CWA e-Newsletter: Mar. 19, 2015 | Communications Workers of America

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CWA e-Newsletter: Mar. 19, 2015

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.

Breaking! Judge Finds T-Mobile US Guilty of Maintaining Nationwide, Illegal Corporate Policies

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A judge at the National Labor Relations Board, Christine Dibble, has found T-Mobile US guilty of engaging in nationwide labor law violations against workers. The unprecedented ruling comes following a rare move by the NLRB consolidating multiple complaints against T-Mobile US for illegal actions and policies in Albuquerque, N.M.; Wichita, Kans.; Charleston, S.C., and New York City.

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At the heart of this decision are nationwide corporate policies that the judge has determined are illegal, including blocking workers from organizing or even talking to each other about problems at work.

These management policies have been targeting workers over the past several years, and we see that they have been orchestrated from the very top of the company in Bellevue. These are nationwide policies that every manager at every store and call center has been implementing.

CWA President Larry Cohen said "these behaviors would be almost unimaginable in Germany or any other democracy in the world."

Even now, following the unprecedented consolidation of complaints from multiple locations that resulted in this decision, complaints issued from the NLRB and more charges continue to pile up.

The judge has ordered that the policies be rescinded and that T-Mobile US let employees know that it has violated federal labor law.

Read CWA's media statement here.

And read Judge Dibble's decision here.


German Green Party Member Gets First Hand Look at T-Mobile US Attack on Workers' Rights

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In an official visit, Beate Müller Gemmeke, a member of Germany's Parliament (Bundestag), met with T-Mobile US workers who are fighting for bargaining rights at the German-owned telecom company.

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Activists leaflet outside the Menaul Call Center in Albuquerque.

Below: MetroPCS and Verizon Wireless workers in New York City with ver.di and CWAers.

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Müller-Gemmeke, who belongs to Germany's Green Party, and ver.di leaders Kornelia Dubbel and Ado Wilhelm traveled to New York City and Albuquerque, N.M., for a week of meetings with T-Mobile US workers who want union representation. The delegation met with CWA President Larry Cohen, and political leaders like Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) who are sympathetic to the range of issues affecting the workers.

They also met with local elected officials in both cities who support municipal legislation for flexible scheduling for workers. ver.di is the union that represents 2 million German workers, including those at Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile. Müller-Gemmeke will report on her findings to the president of Germany's Parliament.

In NYC, the Germans and CWAers got a first-hand look at organizing in the wireless industry and employer campaigns to intimidate workers who want union representation. They met with CWA members at the MetroPCS wireless store in Harlem (owned by T-Mobile US) who withstood an incredible attack campaign by their employer, voted for CWA representation and ratified their first contract in December 2014. They also met Verizon Wireless workers, including workers from six Brooklyn stores who voted for CWA representation last May.

Another stop took the delegation to an AT&T Mobility store, where workers can fairly choose union representation and nearly 100 percent of Mobility workers are CWAers.

In Albuquerque, Müller-Gemmeke had requested that Deutsche Telekom, parent company of T-Mobile US, arrange a tour for her of the call center. T-Mobile US officials denied that request. The group leafleted outside the call center, met with Albuquerque TU members, and met with community groups Olé and other organizations supporting fair scheduling for service workers.


CWA, NAACP Challenge DISH Network Abuse of FCC Small and Minority Owned Business Rules

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CWA and the NAACP are challenging DISH Network's manipulation of the Federal Communications Commission's "small and minority-owned business rules" that enabled DISH to make $3.25 billion – at taxpayer expense – from the FCC's recent wireless spectrum auction.

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In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, CWA President Larry Cohen and the NAACP's Hilary O. Shelton, Washington Bureau director and senior vice president for advocacy and policy, said the auction was clouded by DISH's tactics taking advantage of the small and minority-owned business rules and its bidding tactics. "We expect that the FCC will reject DISH's attempt to qualify as a small business eligible for $3.25 billion in taxpayer subsidies," they wrote.

Ironically, DISH has no wireless network or subscribers but came up the big winner in this auction. This outcome "raises fundamental questions about reserve set-asides and preferential programs" in the wireless spectrum auction. "We cannot afford another gamed auction, where the winning bidders use taxpayer subsidies and unfair advantages" to drive out companies with a proven track record of infrastructure investment that benefits U.S. consumers, they wrote.

DISH manipulated the FCC's small business rules by incorporating two companies – Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless – while maintaining an 85 percent financial interest in both. This was clearly done to take advantage of the FCC's "small and minority-owned business" bidding credit. DISH then made a joint bidding deal with these companies and the three began triple bidding for the nearly 4,000 available licenses. When DISH dropped out of the bidding, one of the two entities won the bid but it was DISH that won overall, paying just $10 billion for licenses worth $13.3 billion.


Trade Promotion Authority is Simply "Fast Track" for a Bad Trade Deal

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CWAers and community allies recognize the "Trade Promotion Authority" for the threat that it poses to good U.S. jobs. They are urging members of Congress to reject "fast track" for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

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Activists visiting Rep. Joyce Beatty from Ohio's 3rd District. From left-to-right: Tim Quinn, CWA Local 4501; Thomas Lee, CWA Headquarter Staff; Wayne Crawford, 4501; three members Beatty's staff; Cynthia Stewart, 4501; Ohio AFL-CIO Legislative Director Matt Smith and CWA District 4 Administrative Director CWA D4.

Below: In Oregon, activists from "Fight for the Future," a grassroots organization that's committed to ensuring an open Internet with access for all, followed Sen. Ron Wyden to his town hall meetings in the state, urging him to oppose "fast track" authority. They launched a giant, 30-foot blimp with the message: "Ron Wyden, It's Up to You. Don't Betray Us. Save the Internet. No Fast Track for the TPP."

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Democrats and Republicans members of Congress have been publicly declaring their opposition to "fast track."

CWA members and other labor, environment and community groups are holding town hall meetings and rallies and are visiting their members of Congress to alert them to this effort by Big Business and political allies to push "fast track" through Congress. Members of Congress must vote on the 1,200+ page TPP deal with almost no debate and no ability to amend it.

CWA members and allies have also been writing letters, sending e-mails and making phone calls to Congress Members. To date, they have written 4,234 hand-written letters, made more than 2,000 phone calls and written 55,000 emails to their representatives in the House and Senate.

Not all Congress members are yet on board in opposing "fast track," which is why tonight, at 6 p.m., CWAers and allies will hold a Town Hall in Rep. Gregory Meek's New York 5th district at the Jamaica Performing Arts and Learning Center at 161-04 Jamaica Avenue, Queens, NY.

On Wednesday, in Columbus, OH, labor, environment and community groups will hold a public forum to urge U.S. Sen. Rob Portman to oppose "fast track" and stand up for good jobs and consumer protections. The forum at the Neighborhood House of Columbus at 1000 Atcheson St., Columbus, OH, starts at 6 p.m. Unions, environmental, progressive and community groups and others will participate in a public discussion of the devastating impact of "fast track" and TPP on good jobs and our communities.

And on March 30, Steny Hoyer's Maryland 5th District will be the venue for a AFL-CIO Town Hall at 9:30 a.m. at 270 W. Patapsco Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21230.

The TPP trade deal – being negotiated in secret between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries, including Brunei, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, and Vietnam – will send more U.S. jobs overseas, raise prescription drug prices, and allow multinational corporations to challenge any U.S. law or regulation that affects "expected future profits" in a secret, overseas court.


Cohen Takes 'No "Fast Track"' Message to Members of Congress and Media

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CWA President Larry Cohen met with the House Democratic Caucus this week and stressed that he was speaking to them "not only as CWA or labor, but as the Sierra Club, the Alliance for Justice, immigration rights groups and virtually every organization that is fighting against "fast track" and a flawed Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Cohen outlined the TPP's double standard when it comes to enforcement. CEOs and multinational corporations get to sue in a secret tribunal and get reparations if their profits are affected. Workers get, at best, a report written by our government with a long delay in negotiations to resolve the labor rights or environmental abuses. "Twenty years after NAFTA, things are much worse," he told members of Congress. "The disparity on enforcement is a disgrace."

Cohen summed it all up on the Ed Schultz MSNBC program, stressing that "we want a deal that benefits Main Street." Every union, every major environmental group, every immigrant group, pretty much the base of the Democratic party is saying the same thing. "I don’t know how the Democrats who say they’re for the middle class can even think about giving this deal a stamp of approval," he said.

House Dems to Obama: Focus on America's Infrastructure, Not Bad Trade Deals

Democratic House leaders are calling on President Obama to focus on passing multi-year surface transportation legislation before taking up the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"The president will lose any leverage he may have to pass a transportation bill if they do the trade deal first," said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). "He loses a great deal of leverage."

Around the country our mass transit, roads, bridges, railroads and sewer systems urgently need improvements and repairs to help America compete in the global economy, argued Ryan in his letter to the president. House Democrats Peter DeFazio (OR), Rosa DeLauro (CT) and Louise Slaughter (NY) also signed on.

Ryan reiterated his proposal on a Monday press conference call with CWA President Larry Cohen.

"It is essential and brilliant to push for the surface transportation act now," said Cohen. "Everyone agrees – virtually everybody – that is a job creation bill. When I say job creation, not just directly, not a make work program. It's the infrastructure that enables all kinds of other investments to then occur."

Right now, Congress is struggling to find the money to pay for a transportation funding extension before the May 31 deadline.


Un-Rigging the System for American Workers

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It's once again budget season in Washington – but there's only one plan that makes any sense.

On Wednesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus unveiled its proposal, "The People's Budget: A Raise for America," which levels the playing field so that American families finally have opportunities to get ahead. The People's Budget closes tax loopholes that companies use to ship jobs overseas. It ensures that millionaires pay their fair share of taxes and provides relief for low- and middle-income families. It invests in debt-free college, workforce training and small businesses. The People's Budget repairs America's rapidly aging infrastructure and upgrades our energy systems to address climate change.

Get all the details here.

"Too many working Americans open their paychecks each week and ask themselves how they will make ends meet," said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).

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CWA President Larry Cohen joins members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus at a Capitol Hill news conference.

CWA President Larry Cohen threw the union's support behind its budget.

"We stand against 19th century economics. That's the budget we heard about yesterday – the budget of the free market," said Cohen, referring to House Republicans' proposal. "The budget that says that workers don't need any rights, we don't need collective bargaining. The budget that says you don't need to regulate the environment, it's fine to just let it go. The budget that says you don't do anything about health care. The budget that says free trade works, just let the market take over and gigantic trade deficits."

Cohen praised The People's Budget for bolstering Trade Adjustment Assistance. But he noted that progressives must also put a stop to bad trade deals to get to the real root of the problem.

"The real answer is fair trade and you don't need trade adjustment assistance," he said to applause. "If we have trade deals that prevent currency manipulation, it prevents the export of our jobs."

Ellison concluded, "If we stick together and fight back just like Larry said we will have a renaissance in America for working people."

Watch the press conference here.


Bargaining Update

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Living Without a Raise

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The Albany Newspaper Guild asked employees at the Times Union what it means to work for 7 1/2 years without a raise.

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Girding for Battle

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CWA Local 1037 members gather in New Jersey for the first in a series of meetings to learn about the pension fight and upcoming contract negotiations.

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Showing Support

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AT&T Midwest bargaining team at Hoffman Estates in Chicago, IL.

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Fighting for a Better Workplace

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Texas State Employees Union, CWA Local 6186 members who work in the TDCJ Parole Division argue for caseload reform and a real pay raise during their mini lobby day. The union represents parole officers, clerical staff, substance abuse counselors, and support staff.


St. Louis Editorial: From 'Right-To-Work' to the 'Servant Economy'

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As state legislatures around the country debate so-called "right-to-work" bills, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board published a scathing editorial this week ripping into these union-busting laws.

It said:

Two Mondays ago, Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin and a fast-rising Republican star, signed a "right-to-work" bill into law in his state, calling it "one more tool that will help grow good-paying, family-supporting jobs here in the state of Wisconsin."

In fact, if experience from other right-to-work states is any indicator, it's likely to do just the opposite. It may, indeed, attract more jobs, but most of them won't pay enough to support a family.

The decline of America's middle class in the past four decades is attributable to many factors, one of them being the decline in union membership; right-to-work depresses union membership further. It will decrease dues payments that unions tend to spend on candidates who support unions, most of whom are not Republicans.

Read the full article here.


Don't Miss Tonight's CWA Telephone Town Hall Call

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CWA Local 1400 President Don Trementozzi will share the story of the contract battle at FairPoint Communications in northern New England, and the tremendous support from communities and across the labor movement that enabled striking workers to get a good contract.

We'll also hear from Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, who will talk about AFJ's work with us in fighting "fast track" and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

CWA activists in North Carolina and Arizona will share their strategies for building local coalitions to get members of Congress to take a stand against "fast track" and the TPP.

When you get the call tonight, just around 7:30 EDT, pick up the phone. You won't want to miss tonight's call.

You can also listen to the call online at cwa-union.org/cwalisten.