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CWA e-Newsletter: July 30, 2015

CWA e-Newsletter

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Standing Up to Verizon

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At midnight on Saturday evening, Aug., 1, contracts covering 29,000 CWAers and another 10,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers expire, along with the contract covering about 80 Verizon Wireless technicians in District 1.

Over five weeks of bargaining, a very profitable Verizon has made extreme demands for concessions. The company that just posted $4.4 billion in profits for the second quarter of 2015 alone ($9.6 billion for all of 2014), and provides very generous compensation to executives, continues to:

  • Demand cuts in jobs and job security.
  • Demand that workers pay thousands more dollars in health care costs by increasing deductibles, co-pays, premiums and co-insurance costs.
  • Demand big cuts in retirement security by eliminating either the 401K benefit match or freezing the defined benefit pension.

And the list goes on.

Read more in bargaining updates here

Last Saturday, 12,000 CWA and IBEW members jammed the streets near Verizon headquarters in New York City in a mass mobilization for fairness at Verizon. From Virginia to Massachusetts, CWAers traveled by bus, train and van, from every local, to make our message clear: it's our turn. This wealthy company needs to bargain a fair contract and ensure quality customer service by maintaining the copper network and building out high-speed fiber optic networks that customers want. Elected officials and other supporters joined the rally to, showing their support for our fair contract fight.

Verizon Rally

CWA and IBEW Verizon workers and supporters filled the streets of New York City as they rallied for a fair contract at Verizon. Bottom row, from left: CWA VP Dennis Trainor, District 1; President Shelton, and CWA VP Ed Mooney, District 2-13, all fired up the crowd.

By an 86 percent vote, CWAers put Verizon on notice that members authorize CWA leaders to call a strike if a fair contract isn't reached.

And listen to these radio ads now airing throughout the Verizon footprint.

Bargaining Update

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AT&T Southeast

Thanks to the effective mobilization of CWAers at AT&T Southeast, management knows exactly what day it is. In call centers, garages and other worksites, CWAers mark "Blue Mondays," "Black Fridays," and of course, always wear red on Thursdays.

Mobilization is heating up as days until contract expiration tick down. The contracts covering CWAers at AT&T Southeast, AT&T Utility Operations, YP Holdings and BellSouth Billing expire Aug. 8.

Despite AT&T's net profits of $6.5 billion in 2014 and regulatory approval for the company's $48.5 billion merger with DirecTV, AT&T is balking at negotiating a fair contract for more than 28,000 workers at AT&T Southeast.


Call center members from Local 3201 in Georgia, and techs, members of Local 3806 in Tennessee, make sure AT&T knows it's "Blue Monday."


Frontier Communications

CWA District 9 and Frontier Communications reached agreement as part of the company's acquisition of Verizon's wireline assets in California that is due to be finalized in 2016.

Frontier has agreed to honor and extend the current collective bargaining agreement covering 3,400 CWAers for two years with annual wage increases. It also will add 150 new jobs in California, maintain job security and guaranteed workforce size, and is committed to a 100 percent U.S.-based workforce.

CWA District 9 Vice President Tom Runnion said, "After several sessions of intense negotiations, we have reached an agreement that's in the best interests of telecommunications workers and consumers in California. As we move forward in this partnership with Frontier, CWA members will continue to provide customers with the quality service they expect and deserve."


United Airlines Announces New Record Profits, Still Won't Bargain Fairly

Continued bumbling by United Airlines management in the middle of what Bloomberg News is calling "The Summer From Airline Hell" for the Chicago-based carrier, did not prevent them from reporting a record breaking $1.2 billion quarterly profit – but to date is preventing them from sharing their largesse with the employees that made the profit possible.

"United Airlines' record-breaking $1.2 billion quarterly earnings must be shared with Flight Attendants," said AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson. "Announcing a $3 billion stock buyback plan at the same time is outrageous as current management fails to invest in Flight Attendants who are among the frontline working people who make the airline go."


Fully five years after the United/Continental/Continental Micronesia merger, United management has failed to negotiate a joint contract necessary to merge the operations of three separate and distinct airline operations.

Thus far, United management is approaching the negotiations as if Flight Attendants should pay for the merger through cuts to healthcare, working longer days with less flexibility, removal of profit sharing and compensation that doesn't even recover other cuts to the contract. Every consolidation has merger-related costs such as harmonizing airport operations, signage and workable reservations systems. There are assumed costs related to putting together contracts, too, and Flight Attendants shouldn't have to pay for those costs, especially as the airline profits soar.

The bottom line, Nelson said, is that during the most profitable period in commercial aviation history, it is the passengers and employees who should be feeling that success.

"Flight Attendants, who are aviation's first responders and the last line of defense in aviation security for millions of passengers, deserve our fair share," said Nelson, and 19-year veteran Flight Attendant. "It's our turn, and it's past time! If not now, when?"


ROC Workers in 7 Cities Win New Contract

Workers at the non-profit organization The Restaurant Opportunities Center United, or ROC, who are members of TNG-CWA Local 38010, unanimously ratified a new 3-year contract that covers ROC-United workers in seven cities. ROC-United works to support and empower restaurant workers on issues including wages, health care, working conditions, leave policies and employment standards.

The contract provides for across-the-board wage increases, maintains quality healthcare, expands paid time off, strengthens the grievance and arbitration process and includes severance pay and recall rights if layoffs occur. Local 38010 said the contract "is one of the strongest, most progressive contracts for nonprofit Guild-represented employees in the country."

AFL-CIO Installs President Shelton on Executive Council

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CWA President Chris Shelton has been installed as a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council. He also was named to the Executive Committee, the group that is the governing body of the AFL-CIO between Executive Council meetings; the Executive Committee includes the president of the ten biggest AFL-CIO affiliates.

Chris Shelton at AFL

CWA President Chris Shelton at this week's AFL-CIO Executive Board meeting.

Shelton will serve on the AFL-CIO's Political Committee and the Organizing/Strategic Approaches Committee. Sara Nelson, AFA-CWA International President, also is a member of the Executive Council.

The AFL-CIO Executive Council also honored former CWA President Larry Cohen and adopted this resolution:

Larry's journey in CWA began as a public worker in NJ and continued through his election as President in 2005 and ending with the conclusion of his third term in June 2015.

He was a founder of Jobs with Justice in 1987 realizing even then that workers' rights in the U.S. were shut down compared to other democracies, and was the author of the JwJ "I'll be There" pledge – five times a year for someone else's fight as well as my own...

Larry is a leader in the U.S. democracy movement, and chairs the Democracy Initiative, connecting labor, environmental, civil rights and citizen groups around corporate and billionaire money in politics and voting rights as well as other issues like Senate rules on nominations, and in 2013 confirming the five members of the NLRB.

Larry was proud to chair AFL-CIO organizing for ten years and helped lead the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act, celebrating when it passed the House by a large margin and working throughout 2009 to try to get the legislation on the Senate Floor despite rules that required 60 votes.

Larry helped lead the fight against Fast Track in 2014 and 2015 and remains committed to the fight for fair trade not corporate deals that gut our jobs and our pay.

Larry pledged to CWA delegates on his last day as President to be there again, as he started more than 40 years ago, in the streets and across America building the mass movement for economic justice and democracy.

Stay in touch with Larry Cohen at

Five Presidential Candidates Meet with AFL-CIO Leaders

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The AFL-CIO Executive Council met with five announced candidates for the Presidency of the U.S., four Democrats and one Republican.

All candidates who submitted responses to survey questions by the AFL-CIO were invited; the five who responded were (in order of appearance) Mike Huckabee, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Hillary Clinton and Jim Webb.

In individual sessions, candidates were questioned about trade policy, how they will make the economy fairer for working families, supporting and strengthening collective bargaining and other issues.


Candidates at AFL

Five announced candidates for President met with the AFL-CIO Executive Board. Sanders, O'Malley and Clinton are wearing the AFA-CWA "I support United Flight Attendants" sticker, showing their support for Flight Attendants' fair contract fight.

AFL-CIO: The Fight for Better Trade Policy Isn't Over

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In a resolution adopted by the Executive Council, the AFL-CIO called the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal "unacceptable" and said that, in its current form, the deal "will irreparably harm the American economy and its working families."

The AFL-CIO cited the most important failures of the TPP:

  • Labor provisions that repeat past mistakes and fail to create confidence that they will be enforced.
  • Unreformed investment rules that increase corporate influence over our economy and undermine our democracy.
  • Complete lack of effective rules against currency manipulation.
  • Complete lack of rules to establish a framework for border adjustments to ensure that climate change policies are not undermined.

"The TPP's continued failure to address even these fundamental issues demonstrates the pact's architects have neglected the growing evidence of the failure of status quo trade policies and have disregarded the policy solutions that will rebuild a sustainable U.S. and global economy with a vibrant middle class. Until the TPP remedies these failures, the AFL-CIO will fight this pact, using all of the tools at our disposal," the resolution said.

State Department Raises Malaysia's Status on Human Rights, Despite Country's Horrific Record

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Despite acknowledging that Malaysia continues to violate international human trafficking laws, the U.S. State Department upgraded the country from the ranks of the world's worst human rights offenders, making the country eligible to participate in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Just last week, a bipartisan group of 160 members of Congress strongly urged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry  not to upgrade Malaysia. But in its latest "Trafficking in Persons Report,"  the U.S. State Department's annual assessment of countries' efforts to combat human trafficking, Malaysia was upgraded from the lowest Tier 3 category to Tier 2 status. The action came despite the facts on the ground and views of experts that Malaysia has not made progress on this issue.

"A bad trade deal for the American people is made all the worse when its pursuit tramples on our country's basic values and makes a mockery of the supposed independence of the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report," said CWA President Chris Shelton. "Malaysia's upgraded ranking contradicts the claims of TPP supporters that this deal will uphold and advance human and labor rights and environmental standards among trading partners. We should not reward countries like Malaysia with inclusion in trade deals."

The State Department had demoted Malaysia to Tier 3 status in 2014 for being a destination "for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and women and children subjected to sex trafficking." Since that designation, things appear to have gotten worse in Malaysia, not better, for workers who fall into this category.

A few months ago, authorities discovered a mass grave of 139 Rohingya Muslims. Fleeing discrimination in Burma, they ended up being sold into slavery upon escape.

FCC Unanimously Approves AT&T-DirecTV Merger

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The Federal Communications Commission has unanimously approved the merger of AT&T and DirecTV.

The Commission set conditions on the deal, requiring that AT&T:

  • Build-out "fiber to the premise" Gigapower service to 12.5 million customer locations.
  • Provide fiber service to all eligible E-rate schools and libraries where it deploys "fiber to the premise" (FTTP) service.
  • Provide discounted broadband service for low-income subscribers.

The merger earlier gained the approval of the U.S. Justice Department that said the deal was not a risk to competition.

In a letter to CWA President Chris Shelton, AT&T said it was moving forward to extend the management neutrality and card check provisions giving workers a fair choice about union representation.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said AT&T's merger with DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite TV company, will "directly benefit consumers by bringing more competition to the broadband marketplace" and by AT&T's commitment to deploy high-speed fiber to millions of customers, especially in rural areas. The combined DirecTV and AT&T will have more than 26 million customers.

Sign Our T-Mobile Petition by Aug. 1

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Just two days left! Thousands of CWA members and supporters continue to sign onto the petition urging Germany's parliament to use its shareholder power to investigate labor rights violations at T-Mobile US.

The German government owns a large chunk of Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent company. But while Deutsche Telekom respects the rights of workers in Germany, its American subsidiary uses harassment and intimidation to block workers from gaining a union voice.

With your signatures, we can pressure the parliament to hold a hearing on these abuses – and ignite change.

The petition is available here.

Please print it out, sign it and mail it back to CWA headquarters no later than Aug. 1:

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

Leaders and members of the German union ver.di have already collected tens of thousands of signatures.

CWA President Chris Shelton continues to encourage members of Congress to sign on and help bring pressure on the German government to act. Recently, 23 House Democrats, led by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), wrote a letter to Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Hoettges, telling him that his company must "rectify its US management's reprehensible behavior." 

"But more importantly, the behavior and the culture among T-Mobile management must change," they wrote. "Altering the words on paper is not enough. Workers' rights must be concretely and meaningfully respected at your company, and as such, we demand that you take swift and immediate action to come into compliance with US law."

Read more about the campaign on Buzzfeed:
Unions' New Target For Improving T-Mobile: The German Government

Organizing Update

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NYC Locations Department Workers Join CWA Local 1101

This month, a majority of locations department workers in film and episodic TV shoots around New York City have joined CWA Local 1101. They have decided not to go to the labor board – but instead simply declare that they are a union, and act like one, including paying voluntary dues each and every month.

The grassroots organization of locations department personnel launched in March 2013 to pool resources and share experiences within the profession. More than 200 freelance location workers find sets for just about everything shot in New York City, from Law & Order to Girls. They work for CBS, Time Warner, HBO, Netflix and more. Yet unlike their counterparts in Chicago and Los Angeles, they didn't have union representation.


Workers in film and episodic TV shoots around New York City celebrate joining CWA Local 1101.

They set up a meeting with CWA in May and soon after formed the alliance. "You couldn't ask for a more vibrant bunch," CWA Local 1101 Organizer Ken Spatta said.

Activists are distributing CWA t-shirts and lanyards for people to wear on set, and they're now in the process of collecting authorization cards.

"Because we don't have a contract, the management of some shows try to take advantage of us," said Carinne Fassari, a locations worker and member of the executive board. "That frustration made us decide to do this. We're really enjoying being part of CWA. The union welcomed us with open arms and has been so supportive."


The Guardian US Writers Vote Unanimously to Join the NewsMedia Guild, TNG-CWA

Writers and staff members of The Guardian US – an online cousin of the British newspaper – announced yesterday they have voted unanimously to join TNG-CWA Local 31222. The expedited election was agreed to by The Guardian's management and staff; 45 staffers participated in the election.

"This is a big day not only for the writers and staff members at The Guardian US but for the news industry as a whole. Digital media is growing up, and it's time our digital reporters received the same benefits and protections as their print media colleagues," said Bernard Lunzer, President of The NewsGuild-CWA.


The Guardian US writers and management released a joint statement announcing the vote:

"We are proud to announce that the editorial staff of Guardian US voted unanimously in favor of collective representation under the auspices of the News Media Guild, following a ballot which was conducted independently by the American Arbitration Association. The union has been voluntarily recognized by Guardian News & Media LLC following the result of that ballot."

The announcement is the latest in a series of organizing victories for digital news reporters.

Read more about the victory here.


Arizona's Cricket Retail Workers Join CWA

Arizona's 105 Cricket Retail workers now will have CWA representation, with a big majority showing support for a CWA voice, District 7 Administrative Director Al Kogler said.

The Cricket workers will be represented by CWA Locals 7019 and 7026. Local 7026 Secretary Treasurer Cecilia Valdez and Local 7019 Area Vice President John Seeley helped in the organizing effort.

Join America's Journey for Justice

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On the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, activists will begin a historic 860-mile march from Selma, Ala., to our nation's Capitol.

"America's Journey for Justice" will raise awareness about protecting the right of every American to a fair criminal justice system, uncorrupted and unfettered access to the ballot box, sustainable jobs with a living wage, and equitable public education. It will feature rallies and teach-ins along the route, as well as satellite events across the country.

Check out this calendar of events.

Want to learn more? Sign up here to receive more information or RSVP for the march or a rally along the route here.


Poll Shows Strong Support for Albuquerque Fair Workweek Act

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Today the Fair Workweek ABQ campaign released poll results that demonstrate overwhelming support among Albuquerque voters for the proposed Fair Workweek Act.

Backing for the act's proposals cuts across party lines, with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents strongly supporting the measure's key points.The findings include:

  • 86 percent of voters favor allowing employees to earn up to seven sick days a year (76 percent of Republicans, 85 percent of Independents, and 97 percent of Democrats); 57 percent strongly favor this proposal.
  • 79% of voters favor requiring employers to offer additional work hours to existing qualified part-time employees before hiring more part-time or temporary workers (72 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Independents, and 94 percent of Democrats); 52 percent are strongly in favor.
  • A strong majority of voters also favors requiring employers to promptly notify employees of changes to their work schedules and compensate employees for last-minute scheduling changes (63 percent), ensure a protected right to request schedule accommodations (68 percent), and guarantee fair compensation to employees when they are sent home early or their regular or on-call shift is cancelled (57 percent).

Third Eye Strategies conducted the poll in May.

CWA and TU continue to work with the Center for Popular Democracy, OLÉ and other community organizations to advocate for the measure.

"These poll results show how broad and deep Albuquerque's support for the Fair Workweek Act's protections goes," said Scott Forrester of the Fair Workweek ABQ campaign. "These are bi-partisan solutions that address how we can create the conditions for workers to better balance family and work. Fair workweek policies benefit businesses by driving down turnover and improving productivity – which is why many local businesses support the Fair Workweek Act. Paid sick days, predictable scheduling, and the other proposals of the Fair Workweek Act are common-sense solutions that will benefit the whole economy because the people who serve our food, teach our children, build our houses, and care for our families will be healthier, happier, and more productive."

To learn more, check out

Activists Rally to 'Protect, Improve, Expand' Medicare

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Thousands of CWAers, labor and other progressive activists rallied across the country in a National Day of Action celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare, a law that has improved the lives of millions, especially of the elderly.

At a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., hundreds of union activists joined the call to "protect, improve and expand" the Medicare program.

President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation 50 years ago today: "No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years," he said.

Medicare provided health care for 50 million Americans last year, covering health care costs and stabilizing finances in households on fixed budgets. The nation's single most successful and efficient health care program, Medicare holds administration costs at only 2% while many private insurance companies spend up to 20% of their revenue on non-medical care costs.

CWA, union and progressive allies are determined to build on Medicare's success and ensure that it's available for the next generations of Americans.

"Medicare and Social Security have stood the test of time and proven their worth. Medicare is more efficient than private insurance in this country, and we need to expand it," Nancy Altman, founder of Social Security Works said. Also speaking were Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.)

On Capitol Hill, hundreds of union activists celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medicare and call on Congress to improve and expand it.

CWA Next Generation Partners with Jobs with Justice on Student Loan Debt

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CWA's Next Generation and Jobs with Justice have created a partnership to help families dealing with student loan debt. Inspired by the JwJ Debt-Free Future Campaign, CWA Next Gen Lead Activists are organizing five "debt clinics" to teach CWA members how to significantly lower or even eliminate their student loan payments.

The clinics will be held in St. Paul, Minnesota, Aug. 5 and Aug. 6; in New York City and Newark, N.J., Aug. 12; and in Trenton and Ewing, N.J., on Aug. 13. Registration details are available here.

"We're really excited about making a difference for our members," says Richard Shorter, Next Generation Lead for IUE-CWA. "We hope the clinics will help members in a very real way and introduce CWA to some who haven't felt the power of the union in their lives before."

CWA members who have federal loans through the Department of Education are eligible for the clinics and could significantly lower their monthly payments. Government workers and employees of emergency services, public health organizations, or public schools also could be eligible to eliminate their debt entirely after 10 years of on-time payments. An estimated 33 million Americans are eligible for loan forgiveness, but few take advantage of it.

CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins, who oversees the Next Generation program, says he views the debt clinics as a way of serving and educating members at the same time.

"So many workers need the kind of advocacy we provide, but they aren't aware of all that we do. Next Gen Leads Victoria Fisher and Richard Shorter, who are conducting the first clinics, are making a great contribution to building our movement. We're forward to expanding this work to other locations and to a long partnership with Jobs with Justice on this issue," Collins said.