clerical and management staff to electricians, custodians and groundskeepers.

University of Tennessee workers, members of United Campus Workers-CWA Local 3865, are fighting back and mobilizing citizens to stop this scheme. The local represents more than 1,500 workers at 16 University of Tennessee campuses.

This is the same governor who was involved in a multi-million dollar privatization scandal just two years ago with a property management company, the local pointed out.

In 2013, the Haslam administration gave a $1 million, no-bid contract to the multinational property management firm JLL, in which the Governor was personally invested. That contract swelled to $10.7 million as the firm profited from its own recommendations. A scathing audit uncovered the scheme. Now the governor again is looking to privatize facilities, a scheme that would hurt public workers and citizens who depend on public services.

Diana Moyer, president of the United Campus Workers-CWA Local 3865, said it was clear that workers were the target of this scheme. Any savings "won't come from paper towel purchases or energy efficient light bulbs. This is all about paying people less and giving them less consistency in their hours and reducing their benefits," she said.

"Tennessee already leads the nation in the percentage of minimum wage jobs. Outsourcing will just lead to further reductions in pay, benefits, and job stability," she said, adding that Haslam's plan "would turn taxpayer dollars over to a private company that will prioritize profits over the interests of the people of Tennessee."

Contracting out of custodial services at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville has been a disaster, resulting in a sharp decline in service quality and huge cuts in workers' pay and benefits. The work finally was brought back in-house, because of the contractor's failures.

Local members are circulating a petition reminding Gov. Haslam that "Tennessee jobs are not for sale."

Read more here.

CWA President Shelton Joined Celebration of 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Institute

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CWA President Chris Shelton helped celebrate, last week, the 50th anniversary of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, named for the civil rights leader who fought for workers' rights and civil rights across America. A. Philip Randolph was a union organizer who became president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. He and another civil rights giant, Bayard Rustin, founded APRI in 1965.

"We must end structural racism, and its ugly consequences, to achieve social justice in our country," Shelton said in a well-received speech addressing APRI's 46th National Education Conference in Savannah, GA, on Friday.

"And today, just as 50 years ago, we must rededicate ourselves to building a movement to secure our freedom," he continued. "This begins with a freedom from want ‒ a decent standard of living – a union job, and the ability for our children to do better than we did. It means democratic freedoms – our right to vote and our right to have a truly participatory democracy by and for the people, not a democracy by and for the corporations and big money interests."

Read the rest of his speech here.

Gallup Poll Shows Americans' Opinion of Labor Unions Grows More Favorable

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Nearly six in 10 Americans say in the new Gallup survey of adults nationwide that they view labor unions favorably, and more Americans are saying that they want unions to have more influence on the political process. The increase is a 5 percent improvement in approval, to 58 percent, from 2014.

The new results come at a crucial time for working families. There is a real connection between the decline of bargaining rights and the decline of the middle class. Now, just 6 percent of private sector workers and 35 percent of public workers have bargaining rights. Yet the union advantage is clear: a 10-percentage-point increase in the unionization rate would boost the average annual income for middle-class households—unionized or not—by $1,501 a year, according to a report by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Senator Sherrod Brown Blocks Trade Nominee over TPP Secrecy

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Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) just went toe-to-toe with the White House – and refused to blink.

Last week, the senator warned the administration that he would block the confirmation of a cabinet-level nominee if it didn't loosen up the secrecy protocols making it difficult for lawmakers and their staffs to review the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Brown asked that credentialed policy advisors be allowed full access to the draft language without a congressional chaperone. But after his Friday deadline came and went, Brown was forced to place a "hold" on the president's deputy U.S. trade representative nominee, Marisa Lago.

"The administration would rather sacrifice a nominee for a key post than improve transparency of the largest trade agreement ever negotiated," Brown said. "This deal could affect more than 40 percent of our global economy, but even seasoned policy advisers with the requisite security clearance can't review text without being accompanied by a member of Congress. It shouldn't be easier for multinational corporations to get their hands on trade text than for public servants looking out for American workers and American manufacturers."

Meanwhile, TPP negotiations continue as the 12 participating nations repeatedly fail to close the deal. Poorer countries that rely on low-cost generic medicines are objecting to the United States' push for 12 years of patent protection on pharmaceutical drugs. Japan is so far refusing American demands to tear down agriculture and auto trade barriers. Canada doesn't want to open its dairy market to more imports.

And, most importantly, Mexico, Vietnam and Malaysia still haven't made any progress in addressing labor and human rights abuses. The United States' removal of Malaysia from the list of the worst human trafficking offenders didn't sway many critics who saw through this blatant ploy to accelerate TPP talks.

Working families know from past trade deals that the promises of higher standards are rarely upheld or enforced. The TPP isn't any different.

Building Chair for Papal Visit is a Special Honor for CWA Partner Don Bosco Worker Center

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Members of the Don Bosco Worker Center have a very special mission: To build a chair to be used by Pope Francis during his visit next month to the U.S.

Members of the grassroots community-organizing group – mainly Latino immigrant day laborers and other low-income workers in Port Chester, NY – have volunteered to build the chair that Pope Francis will sit in when he presides over mass at Madison Square Garden in New York City on September, 25.

Pope's Chair

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, center, with workers from the Don Bosco Center at CWA Local 1103.

CWA Local 1103, which partners with the Don Bosco Worker Center on economic and social justice issues, is providing space for the project and other support. The Local converted its garage into an impromptu workshop; that's where the Pope's chair is being built.

"Building the chair for any Pope would be a great honor, but building it for Pope Francis makes it even more special," CWA Local 1103 President Kevin Sheil said. "Pope Francis is a pro-worker pope whose values and statements on democracy, human rights, workers' rights and the need for real change in our world have captivated people of all faiths around the globe."

Local 1103's partnership with Don Bosco began a year ago on an anti-wage theft campaign called "No Pay No Way" to make Port Chester, NY, the first "wage theft free zone" in the country. As of May 2015, 70 Port Chester businesses have taken the "No Pay No Way" pledge promising to pay their workers the wages they have earned.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, stopped by Local 1103 to thank them, its members and the Don Bosco workers. He praised the work both organizations do in fighting for those vulnerable to exploitation on the job.

A delegation of the workers building the chair has been invited to the Pope's Mass.

Enter the Union Privilege Labor Day Contest

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This Labor Day, while enjoying a picnic or day at the beach, union members also can reflect a bit on union history with a chance to win $500. 

Union Plus is the AFL-CIO backed program that offers union members and their families discounts and consumer benefits on a wide range of services and products, from AT&T Mobility wireless service to car rental services to scholarship programs. 

Three union members who vote for their favorite historic labor leader and complete the form will be rewarded with $500. 

The sweepstakes ends Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, so get your entry in now.

"America's Journey for Justice" Coming to the Nation's Capital on September 16

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It's Destination Washington, D.C., as members of the NAACP, CWA and many other allies continue the 860-mile-long trek of the "America's Journey for Justice." The march will end in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 16, with a rally and lobby day. Read more here.

CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings is leading CWA's participation in the campaign.

Along the way, teach-ins and rallies are focusing public attention on the fight to restore voting rights. In Raleigh, N.C., CWA Director of Democracy Programs Tova Wang; Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NCAAP and leader of the Moral Mondays movement; and other activists will participate in an Aug. 31 teach-in at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.


Journey for Justice

The $64,000 Question...

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Are you ready to take the "$64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge?"

Big money in politics affects all of us. Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United have unleashed an onslaught of spending in our elections, creating a government beholden to wealthy interests, rather than "We the People." The question of how we get our democracy back has become the $64,000 question – the big question – of our day.

Fortunately, taking action to fight the influence of big money just got a lot easier and more fun. CWA is teaming up with more than 130 other groups to offer a video contest, where you can submit a video about money in politics reform and inspire others to take action, too.

Between August 12 and December 2, go to and submit a short video (30-90 seconds) about big money in politics and the need for a constitutional amendment – the Democracy For All Amendment – to overturn Citizens United. You may want to enter early: there's a $1,000 prize every week, plus five category prizes of $5,000 each and a grand prize of $25,000 at the end of the contest.

Even if you've never made a video, it's as simple as picking up your phone and hitting 'record.'

The videos can be funny, serious, creative, dramatic, or musical. You can talk about other issues that are important to you, as long as you tie it back to the influence of money in politics and the need for the Democracy For All amendment.

So take the challenge. Make a video. Maybe win some money. And together, we can spread the word and build our campaign to get big money out of politics.

Learn more at

Have a Union-Made Labor Day

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It's that time of year again!

When shopping for your Labor Day cookout, keep in mind that these products are made by union brothers and sisters.



Also, here's a list of Back-to-School supplies that are union-made.