CWA e-Newsletter: July 31, 2014
- Organizing Update
- New Executive Order Will Hold Federal Contractors Accountable for Workers' Rights, Wage and Workplace Violations
- Middle Class Americans Taking a Battering Even as Wealthiest Families Soar
- Moral Mondays Activists Come to the Nation's Capital to Fight for Health Care for the Poor
- Reuters: Germany Set to Reject Canada-European Union Trade Deal
- CWA Young Activists Hold Next Gen Summit
- For Many Members, That Career Tonic is Just a Keyboard Away
- Check Out This Cartoon
- Texas Forum to Call on Congress to Stop TPP's Attack on Texan Jobs and Communities
- What's the Latest on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
- Movement Building Update
The election at the New American Airlines is on! The National Mediation Board will mail voting instructions to agents at US Airways and American Airlines on Aug. 15, with the results of the phone and Internet vote to be counted and announced on Sept. 16.
Passenger service agents at both airlines are excited and ready for the vote.
The election covers workers at the ticket counters and gates at the airports, and customer service representatives who take reservations calls.
American Airlines agent Roxanna Hartfield thanks participants at the D1 Leadership Conference for their support in the long campaign for CWA representation at the airline. Center is D1 Vice President Chris Shelton, with D2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney.
At the D1 Leadership Conference, underway through Aug. 1, Roxanne Hartfield, a LaGuardia Airport-based agent for American Airlines, told delegates that agents are about to make history when they vote in the representation election at the New American.
"In just a few weeks, I will be joining my coworkers in voting yes in our union election. Together with US Airways agents who are already in CWA, we will be 16,000 members strong. And when we win, it will be the largest union organizing victory in the private sector in years!"
"I am so excited to become a part of CWA. Thank you for having our back – together we are unstoppable," she said.
CWAers traveling between now and Sept. 16 have a good opportunity to talk with agents at the merging airlines about the benefits of a CWA voice.
New Executive Order Will Hold Federal Contractors Accountable for Workers' Rights, Wage and Workplace Violations
CWA President Larry Cohen issued this statement on President Obama's announcement of an executive order to ensure that federal contractors follow the laws governing workers' wages, working conditions and rights on the job:
"The federal government, as an employer, should set the standard for ensuring that all workers are treated fairly and their workplace rights recognized. This action by the President not only will establish a mechanism that ensures workers are treated fairly and lawfully, but is a good step toward providing incentives for employers who practice collective bargaining and follow other labor standards.
"Currently, there are about 24,000 contractors doing business with the federal government, employing about 28 million workers. By requiring prospective federal contractors to disclose labor law violations, including illegal discrimination and firing of workers who want to exercise their right to organize, more companies may decide that obeying the law and respecting workers' rights is the smart move after all.
"We look forward to working with the White House and the Department of Labor on this order."
Despite increasing productivity gains, middle class and working class Americans are not seeing any rewards from their work and efforts. In fact, they are losing ground as their economic well-being continues to decline.
A new study by the Russell Sage Foundation found that the net worth of a typical household has dropped 36 percent over the past 10 years. In 2003, a middle income family had a net worth of $87,992. In 2013, it was $56,335.
Wealthy households, meanwhile, continue to get richer, according to the study.
The researchers pin much of the blame for the decline on the Great Recession, brought on by the housing bubble bursting in 2008, Wall Street manipulation and the collapse of the stock market.
"These developments were exacerbated by a doubling in the unemployment rate from 5 to 10 percent between December 2007 and October 2009, and a large reduction in earnings due to increased unemployment, wage and hour cuts and furloughs," the study found.
Workers' wages have been stagnant for decades even as their productivity has increased, mainly due to the decline in collective bargaining coverage for U.S. workers. Just 6 percent of private sector workers have collective bargaining rights.
"Moral Mondays" activists, led by Rev. William Barber, brought the movement to the nation's capital this week to highlight financial difficulties that poor people and rural hospitals across the nation are facing in states where the government has refused to expand Medicaid.
Rev. William Barber joined Adam O'Neal, the Republican mayor of Belhaven, NC, who walked nearly 300 miles from his hometown to Washington, D.C., to protest the closure of a critical care hospital serving his town. Refusal by some states to expand Medicaid imperils hospitals like Pungo and shuts off medical care to the poor, especially in rural communities.
Rev. Barber joined Adam O'Neal, the Republican mayor of Belhaven, NC (pop. 1,688), who walked the nearly 300 miles from his hometown to Washington, D.C., to protest the closing of Vidant Pungo Hospital, which serves his town and several towns in the surrounding counties of Beaufort and Hyde.
"There ought to be a law to stop immoral people from taking people's health care away," O'Neal said. "This is a matter of life and death."
In recent years, CWA activists launched similar campaigns, fighting to keep hospitals and other health care facilities from shutting down in the wake of extreme and disastrous budget cutting by governors and state legislators.
Facing a harsh attack by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on state centers for the developmentally disabled, CWA Local 1040 built an effective coalition with the families of those residents and with the small businesses to build support for the centers.
In upstate New York, activists from CWA Local 1168, with supporters joining along the way, walked 320 miles from Buffalo to the statehouse in Albany in the middle of winter, to support hospitals serving families in western New York and other locations.
At the D.C. rally, Rev. Barber said, "we have come here to dramatize the shameful conditions, how shameful it is that when the president and the Congress do the right thing, that states and government legislators and greedy business people do the wrong thing."
"Denying Medicaid, precipitating the closure of Pungo, has a disparate impact on poor people, poor black people, poor white people and poor children," he said.
Joining the mayor on his 300-mile pilgrimage was Bob Zellner, a long-time civil rights activist who helped form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Dozens of activists, many of them in vans, drove up to Washington on Monday for his news conference. "For me and the mayor, it's not about partisan politics," Rev. Barber said. "It's about what's right."
The Thomson Reuters news agency is reporting that Germany is ready to reject a free trade deal that has been described by European Union officials as "a test for the one with the U.S."
U.S. trade negotiators have been pushing forward on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, despite the fact that "a wide range of German elected and civic leaders are in disbelief that the U.S. remains serious about including Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)," said CWA President Larry Cohen, who met with leaders in Berlin earlier this month. Cohen said then that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman "will hear from German leaders and others in Europe that continuing U.S. support for ISDS as an element in any trade deal is a non-starter."
German officials are objecting to clauses that give investors and multinationals extra legal protections and said these provisions could allow investors to stop or reverse laws. The German government said it could not sign the agreement with Canada "as it has been negotiated now," according to the news report.
An EU trade official in Brussels said if the deal with Canada is rejected "then the one with the United States is also dead."
That means now is the time to step up our actions and get the word out about the destructive investor and multinational protections in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal the U.S. is negotiating with 11 other Pacific Rim countries: Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Canada.
We know corporations aren't people. Well, they aren't governments either and shouldn't have the ability to change the laws that our representatives enact by challenging them in secret tribunals.
The multinationals won't go away quietly. We expect a big push later this year for Congress to take up "fast track" authorizing legislation and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We need to make sure that every member of Congress hears from us and our allies that TPP and fast track have got to go.
About 200 CWA Next Generation activists (CWAers younger than age 35) are meeting in Pittsburgh for Summit 2014, focusing on movement building, organizing for power, social media and other topics.
CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins said "many organizations are counting on the Next Generation to continue the fight, just as they're counting on experienced, seasoned people to embrace, teach and engage younger workers in our fights."
Collins recalled the Freedom Summer of 50 years ago, which brought a thousand young volunteers to Mississippi to continue the work of helping African Americans register to vote. Over the 10-week project, 1,062 people were arrested; 80 Freedom Summer workers were beaten; 37 churches were bombed or burned; 30 Black homes or businesses were bombed or burned; and four civil rights workers were killed, one in a head-on collision, and the other three murdered because of their support for the civil rights movement, he said.
CWA Next Gen activists attending the summit in Pittsburgh join the fight for fairness for workers at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center facilities.
Today, Collins noted, there is voter suppression across this country. "We need to be in the streets by the tens of thousands," he said. Next Gen activists are a critical part "of the way back to economic justice and democracy" in our country, he said.
In Pittsburgh, participants joined a kickoff mobilization for 2015 Verizon East and Mid-Atlantic bargaining, and also participated in a protest supporting janitors and other workers at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center facilities.
Other speakers included CWA Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hill; former Maryland Delegate and Democratic candidate for governor Heather Mizeur; Phillip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders; and Mike Vivirito, president of CWA's Retired Members Council, who talked about mentoring and helping young leaders. Also attending the summit were CWA Vice Presidents Laura Reynolds, D9, and Jim Joyce, NABET-CWA.
Next Gen Lead Activists are: Victoria Fisher, Local 1037; John Gorant, Local 13000; Idelisa Pino, Local 3104; Kelli Williams, Local 4004; Arnise Porter, Local 6201; Alanna Galloway, Local 7250; Eric Lindberg, Local 9423; Krystle Cook, Alaska Airlines Council 19, AFA-CWA; Richard Shorter, IUE-CWA Local 82162; Darren Ramos, NABET-CWA Local 51017; and Beth Krammer, TNG-CWA Local 34071.
So, you've slugged away at your job for a few years and your role and responsibilities haven't changed. No one seeks your input and most important meetings and work happen around you without you being involved. Where and how do you kick your career back in gear?
For many CWAers, the choice often is the CWA/NETT Academy, an online resource that has become the best source of professional grade courses for CWA members. They will find the very best curriculum available today, taught by instructors who are experts in the field and also expert teachers, making learning the material quite easy.
The classes are available at www.cwanett.org. All a member needs to do is log on and create identifications for themselves and their family and, quick as you like, lifelong learning begins.
"I'm currently enrolled in my fifth course at CWA/NETT Academy for career advancement. But the salary isn't the only thing. I get a great deal of personal satisfaction each time I complete a course," Trell Parks, a senior technician and Local 2222 member, said.
CWA created the academy because workplace and technological change, especially in communications and media fields, is constant. The union wants to strengthen CWA members' employment security and spur career advancement through the best technical training around. It is designed exclusively for CWA members and their families and operated on a not-for-profit basis.
Local 59051's Mara Becker, a news editor at KOIN-TV in Portland, OR, wanted to learn Final Cut Pro, the industry standard editing software, so she took training at two different times. First a 10-week course at a local Community College, which left her more confused than confident; she then took a CWA/NETT weekend course.
"I learned so much more in the weekend course that when I came back to work I asked for fill-in editing work from 'news,'" Becker said. "That type of work steadily increased and my skills and confidence soared. I am now a full time ENG Editor. That weekend class from CWA/NETT started it all, and provided me with the opportunity and motivation I needed to help launch a new career."
One of the most popular areas on CWA/NETT is Lynda.com where members will find training in hundreds of the latest software programs from web ware to Excel, and everything between. Subscriptions to Lynda.com usually cost about $250 a year but, through a special arrangement with CWA/NETT, it is free not just for CWA members but for their families, too.
"Through CWA/NETT I was able to get my convergence technology certification by taking only five courses instead of the 11 or so the company's program requires," Russ Ostrom, an AT&T Certified Network Technician and Local 4034 member, said. "With CWA/NETT, I take the courses right in my living room on my own computer, in my free time. With my schedule – I have a 9-year-old son – I wouldn't have been able to do it any other way."
Read more about the program and features of CWA/NETT's NEW "Virtual Online Campus" at www.cwanett.org.
Upworthy and the AFL-CIO picked up on this terrific cartoon by cartoonist Barry Deutsch, on why some confused people think workers don't need unions.
CWA President Larry Cohen will lead a San Antonio, TX, public forum on Saturday on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and the real hardship that it will mean for Texas working people and communities, unless Congress stands up for U.S. jobs and workers, and the right for the U.S. to determine its own laws.
Students, community and Latino groups, environmentalists, retirees and other activists will join CWAers at the forum.
Also participating will be CWA Vice Presidents Claude Cummings, D6, and Brooks Sunkett, Public, Healthcare and Education Workers; national commentator Jim Hightower; and Hal Suter, chair of the Lone Star Sierra Club. The forum is part of the Public, Healthcare and Education Workers Conference that runs through Aug. 3.
In Texas, CWA members, Sierra Club allies and others are engaging in targeted social media actions that call on their U.S. Representatives to stand up for good U.S. jobs and the ability of U.S. citizens to set our own laws. Members of Congress should support fair trade that benefits U.S. workers and communities, not just multinational corporations, is the message members of Congress will hear.
Ten of the 12 Democratic members of the Texas delegation are on record opposing fast track and the TPP. The two holdouts – Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) and Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) – haven't yet joined their colleagues in condemning the secrecy that has surrounded the TPP negotiations and the one-sided benefits for multinational corporations at the expense of U.S. workers' jobs and our country's ability to determine and carry out our own laws.
More than 153 House Democrats have taken a stand against "fast track" or Trade Promotion Authority for trade deals like TPP. The "fast track" process would require that Congress vote yes or no on the entire trade deal, with no opportunity to make any amendments. "The United States cannot afford another trade agreement that repeats the mistakes of the past, and, in fact, makes them worse. We can and must do better," these U.S. representatives wrote in a letter to President Obama.
Read more about the latest developments in TPP and trade in the following story.
House Members Stand Up for 'Buy American'
Democratic U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT) and Donna F. Edwards (MD) and 120 members of Congress signed a bipartisan letter to President Obama, urging him to protect "Buy American" policies in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), at podium, and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) left, lead 120 of their House colleagues in calling on the Obama administration to safeguard "Buy American" laws.
At a Capitol Hill news conference, Edwards and DeLauro pointed out how the TPP puts decades of "Buy American" provisions at risk.
"Since 1933, Buy American policies have helped create jobs, grow our economy, and strengthen domestic manufacturing. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement threatens to roll that back drastically. 122 of my colleagues and I urge President Obama to not eliminate our rights to spend U.S. tax dollars on U.S. goods and services. Let's continue to invest in our manufacturing sector, save taxpayer money, and create good, high-wage American jobs," Edwards said.
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens to devastate the Buy American policies and provisions," said DeLauro. "Ending Buy American would have a profound impact on jobs and the economy. Taxpayers want to see their money work to create jobs here in America, not in sweatshops overseas. We should not simply sign away our Buy American investments in our businesses and workers."
What's an Export? It Depends
We know that U.S. policy makers make up their own reality about the impact on U.S. jobs of bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and NAFTA. Now there's a proposal to redefine exports, to pad the numbers and make it look like U.S. exports are greater than they really are.
Dave Johnson of Campaign for America's Future asks: "Should an iPhone made in China and sold in England be counted as a U.S.-made manufacturing export? If a sneaky new proposal to change the way our trade deficit is measured is allowed to sneak through, this is exactly what will happen."
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and other Democratic House members protested this proposal to the Obama administration, Johnson reported. On a media call, DeLauro called the effort "cooking the books, getting a skewed and deliberately deceptive view of our economy. American workers were promised more good manufacturing jobs, instead they have been aggressively offshored," Johnson wrote.
The General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that the overall McDonald's USA corporation could also be held liable, along with individual franchise owners, for violations of wage laws and working conditions.
It's a big boost for fast food workers, who, with supporters, have been pushing for an increase in the minimum wage and an end to their employers' violations of workers' rights to organize and bargain collectively.
The NLRB has tagged 43 cases of unfair labor practices against various McDonald's outlets as having grounds to move forward.
CWAers join St. Louis 735, a coalition of fast food workers and supporters, who are fighting for fair wages and the right to join a union. The staff of STL 735 are members of the United Media Guild, TNG-CWA Local 36047.