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CWA e-Newsletter: July 16, 2015

July 16, 2015

CWA e-Newsletter

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Flight Attendants Mount Contract Day of Action at United Airlines

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At airports across the nation and from around the world, Flight Attendants are holding a Day of Action today to call attention to the challenges they are facing while bargaining a contract with United Airlines.

AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson said bargaining with the airline has nearly grounded to a halt as United is unwilling, even as it invests $100 million in a Brazilian airline, to put the required economic resources into a Flight Attendant Contract.

So, today, starting in Hong Kong, China, Narita International Airport in Japan, Guam, Frankfurt International Airport in Germany, Flight Attendants began demonstrations to let United know its workers will stand together to win a fair contract. It is a system-wide Day of Action at all United Airline's 16 base locations, including at Washington Dulles, where they were joined by CWA President Chris Shelton who said he was impressed by the strength the workers are showing.

"Flight Attendants are helping United Airlines generate huge profits, making it one of the most profitable in the nation," Shelton said. "But when it comes contract time, United says no, none for you. What you're doing today is showing them that you're not going to be pushed around."

CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens, CWA Telecommunications and Technologies Vice President Lisa Bolton and NABET-CWA President Charlie Braico participated in the Washington action. Other locations included London, Boston, New York, Newark, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. The workers have targeted July 23rd as the date for an agreement but it will take a very serious turn around at the bargaining table to get there. Flight Attendants were joined at the National Day of Action by other CWA Locals, allies and progressive groups.

Photographs and videos from the action are available here.

"We are standing up to make it clear to United Airlines that we will fight to get fairness," Nelson said.

United has failed to reach a unified labor contract with its 24,000 Flight Attendants following the airline's October 2010 merger with Continental. United Airlines is making record profits and its 2015 income is projected to be more than five times higher than in 2013; operating profit in 2015-2017 is expected to be $5 billion or more in each year; United has $7 Billion in cash on its balance sheet and its stock price has jumped 162% since negotiations began; United Airlines Chief Executive Jeff Smisek's pay is up 32%.

"This merger was initiated five years ago," Nelson said. "Executives and shareholders are cashing in while passengers and Flight Attendants are left dealing with the frustrations of a fractured operation. Enough is enough. United needs to negotiate within the reality of record profits and get this merger done. It's Our Turn and It's Past Time."

Flight Attendants, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, are demonstrating their solidarity for a joint Contract that recognizes and respects what each worker has brought to the airline and the hard work they all do every day to make United Airlines fly safe.

Joining participants in the Washington Dulles International Airport Day of Action were AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson and CWA President Chris Shelton.

Showing the worldwide scope of the action were workers at Narita International Airport in Japan.

Workers at the London Heathrow International Airport showed strength and solidarity.

Members at Newark Liberty International Airport showed up because they know they're in a fight.

A Petition to Push German Government to Investigate T-Mobile Union-busting

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ver.di, the German union representing 2 million employees, is organizing a petition drive to collect signatures in an effort to focus attention in the German Bundestag on union busting and other lawless conducts by Deutsche Telekom's U.S. subsidiary, T-Mobile US.

All four German political parties debated publicizing the petition and determined unanimously that it should be posted. It is unprecedented for this kind of issue to be raised at this level.

"For more than 10 years, we have tried to connect the role of the German government as principal owner of Deutsche Telekom to the outrageous intolerance of their U.S. controlled subsidiary T Mobile," Former CWA President Larry Cohen said. "They have hidden behind one defense after another but now they are revealed before their own congress. Our global work and our amazing partner ver.di has led to this great step forward."

CWA members and allies can download and sign the petition here.

ver.di members have been supporting the fight by T-Mobile's U.S. workers for justice and to have a voice in the workplace. Deutsche Telekom is majority owned by the German government and is the parent company of T-Mobile. They have been keeping up the pressure on T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom, calling on the company to recognize the rights of U.S. workers to have a union and a workplace free from intimidation.

CWA members and allies all over the country are collecting signatures. AT&T Mobility workers in Austin, TX, have collected over 200 signatures in their call center within 2 days. Meanwhile, says Chris Greer of CWA Local 6402, members in Wichita collected 111 signatures this week and expect more.

"There will be more to come," Greer said. "We have gone to our AT&T Wireless stores, Cricket corporate stores, other unions that we have relationships with, the AT&T Tech garages, and also asking while hand billing at the T-Mobile call center."

Please print out copies of the petition here and mail them back to CWA headquarters no later than August 1st:

Attn: Louise Novotny
501 Third Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Top left: CWA President Chris Shelton signed the petition. Top right: Manuel Campos, a member from the AT&T Mobility Southpark Meadows store in Austin, TX, signed the petition. Below: Antoinette Eaten and Frank Figueroa, two members from Houston AT&T Mobility signed the petition.

Florida Supreme Court Gives Voter Groups Complete Victory on Congressional Redistricting

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The Florida Supreme Court, in a precedent-setting ruling last week, instructed the GOP-controlled state legislature to trash its unconstitutional Congressional Districts map and ordered it to draw a new one that adheres to the state Constitution.

Voters groups, including CWA and the League of Women Voters of Florida, had challenged the congressional map. Last year, Judge Terry Lewis ruled that the Congressional Districts were invalid because they violated the Fair District rules approved by voters in 2010.

The Supreme Court ruling is available here.

Ellen Freidin, chairwoman of Fair Districts Now, the organization that championed the 2010 redistricting amendments, thanked the Supreme Court for finally holding the legislature to account.

"Today is a great day," Freidin said. "By its opinion, the Court makes it clear that Florida will no longer tolerate the Legislature's shenanigans in drawing district lines intended to favor a political party or incumbent."

Longtime CWA District 3 Legislative-political Coordinator Donald LaRotonda also applauded the ruling.

"This is a huge victory for us," LaRotonda said. "Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the state, yet we are outnumbered two to one in statewide office holders. We are just trying to make the Congressional Districts competitive. That's what this fight is all about in the first place."

For instance, two of Florida's 27 congressional districts, seats held by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown, a Democrat from Jacksonville, and Dan Webster, a Republican from Winter Garden, were drawn to benefit Republicans, Judge Lewis wrote. Brown ended up with a serpentine district stretching from Jacksonville to Orlando, which benefitted Republicans by packing African American voters along that stretch into one district. It gave Brown a safe seat in Congress but made several other seats in the state safe for Republican candidates.

Judge Lewis wrote that the districts could have been drawn to protect minority voters without dividing whole communities and packing Republicans into adjoining districts. The Supreme Court, in upholding Judge Lewis' findings, ordered a new map with eight districts redrawn in time for the 2016 election. In the 5-2 ruling, the court provided specific direction to the Legislature.

Redrawing district lines no matter how bizarrely in order to create safe seats is not limited to Florida. In Pennsylvania, for instance, there are 1 million+ more registered Democrats than Republican – 4.1 million Democrats to 3 million Republicans – but Democrats have only five out of the state's 18 Congressional seats. Many believe that gerrymandering of districts to create safe seats has contributed to the discord and inability of Congress to function.

Thousands Join Moral Mondays' March for Voting Rights in Winston-Salem

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Against a backdrop of a trial that started on Monday challenging North Carolina's controversial election law that disenfranchises North Carolina voters, especially African Americans, thousands of protestors from across the state swarmed the Federal Courthouse.

"This is what Democracy looks like!" they chanted. The throng included more than 25 CWA members and other activists belonging to the Moral Mondays coalition, including the NAACP, League of Women Voters, Common Cause and others.

"This is our Selma," said the Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP. "When President Johnson signed the voting rights act of '65, he said it was a victory greater than any victory we've ever won on any battle field. But, almost 48 years later, on June 25, 2013, five supreme court justices dismantled the voting rights act and they, in essence, said to Southern legislators, led by extremists like ours, now that your state does not have to worry about preclearance, not have to worry about voting laws being reviewed, you can initiate and inaugurate a new season on voting rights."

About 25 CWA activists joined thousands of protesters marching through downtown Winston-Salem, N.C.

Schedules That Work Act Re-Introduced As Fair Workweek Movement Grows

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Fair, flexible and reliable scheduling is key to ensuring working families can earn a living with dignity and respect. Re-introduced on Wednesday, Schedules that Work Act would aid hourly employees in some of America's fastest-growing and lowest-paying industries, workplaces that too often make it difficult to juggle the competing life demands of child care, school and medical appointments.

But while it's a good first step, most of the legislation would not cover call center workers who also struggle with erratic, unpredictable scheduling policies.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT 3rd District) speak to the press after introduction of the "Schedules That Work Act."

Members of CWA and TU, the union of T-Mobile US workers, aren't solely relying on Congress, and across the country they're building a movement to restore a fair workweek for all workers. In Albuquerque, N.M., they recently partnered with the Center for Popular Democracy, OLÉ and other community organizations to support a city council ordinance that would provide workers predictable scheduling, earned sick days and more full-time opportunities. It's about helping families balance their responsibilities at home with their duties at work. It's for workers like Luis Castaneda, a husband and father of two children, who has struggled to finish his college degree while working as a senior representative at one of T-Mobile's call centers in Albuquerque.

"I really want to go to school to better my life – it's for my children and for myself," said Castaneda. "When I got my first shift, I realized this schedule doesn't work with school, but I thought, 'Maybe the next shift realignment, I will get a better shift.' But since then, seven realignments have gone by, and I realized there is not a single shift in our call center that would enable workers to attend classes. T-Mobile always brags about how it encourages workers to go to school and even offers tuition reimbursement, but on a practical level the company makes it impossible to attend any classes. This is super frustrating."

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Bobby Scott (D-VA), and 75 of their colleagues introduced the Schedules that Work Act in the Senate and House. Numerous women's, labor and civil rights groups have already endorsed it.

"This bill is about basic fairness," said Warren. "A single mom should know if her hours are being canceled before she arranges for daycare and drives halfway across town to show up at work. Someone who wants to go to school to get an education should not be able to get fired just for asking for a more predictable schedule. A worker who is told to wait around on-call for hours with no guarantee of work hours should get something for his time. It's time to end unfair scheduling practices that hurt workers and families."

Organizing Update

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St. Giles Election Results

By a vote of 16 to 5, teachers at St. Giles, an English language school in San Francisco, have voted for a voice in the workplace by joining the Pacific Media Workers Guild, CWA Local 39521. The local is preparing a bargaining survey for the new unit to prepare the teachers to go to the bargaining table. The 24-person unit started organizing in November 2014 around issues of low pay, not being paid for preparation time, scheduling and job security.

Carl Hall, Kat Anderson, and Gloria La Riva of the Pacific Media Workers Guild and John Dugan, CWA District 9 area organizing director, helped the teachers in their organizing campaign.

Rachel Turner, Jessica Mironov and Shane Baker (l to r) celebrate their NLRB union election victory.

Bargaining Updates

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NABET-CWA negotiators have been working since January to secure a successor agreement to the contract with NBCUniversal/Comcast that expired on March 31, 2015. Approximately 2,700 full-time staff and daily hire members have been working under the terms of the expired contract for the past 16-weeks, ever since the Company declined the Union's offer to extend the terms of the contract.

The bargaining parties remain apart on key issues such as seniority/layoff provisions, travel pay, salary upgrades for certain positions and general wage increases. The bargaining unit includes camera, sound and video technicians who " Make Television Happen" for NBC News, NBC Sports, and NBC Entertainment, as well as editorial personnel who work in local television station newsrooms in New York, Washington DC, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Members are dissatisfied by the Company's denial to recognize issues important to the group, and tensions are playing out on the streets of New York and Chicago where the Union staged a number of informational protests and rallies.

NABET-CWA activists and Scabby the Rat rally outside of NBC Tower in Chicago.

Picketers tell management, "NBC is bad news for its workers."

FOX Television Stations

The news is not good for NABET-CWA members working at FOX Television Stations operations in Chicago, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. In each of these locations, contracts are open and negotiations are unresolved – in some cases for more than four (4) years. Members of NABET-CWA Local 54041 working at WFLD-TV in Chicago have not seen a contractual wage increase since April 1, 2010. In Los Angeles, the contract expired in June 2011, and the Company later declared an impasse and implemented a package of draconian contract changes. The group in Las Vegas is a new unit, organized two years ago, and they are still fighting to get a first contract. In each of these cases, the Company has presented drastically unrealistic bargaining demands designed to frustrate the negotiations process. One thing is certain: FOX has succeeded at completely frustrating its hard-working employees.

CWA Statement Supporting FCC Chair Consumer Protection Proposal

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CWA released a statement in support of U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposals to Protect Consumers & Promote Competition and Public Safety in the Technology Transitions:

It appears that F.C.C. Chairman Tom Wheeler's technology transitions proposals will serve two critical goals: protecting consumers and at the same time encouraging investment in next-generation high-speed networks. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is pleased to see that the Chairman's proposed rules require advance notification prior to retirement of copper networks, and define "retirement" in such a way to prevent retirement of networks by neglect and improper maintenance.

Verizon Communications is the poster child of such "de facto" network retirement. Verizon is systematically neglecting proper maintenance of its copper network, leaving many customers with poor or no service. Strong rules that prevent neglect of traditional copper networks will protect consumers who continue to rely on those networks, and at the same time encourage investment in next-generation technologies. Strong rules will block a repeat of the Fire Island situation, in which Verizon attempted to replace storm-damaged landlines with an inferior fixed wireless VoiceLink service.

Netroots Nation 2015 – Watch CWA Panels

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This week progressive activists are gathering in Phoenix, Ariz., for Netroots Nation, the annual conference that serves as an incubator for ideas that challenge the status quo and inspire action.

There will be 80 panels and more than 40 hands-on training sessions. Activists will get to hear from special guests including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Reps. Rosa DeLauro, Donna Edwards, Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva.

Don't miss our two panels this Saturday:

– At 8:30 a.m., CWA will be participating in a panel examining the re-enfranchisement of people with felony convictions as well as broader democracy issues, including voting rights and money in politics. 

Citizens and activists across the country are fed up with a government that seems to no longer respond to their needs, but rather the donor class and special interests that don't represent the vast majority of Americans. CWA Democracy Programs Director Tova Wang, Bus Federation Executive Director Matt Singer and Democracy Initiative Political Strategist Gregory Moore will be discussing the growing democracy movement and how all our progressive goals are not disparate, but only achievable by connecting them under the umbrella of money in politics and voting rights.

– Then, at 1:30 p.m., CWA will participate in " A Movement Not a Moment: Fighting Fast Track in Arizona." Over the past year, progressive activists have joined together across the country to organize unprecedented grassroots opposition to the deeply flawed Fast Track process for passing trade deals. CWA Political Director Rafael Navar, CWA Local 7019 legislative political director Yolanda Bejarano, Puente Arizona's Carlos Garcia, Presente Executive Director Arturo Carmona and Fight for the Future's Evan Greer will talk about how activists built the national and local movement against Fast Track and what lessons we can carry forward as we work together on other issues.