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CWA e-Newsletter: Oct. 3, 2013

October 3, 2013

CWA e-Newsletter

Kaplan Teachers Fight for a First Contract

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Kaplan teachers in New York City are fighting hard for a first contract to get fair wages, benefits, and working conditions.

"The Kaplan business model is obscene," said Bill O'Meara, president of the New York Newspaper Guild, which represents the workers. "They charge ridiculous tuition but only pay their teachers a pittance, minimum wage in most cases. They keep nearly all the teachers on part-time status to avoid providing benefits. It's time for this very profitable company to agree to a contract that pays a living wage and provides things like sick leave and paid vacations to the most important employees at the company – the teachers who interact with the students every day."

In a new video, these teachers are speaking out. Here's what they're saying:

"We don't have any vacations – or more importantly, sick days. If I get sick then I have to make the decision on whether I want to make other people sick or whether I don't want money."

"I feel like teachers at Kaplan are not supported by the administration. The company itself doesn't seem to value what we do in the classroom."

"They gave their former CEO who left in disgrace a $76 million golden parachute. That's equivalent to the salaries of 3,000 Kaplan teachers. Students pay a lot of money for the experience they have at Kaplan and teachers see a really minimal amount of that."

Sign this petition now to support teachers at the bargaining table!

And like these Kaplan teachers on Facebook.

October Push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

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In June, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill. On Wednesday, House Democrats unveiled an immigration bill that provides a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. Let's show Congress that now is the time to overhaul the nation's broken immigration system.

Mark your calendars:

October 5: National Day for Dignity and Respect

On Saturday, Latino, Asian, and immigrant communities will be joined by faith, labor, and civil rights activists at more than 130 major mobilization rallies, vigils, marches and direct actions in 40 states in support of passing comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship this year. CWA has been actively engaged with the coalition Alliance for Citizenship (A4C) on mobilizations and actions.

Events will include farm worker actions in Central California; statewide caravans across Arizona and Illinois; downtown rallies in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles; a march across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City; and more.

CWA will have buses headed to Springfield, Ohio, to march on House Speaker John Boehner's office. In Bakersfield, Calif., CWA has organized a concert to urge House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R) to take action on immigration reform. CWA will also be in Freehold, NJ, Phoenix, San Antonio and dozens of other locations.

"We are marching for commonsense immigration reform with legalization that leads to citizenship, legal immigration rules that promote family unity and protect worker rights. We are marching for an America where our hard work is honored; where our many contributions to the nation are respected and where our families and children can dream of building lives of dignity and without fear. We cannot let the continued failures of Washington result in more families torn apart, more abusive employers and poverty wages, more children who cannot dream," the group said.

Find an event in your state here.

October 8: DC Rally

On Tuesday, CWA members will join with tens of thousands of people on the National Mall to celebrate immigrant dignity and respect before marching to the U.S. Capitol to send this message to the House of Representatives: Get immigration reform done and get it done now! "Los Tigres del Nortre," a Grammy award winning band known for its songs about the struggles of immigrants, will be performing, and a large group of activists will be engaging in an act of civil disobedience.

Learn more at

Bargaining Update

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Flight Attendants at AirTran

AirTran Airways Flight Attendants, represented by AFA-CWA, ratified a new agreement with Southwest Airlines management covering the over 1,700 Flight Attendants who have not been integrated into the Southwest system.

"AirTran Flight Attendants' immense contributions have played a key role in the AirTran/Southwest network. This agreement provides Flight Attendants with some immediate economic improvements until management completes the integration process. AirTran Flight Attendants stood strong throughout negotiations and remained resolute that we not be left behind as a result of this merger," said Alison Head, AFA AirTran President.

AFA-CWA President Veda Shook said, "This agreement provides certainty in pay parity with the Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants over the next 15 months. Whether or not Southwest Airlines management sticks to its merger timeline, our AirTran Flight Attendants will be protected."

CenturyLink (Legacy Qwest)

CWA members at CenturyLink (Legacy Qwest) turned down a tentative agreement reached with Qwest management. The current contract remains in place through Oct. 11, 2013. The CWA bargaining team now is assessing next steps.

The CWA bargaining team has been working for a fair contract at CenturyLink since negotiations got underway on Aug. 15, 2012.


CWA Local 4004 members at AT&T Internet rally for a fair contract.

Critical issues include contracting out and offshoring of work, economic impacts and other job concerns. CWA represents 13,000 workers at CenturyLink, in these states: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa.

AT&T Internet

About 71 percent of CWA members at AT&T Internet ratified a contract that provides for wage increases and other job improvements. The contract covers nearly 4,000 technicians and call center workers in 12 states.


CWA members at OFS ratified a new contract. The agreement covers about 280 CWA members at plants in Sturbridge, Mass., and Atlanta, Ga. OFS workers manufacture high performance fibers for video, voice and data transmission.

Building Our Movement

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NJ Workers' Voices, an independent political committee which fights for New Jersey workers, officially kicked off its fall campaign effort in Newark. More than 200 members of progressive and grassroots organizations, faith leaders, labor, community activists, students and small business owners committed to mobilize outreach for the 2013 election season.



Missouri LPATs protest the CPAC Convention in St. Charles, which featured Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Rick Santorum and conservatives from around the country.


Why You Need Pay Attention to McCutcheon v. FEC

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Volunteers hold up an inflatable 'Fat Cat' near the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. October 2, 2013. Photo by Greenpeace.

Next week the Supreme Court will hear a campaign finance case that could make it even easier for rich people to buy elections.

It's called McCutcheon v. FEC. Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon wants to give more money directly to more candidates, so he has sued to abolish the longstanding cap on the total amount of money an individual can directly give to all PACs, parties and candidates, or "aggregate contribution limits." Today, individuals are barred by law from giving more than $123,000. If McCutcheon gets his way, donors will be able to give unlimited amounts of money.

McCutcheon now threatens to make a bad situation a whole lot worse. Big money has already infiltrated our elections. In its 2010 Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court initiated corporate America's takeover of American politics by allowing businesses and their millionaire executives to dump an unlimited amount of money into campaigns through Super PACs. The 2012 elections cost a whopping $7 billion thanks to the subsequent fundraising arms race.

Right now there's a little distance between big money and the candidates themselves. But if McCutcheon wins, this wealthy businessman could soon be depositing multimillion-dollar checks right into candidates' bank accounts.

So many Americans already feel like many of their elected officials aren't looking out for them. If the Supreme Court sides with McCutcheon, elections will get more expensive. Candidates will be spending more time with their donors at the expense of average Americans. How do we expect our elected officials to know the real issues and problems of working Americans, if they're spending all their time with the top 1 percent? The answer is they can't. Big money's influence will grow, as the political voices of workers get drowned out.

We're speaking out. Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether or not to strike down important caps on how much money an individual can contribute directly to political campaigns. Activists and organizations across a wide spectrum of issues will be supporting protecting the integrity of our democracy at a rally on the steps of the court. CWA President Larry Cohen will be speaking, along with Reverend Dr. William Barber II, Moral Monday leader and chapter leader of North Carolina NAACP; Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes; Marge Baker, executive vice President of People For the American Way; Blair Bowie, democracy advocate for US PIRG; Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace USA; and Liz Kennedy, counsel for DEMOS.

WHAT: Rally against big money in politics and McCutcheon v. FEC
WHERE: The Supreme Court of the United States (1 First St NE, Washington, DC)
WHEN: Tuesday, October 8th at 9:30 a.m.


Cohen to Discuss TPP, TPA on The Ed Show Tomorrow

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CWA President Larry Cohen will again be on the air discussing our continuing opposition to new trade deals certain to have the same outcome.

Top officials of 12 nations are meeting now in Indonesia to work out what they consider the last remaining issues of the Trans Pacific Partnership. Cohen said, "The consequences of 20 years of trade deals through the last 3 presidents have been awful for American working families. Decent paying manufacturing jobs with union wages have been gutted. In the past 10 years we have seen hundreds of thousands of call center, IT and other service sector jobs head for Asia as well. For CWAers in those occupations the consequences in the U.S. are equally bad as costs here get benchmarked against costs in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Vietnam. Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track must be fixed or more bad deals are inevitable. It is ironic that Fast Track means the bad deals must get an up or down vote in the Senate and House but the Senate cannot take up any of the issues that we care about without 60 votes."

CWAers and our allies from environmental, farm, labor and other groups are mobilizing across the nation.

Catch The Ed Show on MSNBC from 5 to 7 p.m. ET.

Down with Fast Track!

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership is nothing but trouble.

Today, CWA President Larry Cohen lead a press teleconference call with Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) to layout the issues at stake and why growing U.S. congressional opposition to this massive trade deal is generating bipartisan opposition to "fast track" trade authority. Fast track is a rarely-used Nixon-era procedure that strips Congress' rights to review the contents of trade pact to ensure they promote fair trade, not just free trade. President Obama recently called for fast track, declaring it essential to completing the TPP.

"To put it simply, our members' concerns of the TPP are broad and deep and it begins at the top with the process," Cohen said. "The process stinks and we need to fix it. Everything of substance is being kept from the public, kept from Main Street businesses and even kept from the press to make sure hard working families cannot unite in opposition, if necessary, to protect their jobs and livelihoods. Congress should not pass fast track authority and let massive changes go into place with just an up or down vote and without the chance to investigate every chapter of this pact. If we keep going down the same trade road as we have over the past 40 years, America will soon be the one country on Earth that has not just exported our manufacturing base but also the only one that offshores its service sector jobs like those at call centers. We are going to fight to make sure that doesn't happen."

Two-Faced Politicians

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Alabama Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus recently criticized Americans for their dependency on the government for money and healthcare. But when he retires, he'll have a very generous pension and incredible health care benefits.

On The Ed Show, CWA President Larry Cohen pointed out that 80 percent of American workers today have no pensions at all, while taxpayers have put thousands of dollars into Bachus's pension.

"This is bad from every way you look at it," he told Ed Schultz. "As my great grandmother used to say, 'I'll watch your feet, not your mouth.' So he says one thing and then his own actions are exactly the opposite. That's what we're dealing with."

Cohen added, "He does exactly what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants. He has a 95 percent rating from them. He opposed doing anything at all for working families facing foreclosure. He talks one way, acts another when it comes to his family. And unfortunately, Ed, he's one of the many in that caucus who do that every day – the same ones who shut the government down."

Watch the full segment here.

Deadline TODAY for September 11th Victims Compensation Fund

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In 2010, after years of work by the AFL-CIO, CWA, labor, public health groups and other coalition partners, U.S. Congress passed the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The Act, which provides medical treatment and compensation to responders, clean-up workers and others affected by the toxic exposures at the World Trade Center, was authorized and funded to run until 2015-2016.

However, there is an important deadline approaching for the Victims Compensation Fund program. Under the bill, any workers who had a 9/11 health problem as of October 3, 2011 must register with the VCF by October 3, 2013. If they fail to register by that date, they will not be eligible to receive compensation for their injury from the VCF. Please go to or call (toll-free) 1-855-885-1555 for application forms for this important program.

We must do everything we can to ensure that our union brothers and sisters who may be at risk for or suffering from 9/11-related illnesses know that free screening, treatment and medication is available to them.

Sign Up for CWA's Town Hall Call and You Could Win an iPad Mini!

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If you haven't joined CWA's monthly telephone town hall call, you're missing a lot. The 30-minute calls are held the third Thursday of every month, at 7:30 pm ET. Register at

Any CWA member who registers for the remaining calls this year will be entered in a drawing for a personalized iPad mini. The winner will be announced in the CWA News and e-newsletter.