CWA e-Newsletter: Oct. 30, 2014 | Communications Workers of America

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CWA e-Newsletter: Oct. 30, 2014

CWA e-Newsletter

Want to be in next week's CWA Newsletter? Send your stories and photos to blog@cwa-union.org or @CWANews. Follow the latest developments at www.resistancegrowing.org.

Election Countdown

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CWA activists across the country are ramping up get-out-the-vote efforts, as we sprint towards Election Day. CWAers are phone banking, knocking on doors and sending out mailers to help support candidates dedicated to helping working families. We're rallying our allies and forging new partnerships. Every second of every day counts, as we head into the most wide-open Senate election in a decade.

Here are a couple of tools to help you find your polling places.

Or, text CWAVOTES to 69866 followed by your street address and zip code and you will get a text back with your polling place.

For working families, it matters who is elected to state legislatures, governors' mansions and the U.S. House and Senate. There are five days to go. We all need to do everything we can.

WI

CWA Wisconsin Political Council President, active retiree and Legislative Political Action Team member Ann McNeary joins retired and active volunteers at the WI-AFL-CIO phone bank and get-out-the-vote effort.

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WA

Jeanne Stewart, president of CWA Local 7803, joins activists in getting out the vote in Washington state.

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OH

CWA members in Cleveland keep the phones going.

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E-Board

Members of Local 7777's Executive Board join CWA phone banking in Denver, Colorado.

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VA

In Annandale, Va., NABET-CWA Local 52031member Chip Catherine makes calls to union households for Virginia congressional elections.

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IA

In door knocking with Iowa CWAers, Steve Abbot, left, president of the CWA Iowa State Council, talks with residents about why this election is so important.

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KY

Members of IUE-CWA Local 83761 were ready to hit the streets to support Alison Lundergan Grimes' Senate campaign.

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CA

In Bakersfield, Calif., members of CWA Local 9416 are working hard to get out the vote.


KY CWAers Pulling Out All the Stops in Bluegrass State

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IUE-CWA Local 83761 members and activists go into the home stretch fighting for every vote for candidates in races around Kentucky in the Nov. 4 midterm elections.

Whether it is hand-billing, going door-to-door, one-on-one and member-to-member contacts, or walks and working the phone banks, they are energized to keep Democratic control of the Kentucky State House of Representatives as well as trying to elect Alison Lundergan Grimes in place of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, IUE-CWA Political Program Manager Heather Atkinson said.

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A member of IUE-CWA Local 83761 gets started on the night's phone banking in Louisville, Kentucky.

McConnell and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have co-sponsored a bill to gut the National Labor Relations Act that will render the board useless to help workers. If Republicans control the Senate, McConnell will become the Senate majority leader and Alexander chair of the senate committee that oversees the NLRB.

Local 83761, with more than 4,000 members at the General Electric Appliance Park in Louisville, have been especially motivated for at least two key reasons. Kentucky Republicans have promoted right-to-work legislations and McConnell has compiled a 30-year record of voting for one bad trade deal after another, starting with the North American Free Trade Agreement, and now supporting the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership deal currently under negotiation.

"His record is very clear," Atkinson said. "He stands with corporations rather than workers on this issue."

This week, Kentucky's two leading newspapers, the Louisville Courier Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader, gave full-throated endorsements of Grimes.

"We urge voters to choose the future and elect Alison Lundergan Grimes," the Courier-Journal said.

The Herald-Leader did not mince words in urging voters to pick Grimes over McConnell. In an uncompromising editorial, the newspaper said:

McConnell has sabotaged jobs and transportation bills, even as Kentucky's unemployment exceeds the nation's and an Interstate 75 bridge crumbles over the Ohio River. He blocked tax credits for companies that move jobs back to this country while preserving breaks for those that move jobs overseas. He opposed extending unemployment benefits, while bemoaning the "jobless" recovery. He brags about resolving crises that he helped create.

The Senate may never recover from the bitter paralysis McConnell has inflicted through record filibusters that allow his minority to rule by obstruction.


CWA Mourns the Death of Young TU Activist

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Our union brother Richard Blake Poindexter passed away last week. He had been suffering from flu-like symptoms, slipped into a coma and died the next day. Blake, as he was known to friends, co-workers and fellow activists, was 27 years old.

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Blake Poindexter, a TU activist who had just been named a CWA Special Assignment Organizer, will be remembered by TU and CWAers for his commitment to justice and workers' rights.

Beloved by co-workers and fellow activists alike, Blake was a customer service representative at the T-Mobile Frisco, Texas, technical support center. Following the loss of his job, after the company closed seven call centers in 2012, Blake rallied co-workers from the closed call centers and worked with CWA in gaining Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits for the 3,300 T-Mobile USA workers.

Blake touched many lives as he took on an increasingly activist role, including addressing the CWA Legislative Political Conference in May 2014 and the Deutsche Telekom annual meeting in Cologne, Germany in 2012. Condolences came from as far away as Germany, where Blake had connected with members of ver.di, the union representing workers at Deutsche Telekom, which owns majority shares in T-Mobile USA. ver.di's leadership expressed their sorrow in a letter:

All of us are in a state of deep shock since we learned about Blake's sudden death. Many of us have known him personally for a long time. His calm and thoughtful manner was dear to us...We are all greatly saddened by this enormous loss and we feel with you and his family and offer our most heartfelt condolences.

Because of his skills and unwavering commitment, CWA hired Blake as a local organizer to work at various locations – Wichita, Mission, and Springfield. Just this month, he became a Special Assignment Organizer.

"Blake raised his voice for fairness and justice and helped rally T-Mobile workers around the cause of workers' rights," CWA President Larry Cohen said. "Blake will be remembered across our union and across the Atlantic by thousands of members of the German union ver.di who were inspired by him and other TU activists to stand up for the rights of T-Mobile US workers. We will honor his memory by fighting on."


Turn Out For What

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Voting Rights Under Attack

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...

This week, Texas turned away a 93-year-old registered voter because he didn't meet the stringent requirements of the state's new voter ID law. His driver's license had expired and he had never gotten a veteran's identification card. Even though he's voted his entire life, the man was unable to cast a ballot.

In Georgia, a state judge declined to act in a dispute over 56,000 voter registration applications. Because election officials didn't process the applications fast enough, say the NAACP and voter rights groups, these citizens will not be able to get to vote in their state's competitive Senate and gubernatorial races.

In North Carolina, Republicans attempted to take away a polling station from Appalachian State University – but students fought back against the voter suppression and won.

And a new Al Jazeera America investigation has found that Jim Crow is alive and well. Millions of voters – especially blacks, Hispanics and Asians – are being wrongfully purged from the rolls in 27 states because of a Republican program designed to root out "voter fraud." The Interstate Crosscheck program is supposed to find double voters, but instead sloppy methodology has led to obvious mismatches and its lists are heavily weighted with common minority surnames, who happen to vote overwhelmingly Democratic. (Read more about the six-month-long investigation here.)


TPP Dominates Metro Station

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Commuters in the nation's capital are meeting the victims of bad trade deals.

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The Metro station near the U.S. Capitol will have a single message aimed at members of Congress and their staff over the next four weeks: Say No to Fast Track and TPP.

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For the next four weeks, the Capitol South Metro Station in Washington, D.C., will be dominated by TPP Ads. All the billboards and even the floor will be wallpapered with workers' photos and testimonials about bad trade deals. And they explain why fast track, which would rush trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress without debate or amendments, would undermine our already fragile economy.

Capitol South Metro Station, used by most Congressional staff, is one of the city's busiest transit hubs.

CWA partnered with the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, and other unions to launch the unconventional ad campaign designed to send a message to Congress to say no to fast track.

"We need a 21st century trade deal which puts the interests of working families above corporate interests," CWA President Larry Cohen said. "Citizen rights should trump corporate profits."

The graphics of the ads, workers' stories and a petition can be found at the companion website, NoFastTrack.com. One of the campaign's faces belongs to Richard Blake Poindexter, a young TU activist whose job was outsourced to the Philippines. Poindexter unexpectedly passed away last week before he could see the ads go up. Read the newsletter's previous story.

"Fast Track is a misguided and undemocratic policy that advances the corporate trade agenda and bad deals like NAFTA, CAFTA, and the Korea FTA," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "Congress must end the secrecy and create a new process to develop and implement trade, investment and economic policies that will promote good jobs, rising wages, a clean environment and a fair economy for us all. America's workers simply can't afford more fast track."


Stop the Sneak Attack on Democracy!

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Get ready for a #StopFastTrack week of action.

November 8 to 14, members of our anti-fast track coalition will be rallying activists around the country to make sure this dangerous legislation does not sneak through now or in early 2015.

That week, President Obama and other heads of state will be traveling to Asia to push forward Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to finalization. At the same time, Congress will be headed into its "lame duck" session with a number of corporate interest groups calling for fast track legislation.

We need you to contact your members of Congress, sign up for social media alerts, write letters to the editor and organize anti-fast track demonstrations!

Learn more at StopFastTrack.com.


Local 3179 President Sarnoff Addresses Moral Monday Florida Rally

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CWA Local 3179 President Steve Sarnoff, also a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives District 67 House seat, was a featured speaker at this week's Moral Monday Florida Rally at St. Petersburg. Here is a link to one of the stories about the rally.


Bargaining Update

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American Airlines

Members of the CWA steering committee at American Airlines met in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Tex., this week, to review the results of the bargaining issue survey that agents completed and select bargaining committee members. Agents won union representation on Sept. 9 in a big NMB election victory.

Washington Post

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CWA Steering Committee members meet in Texas.

Below: TNG-CWA members at the Washington Post, joined by CWA and labor activists, protest management's giveback demands and rally for a fair contract.

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Tough bargaining is underway covering about 900 TNG-CWA members at the Washington Post, and union workers and allies from the DC labor community rallied with Post workers outside the newspaper's offices, fighting back against the company's attack on their jobs and retirement security.

Management wants to cut wages by 17 percent, with more cuts to come. It's also demanding givebacks in severance pay, seniority and job security, and wants to end payroll deduction for union dues. Management also is demanding that the defined benefits pension plan covering longtime workers be frozen and that pensions for new employees be abolished altogether.

Last November, TNG-CWA Local 32035 reached a one year agreement, the first to be bargained under new owner and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

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The State Journal-Register

About 75 activists marched and shouted their support for newsroom employees of The State Journal-Register (in Springfield, Ill.) who are trying to negotiate their first contract with GateHouse Media, the newspaper's owner. Newspaper workers haven't had a pay raise in seven years, but GateHouse keeps paying bonuses to top executives. Negotiations resumed Oct. 29.


Union Plus Offers Mortgage Help to Members Who Served in U.S. Armed Forces

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Union Plus wants to make the dream of homeownership a reality for hard-working union members who are veterans of our armed forces. Owning a home is out of reach of far too many, especially those who sacrificed to protect our country.

Union Plus will offer qualified union member veterans a $1,000 grant to offset down payment costs under this new mortgage program. Just 33 percent of veterans report looking for a home within the first year of their return from active duty, citing the high cost of home prices and inability to come up with a down payment as reasons. Grant qualifications include:

  • Finance their primary residence mortgage through the Union Plus Mortgage program on or after November 1
  • Be an active or retired member of a participating union
  • Be a veteran of the U.S. Armed Services.

Applications must be submitted within 90 days of closing on a mortgage. Limited funds are available and will be awarded in the order eligible applications are received. The Union Plus Mortgage program, with financing provided by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, has provided $43.6 billion in mortgages to help more than 200,000 union members and their families buy or refinance homes. Benefits of the program include:

Hardship Assistance – Union Plus Mortgage Assistance helps members and their families who are unemployed, recently disabled, on strike, or locked out make their mortgage payments with interest-free loans and grants. Mortgage Assistance has provided almost $10 million to help members keep their loans current and stay in their homes.

Award Card – Union members and their families may receive a $500 Wells Fargo My Mortgage GiftSM award card after closing on a purchase or refinance loan.*

Incentive for First-Time Home Buyers – Union members who are first-time buyers can apply for a $500 First-Time Home Award from Union Plus. Active or retired union members who used the Union Plus Mortgage program to purchase their first home are eligible to apply. They simply need to fill out an application and provide a short, written description of their Union Plus Mortgage program experience and why home ownership matters.

To learn more about the Union Plus Mortgage program and the new Mortgage Veterans Grant, please visit UnionPlus.org/Mortgage.


CWA Human Rights Department Links Civil Rights Fights

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Fifty years ago, civil rights groups, together with women's organizations, LGBT activists and, of course, union activists mobilized to push for passage of the Civil Rights Act. Read more in this report, by National Civil Rights and Equity Committee member Kendall Bell.

Today, we need that movement more than ever, to fight against voter suppression, discrimination and other attacks.

Will you be a part of today's movement? Before you vote on November 4, add your voice to CWA Human Rights Activist group. Click here to become a CWA human rights activist.