- You Won't Want to Miss This Month's Town Hall Call
- Our Veterans Deserve More than Tickets to a Ball Game
- Election Day 2013
- NLRB Moves Forward On Unfair Labor Practice Charges Against T-Mobile US
- Organizing Update
- Bargaining Update
- The President's Nominees Deserve an Up-or-Down Vote
- Building Our Movement
AFSCME President Lee Saunders will join CWA President Larry Cohen on CWA's next Town Hall Call on Thursday, Nov. 21.
The two leaders will be candidly discussing the state of workers and the future of the labor movement on 30-minute call. And both AFSCME and CWA activists will be tuning in. 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.
A message from CWA President Larry Cohen:
Once again we honor the tens of thousands of CWA veterans among our active and retired members. We honor them not simply on this day, but by ensuring they have the essential health care and other services they need, whether they are working or retired.
But, as Congress begins to take up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), we need to ask ourselves, "What does patriotism mean in the 21st century? What is the nature of our democracy, as we recall the sacrifices of so many?"
Vietnam is a major focus of the TPP. Vietnam has a population of 90 million and a minimum wage of 25 cents per hour. Yes, there are 11 other nations involved in the talks, but a major focus of the National Security Council, State Department and the U.S. Trade Representative is increasing U.S. influence in Vietnam.
Manufacturing jobs are already moving from China to Vietnam, as multinational corporations seek lower wages and fewer environmental regulations. Since NAFTA, Presidents Clinton, Bush and now Obama have all told us that exports would grow, yet now we see services jobs, as well as manufacturing jobs, devastated by these deals, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and multinational corporations cheer on new places to maximize profits.
Why should we expect better from the TPP and a process that includes 600 multinational corporations and no labor, environmental or elected representatives? We need economic policy, not foreign policy that pretends to be economic policy. Fair trade means workers' rights to organize and bargain, not just investment rights. It's not just about the loss of our jobs, it's about the effects on our standard of living, as we are forced to choose between cutting pay or exporting our jobs to lower wage nations.
Why have three presidents negotiated terms and conditions that Americans would overwhelmingly reject if we had a voice? Why do we see our veterans honored at an increasing number of events, but not when it comes to their jobs and standard of living?
There are real answers to these questions, and they all start with fighting back. We must say no to trade deals that don't prioritize our rights, our communities, our living standards and our environment. Investment should be based on that platform, not a belief that the sum total of policies benefitting multinational corporations and U.S. foreign policy work out for the rest of us.
Most Democrats and many Republican members of Congress have already told the president that they will oppose the TPP and that democracy means transparency, openness and the real inclusion of public interests. They have stated they will only support a process with real debate, not fast tracking another trade deal through the Congress without lawmakers' involvement or amendments.
We won't forget the irony of the Vietnamese government becoming a leading party to the TPP negotiations, 40 years after the peace agreement and the sacrifice of so many. This is not about the Vietnamese people, but a government that thinks that workers' rights and environmental and safety concerns are not issues. Let's make this Veterans Day a time to recommit to our values, as we honor those who served and those who work hard every day, whose jobs, living standards and rights are on the line.
CWAers had plenty to celebrate on Election Day.
In New York City, Bill de Blasio won the mayor's race, making him the first Democrat to gain the seat in 20 years.
In New Jersey, Democrats in the state legislature survived Republican Gov. Chris Christie's victory over Barbara Buono, holding on to majorities in both the Senate and Assembly to better fend off Christie's future attacks on working families. CWA's 68,000 members in the state campaigned hard for a ballot question that will raise the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour, and voters responded with an overwhelmingly approval.
CWAers celebrate at Terry McAuliffe's victory party.
Below: CWA's GOTV troops get ready to hit the streets in New Jersey.
In Virginia, Terry McAuliffe became the state's next governor and Democratic state Sen. Ralph Northam won the race for lieutenant governor.
In Houston, mayoral candidate Ben Hall lost. But we sent a message to the sitting Democratic mayor, who is term limited, so CWA's candidate will have another shot.
And in Ohio, voters defeated Republican Gov. John Kasich-backed candidates and took back the mayoral seats in Dayton, Toledo and Cuyahoga Falls. In Cincinnati, CWA also helped defeat Issue 4, a ballot initiative which would have overhauled the city's pension system.
"In both Virginia and New Jersey, CWA was the No. 1 union in the state with volunteer shifts, helping to not only get our message out to other members, but moving our message of worker rights and dignity to all voters," said CWA Political Director Rafael Navar. "It is because of their commitment and dedication, that we were able to achieve big victories this November for all working people in those states. CWA is building a volunteer army that will build a movement in this country for workers' rights, dignity and justice."
Our volunteers were out in full force this election season.
CWA was a key early endorser of de Blasio's mayoral candidacy. De Blasio was a vocal supporter of Cablevision workers in Brooklyn, and now the newly elected mayor has pledged his continued support to ensure these workers get their first contract.
In New Jersey and Virginia, CWA got this work started early with a new program, the Political Leadership Boot Camp. Designed to strengthen activists' skills, it combined leadership development with political action. The training's topics included political economy, movement building and member-to-member conversations. These workshops also focused on the components of a campaign, recruiting volunteers and signing up PAF donors.
Many of the volunteers were new members who hadn't done political work at this level before. Now they're gearing up to pivot to the legislative cycle, where activists will be fighting back against Verizon's push for phone deregulation in Virginia, fighting for rights for correctional officers and lobbying for fair contracts for home child-care providers in New Jersey and Cablevision technicians in New York.
On Nov. 1, the NLRB Acting General Counsel, Lafe E. Solomon, announced that the U.S. government would prosecute T-Mobile US for violating U.S. labor law.
Josh Coleman, a wrongfully terminated T-Mobile US worker, and CWA President Larry Cohen.
The government now intends to prove that T-Mobile US illegally fired Joshua Coleman and disciplined Ellen Brackeen, who both worked at a call center in Wichita, Kan., because of their union activity.
"The General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board has taken an important step in prosecuting T-Mobile US on the discharge of Josh Coleman, as well as discipline against Ellen Brackeen," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "The NLRB will also reopen the charge related to destroying Josh's notebooks documenting discrimination for union activity at the site. This action by the General Counsel is rare and speaks to the systematic abuse of workers' rights by T-Mobile US and the hands off approach by Deutsche Telekom, a German corporation that owns 75 percent of T-Mobile US. Earlier this year several thousand Deutsche Telekom workers in Germany wore shirts to work and other public events that said, 'We are all Josh.'
"All of us in CWA and the German union ver.di applaud the action of the General Counsel, and we look forward to the day when T-Mobile US is tolerant of those who organize, just as its German owner Deutsche Telekom has been for generations."
A date for the hearing will be set by the NLRB.
The decision again exposes T-Mobile US management's harassment of workers who only want a voice in their workplace. German workers have bargaining rights and union representation, and Deutsche Telekom publicly acknowledges the value of its relationship with ver.di. But in the United States, T-Mobile US management has stepped up a campaign of fear, intimidation and harassment against U.S. workers who want the same union voice.
Coleman worked for three and half years at a T-Mobile customer call center, where he was a top performer, receiving many promotions, performance awards and written commendations. He also was selected to train newly hired employees. That all changed as Coleman continued to voice his support for union representation on the job. He said, "I was an active and vocal supporter of having a union and getting a voice on the job for my co-workers and myself. I was targeted and ultimately fired for this activity, despite the fact that none of the allegations made against me were true."
Coleman was fired in May 2013, and CWA immediately filed unfair labor practice charges.
From the beginning, CWA has been clear that these two workers – particularly Coleman – were singled out because of their union activity. Coleman was fired "without adhering to normal disciplinary procedures" and "pursuant to policies that were unwritten, unannounced and unknown" to Coleman and other T-Mobile US workers in Wichita. When Coleman returned to the call center to retrieve his personal belongings, he learned that pages containing notes about his union activities and those of his co-workers had been removed from his notebook. The call center's human resources director said she read the notes, considered them to be confidential T-Mobile information and confiscated them. This is direct and clear evidence of T-Mobile US's harassment, intimidation and animus toward workers who want union representation.
Ver.di has made clear that the reasons for the nationwide protests by German workers are the continued attacks against employees who actively support the union, and the anti-union attitude from upper management of the U.S. subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. Employees who want independent representation through a union face sanctions up to and including dismissal. Ver.di leader Lothar Schröeder has repeatedly called for Coleman's reinstatement.
Frontier Airlines and Republic Airways
AFA-CWA International President Veda Shook reports that cards were delivered on Wednesday to the National Mediation Board requesting an election for the Flight Attendants at Frontier Airlines and Republic Airways.
She said, "The Republic Flight Attendants did a great job in garnering majority support of their group in under six weeks!"
After ten months of bargaining, CWA has reached a tentative agreement with Verizon West toward a new union contract covering about 4,500 workers. A ratification vote is scheduled Nov. 20 on the proposed deal, which raises wages over four years.
"Our bargaining team has unanimously recommended a 'yes' vote on this contract, which returns jobs to our bargaining unit and limits outsourcing of FiOS work," said Jim Weitkamp, CWA Vice President for District 9. "As in the rest of the country, we have had to agree to some difficult concessions in the area of pensions and medical benefits, but we also preserved many terms and benefits the company had sought to take away."
CWA members at Verizon West had been working without a contract since September, when slow progress caused the union to cancel an earlier extension. The affected workers include FiOS technicians, operators, call center representatives, customer service representatives, cable splicers, field technicians for business and residential service, buried service wire employees and other job titles throughout California.
The Washington Post
After months of difficult bargaining, interrupted by The Washington Post's sale to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Newspaper Guild negotiators have reached a tentative one-year agreement that includes raises for all Post employees, with an extra pay hike for more than three dozen of the unit's lowest-paid workers. "On the whole, the Guild's bargaining committee believes this is a good contract and has voted unanimously to endorse it," the committee said in a statement. "We would like to express our gratitude to the Post's management – and particularly its new owner, Jeff Bezos – for reaching a fair agreement."
About 100 Denver SuperShuttle drivers are waiting to hear back from management to see if they reach an agreement to end a more than year-long conflict over wages. If a deal isn't reached, we will be mobilizing throughout Denver International Airport. Read more at Denver Westword.
South Slope Communications
Workers have voted down a contract offer from South Slope Communications in Iowa. After the contract expired last week, the company immediately locked out 55 employees. Read more at KCRG.
Standard & Poor's
The New York Guild and Standard & Poor's have tentatively agreed on a new contract that includes a wage increase, extra credit in the pension plan and employment security. The new three-year contract, which is subject to Guild members' ratification, also provides safeguards for employees under a new performance appraisal review system. Read more here.
NABET-CWA Local 54048 members picket their television station.
NABET-CWA Local 54048 is fighting for a fair contract at WNEM TV-5 in Saginaw, Mich. Members – photographers, editors, directors, on-air talent and engineers – recently voted down the latest contract offer from Meredith Corporation, a media conglomerate that owns the television station. Since then, they've been picketing in front of the studio, carrying signs that read, "TV-5 Unfair to Families" and "TV-5 Local Liars."
"WNEM's latest contract proposal would severely jeopardize workers' job security, retirement security, work jurisdiction and reduce on-air employees to 'at will' employment status," said NABET-CWA Local 54048 President Zara Maldonado. "Based on Meredith's economic success recently, our members deserve much better."
The contract expired on Nov. 3.
In a Huffington Post blog post, CWA President Larry Cohen laid out why the Senate minority's decision to block a vote on the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency was "a new low."
Cohen said Republicans' obstruction of Watt's nomination and that of Patricia Millett, who was nominated to fill one of three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, clearly shows why Majority Leader Harry Reid must move forward to fix the broken Senate rules.
"It is past time for Democrats to take this small step so that millions of American who voted for this Senate and this president have at least this small bit of their voices heard," he wrote.
Never before has cloture been used to prevent a sitting member of Congress from a presidential appointment. The Senate's constitutional obligation is to advise and consent, not obstruct. In our democracy, all of the president's nominees deserve an up-or-down vote.
Earlier this year, Reid stood up to the obstructionists and won confirmation votes for the president's nominees. To counter this current round of obstruction, the majority leader should use the procedural motion that's been used 17 times since 1978 to move these nominees to a vote.
Time is Now!
On Election Day, CWA and CASA de Maryland activists were out in full force in Majority Whip Eric Cantor's home district in Virginia. Their message: Virginia voters overwhelmingly support comprehensive, common sense immigration reform.
We Work Better Together
This week, ver.di activists from T-Mobile Germany were in South Carolina talking to T-Mobile employees at a Charleston call center.
Mississippi Organizing Institute
The three-day training was organized by Liz Roberson, assistant to the vice president for public, health care and education workers; Brenda Scott, president of CWA Local 3570; and Lisa Kermish, vice president of UPTE-CWA Local 9119.