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CWA e-Newsletter: July 25, 2013

CWA e-Newsletter

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HELP Committee Moves NLRB Nominees to Full Senate Vote

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With Wednesday's votes by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee approving the nominations of Democrats Nancy Schiffer and Kent Hirozawa, all five nominees to the National Labor Relations Board now proceed to full Senate confirmation. Schiffer and Hirozawa both were approved on a 13-9 vote; all Republicans but one voted against the nominations.

CWA commended HELP Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) for his efforts to ensure that 80 million private sector workers will continue to have a fully functioning NLRB to turn to for economic justice.

CWA said American workers deserve a strong, functioning and full-strength NLRB, not Senate obstruction and gridlock. The expected vote by the full Senate to confirm these nominees will be welcome news to workers who know that the Board is the only agency that enforces the law and safeguards their rights on the job.

The five nominees are Democrats Schiffer and Hirozawa, and Chairman Mark Pearce, and Republicans Phil Miscimarra and Harry Johnson.

In closing the hearing, Harkin reminded his Senate colleagues and others of the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act by reading part of Section 1.

"It is declared to be the policy of the United States to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they have occurred by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and by protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection." [Emphasis added.]

Harkin continued, "maybe some don't like it but this is the law."

Minnesota CWA Activists Target Secretive Trade Talks

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Activists encourage their congressman to stop the secretive trade deal.

CWA activists in Minnesota aren't going to stand by and watch another massive, secret trade agreement wreak havoc on the lives of American workers. That's why they're raising awareness about the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership and pressuring Republican Rep. John Kline to stop the deal.

"This is a people's movement that's holding our representatives accountable," said Mona Meyer, CWA's Minnesota State Council president.

The proposed agreement, or TPP, could endanger consumer safeguards, health care, education and environmental standards. It threatens to put more jobs at risk, allowing businesses to offshore, drive down wages and cut benefits. That's why it's being negotiated by corporate lobbyists behind closed doors – concealed from the public and even some members of Congress.

In recent weeks, CWA activists have canvassed precincts within Kline's district, gathering input and signatures on letters against the trade deal. They knocked on hundreds of doors and collected more than 50 constituent letters asking Kline to secure a copy of the trade deal's text and share it publically.

Last Thursday, 55 CWA activists and members of TakeAction Minnesota descended on Kline's Burnsville office to deliver the letters, telling the congressman to vote against "fast tracking" the agreement when Congress puts it up for a vote in October. The rallying cry was "fair trade or no trade deal."


CWA and TakeAction Minnesota activists rally outside of Rep. John Kline's home office.

"Everyone in this room is fighting for the American dream, but with fast-tracking the TPP, it's taking the American dream across the seas and taking our jobs away from not just labor, but every working American in this country," CWA Local 7200 President Dan Jerde told Kline's staff. "I'm opposed to this and want Mr. Kline to provide me with the information on the TPP, these secret deals and everything else that's going on behind closed doors. I'm a president of a local of 1,500 people and if you want to see the 1,500 people coming down here every weekend, we will start doing that until we get our answers." Watch the full video of the letter delivery here.

Kline's staff said they did not have a copy of the text and would not comment on Kline's current position on the trade deal.

Unsatisfied with the response, Meyer said activists are already planning on phone banking and sending postcards to hammer their message home. In the future, CWAers aim to invite Kline to a town hall meeting to talk about the TPP and answer constituent questions.

"We know that our opponents have the money, but we have the people," Meyer said. "The struggle we're facing is one we're facing together with coalition partners. We don't feel like CWA is alone. We have lots of good friends standing with us and there's so much engagement on this issue around the Twin Cities. Corporate interests will try to divide us. So we all need to work together or we'll all be working for less."

According to the Economic Policy Institute, Kline's congressional district lands in the top 25 nationally for offshoring of jobs because of the U.S. trade deficit, with close to 11,000 jobs lost since 2001.

"Even self-identifying conservatives and Kline supporters in this district are against this secret trade deal," said Chad Perkins, executive vice president of CWA Local 7250. "They are very upset and have a lot of questions about how this deal will affect them and their families."

Bargaining Update

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In Atlanta, members of CWA Local 3204 leaflet for fairness at AT&T Internet.

CWA Local 3310 members in Louisville, Ky., hold a vigil for a fair contract.

CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney rallies Frontier workers and supporters in Fairmont, W.Va.

Activists attended the rally calling on Frontier to keep its promises to workers and West Virginia.

  • Today, Washington Post employees held an informational picket and rally outside the newspaper's headquarters to demand a fair contract. The current two-year agreement expires on July 26, and bargaining talks have started on everything from salary increases to job security to telecommuting. Learn more at

  • CWA members at AT&T Internet are working without a contract while bargaining continues. The contract covering 3,000 CWA technicians and call center members in 14 states expired July 13. More than 96 percent of voting members approved a strike authorization vote, and CWAers are determined to win a fair agreement. Last week, local members nationwide held information pickets with a message to AT&T: "Let's be Fair."

  • Nearly 7,300 Kaleida Health workers – represented by CWA Local 1168, as well as SEIU and IUOE locals – have ratified a three-year agreement that includes improved wages, increased pension contributions and maintains current health care plans. Read more at The Buffalo News.

  • Horizon Air Flight Attendants have ratified a new five-year agreement that contains pay increases, locks in benefits and improves scheduling rules for the over 500 workers. The contract, effective Aug. 4, also provides for greater flexibility and enhanced quality of life.

  • Last weekend, CWA activists, union leaders and elected officials rallied in Palatine Park in Fairmont, W. Va., to support Frontier Communications employees' ongoing contract negotiations. The current contract, covering 1,600 workers, will expire on Aug. 2. Check out more rally photos at The Times West Virginian. This Saturday, CWA members and supporters will rally outside Frontier headquarters in Charleston. CWAers plan to show Frontier "the biggest rally it's ever seen," said Ken Williams, president of CWA Local 2001.

Building Our Movement

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Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement try to question U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on his efforts to block a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrant workers.

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, an affiliate of National People's Action and a strong CWA partner, were keeping track of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as he was making the rounds among Republican political activists in Des Moines.

Demonstrators called out Cruz for his anti-immigrant votes and his efforts to block a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrant workers.

Iowa CCI focuses on many of the same issues important to CWA members: good jobs and a fair economy; protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; voting rights; immigration reform, fair tax policies, and more. Earlier this month, CWA President Larry Cohen addressed Iowa CCI delegates and had this op-ed published in The Des Moines Register.

"On these bigger issues we have to throw in together," he told convention goers. "We get off of defense onto offense. We get to fight for the American dream that we want, that our children think they have, the kind of Iowa, the kind of nation that's well within our grasp. If we can unite, if we can build this movement broader and deeper."

Watch his entire speech here

North Carolina Steps Up Assault on Right to Vote

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"Moral Monday" protesters rally outside the North Carolina Statehouse.

North Carolina is continuing its assault on everyday Americans with the nation's harshest attack yet on the voting rights of its citizens. This extreme assault was made possible by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last month that eliminated the protections of the Voting Rights Act for millions of Americans.

The North Carolina legislature isn't only looking for an extreme voter ID law that could prevent 318,000 now registered voters from exercising their right to vote, but plan to cut the early voting period and allow polling place "vigilantes" to challenge voters. The state senate also added provisions to make students' college-issued IDs an invalid form of identification, along with other drastic measures.

Read more here.


North Carolina's Republican-dominated legislature is posed to pass the most draconian voter suppression bill in the nation.

At this week's Moral Monday action outside the Legislative Building in Raleigh, Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, told activists that the voter suppression already passed by the House was targeting minorities, students and the elderly. "Raleigh is our Selma," Barber said, reminding the crowd of the fight for voting rights in 1965 and the Selma to Montgomery, Ala., march.

North Carolina CWA members have joined in numerous Moral Monday actions, standing with allies who are fighting to restore economic and social justice.

NY Times Reporting Wins Top Honors in 2012 Heywood Broun Awards

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Rod Nordland of The New York Times won top honors at the 2012 TNG-CWA Heywood Broun Awards for his series, "Kabul's Killing Freezes." Nordland's series focused on the deaths of the youngest refugees sent to the camps in Afghanistan because their home areas were so hazardous; some children survived only a matter of days without a warming fire, a blanket or a jacket.

The award, which comes with a $5,000 check, is named for the crusading New York City columnist who helped found the Newspaper Guild and served as its first president. It recognizes excellence in journalism in the tradition of Broun – fighting injustice and righting wrongs.

There were 59 entries for the 2012 awards.

Two entries tied for in the print category for the 2012 "Award of Distinction:" "The Shame of the Boy Scouts" by Jason Felch and Kim Christensen of The Los Angeles Times and "Empty Desk Epidemic" by David Jackson and Gary Marx of The Chicago Tribune. Each team of reporters will receive a $750 check. There were no broadcast winners this year.

In "The Shame of the Boy Scouts," Felch and Christensen of The Los Angeles Times exposed a secret blacklist of suspected sexual predators among scout leaders. Long rumored but never before confirmed, the so-called "perversion files" were a confidential internal list dating back to 1919 of men suspected of molesting boys in their care.

In "Empty-Desk Epidemic," Jackson and Marx used bare numbers behind pervasive absenteeism in Chicago schools to tell the stories of students who missed more than a month of school or simply vanished from school rolls.

A special Honorable Mention and $500 award goes to Karen de Sá of The San Jose Mercury News for her series, "Loss of Trust." That series uncovered abuses by court-appointed conservators who charged exorbitant fees to the mentally disabled and elderly they were meant to serve.

Judges were Lawrence Margasak, a retired Associated Press reporter, Christopher Assaf, video editor at The Baltimore Sun, and Reuters reporter Pedro da Costa. Chairing the panel was Deborah Zabarenko, also of Reuters. The awards will be presented at a TNG-CWA event on Oct. 31 in Washington, D.C.