The U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant Cablevision Systems Corp.'s request for a stay of the National Labor Relations Board hearing set to begin July 8 in Manhattan.
Cablevision's actions are clear evidence of why workers need a fully functional NLRB and why the Senate must confirm all five of President Obama's nominations to the Board. It's the only agency that can enforce federal labor law for 80 million workers.
"The Senate minority and their U.S. Chamber of Commerce supporters don't want a functional NLRB. That's why it's up to the Senate majority, to change the rules if necessary, so that these and other nominations can have an up or down vote," said CWA President Larry Cohen.
Since a federal appeals court earlier this year created uncertainty over recess appointments made by President Obama, including two members to the NLRB, companies like Cablevision have been challenging the authority of the Board. Cablevision has gone beyond that, first claiming that the NLRB regional offices in Brooklyn and New York had no authority, then seeking the stay to block the proceedings altogether. The U.S. Supreme Court said it will review the federal appeals court case regarding recess appointments in its next term.
Since 2012, when 280 Cablevision workers voted to join CWA, Local 1109, the company has engaged in a war against workers who only want a union voice as federal labor law provides. The company uses every tactic possible to intimidate the Brooklyn technicians, putting relentless pressure on workers who want their union. But the Cablevision workers are standing strong.
Earlier this year, Cablevision illegally locked out and fired 22 technicians, then was forced to rehire them after CWA filed NLRB charges and elected officials and community supporters rallied around the workers. Brooklyn technicians are entitled to back pay but so far Cablevision is refusing to follow the law.
Cablevision also was cited by an NLRB regional director for refusing to bargain fairly and for offering higher pay and other financial incentives to non-union Bronx technicians to convince workers to drop their support for the union.
"If this can happen in New York, there's no labor law in America," Cohen said. "It's what Cablevision wants and what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants. We're looking to the Senate Democratic majority to confirm these nominees. We don't want to be the first generation of working Americans since 1935 to not have the protections of the NLRB."
CWA activists and allies rallied outside their senators' offices and delivered petitions with thousands of signatures, calling on the Senate to approve all five nominations to the National Labor Relations Board. Even bigger: CWAers, friends and family made thousands of phone calls from worksites, meetings and their homes calling on their Senators to get these nominations done.
Rallies and actions were held in 26 states, with CWA members joined by Sierra Club, Blue Green Alliance, Jobs with Justice, and AFL-CIO activists. At last count, 3,350 letters were delivered to Senate offices in seven states, and meetings with senators and staff were held in states including Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin and others.
Worksite leafleting and our phone campaign went into overdrive, with key Senate offices receiving thousands of calls this week. In states where senators already have committed to supporting an up-or-down vote on the nominations, or where senators won't support working families at all, activists focused on messages to Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Senate leaders like Senator Chuck Schumer.
- New York CWAers made more than 800 phone calls to Senator Chuck Schumer.
- CWA’s Legislative Political Action Team in Ohio, with State AFL-CIO leaders and activists, delivered 400 handwritten letter to Senator Robert Portman.
- In Indiana, LPAT members delivered boxes of letters to Senator Joe Donnelly.
- In Michigan, CWA activists were joined by workers at Panera, who are in their own fight for fairness.
- Allies like U.S. Action, Citizen Action of NY, Working Family Party and others are emailing their members and urging them to contact their Senators about the need for an up or down vote on the five NLRB nominees.
In Washington, DC, former CNN employee Jimmy Suissa told his story in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Nearly a decade ago, CNN illegally terminated a subcontracting agreement with Team Video Services, whose employees were represented by NABET-CWA.
"I was pushed out because I was a union leader," said Suissa, who still doesn't have his job or back pay despite a NLRB administrative law judge ruling in his favor.
We're not stopping now. We'll still have time to make leaflet more worksites, make sure the public knows what's at stake and make more phone calls. Our senators, especially the Democratic majority, need to hear from us.
Wisconsin LPAT activists rally outside the office of Sen. Ron Johnson (R).
Members of CWA Locals 3601, 3603, 3607 3611 3640 and 3680 joined the "Moral Monday" demonstration in Raleigh, NC. The NAACP distributed leaflets about why workers need a fully-functional NLRB.
CWAers rally outside the St. Louis office of Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Workers took to Chicago's Federal Plaza and delivered more than 1,300 letters to Sen. Mark Kirk's office, urging Kirk to confirm all five NLRB nominees. Watch their video of the action here: youtu.be/jQ7kwFqlU9w.
Members of CWA Locals 9404, 9410, 9415, 9416, 9423 and 39521 rally in outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office in San Francisco.
That same rally, which also protested cuts to Medicare and Social Security, had demonstrators raising their hands to "Give Us Five!"
Nelson Rivera, fired for organizing a union, meets with Sen. Elizabeth Warren's staff on the Day of Action.
Indiana activists tell Sen. Joe Donnelly, "We have always been there for you. Now we need your help."
In Michigan, CWA members and workers at Panera Bread, who are fighting for a union voice, rallied outside the office of Sen. Carl Levin. The group collected about 500 letters to Michigan senators about the need for an up or down vote on all five NLRB nominees.
Former CNN employee Jimmy Suissa says, "A judge has said, 'Yes, Jimmy, you were wronged.' He wrote it out in black and white. But without five members on the NLRB I'll never get my job back with back pay."
Michigan LPAT activists deliver letters and a thank you to Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
Activists thank Sen. Sherrod Brown for supporting the confirmation of all five NLRB nominees.
Local 1103 activists make the call to Sen. Schumer for 5 NLRB members.
In a message to local union presidents, CWA President Larry Cohen laid out the hard truth:
Unless we mobilize our members and millions of other Americans in the next three weeks to demand that the Senate rules change so that the President's nominees get an up or down vote as the Constitution provides, we're likely to celebrate Labor Day with no labor law for 80 million American workers.
There is a public conspiracy to destroy all labor law in this nation, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, virtually every corporate law firm, most management, the billionaires who fund the right-wing machine and their media outlets. The attacks on public workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Jersey that spread across the nation and the current effort to destroy the NLRB are all orchestrated by the same machine.
Yet, too often, we wait saying it's not us.
Or some of our members or leaders say, 'Too much politics. I don't like my union involved.' Yet many of these same members complain about our contracts as if their contract was not part of these attacks, as if we can fix one employer or one contract in the face of unprecedented attacks on every front.
In the last three years, CWA bargaining committees and their respective vice presidents have filed 175 charges with the NLRB related solely to bargaining in bad faith or firing mobilizers during bargaining. The Board has prosecuted many of these charges and is a "floor" for our rights in bargaining and all our rights on the job.
The U.S. Constitution provides that the Senate, by a majority vote, makes its rules and that hundreds of key Presidential, Executive and Judicial branch nominees can serve once confirmed by a majority of senators.
As we approach the 4th of July celebrations, we have a very shaky 51 votes for the rule change that we need. But if it remains this shaky, we will likely lose and our bargaining will face collapse, as will nearly all private sector organizing and the rights of 75 million private sector workers who do not have unions but do have at least minimal protections under the National Labor Relations Act.
Sadly, the Republicans, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their allies will celebrate this Labor Day with high fives and champagne if they have destroyed the NLRB or at least ensured that there is no democratic majority on the Board for the rest of this President's term.
No more business as usual in the U.S. Senate. It is time we take a stand, it is time we stand up, fight back and ask the Democratic Majority loudly, 'Which side are you on?' and 'what are you doing about it?'
Activists at CWA's latest political boot camp in Central Valley California tell Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, "Give us five!"
In the Huffington Post, CWA President Larry Cohen lays out the grim scenario for 80 million private sector workers if the Senate doesn't act to confirm all five nominations to the NLRB:
Today, under the watch of another Democratic President and a Democratic majority in the Senate, the NLRB is now in danger of being completely stripped of its authority. The protections that workers fought and died for, already diminished by subsequent legislation and court decisions, will soon disappear if the Senate fails to confirm the president's nominees before its summer recess.
If the Senate does not act, we'll soon be celebrating Labor Day without any labor law. Zero enforcement and no protections for 80 million American workers in the private sector.
Also in DailyKos, Cohen says, "This isn't democracy."
That message is being picked up by four national radio networks and radio stations in Rhode Island, New York, Montana, Indiana and Delaware.
Pick up the phone and help protect 80 million workers!
Call 1-888-966-9824 and say:
- We deserve a fully-functional NLRB with five members.
- If the vote on these nominees is blocked, I urge you to vote to change the Senate rules to allow for an up-or-down vote.
You can also text NLRB to 49484 to join the fight.
We want to see your photos! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week CWA Local 1103 is chronicling its campaign on Facebook. Check out these photos:
Local 1103 Chief Steward Gerry Guarino makes the call to Sen. Schumer – check out that ear bud!
During his 23nd anniversary dinner, Local 1103 business agent Kevin Scrobola calls Sen. Schumer to demand an up or down vote on all five NLRB members.
CWA and the Fix the Senate Now coalition kicked off an innovative campaign on Twitter, urging the Senate to confirm all five nominees to the NLRB.
Using "Twitter Card" ads, CWA makes it possible for supporters to sign an online petition with just one click.
The cards are attached to a series of tweets, for instance:
- When Senators play games with confirmations, workers' rights take the hit. Demand REAL rules reform & a full NLRB.
- PETITION: It's time to break the logjam. Demand the Senate confirm @BarackObama's nominees to the NLRB.
More Twitter card ads will call on the Senate to confirm Environmental Protection Agency nominee Gina McCarthy and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nominee Richard Cordray.