CWA e-Newsletter: June 25, 2015
- Bargaining Update
- Next Steps on Fast Track and the TPP Fight
- Coalition of Activists Continued Fast Track Fight until Last Vote Counted
- Roanoke Rally Calls for Action on Voting Rights
- AA Agents and Envoy Flight Attendants Join "Bridge the Gap" Campaign
- New Jersey CWAers Fight for Fair Pension Funding
Negotiations covering 29,000 CWAers at Verizon Communications in Districts 1 and 2-13 got underway June 22 in Rye, N.Y. and Philadelphia. The IBEW also is bargaining for about 14,000 workers.
Verizon tried to make a big media splash with an extensive proposal on the opening day of negotiations, but CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor called the company out.
"Verizon's claims about the pay increases they put on the bargaining table yesterday are simply a smokescreen designed to hide the harsh reality of their concessionary demands; deep cuts to pension benefits, skyrocketing increases in medical costs, and the complete elimination of job security," Trainor said. "Despite $9.6 billion in profits in 2014 and $44 million in compensation to their top five executives, Verizon wants to eliminate middle-class jobs and let customer service deteriorate. Their proposals would slash thousands of jobs and leave our remaining members with a diminished standard of living at the end of any new contract."
In a letter to Verizon members, Trainor and D2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney said Verizon was working hard to undercut workers' determination to fight for a fair contract but that it wouldn't succeed. Workers are mobilizing, they said, "we have won before and we will win again."
"Verizon wants you – not its top billionaire executives – to give back the pay and benefits you have fought for and won over many decades. Verizon pretends that the wireline business is separate from the wireless business. Wireless and wireline are the same business. It is one company and one telephone system. There is no wireless business without wireline," they wrote.
Keep up with the latest at http://standuptoverizon.com.
On the opening day of Verizon bargaining, hundreds of CWA D1 members marched from Local 1103 in Portchester, N.Y., to rally with the bargaining team in Rye.
AT&T Southeast Bargaining Underway
CWA members in District 3 are mobilizing as contract negotiations opened on June 23. The contract covers more than 27,000 CWA-represented workers and expires Aug. 8.
Get the latest at www.cwaatatt.com.
Tentative Agreement at GE
Members of IUE-CWA Local 81201 in Lynn, Mass., show their support for a fair contract at GE.
The IUE-CWA Negotiating Committee and the Coordinated Bargaining Committee of GE Unions (CBC), chaired by IUE-CWA President Jim Clark, reached a tentative agreement with GE covering 10,000 IUE-CWAers and another 6,000 workers from other unions, including the IBEW, Auto Workers, Machinists and United Electrical Workers (UE).
IUE-CWA local delegates unanimously voted to support the tentative agreement; it will be provided to IUE-CWA locals for a membership vote. Read more at www.geworkersunited.org.
Tentative Agreement at Windstream Kentucky
CWA bargainers reached a tentative three-year agreement with Windstream Communications in Kentucky, covering about 250 members of CWA Locals 3371 and 3372.
"District 3, District 7 and Telecommunications & Technologies all worked together, coordinating information about the company's demands and enabling us to raise those issues in bargaining. That made all the difference in what we were able to achieve for our members at Windstream Kentucky, and it's a great framework for working together going forward, because when we work together, our members win," said CWA Telecommunications & Technologies Vice President Lisa Bolton.
CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt said the bargaining team "was able to turn back the company's attack on pensions and retirement security and other giveback demands and achieve a tentative settlement that provides for wage increases and other improvements." He commended chair Billy O'Dell and the bargaining team.
Agreement Ratified at The Washington Post
Members of TNG-CWA Local 32035 ratified a two-year agreement with The Washington Post that provides for a 4.5 percent wage increase over the contract term and other benefits.
Throughout the eight months of bargaining, TNG-CWAers mobilized and marched; more than 50 new members signed up over this period.
As expected, on Wednesday, the Senate approved Fast Track trade authority by a 60-38 vote. Separately, the House passed a bill extending Trade Adjustment Assistance for workers who lose their jobs because of trade; those bills were expected to get to the President's desk before Congress left town for its July 4 recess.
CWAers and allies kept the heat on senators this week, especially for the cloture vote to end debate and move Fast Track to a final vote. Activists also thanked those Senators and House members who continue to stand with working families. (See story #3 for more.)
On the cloture vote, 13 Democratic senators joined most Republicans in showing that they're on the side of the 1 percent, not working families.
These Senators caved to corporate interests that want access to poverty wages in Vietnam and the ability to challenge any U.S. laws they believe will get in the way of "future expected profits." No surprise, a deal that corporations want so badly is fast tracked, because they spent millions of dollars to make it happen. But issues that affect ordinary Americans, like investment in our country's roads and transportation, an increase in the minimum wage or some real attention to climate change, just get shoved aside. Read CWA's statement here.
The 13 Democrats are Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Thomas Carper (Del.), Chris Coons (Del.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mark Warner (Va.), and Ron Wyden (Ore.)
CWA President Chris Shelton said CWA and our allies will be holding Senators and House members accountable for this vote. "We'll stand with those members of Congress who supported our communities, and for those who opposed the broadest coalition of Americans ever, we will find and support candidates who will stand with working families. That's how we'll take on the corporate Democrats who oppose a working family agenda."
Now, as the TPP moves forward, we will continue to shine a light on the serious problems in this trade deal, from lost jobs in the U.S. to expanded corporate rights under the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process to concerns about food safety and prescription drugs.
We'll continue to remind the Obama administration about the big promises it made, and that we're holding them accountable, too.
Former CWA President Larry Cohen continues to help lead the fair trade coalition. "We will hold our government and the U.S. Trade Representative responsible for real enforcement of the human rights provisions of these agreements both in the U.S. and with our so-called partners. Last week Honduran trade union leader Hector Motino was murdered as he drove home from work. I had met Hector in Honduras and heard about the death threats he faced and the 200 human rights activists who were murdered in Honduras since the labor movement filed a complaint under the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). We will demand real change, not just text that cannot be enforced."
In the run-up to the U.S. Senate's vote this week on cloture for Fast Track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, CWA activists and grassroots partners across the country rallied in the districts and outside the offices of Democratic Senators, some of whom turned their back on working families.
On Monday activists from CWA Local 3122 delivered over 8,000 "No Fast-Track" petitions to Sen. Bill Nelson's (D) district office in Florida. Police and building security refused to let the activists, constituents of Nelson, in the building.
Members of IUE-CWA Local 86821 and other allies visited Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill's office this week to urge her to vote no on cloture for Fast Track.
CWA District 7 locals, Food & Water Watch, SEIU, AFL-CIO and 350 Colorado all turned out folks to call on Sen. Michael Bennet (D) to do the right thing. Activists encouraged drivers to "Honk if you want Colorado Senator Michael Bennet to protect our climate and jobs." Although Bennet's staffer maintained that he was still undecided, he ended up betraying his constituents by voting for cloture.
CWA activists and allies in Delaware raised the "No Fast Track" message at the offices of Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons.
In the run up to the vote, activists also appeared at the offices of Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), all of whom refused to listen to constituents and activists who have supported their campaigns.
Sen. Warren: Trade Agreements Should Benefit All Americans, Not Industry Only
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposed, in an opinion-editorial published in the Boston Globe this week, a trade policy that produces a good deal for all Americans – not just for a handful of big corporations. "Here's a realistic starting point: Fix the way we enforce trade agreements to ensure a level playing field for everyone."
In a summer of voting rights actions across the nation, more than four hundred activists, including busloads of CWA members, held a rally today in Roanoke, Va., to mark the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's Shelby County v. Holder decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act.
Above: Democracy Initiative Chairman Larry Cohen, CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre get ready to ride to Roanoke.
Below: Cohen and Democracy Initiative leaders march to the rally site.
The action spotlights the refusal of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA 6th District) to hold a committee hearing on the need to restore voting rights protections that were stripped away by the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago. We have come to expect this from Rep. Goodlatte, who also blocked a hearing on immigration reform.
CWA, a founding organization of the Democracy Initiative, turned out the rally crowd in partnership with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
"The Voting Rights Act is fundamental to our democracy, and it is outrageous that on the two year anniversary of the Shelby decision, we have yet to even have a single Congressional hearing to fix it," Democracy Initiative Chairman Larry Cohen said. "The Democracy Initiative worked with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to organize the rally in Roanoke and Rep. Goodlatte would be wise to take notice of the growing movement at his doorstep. His obstruction will not go unnoticed as Americans across the country demand full voting rights similar to those in every other 21st century democracy."
"More than 50 years ago, people suffered tremendously for the right to vote," Claude Cummings, CWA District 6 vice president, said. "We thought that battle was won when the Voting Rights Act was passed, but sadly, we must continue to fight against attacks on our right to vote."
Congress has failed to take any action to restore the Voting Rights Act. Yesterday, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA 5th District) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 to begin to correct some of the worst aspects of the Shelby decision. Backed by civil rights groups, this bill is an improvement over a bipartisan milquetoast bill introduced last year that never even got a hearing.
The new bill is expected to garner support from progressive lawmakers because it is tougher but could lose some Republicans.
Passenger service agents at Envoy Airlines, plus CWA agents from American Airlines, joined AFA-CWA Flight Attendants in actions at Dallas-Fort Worth, La Guardia and Los Angeles airports. AFA-CWA's 'Bridge the Gap' campaign wants to end unequal pay for workers at regional airlines.
CWA members filled the halls of the New Jersey Statehouse this week, part of the Lobby Day for full pension funding.
CWAers held hundreds of face-to-face meetings with Senate and Assembly members, telling them to commit to making a full pension payment and to vote to override a potential veto by Gov. Christie.
CWAers in New Jersey are fighting back against the attack on their pensions that's been waged by Gov. Chris Christie.