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CWA e-Newsletter: Oct. 16, 2014

CWA e-Newsletter

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In Honduras, CWA President Larry Cohen met with women activists, members of Foro de Mujeres por la Vida (the Forum of Women for Life) who are fighting for real change in that country.

CWA President Larry Cohen was in Honduras Oct. 12-15 for meetings with Honduran workers and union leaders, community and women's activists, elected officials and others to focus awareness on the immigration crisis affecting Central American families and the connection with CAFTA and similar bad trade deals. He was joined by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the leading Democratic member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, and other U.S. union leaders.


This sign touting minimum wage jobs so that deportees can live "the American dream" greets workers after their tortuous journey to the U.S. and back to Honduras.

At the deportation center in San Pedro Sula, planes land with over 100 Hondurans a day, returned from our border prisons to their native land. They are mostly young men, shackled hands and legs, who have harrowing tales of days in what they call the "ice box," the U.S. detention centers on our borders that are so crowded they must stand up for hours, taking turns lying down to sleep. These were heartbreaking conversations, nearly hopeless tales through tears – of failed attempts to unify with families or find work.

Read more here.

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The clock is ticking. With just weeks until Election Day, CWA activists in Iowa are rallying around pro-worker candidates – before it's too late.

"This election is a tipping point," said Steve Abbot, president of CWA Local 7108.

In the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley is squaring off against Republican Joni Ernst, a state senator. Braley vows to keep promises to our seniors, while Ernst wants to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher program. Braley supports raising the minimum wage, while Ernst actually voted against a minimum wage hike for Iowans and wants to repeal the federal minimum wage. Braley is a big advocate for women's health and green energy. Ernst wants to abolish a number of federal agencies.

"It would be bad enough to have Ernst as our senator. But if Ernst and a few others are elected and turn the majority to Republican control, workers won't know what hit them," Abbot said. "Lamar Alexander, the Republican senator from Tennessee, would head the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee. And he plans to go after the National Labor Relations Board, the only path for workplace justice for millions of workers. Alexander, along with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, says he wants to 'reform' the NLRB but his proposed bill will gut worker protections."

CWA activists are also working hard to educate voters about Braley's opposition the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other misguided trade deals that outsource our jobs. Working families need to know that this corporate power grab would undermine the rules and regulations meant to protect us from them.

And we're not only targeting the Senate race. Activists understand that if we win all four House seats this election cycle, that's four more votes against the TPP and "fast track," a bill that would speed the trade deal to completion without any congressional debate or amendments.

CWA has held labor walks in Waterloo, Burlington and Cedar Rapids. Across the state, activists are phone banking, leafleting and having one-on-one discussions at worksites. A recent town hall call for retirees helped recruit even more helping hands in the state.

Lastly, a big part of our election program is working with our partners, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a grassroots organizing dedicating to community building around the state. Together, we're focusing on getting people who aren't likely to vote to the polls in Davenport and Des Moines.

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AFA-CWA reached a tentative agreement with Alaska Airlines management covering 3,300 Flight Attendants. The five year agreement was reached with the assistance of the National Mediation Board. The agreement will be presented to the Alaska Airlines Flight Attendant leadership, then sent to the membership for a ratification vote.

"The solidarity of the Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants gave us the leverage in negotiations to reach a tentative agreement on a new contract," said Jeffrey Peterson, AFA president at Alaska Airlines. Throughout negotiations, Alaska Airlines earned record-breaking profits and top awards for customer satisfaction, all with the assistance of Flight Attendants.

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After 18 months, CWA Local 3010 members have a new executive director of Puerto Rico's 911 system. The union has spent the last year bringing to light the previous director's mismanagement of the emergency agency and calling for his removal.


CWA Local 3010 President Rafael Castro Torres talks about the positive change for the 911 emergency system in Puerto Rico.

CWA Local 3010 President Rafael Castro Torres said union members consider the departure "a victory similar to signing a bargaining agreement."

The new Executive Director, Juan G. Morales, has already met with workers and listened to their ideas about how to increase revenues for the island's 911 system.

"He took our ideas very positively and called a meeting to review what we had done," he said.

It's a sea change from the workers' experiences over the past 18 months in a struggle with bad morale and the atmosphere of distrust created by the former director, a political appointee without background in emergency management or administration and who let the workers know at the outset that he didn't care much for unions and that it was going to be his way, or the highway.

Here is Torres speaking about the developments.

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U.S. Supreme Court Puts Wisconsin Voter ID Law on Hold

Thousands of Wisconsin voters will be able to vote in the upcoming midterm elections after the U.S. Supreme Court over the weekend stepped in and stopped from taking effect a Voter ID law meant to frustrate their ability to vote.

Opponents of the law have argued that it is too late for many people to obtain the required identifications. The court, which is deciding whether to take the case, ruled that it is too late to implement the IDs for the midterms.

And just yesterday, in a ruling that could affect a key U.S. Senate race, the Arkansas Supreme Court declared that state's voter ID law unconstitutional. The unanimous decision upheld a lower court and came just days before early balloting begins Monday for the Nov. 4 election.

Meanwhile, the picture is not so clear in Texas where a U.S. District Court judge last week shelved the state's Photo ID law, one of the strictest in the nation, as 'discriminatory' and 'unconstitutional' only to have the notorious Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals immediately put it back into effect.

The plaintiffs, including the U.S. Justice Department, have filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will now have to determine whether more than 600,000 Texans will get to vote on Nov. 4. Plaintiffs have argued that the law would leave that many Texans – mostly blacks and Hispanics – without sufficient identification to vote in November elections.

In the Wisconsin case, the state was rushing to put into effect the controversial law that the Republican-dominated state legislature enacted in 2011. Earlier court decisions had stopped the law from going into effect but, on September 12, a judge ruled the state could require that voters show photo identification.

The case was then appealed to the full court. But because the normally 11-member court is currently short a member, the court deadlocked 5-5 on whether to take the case, meaning the law could take effect. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and halted it.

Judge Richard Posner, one of the judges who wanted to hear the case, wrote a scathing opinion on the proliferation of voter photo ID laws. Posner, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, is the most respected conservative jurist in the nation and could be called the grandfather of voter photo identification laws.

In his new opinion, Posner described voter ID laws as "a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government."

He called "evidence" of impersonation fraud put forward by proponents of Voter ID "downright goofy, if not paranoid."

"There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud, if there is no actual danger of such fraud, and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens," Posner wrote.

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With less than 20 days before Election Day, Nov. 4, CWA members and activists across the nation are staffing phone banks, joining labor walks, participating in door knocks and talking one-on-one with co-workers in the effort to elect leaders who will support working families.


North Carolina
Toria Boldware, a CWA Local 3603 member in North Carolina, working the phones for the elections. She also organized the Next Generation Senatorial Debate Watch Party earlier in the week (10/7) that signed up volunteers for phonebanks and walks later in the month.


17 Southfield, MI, CWA volunteers, including District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton, ready for the AFL-CIO Labor Walk to round up midterm elections votes.


April Gill and Lee Larkins of IUE-CWA Local 765 in the Cincinnati area making calls with the Ohio AFL-CIO workers voice program in support of pro-worker candidates, including Connie Pillich for State Treasurer who is taking on Josh Mandel.


Howard Terry of CWA-IUE 1140 and John Mulloy of CWA Local 7200 make calls for Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan.


New York
CWA Local 1102 members working the phones yesterday for Andrew Cuomo for governor of New York and Domenic Recchia, Jr. for Congress.

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Thousands of people gathered for a Day of Action in Ferguson, Mo. Demonstrators from CWA, the AFL-CIO, Coalition of Black Trade Unions, and other unions joined civil rights community groups across Missouri in the continuing protest of the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown and calling for economic, racial and social justice.

CWA members and a coalition of youth, labor and community groups gathered in St. Louis, Mo., over the weekend to march for economic, racial and social justice in continuing protests over the August 9, 2014 police shooting of Ferguson, Mo. teenager Michael Brown.

Local 6355 Lead Organizer Mark Esters, who is a vice president of the St. Louis Chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, addressed the more than 3,000 people who turned out for the march from the St. Louis City Hall to the Gateway Arch in Downtown St. Louis.

"We Salute and give praise to youth who put their lives on the front line to expose racial, social and economic injustices in Ferguson for the whole world to see," Esters said. "We are here today to let you know you are not standing alone. CWA members and the national AFL-CIO reach out in support of changing policies that disenfranchise our communities."

CWA Local 6355 President Bradley Harmon said many members of the Local live in Ferguson and they are surprised Wilson remains on the job, on the payroll and has not faced any disciplinary action from the Ferguson Police Department over the shooting.

"We know how due process works," Harmon said. "It should have applied to Michael Brown. He should not have been shot down in the street like he was. Since Police Officer Darren Wilson killed him in August, we have had CWA members who live in Ferguson tear gassed and sent to jail for protesting the shooting. It is not right. It's totally upside down who gets justice and who gets punished."

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CWA Local 1171 said its final thank you to its vice president Daryl Steele, who recently passed away, with a poem. Connie Chambers wrote this tribute on behalf of the local to honor Steele's "never ending fight."

Since our employment at USAir
The passing of many were much,
Some we worked with side by side
Some an acquaintance of such.
But, the passing of a coworker
is incomprehensible, when unexpected,
Each of us question our own mortality
Each of us are affected.
Daryl Steele joined the company
in July of 2008
and with his passing at this time
it's appropriate for all to participate.
Participate in our memory of
what Daryl was really about
A man of integrity and morals
A man who had some clout.
Daryl was a union man
from his Verizon Days at that,
he knew how to pitch the ball
and he knew to hold the bat.
Daryl took on the position
of our union VP when needed,
At the time of turmoil and confusion
he continued...and he succeeded.
Daryl shared some words with us
revealed now to unfold:
He wanted to retire after five years
but his plan was put on hold.
He said: "I must finish my quest,
to help a union stay strong
and I promise to do my best
unity is right from wrong"
Daryl died 5 days after
the union vote came in
Daryl put aside his health
As he focused on the words...we win!
We thank you Daryl for your help
in helping us unite,
We recognize and we honor
your never ending fight.
And, through it all some differences
with people and personality,
But with it all, you succumbed
seeing unity as rationality!

Our Final Thank you Daryl Steele
Rest in Peace.
Rest in Peace.

By Connie Chambers, CSA LGA

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IUE-CWA has awarded 17 partial college scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year. IUE-CWA members' children and grandchildren, including those of retired or deceased members, were eligible for the various awards.

Paul Jennings Scholarship for $3,000:

  • Cassandra Crickard, granddaughter of Tom Hart, Local 802, is attending Indiana Tech

Bruce Van Ess Scholarship for $2,500:

  • Triston Chism, son of Dwight Chism, Local 770, is attending University of Montevallo

Sal Ingrassia Scholarship for $2,500:

  • Alberto Torres, son of Rui Torres, Local 427, is attending The College of New Jersey

David J. Fitzmaurice Scholarship for $2,000:

  • Claudia Kolanovic, daughter Branimir Kolanovic, Local 102 FW, is attending Lehigh University

Robert L. Livingston Scholarship for $1,500:

  • Jerry Cimo, son of Stephen Ingerson, Local 301, is attending Binghamton University
  • Quentin Noland, son of Shawn Noland, Local 1004, is attending Cowley College

George Hutchens Scholarship for $1,500:

  • Lauren Boudreau, daughter of Brian Boudreau, Local 359, is attending Nova Southeastern University

Willie Rudd Scholarship for $1,000:

  • Rachel Stucke, daughter of James Stucke, Local 106, is attending Camden County College

James B. Carey Scholarship for $1,000:

  • Jalyn Radziminski-Smith, daughter of Monica Radziminski, Local 901, is attending Emory University
  • Thomas Bullis, son of Anthony Bullis, Local 301, is attending Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
  • Justin Lederer, grandson of George Clinton, Local 1116, is attending Missouri Western
  • Miah Salgado, granddaughter of William Higgins, Local 427, is attending Institute of Culinary Education
  • Amanda Kaat, daughter of Timothy Kaat, Local 800 FW, is attending University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Brandon Menjivar, son of Carlos Menjivar, Local 850, is attending California State University-San Marcos
  • Joshua Alibrando, son of William Alibrando, Local 106, is attending Camden County College
  • Jordan Bingman, son of Eddie Bingman, Local 651, is attending Slippery Rock University

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Mother Jones just published a must-read set of charts that explains how most Americans still haven't recovered from the Great Recession. Instead, five years later, 95 percent of income growth has gone to the super wealthy.

Check it out here.