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CWA e-Newsletter: Nov. 12, 2015

CWA e-Newsletter

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Why the Fight for $15 Is Our Fight, Too

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Across the country, CWA activists took to the streets to demand higher wages and a voice on the job. We stood with thousands of fast-food, bank, airline, home care and other service-sector workers, fighting for $15 an hour.

"Every year we see corporations making record profits. CEOs are getting record bonuses, while the rest of America, working Americans, are struggling and living paycheck to paycheck. I think it's about time that all of us get to enjoy the fruits of our labor," Dale Foster, IUE-CWA Local 87140, said.

With the 2016 presidential election just a year away, workers told politicians, "Come get my vote!"

Check out all the photos here.  

Minneapolis, MN

CWAers joined nearly 500 people rallying for paid sick days, $15 an hour and fair scheduling in downtown Minneapolis. For 40 minutes, Yolanda Roth of CWA Local 7250 addressed demonstrators as they closed a branch of US Bank, which has lobbied against paid sick leave while continuing to foreclose on people's homes.

At a US Bank collections call center, eight workers stood up for justice for 5 minutes and wore buttons reading "9 sick days." As a member of the Committee for Better Banks, CWA has been working for just wages, career paths and job security for front-line bank workers.

New York, NY

"These corporations have silenced us for way too long. We are ready to stand up and show them we are sick of it," said Bianca Cunningham, who was fired from her job at Verizon Wireless after she helped organize her coworkers in Brooklyn. 

Members of CWA Locals 1109 and 1101 also joined massive rallies across New York City. And activists woke up bright and early for a demonstration in downtown Brooklyn, where Mayor Bill de Blasio joined workers and addressed the crowd.

Houston, TX

CWA Local 6222 members marched to City Hall for $15 and a voice on the job.

Albuquerque, NM

CWA Local 7011 members and TU activists picketed outside T-Mobile's call center on Menaul Boulevard in Albuquerque, NM.

Wichita, KS

The Huffington Post profiled Angela Simler, a T-Mobile call center worker who rallied with her fellow TU activists outside their workplace on Tuesday.

"Whether it's fast food, Walmart, child care, T-Mobile, all these people are paid too little to support their families. The wages have remained stagnant for too long," she told the newspaper.

It was the first time Wichita workers held a Fight for $15 campaign rally. CWA Local 6402 supplied much of the manpower for the rally and barbeque, where activists talked to T-Mobile employees about the union. Also stopping by to show support were the Kansas NEA, Musicians Union Local 1000, and friends and family.

Check out our flyer explaining the union difference for Wichita workers here

Raleigh, NC

Piedmont Airline workers, members of CWA Local 3645, stood behind Rev. William Barber, leader of the Moral Monday movement, as he rallied supporters to fight for a fair wage for workers. 

Dayton, OH

IUE-CWA members and CWA Local 4322 members teamed up with local activists to show their support for low-wage workers who need a raise.

Rochester, NY

IUE-CWA 81381 members demonstrated at a nighttime rally in downtown Rochester. More than 150 people gathered around the Abraham Lincoln monument at Washington Square Park before marching north to City Hall.

Denver, CO

CWAers joined a demonstration in Civic Center Park where 200 protesters gathered before marching to the Capitol, forcing Broadway and Lincoln Street to be temporarily closed. Watch a local news report featuring our members here

Detroit, MI

CWAers in Detroit stood up for $15 an hour and a union. Around 300 people rallied in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building to bring the message directly to elected officials.

Chicago, IL

"Studies show that because you have fewer and fewer union members out there and union density is reduced, it tracks with income inequality," said NABET-CWA Local 54041 President Don Villar. Watch Villar's video of the downtown Chicago protest here

Cleveland, OH

The rain didn't stop CWA protesters from gathering on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday. Activists stood with local home care workers, nursing home workers, library staff, school district employees, fast food workers, and child care workers throughout the city.

CWAers also joined actions in Columbus, OH, Milwaukee, Wisc., and other locations.

Top row, from left: In Albuquerque, CWA 7011 members and TU activists stand up for a living wage; in Chicago, members of NABET-CWA Local 54041, NABET-CWA President Charles Braico and allies join the demonstration; IUE-CWAers and members of CWA Local 4322 rally in Dayton, Ohio.
Second row, from left: Verizon Wireless leader Bianca Cunningham at the NYC rally, joined by members of CWA Local 1109; CWA Local 6222 members join the Fight for $15 in Houston; in Denver, members TNG-CWA Local 37074 show their support for low-wage workers who need a raise.
Center: In Rochester, N.Y., IUE-CWA Local 81381 member Evelyn Evans and her family join a night action for fair wages; In Minneapolis, Bridgette Noel and bank workers take a stand for $15 and a union.
Third row, from left: Piedmont Airlines workers and other members and retirees from CWA Local 3645 join Rev. William Barber at an action in Raleigh, N.C.; about 30 CWAers joined the fight for $15, fair scheduling and paid sick days in Minneapolis; Marcus Dodson, a bank worker in Minneapolis, was among the 500 workers who rallied for fairness; in Cleveland, CWAers join the protest on the steps of City Hall.
Bottom row, from left: CWA retirees from Local 1101 stand up for $15 and a union; in Detroit and across the state, CWAers joined the fight for 15; in Wichita, Kan., TU members and CWA activists leafleted for 15 and fairness.

Organizing Update

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Nearly All Envoy Airport Agents Gain Right to Vote for CWA Representation

Envoy agents nationwide are voting for CWA representation, and this week, the National Mediation Board overturned an investigator's decision and determined that another 2,012 agents are entitled to vote. That means that more than 4,800 Envoy agents are now able to vote for CWA representation.

Voting will continue until Nov. 24. Agents have fought long and hard for this election and the opportunity to bargain their own wages and working conditions and set workplace rules.

CWA had appealed the investigator's ruling that denied the right to vote to more than 2,000 agents, and 64 Envoy agents wrote declarations to the NMB that made a big difference.

In overturning the investigator's ruling, the NMB wrote, "There is one job description for all the Station Agents and customer service experience is considered in hiring. The cross-utilized employees regularly bid for assignments and their work varies from day to day. In some stations, there is no bidding process and managers assign employees to work above or below the wing. The evidence indicates that some employees can switch between these jobs during the same shift. There is no doubt that these employees are functionally integrated."

Envoy agents gear up for their CWA vote.

Bargaining Update

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Veterans Day 'No Big Deal,' Verizon Executive Told Workers

Verizon tries to score points with the public by claiming that it's "veteran friendly." But the telecommunication giant falls flat on its face when it comes to matching that talk with actions.

Verizon requires technicians and other workers to put in an excessive amount of mandatory, forced overtime hours, on short notice. That makes it very difficult to balance work and family life. In Virginia, at a recent meeting of Verizon technicians with Chris Childs, the company's Vice-President of Field Operations, a technician pointed out that he just learned that they would be forced to work on Veterans Day.

"Veterans Day...that's no big deal," Childs declared.

"On Veterans Day, we honor those who have served and those who have fallen protecting our nation. As a veteran, I am disgusted to hear someone dismiss the holiday as 'no big deal.' It disrespects a sacrifice many have made for our country," Local 2201 President Richard Hatch said.

"CWA knows that Veterans Day is a time for remembering the sacrifice and commitment of so many. It's a solemn day of remembrance and service across our country. Everywhere, it would seem, except at Verizon headquarters," CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney said.

Read the full statement here.

CWAers at the Barry Road Garage in Washington, D.C. protest Verizon's statement that Veterans Day is "no big deal." CWA Local 2107 President Shannon Opfer is in the foreground and behind her, from left to right, are CWA Local 2336 President Terrence Richardson, CWA Local 2100 Executive Vice President Jeff Sellman, and CWA Local 2222 shop steward Steve Fletcher.


Telluride Ski Patrol Votes to Ratify First Union Contract

Telluride Ski Patrol workers ratified a first union contract this week by a nearly unanimous vote.

The three-year contract improves wages, benefits and job security and establishes a grievance policy.

"Forming a union allowed us to meet with management as a group and have direct input on our working conditions," said bargaining committee member and 16-year ski patroller Tony Daranyi. "This first contract is a great step towards increasing our voice in our workplace."

The ski patrol workers had voted to join CWA Local 7781 last February. Ski patrollers at the Canyons in Utah, Steamboat Springs and Crested Butte already have a CWA voice, and ski patrol workers at Taos Ski Valley are voting today on CWA representation.

Labor, Environmental Leaders Call on Congress to Reject TPP Agreement

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In a media call, leaders from the BlueGreen Alliance – a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations – called on Congress to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). After nearly six years of negotiations, the text of the TPP trade deal finally was made public last week.


"This deal does nothing to boost the wages of American workers or protect the environment, but it makes it much easier for those corporations to ship jobs overseas to low wage countries with weak labor and environmental protections," CWA President Chris Shelton said. "The truth of the matter is very simple. The TPP is a deal written by and for multinational corporations to help them profit at the direct expense of our workers and our environment. That's a deal that we cannot afford."

Speakers included Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club; Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers; Celeste Drake, AFL-CIO trade policy specialist, and Jake Schmidt, program director, Natural Resources Defense Council.

Also on the line were Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY, 20th District) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ 9th District).

The leaders identified the key areas where the agreement falls short, including the threat to U.S. jobs, labor and environmental standards, and enabling corporations to challenge U.S. laws and regulations in a foreign tribunal.

Shelton said workers know what the stakes are in the TPP deal. "My members absolutely believe that, if they're going to lose their jobs, that people who vote to approve this deal should lose their jobs also. What these folks are voting for is shipping American jobs overseas."

Let's Do a Better Job of Honoring our Veterans

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Following is CWA President Chris Shelton's message for Veterans Day 2015. You can also read his statement on Medium

What does it mean to honor our veterans? Today, many of us will join in community celebrations and parades, or solemn commemorations at local cemeteries.

There's no question that we must acknowledge and salute the sacrifice of generations of military men and women who put aside their own families and their own lives and took on the commitment to keep our nation safe. Our veterans deserve no less.

Frankly, our veterans deserve so much more than the lip service that too many elected officials pay them. Veterans deserve to come back from overseas conflicts, whether Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan or any other service with the opportunity to move into good, family-supporting jobs. They deserve quality health care. They deserve to know that they and their families can have a secure retirement, and that the benefits of Social Security and Medicare will be available to them. They deserve to share in the American Dream, because it is their sacrifice that has made that dream possible for so many.

As a veteran, I'm proud that CWA is fighting to make certain that veterans – and all working people – can share in our nation's economic gains and claim their share of the American Dream. Our country cannot continue to look out only for the 1 percent, Wall Street and big banks.

We won't stop. That's our commitment to the tens of thousands of CWA members and retirees who are veterans, and to all veterans. We appreciate your service, on this day and every day.

IUE-CWA, GE Unions File Class Action Lawsuit Against GE's Attack on Retiree Health Care

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A coalition of labor unions led by IUE-CWA filed a federal class action lawsuit against General Electric Corp. over the company's attack on retiree health care.

GE is violating federal labor law and the Employer Retirement Income Security Act by depriving its post-65 retirees of important retiree medical coverage, coverage that these individuals worked for over decades and that was promised in their union contracts, said IUE-CWA President James Clark.

"We are outraged that a very profitable GE would choose to break promises to its retirees during the most vulnerable time of their lives, after they gave decades of service to this company. I am glad these retirees have unions that are willing to step up and fight for justice," Clark said.

The coalition includes the members of the GE Coordinated Bargaining Committee: the United Electrical Workers, United Auto Workers, Machinists, Steelworkers, Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Teamsters and the Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.

GE has announced that effective Jan. 1, 2016, it will unilaterally terminate its post-65 retiree medical plans and replace them with an opportunity for retirees to purchase post-65 health insurance coverage from a private broker healthcare exchange selected by the company. Thousands of GE retirees, particularly those on life saving drugs, are facing much higher drug costs as a result of this change, and GE is refusing to commit to supplying the yearly credit throughout the lives of the retirees.

Activists Call on President to Ban Secret Money Contributions by Federal Contractors

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CWA and a coalition of 57 organizations delivered more than 851,000 petition signatures to the White House this week urging President Obama to sign an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their secret political spending.

The groups collected signatures and encouraged activists to call the White House on Nov. 10, the national call-in day, to urge President Obama to take action.

CWAers signed nearly 6,000 petitions and made 513 calls to the White House.

Corporations can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on elections with no public knowledge or accountability. More than 40 percent of the outside expenditures in the 2014 elections were made by groups that did not fully disclose their donors. The amount of money in elections skyrocketed after the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which permitted corporations and the wealthy to spend unlimited sums to influence elections.

Under current law, federal contractors receiving taxpayer funds are not required to disclose information of their political contributions to non-profit organizations that in theory spend money to promote business interests, like the Chamber of Commerce, or "social welfare" issues. However, these organizations play a major role in financing political campaigns.

CWAers were a big part of the action this week to get big money out of politics. The giant searchlight was driven past media outlets like the Washington Post and Politico and near the White House to build public support to for restoring our democracy.

CWA Safety and Health Activists Participate in Workplace Training

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CWA and IUE-CWA occupational safety and health activists joined a week-long training session in Pittsburgh, organized by CWA's Occupational Safety and Health Department and the United Steelworkers' Health, Safety and Environment Department.

CWA Safety and Health Director David LeGrande said participants will work with CWA and IUE-CWA activists to conduct one and two-day training sessions with locals, districts and sectors. The program plans to reach thousands of CWA members and to provide an opportunity for more members to become local safety and health activists.

Brian Hooker of CWA Local 4034, Randy Rodriguez of CWA Local 6222 and IUE-CWA Occupational Safety and Health Coordinator Debra Fisher served as training mentors.

The "train the trainers" program covered topics including: What's Causing Workplace Injury, Illness, and Stress; Hazard Mapping; Controlling Hazards; Attitudes about Workplace Injuries, Illnesses, and Hazards; Comparing and Contrasting Management Goals and Union Goals for Health and Safety; and Strategic Planning for Improving Workplace Health and Safety.

The program was funded by a National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences 2015-2020 grant to CWA, the USW, and two new grant partners – Make the Road, New York and the National Day Labor Organizing Network.

Front row, left to right: Monica Jesmain of IUE-CWA Local 81380; Micki Siegel de Hernandez, Director-CWA District 1 Occupational Safety and Health Program; CWA Occupational Safety and Health Director David LeGrande; Susan Moss of CWA Local 3204; Nancy Lessin, USW/TMC; and James Scalise, II, CWA Local 6132. Second row, left to right-Jason Creager of CWA Local 4900; Darrin Westmore of CWA Local 9423; Charles "Bubba" Craddock of CWA Local 2222; Amanda Chapin of IUE-CWA Local 84436; Michael Tutwiler of CWA Local 3112; and Jeff Anderson of CWA Local 2004

More Victories for CWAers in Last Week's Elections

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IUE-CWA Local 82160 President Penny Franklin.

Penny Franklin was re-elected to her fifth term on the Montgomery County, VA, School Board and Mike Sisson won election for the first time to the City Council in Holdrege, NE. Franklin is President of IUE-CWA Local 82160 and Sisson is Secretary-Treasurer of CWA Local 7476.