CWA e-Newsletter: July 24, 2014
- Cohen to APWU Members: U.S. Mail Not for Sale
- Cohen's Challenge: Look Beyond Reforming the Senate and Save Democracy Itself
- President Signs Historic LGBT Executive Order
- Art By, For and About the Common Man
- National Women's Committee Report: Sexual Assault in the Military
- Feeling Nostalgic? Join us for Throwback Thursdays!
- Beirne Scholarship Winners
- Bargaining Update
- Money in Politics Update: November Ballot Initiative in California
At the American Postal Workers Union convention in Chicago, CWA President Larry Cohen told 3,000 postal worker members and delegates that CWAers are standing strong in the fight to save the jobs of thousands of APWU members, and the Post Office as we know it. The delegates rose to their feet several times.
CWA President Cohen at APWU convention, with APWU President Mark Dimondstein and Sec.-Treas. Elizabeth Powell.
Post office processing and mail delivery jobs are under attack, as the U.S. Post Office has closed hundreds of processing plants, he said. "Contracting out is out of control, and CWA members are joining you in this latest fight to stop the Post Office from setting up kiosks at Staples and other box stores. It's a fight to keep the Post Office," Cohen said.
CWA activists are joining the boycott of Staples and will participate in demonstrations at Staples stores nationwide, he said.
Outside a Chicago Staples store, thousands of APWU members and supporters protest USPS contracting out that has eliminated thousands of good jobs.
While in Chicago, thousands of APWU members, labor and community activists and others marched to a Staples store to protest the USPS's "sweetheart deal" with Staples that will cost workers their jobs and customers the quality service they need.
Work that should be done by uniformed postal workers in secure facilities has been shipped out to 82 Staples retail locations, jeopardizing security of the mail as well as good jobs for postal workers and letter carriers.
APWU President Mark Dimondstein told convention delegates that the USPS and Staples were trying to derail the boycott, but that wasn't going to happen. "We intend to keep up the pressure until Staples gets out of the mail business. The U.S. Mail Is Not for Sale," he said.
Eight months after the U.S. Senate changed its rules to enable more executive and judicial nominations to go forward, a new dysfunctional trick that has marooned over a hundred other nominations is the latest bar to progress.
CWA President Larry Cohen electrified participants at a Senate Rules forum this week with a challenge to look beyond the immediate gridlock and work to reform our entire democratic system. Cohen told experts gathered at the National Press Club forum on the Senate Rules that this discussion was a much needed call to action. Participating in the forum were Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice; Brennan Center for Justice counsel Alicia Bannon; Democracy Initiative Executive Director Marissa Brown; American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Norman Ornstein; and Common Cause President Miles Rapoport, whose group organized the event.
CWA President Larry Cohen speaking at the National Press Club about the refusal of Senate Republicans to do the people's work in an effort to thwart the Obama presidency. Workers' rights, climate change and economic inequality are among the important issues that don't get addressed.
"We need a mass movement for democracy in this country," Cohen said. "We need to look at what happened in this country in the last five years, look at those 400 bills that Speaker Pelosi passed but were not considered by the U.S. Senate even for one minute and consider what it would have meant to the overwhelming majority of this country."
The event, "The 'New Nullification' At Work in a Broken Senate: Nominations, Confirmations and the Politics of Obstruction," marked a formal release of the group's report on the problem. That report details how more than 120 nominees to executive branch and independent agencies still languish in the Senate, subject to new Republican tactics to run out the clock.
In the last two months, the minority forced the Senate into 236 hours of post-cloture debate time on routine nominations but, incredibly, very little debating actually occurred. Senators have only been on the floor and debated nominees for a total of 5 hours. Not one Republican came to the floor to discuss the merits of a nominee. With key positions in the Administration vacant for so long – in some cases, for years – government becomes less responsive to the challenges facing its citizens.
A quick, short-term fix, Cohen said, is for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to adopt a new Senate rule: Use It, or Lose It.
"It's simple to remember: if you're not going to speak on these nominations, where now a majority vote would carry them forward, you lose the time," he said. "You're going to have to show up, imagine that...and talk. We didn't say no filibuster. We say talking filibuster. We say use it or lose it."
Go to fixthesenatenow.org/useitorloseit to send a message to your Senators or text UseIt to 49484 to get a link to a petition.
Cohen's challenge is rooted in his belief that Senate dysfunction impedes important work that needs to be done.
"The senate rules, money in politics, the destruction of voting rights, as well as immigration actually prevent us from ever getting to the workers' rights problem, the climate change problem and economic inequality. The Senate Rules, in many ways the dullest of those subjects, is the frontline," he said.
CWA founded with other progressive groups the Democracy Initiative to get big money out of politics, strengthen voting rights and reform the broken Senate rules. The 45 endorsing organizations represent 35 million members. Each of these groups must make reforming our democracy the second most important issue that they tackle.
"People will raise several hundreds of millions of dollars from progressives alone, over a billion dollars, for this election this year, but this Democracy Movement needs more resources, not just money. It needs our hearts and minds...We do know what Democracy looks like. The question is will we stand up and fight back," he challenged.
President Obama signed an historic executive order Monday morning prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
"Thanks to your passion and advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government – a government of the people, by the people and for the people – will become just a little bit fairer," Obama told advocates gathered at the White House.
Because Congress failed to extend these workplace protections to LGBT employees of federal contractors and of the federal government, the president took the initiative. And despite the objections of religious leaders, faith-based groups will not be exempt.
"I'm going to do what I can, with the authority I have, to act," Obama said. "The rest of you, of course, need to keep putting pressure on Congress to pass federal legislation that resolves this problem once and for all."
Every year, in many parts of the country, American workers aren't hired, are fired, don't receive job promotions, or bear verbal and physical abuse from co-workers and supervisors simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
That's why CWA and our allies are fighting to bring fairness and equality to the workplace by including LGBT protections in our contracts. Workers should not have to hide who they are out of fear of losing their jobs.
Ron Carver tells the story of a critical juncture when CWA lent invaluable help in the efforts to reclaim the paintings of Ralph Fasanella for display in the public domain.
The result of those efforts can be seen in Ralph Fasanella: Lest We Forget at the Smithsonian's American Art Museum at 8th and F Streets, N.W. in Washington, DC, which is open through August 3. The exhibition will then travel to the American Folk Art Museum in New York City from September 2, 2014 to November 30, 2014 where it will be on view to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Fasanella's Labor Day birthday.
"I didn't paint my paintings to hang in some rich guy's living room," the artist had famously said.
Cohen suggested that a video that could be shown in classrooms and other venues would help raise funds. The Beirne Foundation, established to honor CWA's first president, helped fund the film, produced by the Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Glen Pearcy. The 23-minute documentary, Fasanella, is an award-winning film that is still in wide circulation today.
Cohen said it is important that Fasanella's work be seen.
"We took on Fasanella," he said, "to connect his art to students – high school students – and that because so much of his art also told a story of working people, that through his paintings we could not only connect to that world, the art world, but also tell the story of labor."
Born in the Bronx in 1914, Ralph Fasanella celebrated the lives and struggles of working-class people in paintings of textile mills, dress shops, union halls, and stickball games.
He was also a labor organizer for several unions, starting with the United Electrical Workers union (UE), later with longshoremen, hospital workers, janitors, and teamsters.
CWA eventually commissioned Fasanella to paint CWA Union Hall, which is now temporarily loaned for a display at the AFL-CIO Washington, DC, headquarters.
Leslie Umberger, Smithsonian's curator of folk and self-taught art who curated the exhibition on Fasanella, said the artist, who died in 1998, devoted his whole life to the labor movement and the common man.
"He believed that the workers of the United States were the driving force and that that was something to be recognized and honored, that that was something that was dignified and noble. He was very much of that culture and also knew that when you don't have the money and the power in the United States, you find other ways of making sure that you fight for your rights. To him, a big part of that is unity and strength in numbers," Umberger said.
Ralph Fasanella's 1972 painting Family Supper, which CWA played a significant role in securing so it could be displayed to the public at the National Park Service's Great Hall at Ellis Island, is a part of the exhibit.
CWA's National Women's Committee is focusing attention on the epidemic of sexual assault in the military and calling on CWAers to take action now.
A report by Pandy Allen, secretary-treasurer of CWA Local 9003, looks at the failure to hold offenders responsible for the growing level of assault and violence suffered by primarily women in our military. Check out the report, and take action.
We've got some great vintage photos to share with you each and every Thursday. So be sure to "like" our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CWAUnion.
Throwback snapshots of CWAers fighting for workers' rights. Union workers fought for the rights of all workers and, in the process, built the largest middle class in history and made the United States of America an economic superpower in the process.
CWA established the Joe Beirne Foundation in October 1974 to honor CWA's founding president and his commitment to education.
Today the foundation offers 15 partial college scholarships of $3,000 each for the upcoming academic year. Winners were selected in a lottery drawing and also receive second-year scholarships for the same amount if they meet satisfactory academic standards. Part-time students taking fewer than 12 credits receive half the scholarship amount.
Joseph A. Beirne First-Year Scholarship Winners for 2014-2015
Evan Penney, son of Brian Penney, Local 1190
Joseph Fattorusso, son of Joseph Fattorusso, Local 1109
Justina Almodovar, daughter of Robert Benamou, Local 1101
Keolani Williams, daughter of Anita Williams, Local 1180
Dorien Russell, son of Thaonne Malone, Local 2108
Joshua James, son of John James, Local 13301
Harmony Owens, granddaughter of James Owens, Local 3716
Amanda Stettner, daughter of Eric Stettner, Local 3104
Jena Rogers, daughter of William Rogers, Local 4773
Cristian Galvan, son of Michael Galvan, Local 4900
Andrea Gallegos, daughter of Joel Gallegos, Local 6171
Caitlyn Ramsey, daughter of Laura Ramsey, Local 6401
Juan Alvarez, son of Adolfredo Alvarez, Local 7777
Raquel Aguilar, daughter of Dionicia Aguilar, Local 9575
Linsey Nunez, daughter of Oscar Nunez, Local 9509
Joseph A. Beirne Second-Year Scholarship Winners for 2014-2015
Taina Quinones, daughter of David Quinones, Local 1101
Nick Miczan, son of Jeff Miczan, Local 1123
Michelle Feasel, daughter of Roxanne Feasel, Local 1036
Myles Patrick LaFrance, son of Edward Keough, Local 1171
Feven Laine, daughter of Hadgu Laine, Local 3204
Sheresa Alise Rankin, daughter of Heidi Rankin, Local 3641
Madelaine Hill, granddaughter of David Hluch (Retired), Local 4340
Patrick G. Anderson, son of Gerald Anderson, Local 2107
DeVante Parker, grandson of Vera Berry (Retired), Local 13000
Giovanni Meza, son of Vanessa Meza, Local 9509
Sarah Elizabeth Schutte, daughter of Mark Schutte, Local 4009
Thomas Mitchell Gatlin, son of William Gatlin, Local 6171
Christian Velasquez, son of Jesse Velasquez, Jr., Local 6215
Naomi Lam, daughter of Karen Lam, Local 9415
Tearney Lopez, granddaughter of Cheryl Elfering, Local 7601
Daily Beast Unit Members Ratify Contract
Guild members at The Daily Beast online magazine voting to ratify a new contract.
After long, drawn out bargaining, members of the Daily Beast unit, TNG-CWA Local 31003, have ratified a new three-year contract, expiring June 1, 2017. The unit of 30 editorial workers presently includes writers, reporters, editors (text and photo), art designers, researchers, correspondents, and production (digital and video) at the online magazine. They were part of the Newsweek unit until that magazine was sold last year. This is the Daily Beast unit's first solo contract.
President Ken Saether and members of Local 7906 set up an informational picket in Eugene, Ore., as bargaining for a fair contract covering 50 CWAers continues.
Members of Local 7906 at an informational picket in Eugene, Ore., during contract bargaining.
California voters will have the opportunity to vote on a November ballot question asking Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Citizens United decision and restore the right of Congress and the states to regulate political spending.
The ballot measure is non-binding but the state legislature pushed for the issue to be put before the voters.
In the 2010 Citizens United decision and this year's McCutcheon decision, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for more political spending by corporations, the wealthy and superPACs. This extreme spending harms the democratic process and weakens the voice of ordinary Americans. In the 2012 federal elections, for instance, these groups raised and spent over $7 billion.
CWA, with other progressive groups, is working through the Democracy Initiative to get big money out of politics.