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CWA e-Newsletter: Feb. 27, 2014

CWA e-Newsletter

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SC Gov. Haley Tells Union Corporations To Go Elsewhere

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CWA President Larry Cohen writes in The Huffington Post:

It's not clear what South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is trying to accomplish when she says, as she did on Feb. 20, that corporations with union representation shouldn't even think about locating in her state.

Does she mean that the Port of Charleston should close, because the dockworkers are members of the International Longshoreman's Union who make sure that cargo is shipped all along the East Coast? Maybe she means that telephone service should shut down, because those workers are members of my union, the Communications Workers of America.

Maybe the governor is unaware that South Carolina's right-to-work law, like Tennessee's, makes it illegal to discriminate against workers who chose union representation as well as those who don't.

Here's what the law says: It is hereby declared to be the public policy of this State that the right of persons to work must not be denied or abridged because of membership or non-membership in a labor union or labor organization. (South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 41-7-10.)

Governor Haley, you seem to be violating your own state law.

Of course, politicians like Governor Haley and those in Tennessee, want to overturn labor law and other laws that they don't like. That's why Tennessee politicians threatened both the Volkswagen workers and their company in the recent union election. Workers were told by politicians that if you vote for union representation, Volkswagen won't expand production. Volkswagen was threatened with the loss of financial support and tax incentives, a bizarre approach to the goal of keeping good jobs in the state.

CWA is proud of its 150,000 members and amazing leaders from southern states including South Carolina. Governor Haley is operating at the bottom of the global economy in threatening her own state's workers with gross violations of core global labor standards. Elected officials in almost any other nation would be ashamed to utter the words she seems so proud to proclaim.

Union workers in South Carolina and across the country are joining with allies like civil rights and community groups, to make sure that working people have a voice and a vote. Just across the border, nearly 100,000 people turned out recently for a moral march, sending a message to North Carolina politicians that working people are moving forward together to fight the attack on voting rights and workers' rights in that state. That's how we'll restore those rights to South Carolina, too. Nothing Governor Haley says can stop that.

Talking 'Bout My Generation

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AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler talks about how young workers will build the future of the labor movement.

Below: IUE-CWA members welcome its inaugural mentorship class.


CWA Next Generation activists huddled at national headquarters this week to prepare the 2014 program. Their goal: Sign up 5,000 CWA Next Generation members and get commitments of support from 100 CWA locals.

"By identifying and engaging our young members, CWA is building our capacity to mobilize more members to support the campaigns that are important to our union and the members we represent, and with better results," said Ron Collins, CWA's chief of staff, who oversees the CWA Next Generation program.

This will be field-based work with lead activists from each sector and district driving the program. These newly recruited young leaders will be responsible for building the program in their communities and states, and helping to identify potential state leaders in other states within their districts and sectors.

At the three-day strategy session, activists heard from CWA President Larry Cohen and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, who has made young worker outreach and mobilization a top priority. Public Citizen, the Sierra Club, Center for Popular Democracy and Jobs with Justice joined CWA in running workshops on exposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and movement building. Activists also learned how to use social media to organize young activists and more.

"We are excited about the opportunity this program presents to engage our young members in building a movement for economic justice and democracy," said Collins.

Around the country, unions are developing the next generation of labor movement leaders. For example, IUE-CWA kicked off its very first mentorship program in January, pairing 11 talented young mentees with experienced union leaders.

German Union ver.di Leading Fight for Fairness for Amazon Warehouse Workers

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CWAers and allies demonstrate outside Amazon's Seattle headquarters.

You know you're in trouble when the headline reads: "Amazon Worse Than Walmart." Amazon is known for its worldwide distribution network of just about everything. But increasingly, it's also become known for its ruthless treatment of workers and some of the worst working conditions anywhere. That goes for warehouses in the U.S., the U.K and Germany. Read a scathing indictment of Amazon here.

The German union ver.di is continuing to fight for fair wages for Amazon workers and job rights. A series of rolling strikes that began last spring culminated in worldwide actions in December. Then, CWAers and other activists rallied outside Amazon's worldwide headquarters in Seattle to show their solidarity with Amazon workers in Germany who continued their rolling strikes to push Amazon to negotiate with ver.di.

Currently, Amazon workers aren't covered by the negotiated agreement for the retail and mail order trades industry, and that means Amazon workers in Germany earn several thousand dollars a year less than other warehouse workers.

Ver.di will continue the Amazon rolling strikes this year, with plans to expand to more centers. "People want to be treated by their employer with dignity and respect and not like machines or robots," ver.di said.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba Dies at 66

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Chokwe Lumumba, a longtime civil rights activist and mayor of Jackson, Miss., died Tuesday afternoon. He was 66.

"Mayor Lumumba, for those of us in CWA, was a beacon of hope in dark times, not only in the South but across our nation," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "The city workers are CWA members, who have struggled for years, only now hoping they had a real voice through their union and a friend in the mayor. We will carry on Mayor Lumumba's vision of Jackson and of hope for our nation, and our own commitment to our members in Jackson and beyond. We will mourn the mayor, but recommit in his name."

Last year, after Lumumba won his Democratic primary, CWA activists became permanent fixtures in the Lumumba campaign, helping with phone banking, canvassing neighborhoods, rolling thousands of newspapers with sample ballots and poll watching. All the way up until Election Day, at least 10 CWAers could be found on each shift at Lumumba's campaign office. Lumumba, a pro-worker candidate who campaigned on a living wage and improving community jobs, easily defeated his opponents, winning in a landslide with 87 percent of the vote.

Fighting Back Against Fast Track and TPP

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CWA and allies are continuing to push back against fast track authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Singapore round of talks ended this week, but negotiators plan to meet again in China in April and are still pressing for an agreement. We can't let up and let this bad deal for working families go forward.

CWA and IUE-CWAers have been making sure that their senators and representatives are getting the message loud and clear: TPP is a bad deal for workers, consumers and the environment.


CWA Local 9408 turned out its members to protest the TPP during President Obama's recent visit to Fresno, Calif. Sierra Club, local labor council and Citizens Trade Campaign members joined the demonstration.


IUE-CWA and CWA members visited Capitol Hill in February to lobby their legislators on the TPP.


In Santa Rosa, Calif., about 50 people attended a meeting to learn more about the TPP and why activists are pressuring Rep. Mike Thompson to stop this disastrous trade deal. The discussion included CWA Local 9400 members and the Sierra Club's Jesse Swanhuyser, who gave the PowerPoint presentation on the issue.

In These Times Magazine Joins CWA

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The staff of the progressive magazine In These Times, which has chronicled the U.S. labor movement for the past 37 years, has officially joined the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild-CWA.

"As a magazine that champions worker rights, we're very proud that our workplace is going to reflect the principles we value as an organization," said Rebecca Burns, an assistant editor and reporter in Chicago. "As labor reporters, we believe workplaces function best when they have labor unions representing workers."

Read more at The Huffington Post.

Voting Rights Update

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Ohio's Secretary of State, Republican Jon Husted, released the state's early voting schedule for the 2014 elections this week. Big surprise, it makes early voting as tough as possible for working people and eliminates Sunday voting in advance of Election Day when many African-American churches organize "Souls to the Polls" events, in which worshippers go as a group to vote after religious services.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported: "During the four weeks leading up to Election Day, voters will be able to cast absentee ballots in person at voting locations that will be open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays. The polling locations will also be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the last two Saturdays before the election."

In 2012, a federal judge ordered Husted to allow early voting for the entire three-day period before the general election. The Republican controlled legislature had voted to cut off early voting in the 2012 elections, but those efforts were overruled by the courts. Husted appealed to the Supreme Court which refused to hear the case and polling places throughout the state remained open for the entire three-day period.

Many voting rights activists and elected officials, including Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown have called Husted's schedule for 2014 "unacceptable" and are looking to challenge it.


The Moral Monday Movement, which recently saw more than 80,000 activists rally at the state capitol in Raleigh, N.C., for voting rights, is expanding to other states.

Look for events next in Florida.

Give Us A Vote!

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Immigration reform activists greet House Majority Leader Eric Cantor outside his breakfast fundraiser in Virginia. They encouraged the lawmaker to move forward on a vote for comprehensive immigration reform.

Get Big Money Out of Politics

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We're standing by, waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which could come any day.

It's likely that the court will rule in favor of allowing even more big money in politics, and such a decision would pretty much do for individuals what Citizens United did for corporations. It would end the aggregate political contribution limit, allowing an individual to give up to $3.6 million to candidates, political committees and parties. (The current aggregate limit is now $123,000.)

CWA is part of an effort by many Democracy Initiative allies, including Public Citizen, People for the American Way,, Common Cause, Sierra Club, and Demos that are planning events around the country on the day of the ruling. Help make history by attending a rapid response event to take place within a few hours of the McCutcheon ruling. We'll be out there whether the ruling is good or bad. There will be events in cities in every CWA district. Go to to find an event and learn more.