CWA e-Newsletter: Mar. 13, 2014 | Communications Workers of America

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CWA e-Newsletter: Mar. 13, 2014

CWA e-Newsletter

Want to be in next week's CWA Newsletter? Send your stories and photos to blog@cwa-union.org or @CWANews. Follow the latest developments at www.resistancegrowing.org.

CWA, Allies in Tennessee Tell Lawmakers: Put the People First

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More than 500 Tennessee activists, including CWAers, union members and other allies, rallied at the State Capitol for secure, living wage jobs, public education, and democratic rights to organize, protest, bargain and vote freely.

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Union, community, faith, students and other activists begin a series of actions across the state calling on lawmakers to "Put the People First." At the Capitol in Nashville, Tenn., this week, activists rallied and marched to the governor's office to deliver their letter.
Photo credit: Jared Story, UCW-CWA Local 3865.

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It was the start of a movement throughout Tennessee to "Put the People First," and activists from faith groups, unions and worker alliances, Jobs with Justice, the NAACP, Citizen Action and many more have come together to form the coalition. At the capitol in Nashville, they rallied, then delivered a letter to Gov.Bill Haslam (R), calling on him and the Tennessee legislature "to make the interests of Tennessee working people your top priority."

Tennessee politicians "have abandoned everyday people, and pursued an agenda that favors huge corporations and the super wealthy," coalition members said in the letter.

"Our coalition has come together because ours is a different vision of Tennessee – one where there are good jobs, that pay us decently and provide benefits; where our kids have access to free, quality, equal public education that's directed by teachers, not corporate lobbyists; and where all of us can participate," they wrote.

At the rally, activists protested attacks by the state legislature on worker protections like overtime pay, public schools and teachers, and the right to vote. They blasted interference by the governor and state lawmakers in the recent election among Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga. Politicians including Haslam and others threatened that Volkswagen wouldn't receive any financial incentives if workers voted for union representation. The UAW has filed objections to the election based on this interference and false and inflammatory statements by U.S. Senator Bob Corker.

Tom Anderson, president of UCW-CWA Local 3865, said, "Our governor, this legislature, and their millionaire backers are trying to destroy 150 years of progressive reforms that the working class has won in our state. But we won't go backward! And when we stand up and fight back, it isn't just at a single rally. Today we're launching of a movement to 'Put the People First!' Just like our sisters and brothers did with Moral Mondays in North Carolina. And we won't stop until they give us what we want!"

The group has follow up actions planned at the capitol, and will hold regional rallies in Middle, West and East Tennessee on May 1, all under the "Put The People First" banner.

The broad coalition includes: Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council, United Campus Workers-CWA Local 3865, UAW, Workers Interfaith Network, Jobs With Justice, Show Me 15, Workers Organizing Committee, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, Tennessee NAACP, Sierra Club, Tennessee Chapter, Memphis Progressive Student Alliance, Statewide Organizing For Community Empowerment, SEIU Local 205, Workers' Dignity Dignidad Obrera, Chattanooga for Workers, Progressive Student Alliance, UTK United, Students Against Sweatshops, Tennessee Citizen Action, Organizing for Action Davidson County, UFCW Local 1995, Concerned Citizens for Justice, Healthy and Free Tennessee, Southeast Laborers' District Council, organized and United for Respect at Vanderbilt (OUR Vanderbilt).

Check out this coverage and video in the Tennessean newspaper.


Bargaining Update

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Denver SuperShuttle Drivers Push Back on Management's Refusal to Bargain Fairly

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Super Shuttle drivers hold an early morning meeting at Denver International Airport, joined by CWA President Larry Cohen.

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SuperShuttle drivers at the Denver International Airport are standing strong in the fight for a first and fair contract.

Two years ago, about 100 drivers, mostly African immigrants, overwhelmingly voted for CWA representation, joining Local 7777, which also represents 300 union taxi drivers at DIA. To win their union, shuttle drivers had to overcome two years of management hostility, harassment and coercion, including numerous unfair labor practices and management's effort to reclassify the workers as independent contractors.

Management has refused to bargain fairly and now threatens to implement a proposed contract that workers overwhelmingly rejected last December, one in which management demanded that workers take a wage cut of about 30 percent, reducing their pay to $11.50 an hour

CWA President Larry Cohen met with drivers at the Denver airport this week.

"Spending even an hour with the Denver shuttle drivers is enough to inspire anyone. They are an awesome group and I could not be prouder that they are part of CWA Local 7777. Each driver said 'this is about management respecting us as human beings, and we will fight for that with our union behind us,'" Cohen said.

Last week, shuttle drivers and CWA supporters rallied in Phoenix outside SuperShuttle headquarters. The group gave the company a petition with 2,000 signatures calling on the company to negotiate fairly.

Keep up with the latest on the SuperShuttle drivers' Facebook page


Money in Politics Update

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On Tuesday, CWAers in Albany, N.Y., rallied with activists and allies from Citizen Action of NY and other groups to stand up for fair elections.

CWAers have been lobbying state legislators on public campaign financing for several weeks; more than 250 CWA members turned out for last week's Lobby Day. Over the next two weeks, activists will continue to send emails and call their legislators, and use social media like Twitter and Facebook to show the strong public support for public campaign financing and fair elections.

At last week's Lobby Day, CWA activists called on members of the legislature to keep the fair elections provision in the budget. The measure, which matches contributions of small donors and gives candidates an incentive to only accept small contributions, would amplify the voices of ordinary New Yorkers and decrease the destructive influence of big campaign contributions.


Moral Mondays in New York

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A Moral Monday coalition is coming together in Binghamton, N.Y., calling on the governor and state legislature to adopt a budget that works for working and middle class families.

Just like the Moral Monday group that began in North Carolina, activists from unions, people of faith and community organizations in upstate New York have joined together to work for shared goals and to call on elected officials to make sure that the state budget addresses the real needs of New York communities.

Kate Murray, a leader and steward with NABET-CWA Local 51026 and vice president of the Broome County Labor Federation, said the group was meeting as a visible reminder to lawmakers that in terms of the budget, they should "think and vote with their conscience."

Moral Mondays in New York will be held over the next few weeks as budget negotiations continue in Albany.


Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Roundup

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Leaders from Local 1103 take the "no fast track" message to a meeting with members of the NYS Senate and Assembly.

Below: Standing up against TPP, from left: Jen Metzger, town council of Rosendale; Susan Zimet, town supervisor of New Paltz; John T. O'Malley, LPAT activist, CWA Local 1120; Congressman Chris Gibson; James Gesheidle, executive vice president Local 1120 and Rob Pinto, LPAT leader, Local 1120.

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CWA President Larry Cohen talks about the results of the Business Roundtable's poll on the Trans-Pacific Partnership with radio and MSNBC host Ed Schultz, stressing that it matters how you ask the questions.

If you haven't seen the bipartisan poll by CWA, Sierra Club and the Business & Industry Council, a small business group, check it out at www.cwa-union.org/tpp.

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Getting Electeds on Board

Members of the executive board of CWA Local 1103 and other Westchester County, NY union leaders met with New York State Senator George Latimer and Assembly Member Shelley Mayer to spotlight the serious problems that the Trans-Pacific Partnership would cause for New York and other state governments. Local 1103 Sec.-Treas. Joe Mayhew pointed out that some of the provisions in the TPP would allow multinational corporations to sue NYS for legislation that they believe will affect their future profits. "This has real consequences for our proposed call center bill and other legislation to keep good jobs in our state," Mayhew said.

Assembly Democrats have sent a letter to the NYS Attorney General, asking for a report on the dangers to environmental laws and standards under TPP.

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Rep. Chris Gibson (R-19, N.Y.) joined a community event that brought workers, farmers, town-elected leaders, greens, patriots and community activists together to spotlight their opposition to fast track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Gibson pledged to continue to fight against fast track and to work to make working families and communities stronger.


9/11 Workers, Residents, First Responders Still Eligible for Health Screenings, Treatment

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The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, NYCOSH, wants to make sure that responders and survivors of 9/11 get the screenings and health treatments they're entitled to receive.

CWA, other unions and public interest groups pushed for legislation to establish the World Trade Center Health Program that provides screening and other health benefits for students and residents of NYC in lower Manhattan in the area of the World Trade Centers, and for responders and workers, including hundreds of CWA members. The measure was named in honor of Detective James Zadroga, who died of a respiratory disease after participating in rescue and recovery operations at Ground Zero.

Since the 9/11 attacks, more than 1,100 people who were at or near the Trade Center between 9/11 and July 2002 have been diagnosed with cancers, respiratory disease, digestive ailments, mental health problems and other illness.

If you were there, you deserve care. To apply for these special health benefits, go to www.nycosh.org/wtc or call 855-4WTC-AID. Information is available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Polish at http://nycosh.org/wtc. NYCOSH is an independent voice working with the union movement and others for safe and healthy workplaces.