CWA e-Newsletter: Nov. 14, 2013
November 14, 2013
- CWA Town Hall Call Next Week
- 194 Members of Congress Go Public with Concerns about TPP Trade Deal
- Breaking: WikiLeaks Publishes TPP Draft on Intellectual Property Rights
- Lawmakers Unveil Bipartisan 'Press One For America' Bill
- Offshoring Security
- Bargaining Update
- WVA Verizon Workers to Receive Jobless Benefits for 2011 Strike
- Building Our Movement
- US Airways-American Merger Will Create a Stronger, More Competitive Airline
- Equality for All in the Workplace
- Pete Seeger Surprises Guild Activists with Visit, Song at Buffalo Meeting
AFSCME President Lee Saunders will join CWA President Larry Cohen on CWA's next Town Hall Call on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 pm ET.
The two leaders will be candidly discussing the state of bargaining and the future of the labor movement on the 30-minute call. They'll be talking about what we have learned from our recent bargaining and other campaigns and what we can do to confront these challenges. Thousands of AFSCME members will also be joining the call. Don't miss it!
Register at http://cwa-union.org/cwacall.
Reminder: When you sign up for the remaining CWA town hall calls this year, you will be entered in a drawing for a personalized iPad Mini! The winner will be announced in the CWA News and e-newsletter.
At least 194 Democratic and Republican Members of Congress have publicly raised concerns with President Obama about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
The latest: a letter signed by 151 Democratic House members who laid out their concerns about the lack of consultation during the TPP negotiations and their opposition to "fast tracking" the deal without any meaningful congressional input.
Representatives Rosa DeLauro and George Miller lead the effort to spotlight the serious shortcomings of the TPP negotiating process and to take a stand against Trade Promotion Authority, also known as "fast track" consideration, which would bring the agreement before the Congress for an up-or-down vote with no opportunities for amendment.
This massive trade deal could have detrimental consequences for manufacturing and service sector jobs, workers' rights, wages, environmental regulation, food safety, health care, consumer protections, government procurement policies and more. Some 600 corporate advisors have access to the secret draft texts, but the public, many members of Congress, journalists, unions, environmental and public health groups and others have been excluded.
"Our 20 years of experience in trade deals, going back to North American Free Trade Agreement, has proven that we lose far more jobs than we gain, and that our pay and benefits are pushed down with global competition as the excuse," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "That's not the future we want for ourselves or our children. We must pursue economic and trade policies that are best for American workers – not multinational corporations."
In their letter to the president, House Democrats vowed to oppose fast track.
"Twentieth Century 'Fast Track' is simply not appropriate for 21st Century agreements and must be replaced," the letter said. "The United States cannot afford another trade agreement that replicates the mistakes of the past. We can and must do better."
"If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you're ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs."
That's what WikiLeaks said when it published the leaked chapter of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement dealing with intellectual property rights. The group said it wanted to put out the information in advance of the next big TPP meeting of chief negotiators in Salt Lake City Nov. 19-23.
This 95-page chapter lays out provisions for instituting a far-reaching, transnational legal and enforcement regime, modifying or replacing existing U.S. laws and laws in TPP member states. Read the chapter here.
In the same way, "Buy American" measures, the proposed call center bill and other legislation could be challenged by TPP nations if this deal is approved.
This deal is being negotiated in secret. Members of the U.S. Congress have been able to view only selected portions of documents under very restrictive conditions. Meanwhile, some 600 corporate lobbyists, or "trade advisors," are a big part of the negotiations, and that's bad news for U.S. jobs, workers' rights, environmental protections, food safety and a whole host of critical issues.
CWA call center activists, Jamone Ross and Charlice Boston, and CWA Senior Director George Kohl joined Sen. Bob Casey, Rep. Tim Bishop and Rep. Dave McKinley at the press conference.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle on Wednesday joined together in support of legislation that would end tax payer subsidies for corporations that send U.S. call center jobs offshore, as CWA released a report outlining massive data security issues at overseas call centers that leave Americans' personal information at risk.
Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) joined House sponsors Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) to formally unveil the bipartisan "U.S. Call Center and Worker Protection Act of 2013." (S. 1565/H.R. 2909)
The "Press One For America" section of the legislation requires call center employees to identify the country from which they are taking the call, and if outside the United States, offer the consumer the opportunity to be transferred back to a facility located in the U.S. Further, companies that send U.S. call center jobs offshore would be barred from receiving federal loans, grants or subsidies for three years.
Finally, the bill requires that a list of companies that send call center jobs offshore be made available to the public, and allows firms that bring jobs back to America to be removed from that "bad actor" list.
"This bill would not stop a corporation from moving jobs overseas, but it makes it clear that those that don't want to keep good jobs here in the U.S. won't be able to benefit from federal grants and guaranteed loans," said CWA Senior Director George Kohl. "There should be no more handouts from taxpayers for those who choose not to invest in American workers."
CWA also has pointed out that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, as currently structured, would enable other countries to challenge and potentially overturn U.S. legislation that seeks to promote quality U.S. jobs, including call center legislation. CWA and allies are fighting to stop "fast track" authority, also called Trade Promotion Authority, which would prohibit Congress from taking up any amendments to TPP.
The call center bill, cosponsored in the Senate by Banking Committee Chair Tim Johnson (D-SD), is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Democrats Tim Bishop (NY-1), Mike Michaud (ME-2) and Gene Green (TX-29), along with Republicans David McKinley (WVA-1), Michael Grimm (NY-11) and Chris Gibson (NY-19).
CWA member Charlice Boston, a Winston-Salem North Carolina-based US Airways reservations agent, is one of the 5,000 agents who filled jobs brought back to the U.S. from overseas as part of a collectively bargained agreement with the company.
"I want to say 'thank you' from my co-workers and customers to Senator Casey, Rep. McKinley and Rep. Bishop for their leadership on this important legislation," Ms. Boston said. "I encourage all of our Senators and Representatives to think of the impact quality jobs have on their constituents and to co-sponsor and pass this bill."
CWA has released a report entitled "Offshoring Security – How Overseas Call Centers Threaten U.S. Jobs, Consumer Privacy and Data Security."
The document outlines how U.S. corporations – many of whom receive millions in taxpayer subsidies – hurt the economy here at home and put consumer personal information at risk by sending call center jobs overseas in the name of lowering labor and other business costs.
The report specifically calls out the "too big to fail" banks that received taxpayer bailouts during the recent financial crises who have summarily sent tens of thousands of call center jobs overseas. The worst offenders include Capitol One, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup.
The report also cites the example of T-Mobile US, which closed seven U.S. call centers last year, putting 3,300 employees out of work and moving operations to Honduras and the Philippines, all after accepting $61 million in state and local subsidies. Even though CWA won Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits for those workers after documenting their work had, in fact, been offshored, the company to this day denies the fact.
"What really ticks me off is that, instead of helping us get these benefits to re-start our lives, T-Mobile told the world they were not offshoring jobs. They told members of Congress and they told investors that the job losses resulted only from lower call volumes," said Jamone Ross, who worked at a T-Mobile call center in Frisco, Texas, that closed in June, 2012. "The Call Center and Worker Protection Act will require companies to be more honest."
Standard & Poor's
Guild members vote on the S&P contract.
Guild members at Standard & Poor's on Monday overwhelmingly ratified a three-year contract.
Super Shuttle drivers at Denver International Airport, members of CWA Local 7777, are fighting for a first contract and fairness. About 100 drivers, mostly African immigrants, have been bargaining since January 2012. Drivers overwhelmingly rejected the company's latest demands for a wage cut of about 30 percent that would cut workers' pay to $11.50 an hour.
Help support the SuperShuttle drivers by liking their Facebook page.
On Facebook, you can sign the petition that calls on the Colorado legislature and Governor John Hickenlooper (D) to support the drivers' fight for fairness. Or click here.
A NABET-CWA Local 43 member rallies against Detroit's Fox 2.
Below: Activists hand out peanuts at Tiger Stadium.
Detroit's Fox 2
NABET-CWA Local 43 is putting the spotlight on the refusal of Detroit's Fox 2 to bargain in good faith.
Members have been hitting the streets to mobilize against the station. During the recent World Series playoffs in Detroit, activists handed out bags of peanuts to fans going to the games with a label that read "Turn off FOX 2," implying that the company wanted our members to now work for peanuts. When the company attended an event at a big advertiser's furniture store, workers were there outside with signs.
NABET-CWA Local 43 represents many of the technical workers at Detroit's Fox 2. Contract negotiations began in May, but the October talks ended when the union suspended negotiations because the company was not taking it seriously. Fox is trying to eliminate breaks, expand jurisdictional rights so anybody working in the building can shoot video and stop providing photographers gear for inclement weather, among other issues.
The West Virginia Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that said CWA Verizon members at the Clarksburg call center were entitled to unemployment benefits for the two weeks in August 2011 that Verizon members were on strike.
"Our members have been waiting for more than two years, but this decision means they'll finally receive the benefits they're entitled to," said CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney.
While state law says that workers would be ineligible for unemployment compensation "due to a stoppage of work which exists because of a labor dispute," it also makes clear that "stoppage of work" refers to the employer's operations, not workers' status.
Verizon had appealed the decision to the State Supreme Court, arguing that operations during the strike could not be considered "normal" operations. In a 3-2 decision, the Supreme Court disagreed, noting that employees did handle calls at the Clarksburg call center during the strike.
Immigration Reform Now
Immigration reform activists staged a mock funeral march from the Civil Rights Memorial to Republican Party of Virginia headquarters, urging officials to join the rest of the nation in moving forward on historic immigration reform legislation.
TSEU Stops Outsourcing Plan at University of Texas
A 10-month community campaign by Texas State Employees Union-CWA Local 6186 and allies convinced the University of Texas at Austin to drop plans to cut jobs, outsource food service jobs and raise student fees.
The UT administration decided that its "Smarter Systems for a Greater UT" wasn't such a smart idea after all.
TSEU members have been organizing and mobilizing on campus to stop the administration's plan that would cut jobs and raise student fees and worked with the UT Save Our Community coalition – representing student organizations, faith groups and local non-profit organizations – to make sure the message was heard.
TSEU and the community coalition are keeping up the fight against another administration proposal that would eliminate 500 jobs in Human Resources, Information Technologies, Procurement and Financial, at a cost of $160 to $180 million. Local elected officials joined a TSEU-Save Our Community Coalition forum that criticized the plan.
When university workers stand together and fight by organizing and mobilizing against privatization, we can win, TSEU says.
CWA supports the Justice Department's settlement of its lawsuit blocking the merger of US Airways and American Airlines.
CWA will review the proposed settlement agreement in terms of the potential impact on CWA members at all affected airlines, but we believe the merged carrier will create a stronger, more competitive airline that will provide better service and more options to passengers than either airline can do alone. That means quality jobs and opportunity for the airlines' 70,000 employees and expanded service for passengers.
For employees at American Airlines who have lost jobs and seen their benefits slashed by the company's bankruptcy strategy and for US Airways employees who have suffered through two bankruptcies and pay and benefit cuts, this merger will provide a new work environment that recognizes the value of front-line employees.
The settlement will avoid a trial that was scheduled to start on Nov. 25.
After a nearly four-decade journey, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has finally made it out of the Senate with bipartisan support and creates what no other law currently does: Express protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the workplace.
CWA has worked to enshrine these protections in our union contracts, so that workers do not have to hide who they are out of fear of losing their jobs and livelihoods. But not everyone has the protection of a strong union contract. Every year, discrimination occurs in many forms, as American workers aren't hired, are fired, do not receive job promotions, or deal with verbal and physical abuse from co-workers and supervisors simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
ENDA is an important step in recognizing that employment decisions should be made on the basis of an individual's ability to perform a job. People that work hard and perform well should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, businesses and faith communities. It's time to remind our lawmakers of that fact, as the bill moves to the House, where Speaker John Boehner has vowed to kill this critical legislation.
Pete Seeger surprises TNG activists in Buffalo.
TNG-CWA members attending a Guild district council meeting in Buffalo last weekend got a huge surprise when legendary folk singer Pete Seeger strolled into their conference room.
"This very tall man walked in and astounded everybody by stepping up on a chair," said Janet Ortegon Weyandt, president of the Sheboygan local and the newest member of the Guild's Sector Executive Council. "He is 94! He sang us a song, then he stepped down and talked about his life, when he thought he might go into the newspaper business back when he was very young."
Speaking for just a couple of minutes, Seeger recalled how, "60 years ago, 70 years ago, I wanted to be a newspaper man." He spoke of working on a primary school and then prep school newspaper, which lead to a scholarship where he continued to learn the craft of journalism.