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July 11, 2013

CWA e-Newsletter

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You Won't Want to Miss the Next CWA Town Hall Call: July 18

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Make sure you're keeping up with everything CWA. Join next week's CWA Town Hall Call on Thursday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m. ET to take a stand and learn how you can fight back.

Register here:

House Members Stand Up for NLRB

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U.S. Representatives Linda Sánchez (CA-38) and Joe Courtney (CT-2) were joined by nearly 200 of their Democratic colleagues in calling on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to end the obstruction over executive nominations, including the five nominations to the National Labor Relations Board.

A letter, signed by 201 House Democrats, was delivered to McConnell on Tuesday; an ad featuring that letter ran in the next day's Politico, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

At a news conference outside the Capitol, Sánchez, Courtney and other members of Congress were joined by workers who know just how important the NLRB is.


Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) calls on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to stop the obstruction over the five nominations to the National Labor Relations Board.

Below: At a Capitol Hill news conference, Gertrude Villegas, a Cablevision technician, says Cablevision won't bargain fairly and only the NLRB can enforce the law.


"More than 80 million private sector employees rely on the National Labor Relations Board for protection from unfair labor practices," said Congresswoman Sánchez. "By threatening to shut down the NLRB's ability to function, Senator McConnell and Senate Republicans undermine the very foundation of our country's labor laws and workplace protections. Republicans should stop this reckless attack on workers' rights. The American people deserve better than this."

Congressman Courtney said: "This blatant attempt to prevent the National Labor Relations Board from functioning for our nation's workers and employers is shameful. Without a functioning board, appeals would not be heard, decisions would not be enforced, and violations of workers' rights would go without remedy."

Gertrude Villegas, a technician at Cablevision in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a member of CWA Local 1109, said "without the NLRB, Cablevision won't bargain fairly and there won't be any agency that can make it bargain."

Last January, 22 of her co-workers at Cablevision were illegally fired and locked out, "thrown away like yesterday's newspaper, to send a message to those of us still employed," Villegas said.

The NLRB cited Cablevision for that action, and for illegally promising big raises and other financial incentives to technicians in the Bronx, as long as they dropped their support for a union. Cablevision even went to the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the NLRB hearing. That effort failed, and the hearing will go forward.

Kathleen Von Eitzen, a baker at a Panera Bread franchise in Michigan, said after workers won union representation in March 2012, her employer stepped up the intimidation, retaliating against her because she supports the union and even terminating one of the most outspoken union supporters.

We need the NLRB to enforce labor law.

Allies Are a Big Part of the Fight for Senate Rules Reform

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Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), CWA President Larry Cohen and Ed Mierzwinski, head of U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Americans for Financial Reform held a teleconference joined by 5,000 activists on the critical need for Senate rules reform.

Mierzwinski noted that the Dodd-Frank banking reform legislation, enacted to counter the economic destruction caused by the financial industry in 2008, established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) "to protect American consumers no matter where they buy their financial services."

Now, the nomination of Richard Cordray to head that agency is being blocked by Republican Senators doing the bidding of the financial services industry, he said. Several Republican Senators have said they will vote to confirm Cordray only if the banking reform measure is weakened.


A coalition of community, labor and environmental groups deliver 165,000 petitions to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Below: CWA President Larry Cohen (right), joins a panel discussion on the misuse of the filibuster and the need for Senate rules reform. With him are leaders from Common Cause and Alliance for Justice and a participant from the American Enterprise institute.


Warren stressed that the CFPB already is making a huge difference for American families, from mortgages to credit cards to student loans. In fact, the agency forced credit card companies to refund half a billion dollars to consumers, she said.

We need to keep this going, but Senate Republicans want "to keep the game rigged so that it doesn't work for consumers," she said.

Cohen tied it all together, noting that it's no accident that the minority in the Senate is taking aim at both the Cordray nomination and President Obama's five nominations to the NLRB.

"The Senate majority must act now and change the rules on nominations so that they can be approved by an up or down vote," he said.

  • In California, CWA activists joined members of the CAL Public Interest Research Group, the Center for Responsible Lending, Greenlining Institute and others who met with staff from Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office.

    They delivered 165,000 petition signatures to Feinstein with this message: The Senate should stop delaying and confirm Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau right away.

  • Leaders from Common Cause, CWA, Alliance for Justice and even a resident scholar from the conservative American Enterprise Institute agreed that the Senate's misuse of the filibuster has created an unprecedented backlog of nominations to critical agencies and federal courts, and is harming our democracy.

    At a panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., participants – CWA President Larry Cohen, AFJ President Nan Aron, Stephen Spaulding of Common Cause and Norm Ornstein of AEI – called for changing the Senate rules to stop the obstruction that has been rampant in the U.S. Senate.

Media Covers Fix the Senate Now

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In print and online ads, and newspaper, radio and television interviews, CWA's message that President Obama's executive nominations should get an up or down vote in the Senate is resonating.

  • On MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes," CWA President Larry Cohen talked about exactly what the NLRB means for 80 million workers, and that the Senate minority's obstruction on these and other nominations must stop. That will only happen if the Senate Democratic majority votes to change the rules. Watch the full interview here.

  • President Cohen also will take that message to MSNBC's Ed Show this Sunday, July 14, at 5 pm EDT. Be sure to watch.

  • A telephone news conference featured Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and President Cohen on the unprecedented action by virtually every Democratic Member of Congress telling the Senate to stop its obstruction of President Obama's nominees. Listen to the news conference here.

  • Also this week, a new round of ads on the homepages of Politico and The Washington Post spotlighting exactly what's at stake for working Americans if all five NLRB nominees are not confirmed and letting readers click through a message to their Senators. The ads read, "Fired for standing up for yourself at work? Unless the Senate majority confirms a full National Labor Relations Board, you're on your own." Similar ads can be seen on Facebook, Twitter and when doing Google searches.

  • Next week, listen for radio interviews with CWA leaders and activists.

Bargaining Update

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University of California workers (above), members of UPTE/CWA Local 9119, AFSCME and California Nurses Association, demonstrate across the state for fair contracts.


AT&T Internet Services members mobilize for a new contract. Above, members of Local 4900 are standing strong. Below, members of Local 9413 joined in Health Care Action Day to send management a message: shifting health care costs to workers is a sick idea!

  • The contract covering staff research associates and technicians at the University of California system, members of UPTE CWA Local 9119, expired on June 30. All contract terms and conditions of employment remain in effect during this "status quo" period. In demonstrations across the state on July 1, UPTE members and other union activists, part of the 44,000 member strong Union Coalition, protested the university's plans to impose a two-tier retirement system (both pension and retiree health care) for workers who don't have union representation and its offer of a zero percent wage increase for research associates and techs.

  • On July 2, CWA members at AT&T Internet joined in Health Care Action Day to protest the company's shifting of health care costs to workers. Members in many offices wore band-aids, bandages, crutches and other first-aid items to show AT&T Internet that shifting health care costs is a sick idea. The national Internet contract covering 3,000 technicians and call center workers in 14 states expires on July 13.

  • Bargaining is continuing for a new contract covering 1,600 CWAers at Frontier Communications in West Virginia. CWA Frontier members will hold a telephone town hall call next week, and union members and supporters will rally on July 27 at Frontier headquarters in Charleston, WVa., part of the fair contract fight.

Immigration Reform: The Time is Now

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CWAers and other union members join immigrant and Latino groups and allies in rallying for fair immigration reform.


CWA activists joined other allies at a rally for fair immigration reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Demonstrators were determined to send a message to the Republican caucus of the House of Representatives, that "we want a vote now" on comprehensive immigration reform.

CWA is calling for fair immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrant workers.

Morton Bahr Scholarship Winners

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The Morton Bahr Scholarship has awarded five outstanding union members scholarships for full tuition at Empire State College Distance Learning Center. The winners are:

  • Jordan March, member of OPEIU Local 2
  • John Llewellyn Jr., president of IAFF Local 7
  • Mendy Thorsland, member of NYSUT
  • Kenya Coleman, vice president of CWA Local 1141
  • Jennifer Jacob, member of CWA Local 1170

The scholarship honors CWA President Emeritus Morton Bahr, who has been committed to lifelong learning and helping to provide educational opportunity. Bahr is an alumnus of Empire State College, which is part of the State University of New York.

Since its inception in 2001, the Bahr scholarship has helped 56 students continue their education through distance learning.