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CWA e-Newsletter: Feb. 6, 2013

CWA e-Newsletter

Want to be in next week's CWA Newsletter? Send your stories and photos to or @CWANews. Follow the latest developments at

Secrets, Secrets Are No Fun – TPP Should Be Shared With Everyone

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CWA activists and our allies are leading the opposition to "fast track" authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Our voices are growing louder each and every day, as we call for more transparency, citizen participation and fairness.


The day after the State of the Union address, CWA Local 2108 members picketed President Obama's visit to Costco to tell him that fast track and the TPP will actually create a race to the bottom. During his speech, Obama told Congress, "We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped 'Made in the USA.'"



In Chicago, CWAers joined the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition on Saturday for a rally against the TPP. Activists braved the snow to march from Jonquil Park to Democrat Rep. Mike Quigley's office.

Check out NABET-CWA 41 Vice President Don Villar's video of the demonstration here.




CWA and the Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body organized a rally and press conference of union, community, environmental and faith-based activists. Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey sent representatives with statements, and New York State Assembly members Shelley Mayer, Steve Otis and Tom Abinanti spoke about their concerns about the trade deal's investment chapter.

Watch a video of the event here.



Members of the North Texas CWA, Sierra Club, Jobs with Justice and other groups march against fast track and the TPP in Dallas.

Trade Yes, But a Different Track

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In The Huffington Post, CWA President Larry Cohen outlines how we can press "reset" on trade policy and restore the American Dream for working families.

Read it here.

A CWA Activist Tells Senate Dems the Truth About Working Families

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CWA's Naomi Bolden meets her two senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, at the Senate Democrats' retreat.

CWA Local 2204 Vice President Naomi Bolden gave voice to the struggles of working families at Senate Democrats' retreat on Wednesday.

On a panel with two other workers, Bolden talked about working in a Verizon call center and how misguided trade policies have decimated jobs in her community. Over this past year, her husband fell very ill and had to be hospitalized. Because his job didn't provide any sick leave or sick pay, the family now lives paycheck to paycheck. Bolden works overtime just so she can pay the bills. Her daughter was supposed to enroll in college last fall, but because she worried about the cost, she instead joined the Air Force.

"That is not the decision I wanted my daughter to make. But she felt that she had no choice in order to help the family during this difficult time," Bolden said.

She told the senators, "We are doing everything right. We work hard. We play by the rules. We try to save for the future. We want a bright and secure future for our children. We want nothing more than the secure middle-class lifestyle that our parents enjoyed. But that's not the case today. Our wages can't keep up with our expenses. Our health care system is broken. I, and many middle class families today, am just one mishap away from bankruptcy. When you're living paycheck to paycheck it's hard to save for a retirement that you find yourself wondering you'll ever see. This is not the America that my parents left Italy to come to. And it's getting worse."

Bolden told her lawmakers that she's watched good customer service jobs – like her own – get shipped overseas to Central America and the Philippines. Some of her friends have even trained their overseas replacements before they were fired. She stressed that working families need fair trade and polices like raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance, investing in infrastructure and making college more affordable.

"It's frustrating that we don't hear anything about ensuring that all workers have sick days and access to paid sick days," she said. "Instead we hear about pushing for major trade agreements that will only lead to greater inequality, downward pressure on our wages, more offshoring of our jobs and threats to our food safety and laws. Every day I talk to Verizon customers who are just as frustrated by the growing number of overseas customer service reps. Why are you here in DC even talking about passing major trade agreements that will only benefit a few sectors of the economy and the multinational corporations but that will only make the middle class situation harder?"

It was a moving speech. Bolden said when she looked up, two senators were crying.

NABET-CWA Members Bring Olympics Home

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NABET-CWA members Rick Fox and Dan Marinelli are ready to cover the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

When NBC Sports's coverage of the XXII Olympic Winter Games begins tonight, more than 100 NABET-CWA members will be working behind the scenes in Sochi, Russia, to bring home all of the action to viewers in the U.S.

Several members actually have been in Sochi for months now, building studios at the International Broadcast Center and setting up cameras and other video equipment in arenas and on mountain tops throughout the Black Sea resort area.

These Olympic Games will mark a number of firsts for NBC Sports. For example, tonight's coverage of snowboarding, free style skiing, and team figure skating represent the first time that a U.S. television network will broadcast events in prime time prior to the traditional Opening Ceremonies. NBC Sports will also air 230 hours of Olympics coverage on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN), the most hours of Winter Olympic coverage ever carried on a cable network.

Throughout the sixteen days of the Winter Olympics, NABET-CWA members will be putting their skills to work on broadcasts of figure skating, ice hockey, speed skating, bobsled, ski jumping, Alpine and Nordic skiing, biathlon and more. One of the most anticipated broadcasts from the Games will be the Team USA vs. Russia men's hockey match on Saturday, Feb. 15.

"As world class athletes gather on the Olympic stage in Sochi, world class television professionals, members of our union, will be there as well, putting their talents on display," said NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce."The contributions and talents of our members have played a significant role in NBC's success in broadcasting the Olympics the past two decades."

In addition to sports coverage, NABET-CWA members also are working on news coverage originating from Sochi, for live broadcasts of the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and local news coverage for NBC-affiliated TV stations. Starting tonight, broadcasts will continue through the closing ceremonies on Sunday, Feb. 23.

NYC Politicians, Community Rallies Around Cablevision Techs

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Cablevision workers rally with New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.

Below: These Cablevision techs’ kids want a fair contract for their families.


On the first day of Black History Month, more than 300 Cablevision technicians, CWA members, allies and elected officials gathered in midtown Manhattan to rally for a fair contract. It was the two-year anniversary of the Cablevision workers vote to join CWA and the one-year anniversary of the illegal termination of 22 technicians.

"We're going to continue to stand with you. It's a shame that after two years of having decided you want to be represented by a union, that we're still fighting for that to be respected. That's a true shame," said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Speakers also included NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, NYC Public Advocate Leticia James, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Rev. Al Sharpton and a host of other officials from the city council and state assembly. The Tech 22 performed and CWA was joined by our partners, including SEIU Local 32BJ, TWU Local 100, Operating Engineers, SEIU Local 1199, NYCC, Make the Road, Working Families and Occupy Wall Street.


NABET-CWA Local 51011 president Thomas Cappo, center, with officers James Keyes and Tim Gorry, join CWA Cablevision members and supporters at the anniversary rally.

"There's a war being waged on unions and working people – a war! And this Cablevision is part of that war," said Nadler.

Sharpton fired up the crowd, shouting, "This is our day! This is our time! Solidarity!"

Lawrence Hendrickson, a Brooklyn Cablevision tech, vowed that workers would not give up. "This year the walls of injustice will come crumbling down at the knees of the workers," he said.

Check out these two videos from the event.

VP Biden: 'Collective Bargaining Is the Bedrock Of Our Economy'

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Vice President Joe Biden tweeted this message yesterday, driving home the connection between the lack of bargaining rights for U.S. workers and our declining middle class income. Biden wrote, "Collective bargaining is the bedrock of our economy. This chart says it better than I ever could."


VP Biden says collective bargaining is the bedrock of our economy.

Misguided trade deals have also historically pushed down our wages. The administration should rethink their stance, as they negotiate a new trade agreement with 12 Pacific Rim nations. As CWA President Larry Cohen has said, we need a "reset" on trade policy and "fast track" for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

TNG-CWA Journalists Withhold Bylines To Protest Contract Proposals

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Miami staffers protest AP's cheAP contract offer. Left to right: David Fischer, Christine Armario, Jorge Trimarchi, Suzette Laboy, Gisela Salomon and the newest Guild member in Florida, Michael Mishak. Wilfredo Lee stands in back.

Below: The front page of the Manchester Union Leader.


Fed up with their employers' terrible contract demands, members of The Newspaper Guild-CWA have launched two actions in the past week that are unique to journalists: byline strikes.

Last week, Associated Press members represented by the News Media Guild had widespread success when they withheld their bylines for a day. "About 110 of 115 bureaus, plus a total of about 20 departments in Washington, D.C., and New York City, participated in the daylong protest," NMG reports. "Lots of non-writing staffers proudly wore their red Guild shirts all day and took photos, and many expressed their feelings about the latest contract offers from The Associated Press with Tweets using our hashtag, #fairAPcontract."

Per language in many Guild contracts, reporters and photographers have the right to withhold their bylines and credit lines. For stories, some papers will use no byline; others may say "Staff Report."

That's the case at the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader, where Guild members began a 10-day byline strike Wednesday. Participation "is 100 percent!!!" local President Norm Welsh reports.

After years of making concessions for their employer, Manchester Guild members have been offered what the local calls "the worse proposal ever seen." It even demands an 18 percent retroactive pay cut. Members hope the byline strike will get the public's attention and put pressure on the company.

For details about the contract offers and battles being waged, click here for AP coverage and here for the latest story about Manchester.

Activists, Leaders Take Action at D9 Conference

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CWAers show their support for AFA-CWA Flight Attendants at United Airlines, who are facing layoffs.

Lots of action at the District 9 conference this week:

  • CWAers stood in solidarity to show their support for AFA-CWA Flight Attendants at United Airlines. The airline says it will lay off 685 Flight Attendants.
  • Participants took action against "fast track" authorization for the Trans-Pacific Partnership by calling and emailing their members of Congress.
  • D9 participants helped "stamp out money in politics" by stamping paper currency with that message. CWA is working with citizen groups to stop the dangerous flood of money in politics, and also with Ben Cohen (of Ben and Jerry's ice cream) who founded the campaign.

    At the D9 conference, CWAers help stamp out big money in politics.

    According to Cohen, every dollar stays in circulation for approximately 2.5 years and is seen by 875 people. As more stamped bills enter the marketplace, we can create a massive visual demonstration of support for reforms – support that our elected representatives will no longer be able to ignore.

    Just this week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) introduced H.R. 20, a bill that will change the way we finance our elections by empowering small donors. Read more here

Long Island Residents Say, 'We Want FiOS!'

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Members of CWA Local 1108 and the Brookhaven community flood a town hall meeting to push for Verizon FiOS buildout.

CWA and community activists, elected officials and other residents of Brookhaven, N.Y., jammed a town hall meeting to push Verizon to build out FiOS service for television and high speed Internet to the Long Island town.

More than 500 residents were on hand, rallied by members and supporters of CWA Local 1108 and other community groups. Citizens groups want Verizon to reconsider its decision not to build out FiOS; the company said it doesn't have a franchise agreement with Brookhaven and doesn't want one. Councilwoman Valerie Cartwright said the meeting showed that there is a "great deal of interest" in FiOS.

At the meeting, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine said elected officials had informed Verizon that the clock is running on fines levied against the company for failing to clean up hazardous poles in the community; those fines were submitted to Verizon starting Feb. 3.

Without FiOS, residents have little competition for Cablevision service, the principal television and broadband provider in the area.

Next CWA Telephone Town Hall is Feb. 20

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Don't miss the February CWA telephone town hall call. It's the best way that CWA members can keep up with everything that's happening, from bargaining to movement building to restoring our democracy.

The next call is Thursday, Feb. 20, starting at 7:30 pm, ET. The call will last half an hour.

Register at

CBO: Affordable Care Act Means More Options for Workers

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It's amazing how quickly some media outlets jumped to misconstrue the latest findings from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on the effects of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.

The New York Times editorial board got it right. The CBO report actually found that "thanks to an increase in insurance coverage under the act and the availability of subsidies to help pay the premiums – many workers who felt obliged to stay in a job that provided health benefits would now be able to leave those jobs or choose to work fewer hours than they otherwise would have. In other words, the report is about the choices workers can make when they are no longer tethered to an employer because of health benefits. The cumulative effect on the labor supply is the equivalent of 2.5 million fewer full-time workers by 2024," The New York Times wrote

Bargaining Underway for Southeast AT&T Mobility Members

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Unity@Mobility members from Local 7803 show their support for D3 Mobility bargaining.

CWA's District 3 AT&T Mobility bargaining committee is working hard to negotiate a fair and just contract for more than 13,000 Mobility members. The current contract expires Feb. 7. CWA D3 represents AT&T Mobility members in nine states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee,

Late last year, Mobility leaders and members held a Mobility National Bargaining Council meeting, where members discussed issues and adopted bargaining goals.

Finally, A Bill That Will Help Us Take Back Our Politics

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House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Sarbanes unveil legislation to help get big money out of politics.

CWA applauded the introduction of H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act. The legislation was unveiled on Wednesday by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-Calif.). The bill is an important step in reducing the influence of moneyed special interests in politics and would put our elections back into the hands of everyday Americans.

"We the people want to be heard," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "Corporations, Super PACs and Dark Money give a big voice to the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the rest of us. This uncontrolled spending threatens the democratic voice that is the foundation of our country. Increasingly, ordinary Americans are expressing a growing conviction that their votes don't count, that our political process is controlled by the biggest bankroll, and that money, not the public interest, sets policies and priorities in government."

The Government By the People Act would change how we finance our elections by encouraging candidates to rely on a large number of small donations from their constituents back home, as opposed to funds from extremely wealthy donors, special interests, lobbyists, Wall Street and big business. It would empower ordinary voters and hold members of Congress accountable to the people who put them in office, not the biggest bankroll.

Here is how it would work:

  • Contributions of $1 to $150 would be matched on a six-to-one basis by a newly-created "Freedom from Influence Fund." Large contributions would not qualify for any match. The fund would be financed by closing corporate tax loopholes.

  • The first $25 contributed by small donors would qualify for a "My Voice" refundable tax credit.

  • Every candidate's contributions from the new fund would be capped, and there would be strict enforcement of campaign finance laws, including disclosure of all donations.

Learn more about the Government By the People Act at

And click here to be a citizen sponsor of this important legislation.

Remembering Pete Seeger

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There have been many tributes to Pete Seeger marking his death at age 94 last week. Check out this video and audio tribute to Seeger by Democracy Now.

And you can read more in this obituary

Just last November, Seeger surprised TNG-CWA members in Buffalo, N.Y., by stopping by their council meeting when he was in town for a peace benefit concert.


In a surprise visit, Pete Seeger meets with members of TNG-CWA in Buffalo, NY.

Do You Support Good, Green Jobs?

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Join us next week for the 2014 Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference in Washington, DC.

This year's conference is focused on repairing the systems Americans rely on every day, whether getting us back and forth to work, supplying our power, keeping us safe from storms and floods, communicating with police and fire during emergencies, or ensuring the institutions where our children learn are safe and healthy. It's time to repair these systems today to create quality, family-sustaining jobs, to address the threat of climate change, and to ensure the health and safety of our workplaces and our communities.

Participants will spend Feb. 10-11 networking with business, civic, non-profit, union and environmental leaders and in informative and interactive workshops focused on every part of the clean economy. This year's speakers include CWA President Larry Cohen, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and more.

Register today!