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CWA e-Newsletter: June 6, 2013

June 6, 2013

CWA e-Newsletter

Send tips to or @CWANews. Follow the latest developments at

Cohen to Dems: Which Side Are You On?

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LC on Ed Show

In a recent appearance on The Ed Show, CWA President Larry Cohen offered all of us a way to talk about the importance of confirming all five nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.

"We elect a president by an overwhelming majority. And then his nominees can't get through? If they do get through, it's months or years later. There's never been obstruction like this. Republicans are playing extreme politics. Too many Democrats are playing by 20th century rules. The two don't work together. We need to step up. Democrats need to say enough is enough," he said in the interview.

Cohen said it's not just Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, it's four or five Democrats in his caucus that are holding up real change. He said, "We need to stand up together and say to Democrats, 'Which side are you on? If you don't fight for the president's nominees now, in the next two months, you are of no use to us.' There are Democrats who have said to us, 'How will I get my funding for my next election?' We say to them, 'You're not going to get your votes for the next election. You're done.'"

Cohen added, "Democracy means we can run primaries, too. If they don't step up and have a 21st century democracy, where we can get up or down votes on the president's nominees, what use are they? It's not just the Republicans here. Democrats need to decide which side are they on. The Chamber of Commerce and corporate law firms that are rejoicing? They're rejoicing every day with new opportunities. Or are they on the side of the American people? That's what's at stake today."

Watch the full interview here

Confirm All Five NLRB Nominees

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CWA Local 2001 members meet with Sen. Joe Manchin to stress the importance of a fully-functional NLRB.

Below: All 29 members at CWA's latest political boot camp in Roanoke, Va., called Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, urging them to confirm all five NLRB nominees.


The rallying cries of "Give Us Five!" are getting louder and louder.

Workers are urging their senators to confirm the bipartisan package of nominees to the National Labor Relations Board as soon as possible. They're knocking on office doors and hitting the phones. If you haven't yet told your senator you want to see all five nominees confirmed, dial 1-888-717-0911 or visit

In a new ad, running in Politico today, the NAACP sends this message:

"A strong labor relations board is absolutely crucial to protecting the rights and concerns of racial and ethnic minorities as well as all Americans that work under the opportunities and protections offered by labor unions.

"Labor unions, more than any other institution in the United States, are responsible for creating and providing a pathway for more African Americans to enter into the middle class.

"The Senate must protect all workers and help preserve a strong middle class by confirming all five members of the NLRB."

CWA's newest campaign – Protect Free Speech Online – now has more than 23,000 likes on Facebook. It's a message that really resonates with workers, both union and non-union, who want to preserve their freedom to tweet, post on Facebook, blog and use other social media to comment about conditions at work, without fear of retaliation or getting fired.

And this week CWA President Larry Cohen sat down with progressive and labor bloggers to discuss what's at stake in the upcoming Senate nomination battles. Check out some of the coverage:

Huffington Post
CWA President Larry Cohen To Senate Dems: Fix The Nomination Process Or Lose Our Support

Campaign for America's Future
CWA To Senate Dems: "We're Done."

Cohen: Change the Rules to End the Senate Nominee Hostage Crisis

A party of cowards will end up in the minority

Talking Points Memo
Obama's 3 D.C. Circuit Picks Test GOP's Filibuster Mettle

TSA Drops Policy Allowing Knives on Planes

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The Transportation Security Administration on Wednesday dropped a new policy change that would have allowed knives on planes for the first time since the 9/11 hijackings.

The 90,000-strong Coalition of Flight Attendant Unions celebrated the success of its campaign to keep weapons off flights and commended the TSA.

"We promised 'No Knives on Planes Ever Again,' and today that promise was kept," the Flight Attendant Coalition announced. "Terrorists armed only with knives killed thousands of Americans on 9/11/2001. As the women and men on the front lines in the air, we vowed to do everything in our power to protect passengers and flight crews from harm and prevent that type of atrocity from happening ever again. We commend the TSA for revising its policy based on input from front line aviation workers with the greatest stake in the rule change. The result is better security policy and the assurance that our nation's aviation security system continues to be vigilant for knives that could be used in a terrorist attack or criminal act against passengers or crew."

After TSA announced the policy on March 5, the five unions in the coalition quickly mobilized, raising awareness about the dangers it posed for aviation security. The announcement sparked public outrage and a congressional hearing. Soon, Flight Attendants were joined by screeners, pilots, law enforcement officers and airline passengers in opposing the rule at airports across the country.

TSA Administrator John Pistole postponed the change just days before it was about to take effect on April 25. After hearing from more airline workers and travelers, who had also filed a legal challenge with TSA and Department of Homeland Security to ban knives from plan cabins, the agency reversed course.

Support for T-Mobile USA Workers Builds in U.S. and Germany

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Activists from Massachusetts Jobs with Justice support Josh, an unjustly fired T-Mobile worker.

In Germany and the U.S., workers and allies are keeping up the pressure on T-Mobile and parent Deutsche Telekom, calling on the company to recognize the rights of U.S. workers to a union, a workplace free from intimidation, and respect.

In the U.S., activists from TU, CWA, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice and United Students Against Sweatshops rallied at the T-Mobile USA annual meeting in Cambridge, Mass., calling for fairness for T-Mobile USA workers and justice for Josh Coleman, a T-Mobile USA worker and TU activist from Wichita, Kan., who was fired for being a union supporter. They also called on T-Mobile to keep the commitment it made to the Federal Communications Commission about maintaining jobs.


ver.di members stand up for Josh Coleman across their worksites in Germany.

Activists leafleted shareholders and raised concerns with T-Mobile executives outside the meeting, including CEO Rene Obermann, who is leaving Deutsche Telekom as of Jan. 1; Timotheus Höttges who will take over as CEO, and John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile USA.


TU activist Zelig Stern speaks with incoming Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges.

Meanwhile in Germany, ver.di members expanded their campaign calling on T-Mobile to respect and recognize workers' rights in the U.S. In a National Day of Action, activists wore shirts that read "We are all Josh," and called for an end to union busting. ver.di represents about 2 million workers, including workers at Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile.

Save Chicago Sun-Times Photographers

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The Chicago Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA Local 34071, picketed the Chicago Sun-Times building this morning in support of the 28 photojournalists who were abruptly fired last week.

"The company's move of letting go over two dozen photographers may be looked at as cost saving to them, but more importantly, it weakens the freedom of the press and the positive and powerful impact it has had on our country," said Local President David Pollard. "Our founding fathers would be disturbed at how quickly this important medium was so quickly cast aside with only a few days of consideration and I am as well."

The newspaper is the first known news company to eliminate its entire photography staff. Among those fired was Pulitzer-prize winning photographer John White.

On Monday, dressed all in black in mourning, the photojournalists and Guild supporters delivered a petition to Timothy Knight, CEO of Wrapports, owner of the Chicago Sun-Times. The goal was to serve Knight with legal notice of violating federal law because the company agreed at the bargaining table that there would no more layoffs among photographers and reporters. But the CEO was "too busy" to meet with them.

Send your own message to Knight here.

And "like" Save Sun-Times Photojournalists on Facebook to join our fight to bring these workers back.

Bargaining and Organizing Updates

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CWA members have a message for shareholders attending the company’s annual meeting in Monroe, Louisiana.

Below: CWAers from Retired Members Council 70010 in Albuquerque show their solidarity with CWA CenturyLink workers.

  • CWA's Telecommunications and Technologies bargaining team reached a tentative agreement with OFS Fiber Optics, covering about 280 CWA members at plants in Sturbridge, Mass., and Atlanta, Georgia. OFS workers manufacture high performance fibers for video, voice and data transmission.
  • CWA members of Local 7304 at New Flyer Bus Co. in St. Cloud, Minn., ratified a new four-year agreement.
  • Members of CWA Local 1298 in Connecticut ratified a four- year agreement with AT&T East.
  • The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that 11,000 state workers covered by union contracts are owed back pay and raises totaling more than $20 million. Read more here.
  • CWA Local 1168, representing workers at Kaleida Health facilities in New York, will conduct a strike authorization vote next week. Read more here.
  • Employees of KBOO Community Radio voted 8-0 to be represented by CWA Local 7901. Read more here.

Building Our Movement!

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CWA members attending a Congressional Progressive Caucus event in Oakland, Calif., meet with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), center.


At the same Congressional Progressive Caucus event, CWAers meet with Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), third from right.


CWA Local 2011 canvassed the district of New York State Sen. Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) to urge his support for publically financed campaigns. Activists knocked on 447 doors and gathered 144 petition signatures.

CWA Urges Senate to Confirm the President's Judicial Nominations

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CWA commended President Obama for announcing three new nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday, and called on the Senate to confirm those nominations.

In a press statement, CWA said:

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is considered to be the second most important court in the nation, after the U.S. Supreme Court, because of the issues it hears, its responsibility for federal agency review and its impact on millions of Americans. That's why the nominations announced by President Obama today to fill three vacancies on this court are critical, and why the Senate must act to confirm them.

The President is making appointments and nominations as part of the job he was elected to do, not 'packing the courts,' as some Republican senators wrongly claim. The politics of gridlock, all too obvious in today's U.S. Senate, have no place in our democracy. The President's nominations, whether for judgeships or federal agencies, deserve the advice and consent of the Senate, not obstructionism.

Currently there are three vacancies on the court, and decisions have been made by a conservative panel of judges appointed by President Bush. This is the court that determined that recess appointments made by several Presidents are invalid, including the appointments of two members to the NLRB made by President Obama.

CWA: Senate Must Restore Worker Protections to the Immigration Bill

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The following is a statement by Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen on restoring worker protections to the Senate immigration bill:

Legislation always reflects compromise, but that does not mean that every proposed trade-off is right or necessary. CWA is a strong supporter of the Senate immigration reform bill guaranteeing a roadmap to citizenship for more than 11 million aspiring Americans, but we reject changes to critical worker protections that the Senate Judiciary Committee made at the behest of Senator Orrin Hatch.

Senator Hatch is trying to hold the passage of a long overdue immigration reform bill hostage, along with citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans. We have heard from Senator Hatch himself that he plans to further erode worker protections, income equality provisions and the middle-class social safety-net.

The changes Senator Hatch proposed in the Judiciary Committee will allow preferential treatment by corporations for foreign born workers at the expense of U.S. workers. Since the senator made clear that he would not support the bill in the Judiciary Committee without those changes, they were accepted.

Senator Hatch's amendments allow high tech companies to bring in H-1B visa employees even when an equally or better qualified American is available. This is especially appalling when recent unemployment for STEM graduates is above 5%. Senator Hatch also proposed a new formula that will allow for an increased number of new H-1B visas annually and that will underreport the extent to which U.S. tech workers are unemployed, along with the elimination of a requirement that companies attest that they did not displace existing workers in order to hire H-1B visa holders. This, in fact, will pave the way for employers to fire Americans, not for cause, but because they can find cheaper and younger workers.

Our nation needs comprehensive immigration reform, including a true path to citizenship for 11 million immigrant workers. It does not need changes that will harm U.S. tech workers. As the bill is debated on the floor of the Senate, leadership and champions of reform cannot allow further weakening of worker protections and our social safety net. A roadmap to citizenship is an essential step toward building shared prosperity, but the Hatch Global Amendment and promised floor amendments restrict that progress.

CWA and the Democracy Initiative Travel to Netroots Nation

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What are the three keys to reclaiming our democracy? CWA President Larry Cohen will have the answers during his Netroots Nation panel on June 21.

Our democracy is in distress: corporate influence is at an all-time high; citizen belief and engagement, at an all-time low. To achieve democratic change, we must push back against corporate and billionaire-funded efforts to suppress voter participation, stop the influence of corporate money in our political system and end the obstruction and abuse of the rules in the U.S. Senate.

Civil rights, labor, and environmental organizations with strong memberships and field operations launched the Democracy Initiative earlier this year to engage in these fights. And on the panel, they'll explore shared narratives that bring these issues and their memberships together and discuss how new and old organizing strategies can be best used to amplify progressives' collective impact and win.

Cohen's fellow panelists will include NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford, Working Families Party Co-chair Karen Scharff and New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall. Salon's Joan Walsh will be moderating.

Check out the conference schedule at