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CWA e-Newsletter: Mar. 26, 2015

March 26, 2015

CWA e-Newsletter

Want to be in next week's CWA Newsletter? Send your stories and photos to or @CWANews. Follow the latest developments at

NLRB Throws Out CNN's Joint Employer Challenge

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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has rejected a motion by CNN asking the board to reconsider a ruling that the cable news giant and Team Video Services (TVS), a unionized subcontractor, were joint employers.

At issue is last September's NLRB decision ordering CNN to compensate more than 300 employees who lost jobs and wages following the company's phony reorganization to get rid of NABET-CWA-represented workers in Washington, D.C., and New York City. The NLRB had found that CNN and TVS were joint employers and CNN violated U.S. labor law by terminating its contracting relationship with TVS in December 2003.

In the order issued on March 20, a three-member panel said CNN's reconsideration bid, "failed to raise any substantial argument not previously considered by the Board." They wrote, "The evidence provides ample support for the Board's finding that CNN and TVS had a joint employer relationship at the time of the unfair labor practices."

"This company has dragged its feet every step of the way. But after more than a decade of delays, CNN is finally running out of options," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "It's time for CNN to follow the law and end the enormous damage to these employees and their families."

Meanwhile, the workers continue to wait. A number of their colleagues have passed away as this case slowly made its way through the NLRB process. Workers have lost their homes, gone bankrupt and struggled to pay their medical bills.

"No worker should ever have to wait this long to see justice. Now again, we wait to see if CNN owns up or continues to stall. As a group we will never give up until all our members are made whole," said Jimmy Suissa, who worked for CNN for 17 years.

In November 2008, an Administration Law Judge (ALJ) ruled in favor of NABET-CWA. The ALJ found, in part, that CNN had engaged in "widespread and egregious misconduct" and had demonstrated "a flagrant and general disregard for the employees' fundamental rights."

CNN appealed the ruling. Two years later, in October 2010, CWA filed another motion with the NLRB, calling on the board to give this case priority over all other pending cases. By this time the NLRB's status was in jeopardy and was not resolved until late 2013.

Finally, in September 2014, the NLRB affirmed the ALJ's ruling. It ordered CNN to rehire about 100 workers fired in the 2003 reorganization and compensate about 200 more employees who stayed with the company without the benefits of a union contract. The order also called on CNN to resume bargaining with NABET-CWA Local 11 and NABET-CWA Local 31.


Breaking! Leaked Investor Chapter of TPP Worse than Imagined

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The following is a statement by CWA President Larry Cohen on the "leaked" chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that covers corporations. The leaked text, made public on March 25, reveals a giveaway to corporate special interests that must be stopped.

The 56 pages of the Investor chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are worse than imagined and must be a wake-up call for our nation. Everything we read and learn makes "fast track" authority unimaginable. It's secrecy on top of secrecy.





The TPP is shaping up to be an exercise in words about citizen rights that are not enforceable versus expanded corporate rights to sue governments for supposed diminishment of corporate profits. Section B of the leaked chapter documents new provisions of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), the secret tribunal process that is above national law or courts.

It is ironic that the document demonstrates that the U.S. is leading the push for expanded Investor or corporate rights provisions while Australia is leading the opposition. The center-right Abbott government has forced inclusion of a footnote in the current draft that Investor State Dispute Settlement "does not apply to Australia."

Current ISDS action by Philip Morris, challenging Australia's plain packaging cigarette regulations designed to prevent cancer and heart disease, is likely part of the explanation for this footnote. This leaked chapter says as much about the corrosive effects of money and corporate interests in our political system as it does about trade.

These 56 pages must be a wake-up call for our nation. We must be defenders of democracy first and push aside the special interests of multinational corporations. The nice words in other parts of TPP are more than outmatched by this section, placing corporate rights over citizen rights and providing reparations for corporations versus government reports for other complaints.

The case for rejecting "fast track" authority for the TPP is now even clearer. "Fast track" or Trade Promotion Authority is only being considered by the U.S. Every other government is preserving its right to read the text before speeding its adoption. This chapter on Investment compels the U.S. to do the same.

CWA will redouble our efforts to participate in the broadest coalition ever to defeat "fast track" and the TPP. Our jobs, our living standards, our safety, our environment, our national sovereignty and our very democracy are on the line. We will stand up and fight back for as long as it takes.


Listen to CWA President Larry Cohen talk about the leaked ISDS text with radio host Ed Schultz.


Movement Building

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Chicago Mayoral Candidate Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia, here with CWA President Larry Cohen, CWA Senior Director Yvette Herrera and CWA Political Director Rafael Navar, visited CWA Headquarters on a recent trip to Washington, D.C., to share with supporters his roadmap to victory. Garcia shook up the Democratic establishment this winter by forcing incumbent Mayor Rahm Emmanuel into a runoff. CWA was one of the first labor unions to endorse Garcia during the non-partisan primary.


From left: CWA Political Director Rafael Navar, Chicago Mayoral Candidate Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia, CWA President Larry Cohen, and CWA Senior Director Yvette Herrera.

Garcia continues to thrive despite the overwhelming financial resources of Rahm Emmanuel, an incumbent that many call "Mayor 1%." Emmanuel earned his name because his policies favor the rich at the expense of people of color and working people in Chicago. Many unions as well as working people and political leaders from communities of color and progressive organizations are now not only endorsing Garcia, they are helping him fight against Emmanuel's campaign war chest and his well-funded SuperPAC that is blanketing Chicago airwaves with negative advertising, attacking Garcia and misrepresenting his positions on issues.

Whatever the outcome of the April 7 runoff, Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia is showing the power working people, people of color and progressives can exert when they vote their principles.


News Stories about Last Week's Groundbreaking NLRB Ruling against T-Mobile

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In a long-awaited ruling, Christine Dibble, a National Labor Relations Board judge, found T-Mobile guilty of multiple nationwide violations of U.S. labor law against workers.

At the heart of the decision are policies orchestrated by T-Mobile corporate officers from the company's Bellevue, WA, headquarters that the judge has determined are illegal, including blocking workers from organizing or even talking to each other about problems at work.

Here is some of the significant news coverage of the decision:

The New York Times
T-Mobile Policy Violated Labor Law, Judge Rules By Noam Scheiber, March 19, 2015.

The Washington Post
It's illegal to prevent workers from talking about wages. T-Mobile did it anyway. By Lydia DePillis, March 19, 2015.

U.S labor board says some T-Mobile policies are illegal By Malathi Nayak, March 19, 2015.

The Seattle Times
NLRB ruling says T-Mobile policies hindered unionizing By Coral Garnick, March 19, 2015.

Charleston Post and Courier
Complaints from T-Mobile workers in Charleston play role in federal labor ruling By Noam Scheiber March 20, 2015.

KPLU 88.5 Seattle
T-Mobile Illegally Silenced Workers, Judge Rules By Paula Wissel, March 20, 2015.

KUNM 89.9 FM Albuquerque
T-Mobile Found Guilty Of Violating ABQ Workers' Rights By Rita Daniels, March 20, 2015.

Daily Kos
This week in the war on workers: Judge tells T-Mobile to stop breaking labor laws By Laura Clawson, March 21, 2015.

T-Mobile violated US labor laws, agency judge rules By Roger W. Cheng, March 19, 2015.

Fierce Wireless
T-Mobile's employment practices called illegal by U.S. labor board judge By Phil Goldstein, March 20, 2015.

RCR Wireless News
T-Mobile US found to 'chill' employee rights By Dan Meyer, March 20, 2015.

Wireless Week
T-Mobile Found Guilty of Labor Law Violations By Andrew Berg, March 19, 2015.

Opp Trends
US Labor Law Violated By T-Mobile US Inc (NYSE:TMUS) By Pushpa Naresh, March 20, 2015.

Digital Trends
T-Mobile employees were forbidden to unionize or discuss concerns, investigation reveals By A.J. Dellinger, March 20, 2015.

T-Mobile found guilty of blocking employees from organizing By Terence O'Brien, March 19, 2015.

National board finds T-Mobile guilty of violating labor laws By Blair Hanley Frank & Taylor Soper, March 19, 2015.

Android Headlines
T-Mobile USA Ordered To Revise Employee Policies Over Organizing Into A Union By David Steele, March 19, 2015.

Judge finds T-Mobile guilty of illegal corporate policies, March 19, 2015.

TMO News
T-Mobile employees were forbidden to unionize or discuss concerns, investigation reveals By Cam Bunton, March 20, 2015.

Inside Counsel
NLRB rules T-Mobile engaged in unfair labor policies By Zach Warren, March 20, 2015.


Bargaining Update

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First Contract at Purple Communications

Members of American Sign Language Interpreters United, a unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521, have ratified their first contracts with Purple Communications. The contracts are the first in the nation for American Sign Language video interpreters and are effective April 1.

The 170 video interpreters work at four centers in Oakland, San Diego, Denver and Arizona.

Employees in the four centers voted for TNG-CWA representation in late 2012, with negotiations getting underway in March 2013. The contracts provide for a first-ever grievance and binding third-party arbitration procedure and other improvements in working conditions. Video interpreters said they are committed to building their union within their profession.


Bellingham, WA, City Council Unanimously Rejects "Fast Track;" Seattle Next

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On Monday night, the Bellingham, WA, City Council unanimously approved a resolution calling on Congress to oppose "fast track" for the TPP. With the Seattle City Council scheduled to take up a similar resolution this Monday, CWA activists and community allies need to take action. Here are a few things we can do:

(1) Send an action alert to Seattle-based activists requesting that they email and call the City Council in support of a strong resolution against "fast track." The entire Council can be emailed at once with a message written to The general phone number for the Council is 206-684-8566.

(2) Send an organizational letter in support of the resolution. If you don't have local staff to hand-deliver it, again, the entire Council can be emailed at once with a message written to

(3) Recruit staff and supporters to pack the room during the City Council hearing and vote on Monday, March 30. The Council meets from 2:00 – 4:00pm, but people should show up by 1:45pm. If you have someone able to testify or are able to send some folks to help fill the room, please contact Gillian Locascio of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition at or 206-227-3079.

We need you to help keep up the pressure on the state's delegation. This resolution is one small step.


Columbus, Ohio, Stands Up Against "Fast Track"

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Ohio activists, including CWAers and environment and community allies, held a town hall in Columbus last night to tell U.S. Sen. Rob Portman to oppose "fast track" legislation and stand up for good jobs and consumer protections for Ohioans.

Packed into the Neighborhood House of Columbus last night were members of CWA, the AFL-CIO, Progress Ohio, Ohio Association for Retired Americans, Ohio Sustainable Business Council, Common Cause Ohio, Columbus NAACP, Sierra Club, Ohio Environmental Council, Central Ohio Worker Center, Jobs with Justice Columbus, and concerned Columbus residents.

"It's an honor to continue to stand alongside you in this really, really important fight," U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said in a video address. "We cannot allow another trade deal that shortchanges our workers and ships jobs overseas. These trade deals may be great for corporations but they're not good for our small businesses, they are not good for our workers, they are not good for our families, and they are not good for our communities."

Participants also heard from speakers including Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga; Sam Gresham of Common Cause Ohio; Ohio Association for Retired Americans President Norm Wernet; Brian Kunkemoeller of Sierra Club; NAACP Political Action Committee Chairperson Cynthia Stewart; Mark Shanahan of the Ohio Sustainable Business Council; and Sister Roberta Miller, professor emeritus at Ohio Dominican University.

Burga said past flawed trade pacts "have blown up our import/export deficit" and caused the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs across Ohio. "Ohioans would be well served to look at the catastrophic results of recent such arrangements," he said. "Between 2000 and 2014, America lost 4 million jobs."

The town hall focused on efforts by Big Business and others to use "fast track" to foist the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on an unsuspecting public. CWA and allies have moved mountains to make sure the deal being negotiated between the U.S. and 11 nations like Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, and Brunei does not remain secret much longer.

Congressional approval of "fast track" for trade deals would mean an expedited process in which members of Congress strip themselves of their rights to debate and amend the 1,200-plus page TPP bill. "Fast track" would be a simple up-or-down vote. Members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, have been publicly declaring their opposition to "fast track" authority.

The TPP trade deal 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. Unions, environmental, progressive and community groups and others have been participating in public discussions on the devastating effects of "fast track" and TPP on good jobs and our communities.

"The TPP is a fast track to disaster for our environment and our democracy because of investor protection provisions that elevate the profits of foreign corporations above laws that protect clean air, clean water, and curb climate disrupting carbon pollution," Sierra Club-Ohio's Kunkemoeller said.


It was standing-room only as CWAers joined labor, environmental and community allies at a Columbus, OH, town hall to tell Sen. Rob Portman to reject "fast track" for the TPP.

Below: Former Ohio Governor and Member of Congress Ted Strickland signing in at last night's Town Hall. Strickland wrote a letter to Sen. Portman at the meeting telling him to reject "fast track." Afterward, he stood in the back and didn't speak but was greeted with an ovation when the crowd realized he was there.


A Last-Minute TPP Protest

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CWA activists found out last Thursday that U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew would be at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus on Friday to talk to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce about "fast track" and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.


They pulled together a last-minute rally with allies and met Lew with signs protesting the dangers of the TPP to good jobs in the Greater Miami area.

Joining them, in dark shirts, were supporters from Local 487 of the International Union of Operating Engineers; CWA Local 3122 President Don Abicht (center, in red); students from Miami Dade Community College; Deborah Dion of the Citizens Trade Campaign; and CWA District 3 Fred Frost (also in red shirt, far left), being interviewed by USA Today reporter Alan Gomez. CWA Florida LPAT coordinator Glenda Abicht took the photograph.


Colorado Activists Urge "Fast Track" Rejection

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During "Labor Day at the Capitol" in Denver, CWA activists and local union officers met with state legislators on issues important to working families. Following that meeting, they met at Local 7777 to debrief and discuss other legislative priorities, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.


CWA Local 7777 activists wrote to their members of Congress urging them to reject "fast track" authority for the TPP.


A Call to Action Against "Fast Track"

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CWA's Florida LPAT coordinator Glenda Abicht urged attendees at a CWA Local 3122 AT&T Mobility workshop to call and write letters to their members of Congress, urging them to vote "no" on "fast track."


A Thousand Young Workers Fight for Change

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Young workers aren't going to wait for the world to change – they're determined to fix it themselves.

Last week, more than 80 CWA members joined a thousand young union members, students and community activists in Chicago for the AFL-CIO Next Up Young Worker Summit. There, they mapped out strategies to create an economy that works for all, tackling student debt, low wages, discrimination in the workplace and a number of other issues that young workers face on the job.

Victoria Fisher, a CWA Local 1037 member and CWA Next Generation lead activist, helped lead a workshop – TPP: Trading Away Our Future? – that discussed how this major trade deal is being negotiated behind closed doors. Having a hard time getting a job now? Imagine what it will be like if thousands more jobs are offshored, Fisher warned.

She also helped host a workshop on internal organizing for young workers, teaching them how to mobilize their co-workers.

IBEW and CWA activists also presented a workshop on how solidarity across sectors sustained the historic FairPoint strike. Todd Foster of IBEW Local 2327, Stephanie Hill of CWA Local 1400 and Sarah Bigney of the Maine AFL-CIO discussed how workers from different backgrounds and professions can mobilize together, sustain each other, build a collective communications strategy and win.

And on the last day of the summit, CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins joined union leaders for a plenary session on leading the future.

Watch the video here.


CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins with CWA activists at the AFL-CIO's Young Workers Summit in Chicago.


Workers' Memorial Day Theme: "Speak Out for Safe Jobs. Protect Workers Now"

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The theme this year when CWA activists and other unions observe Workers' Memorial Day on April 28 will be "Speak Out for Safe Jobs. Protect Workers Now" as workers step up the fight for safe workplaces and remember fellow workers killed, injured and made sick on the job.


CWA President Larry Cohen is urging locals to mark April 28 by organizing actions to highlight the toll of work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities. Workers' Memorial Day materials are available from the AFL-CIO at

Participation in 2015 Workers' Memorial Day will be of particular significance to CWA as we lost three members to workplace fatalities during 2014 and the first part of 2015. This year, we mourn the deaths of

  • Britney Byford, 19, of CWA Local 6215, Dallas, Texas, a U-Verse Technician for AT&T, died on March 18, 2014, as she was driving home from work after completing an assigned 17-hour work shift;
  • Bill Morton, 66, of CWA Local 6300, St. Louis, Missouri, AT&T technician who suffered a fatal fall while performing telecommunications aerial work on November 29, 2014; and
  • Craig Mathis, 55, of CWA Local 3519, Gulfport, Mississippi, AT&T facility technician who died on January 14, 2015, after suffering a heart attack, losing control of his company truck, and slamming into a utility pole.

In addition, many of our members suffered work-related injuries, illnesses and "near misses." Too many job hazards, including overwork, long hours of work, and requirements for emergency alert equipment remain unregulated and uncontrolled, resulting in the continued occurrence of injuries, illnesses and fatalities. We must work to ensure employers are providing our members with safe and healthful working conditions.

As part of our Workers' Memorial Day preparations, we are working to defeat "fast track." This fight is particularly important for CWA safety and health activists. Because of the TPP Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, passage of "fast track" and the Trans-Pacific Partnership could undermine any improvements in the Occupational Safety and Health Act. ISDS would allow multinational corporations to challenge OSHA regulations that affect a corporation's expected future profits. As part of Workers' Memorial Day events, activists will contact their Senators and Representatives, urging them to Vote No on "fast track."

Text TPP to 49484 to receive action alerts.

Please contact David LeGrande, Director of CWA's Occupational Safety and Health Department for more information. As you conduct activities, please complete and return this form, Report on 2015 Workers' Memorial Day Events, so we can publicize and report actions on the web.


Organizing Update

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This week, 20 AT&T Mobility Retail employees in Illinois, formerly Alltel, voted for a voice in the workplace by signing recognition cards to become members of CWA Local 4202. Local President Holly Sorey worked on the campaign along with other members of the Local. Welcome to our new members and congratulations to Local 4202.


Union Busting? That's Disgusting!

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Republican-dominated state legislatures are up to no good. Here's what you need to know about their attacks on working families across the country. Click on the state names for more information.

Missouri: The House approved a so-called right-to-work bill, while a different version will soon be debated in the Senate; but Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has said he has never seen a right-to-work measure he would sign. Meanwhile, a "paycheck deception" bill failed in a Senate committee.

New Hampshire: The House narrowly approved a right-to-work bill, but it "faces a near-certain death in the Senate," which is deadlocked on the issue.

New Mexico: Though the House passed a right-to-work bill, a Senate panel voted to table it.

Wisconsin: The Supreme Court has declined to weigh in on the state's strict voter ID law, which passed in 2011. Earlier this month, Wisconsin became the nation's 25th right-to-work state.

West Virginia: GOP leaders say right-to-work is dead this year. But they're pursuing an economic impact study of a potential law.

Maine: Republicans are once against pushing for right-to-work bills.

Kentucky: Meanwhile, the right-to-work fight is shifting to counties. In December, Warren County became the first U.S. County to pass right-to-work and 11 others have since followed.

Illinois: Preempting a Kentucky-style implementation, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan slapped down Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal for right-to-work zones, saying it would be illegal under the National Labor Relations Act.