CWA e-Newsletter: Sep. 17, 2015
- CWA Activists on 'Journey for Justice' Urge Elected Leaders to Restore Voting Rights
- Bargaining Update
- Bring Bianca Back!
- Missouri Attack on Bargaining Rights is Rejected
- CWA Membership Poll is Open
- Shelton to ver.di: Together We Will Win
- NJ Lottery Privatization is Big Money Loser
- Democracy for All Video Contest
- WAGE Act Will Change the Rules for Working People
More than 300 CWAers were among the hundreds of activists who stormed Capitol Hill yesterday, calling on members of Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act.
It was the end point of "America's Journey for Justice," a 1,000-mile journey from Selma, Ala., to Washington, D.C., to focus attention on the damage done to voting rights and our democracy by the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court's Shelby County v. Holder decision. That decision has allowed states to erect barriers to voting and restrict access to polling places. The Journey was organized by the NAACP, CWA, the Democracy Initiative and other allies.
More than 1,000 activists rallied in front of the U.S. Capitol, and heard from civil rights and union leaders, people of faith, public interest groups and many members of Congress on why we must ensure the right to vote for all.
"Brothers and sisters, are you ready to do what we have to do to make sure that we fix the Voting Rights Act? CWA and our 700,000 members will be with you until we get that right back. We will not rest until we all have the right to vote," said CWA President Chris Shelton.
CWA President Chris Shelton fires up the crowd at the voting rights rally.
Nine CWA buses brought activists to Washington, D.C., from Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey and other locations; other CWAers marched to the rally wearing CWA red and chanting.
Kobi Gore of CWA Local 3603 in Charlotte, NC, said she came to stand up for the right to vote, because she herself was blocked from casting her vote. Sent from one polling station to another, she said, "By the time I got to the destination where they said I could vote, I was told that it was too late. I was so upset."
Everybody needs to be able to vote without all these obstacles, said Diane Bailey, president of CWA Local 4310 in Columbus, OH. "There's no way I can sit by and watch us regress. If my grandkids don't have school they're usually marching with me. I have to continue the fight for them."
Minerva Faire of Local 3106 in Jacksonville and a friend from another union left her home at 12:30 a.m. to drive to Washington. "Today, we're talking about everything that matters: jobs, justice in voting, fairness. It's what we talk about in our union and with our NAACP allies," said Faire, who is co-chair of the Florida NAACP Labor Committee and chair of the labor committee for the NAACP's Jacksonville branch.
Robert Patterson, a member of IUE-CWA Local 82160 in Christiansburg, VA, boarded the bus with other IUEers at 3 a.m. and arrived in time for the start of the rally. Afterward, he and co-workers went to lobby on Capitol Hill. "I'm here to support the right of everybody to vote. I'm from North Carolina and I've seen what can happen when voting rights are attacked. We need to stop it now," Patterson said.
Left: Robert Patterson, IUE-CWA Local 82160. Right: Minerva Faire, CWA Local 3106.
Jean Fremont of CWA Local 1040 in Trenton, NJ, said, "I am here today to mobilize millions for democracy. We're all here to fight for the right to vote, because the people elected make decisions that affect all our lives."
On Capitol Hill, CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings joined NAACP President Cornell Brooks and AFSCME President Lee Saunders in meeting with elected officials, starting with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA 5th District). Lewis is the legendary civil rights activist who was nearly killed during the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL, 50 years ago, that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.,) meets with CWA District 6 VP Claude Cummings, AFSCME President Lee Saunders and NAACP President Cornell Brooks.
Virginia CWAers are ready for a meeting with Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and staff.
Also joining the rally: CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens; District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton; NABET-CWA President Charlie Braico; and Vera Mikell, At-Large Executive Board member and executive vice president, Local 2205.
Members of Congress speaking at the rally included Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeff Merkeley (D-OR), and Mark Warner (D-VA), and Reps. John Conyers (D-MI 14th District) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX 18th District). Participants also included former CWA President Larry Cohen, chair of the Democracy Initiative; Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP; other NAACP leaders, and leaders from Sierra Club, Greenpeace and Common Cause and other organizations.
It was a sea of CWA red, with members from Texas to Ohio to New Jersey rallying together outside the U.S. Capitol. North Carolina members made the trip too, and many came from nearby Virginia, D.C. and Maryland locals to take a stand for the right to vote.
Mobilization Makes the Difference…
At AT&T Southeast
CWAers who are fighting for a fair contract at AT&T Southeast know that mobilization makes all the difference. That's why the number of members attending Local 3204's mobilization training is way up since training began last May.
Local 3204 President Ed Barlow said the mobilization classes are held twice a week. "At the start, we had maybe five or six per class. That's grown to as many as 50 members in a class. Members come in and spend a whole day with the union. We answer questions, train them on how to enhance solidarity at their locals. When their coworkers hear about the training, they sign up to come to the class."
CWAers sign up to be picket captains and help schedule actions at their worksites. In District 3, members have designed specifically colored clothing to be worn on specific days. There are "Blue Mondays," "White-Out Wednesdays," red on Thursdays, of course, and black on Fridays. Outside techs always wear orange.
"When you've got 28,000 people in nine different states wearing the same color, it sends a big message to the company," Barlow said.
A growing number of Local 3204 members are turning up for mobilization training.
More mobilization training underway for members of Locals 3805 and 3806 in Tennessee.
Outside technicians, members of Local 3315 in Paducah, Ky., always wear orange in solidarity.
Inside call centers and garages, and at public rallies, Verizon members in Districts 1 and 2-13 are standing up to "Verigreedy" and building support for their fair contract fight.
In D2-13, bargaining committee member Julie Daloisio, president of Local 13500, said the management bargaining team definitely was tracking every mobilization move our members are making. "So when something works, when we've gotten a rise out of some supervisors, that's our signal – "Let's do it again," she said.
Local 13500 call center members stand up together at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and wave red towels or shake noisemakers. Members of Local 2108 have organized Militant Mondays, when members wear camouflage clothing. The local also leafleted call center members with a flyer and a PayDay candy bar with the message: "Lowell got his, it's time we got ours," said Local 2108 President Marilyn Irwin.
Steve Lawton, president of Local 1102, said the local started getting ready for mobilization last January, and the program has really come together. "We don't do anything crazy or controversial, but these actions accomplish what we need to – putting management on notice that we're united and we're taking the fight to them."
Members of CWA Local 2108 know it's "Militant Monday" by their camouflage green.
CWA Verizon workers and retirees greeted CEO Lowell McAdam outside a New York City hotel where he was scheduled to speak at a conference organized by Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs.
Bianca Cunningham headed the organizing campaign among Verizon Wireless store workers that ended up with workers at six Brooklyn stores joining Local 1109.
Verizon management unfairly fired her this week.
That's why more than 200 CWAers rallied outside Bianca's store in Brooklyn, in a heavy rainstorm, standing up for Bianca, said CWA Local 1109 President Tony Spina. "While we shouted 'Bring Bianca back' and 'CWA, CWA,' a delegation, including New York City advocate Letitia James, District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor, and other elected officials went into the store."
Here's what James told the store manager:
"We are really disappointed by Verizon. As elected officials we have some jurisdiction over your franchise contract, and so obviously we're going to use our powers and our respective jurisdictions to make sure Bianca gets her job back and all these people are protected."
On this week's Verizon town hall call, CWA President Chris Shelton told Bianca that, "you didn't only join the union, you joined a family. Everybody on this call is pissed off about what Verizon has done to you, and we're not going to let them get away with it."
Sign the petition to save Bianca's job and support a fair contract at Verizon Wireless.
Left: Bianca Cunningham and CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor address activists outside the Verizon Wireless location where Bianca worked until she was unfairly fired.
Right: CWAers in Brooklyn stand up for Bianca.
In a big victory for bargaining rights, union activists and allies in the Missouri legislature refused to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of "right to work" legislation. The Republican-controlled state House overwhelmingly rejected the override attempt by a 96-63 vote this week.
CWA members have been a big part of this fight for months, rallying at the State Capitol and pushing back against this attack on workers' bargaining rights.
Tim Mehringer, a member of Local 6300, had his letter to the editor published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He wrote, "As a member of the Marine Corps who served in Iraq, I am grateful to everyone who has said 'thank you for your service' to me. When I returned home to Missouri, all I wanted was a job where I could work hard, support my family, and be a member of my community. Sadly, my fellow vets and I returned home only to find the Missouri Legislature pushing "right to work" legislation. "Right to work" is wrong: it's an attack on the values we fought to defend and on the future we are fighting to build.
CWAers in Missouri have been rallying for bargaining rights and against wealthy out-of-state donors like the Koch brothers who wanted to push through "right to work" (for less) legislation. At center is CWA D6 Vice President Claude Cummings, with Attorney General Chris Koster, Democratic candidate for Governor.
CWA's political website, www.cwavotes.org, is live and our membership poll of Presidential candidates is open.
This is where you'll find information about all the declared candidates, along with an online poll for members to make their views known.
CWA President Chris Shelton said, "It's all part of the process to determine whether and how our union will endorse a Presidential candidate."
The poll will stay open into early December and will help determine whether a single candidate has overwhelming support from the membership. It is important that this poll reflect the views of as many members as possible, so make sure your co-workers know about the site.
The information also will be provided to members in the Fall issue of the CWA News, which members will receive in early October.
CWA President Chris Shelton travels to Germany next week to address the annual convention of ver.di, the world's largest service sector union.
ver.di represents 2 million workers in telecommunications, banking, communications, media, and many other sectors.
In a speech to tens of thousands of delegates, Shelton will thank ver.di members for their support of our T-Mobile campaign. ver.di members at Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's German parent company, have been standing with their coworkers in the United States, supporting the fight by T-Mobile US workers to have a union voice. "We have your back," ver.di members have pledged.
Shelton will also meet with members of the German Parliament and union leaders from the International Trade Union Confederation and UNI Global Union.
Together, ver.di and CWA members have collected 45,000 signatures on a petition calling on the German government to hold Deutsche Telekom accountable. That petition will be brought up for consideration again by a committee of German legislators on Nov. 30, so there's still time to gather additional signatures to build our case.
Mail the petition by Nov. 13, 2015, to this address:
Attn: Louise Novotny
501 Third Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Hey Governor Christie: We told you so.
Two years ago, CWA fought back against Christie's push to privatize New Jersey's lottery operations, challenging the governor for seeking to award a 15-year contract to a private firm, run by some of the governor's cronies, for the state lottery's marketing and sales operations.
A N.J. appeals court ruled against CWA at the time, declaring that there wasn't immediate, irreparable harm.
Well, two years later, the company has lost money for the second straight year, causing a $136 million shortfall in this year's state budget. Christie had promised that privatization would allow the state to cut costs, cut public jobs and generate new sales.
Instead, according to an investigation by the Associated Press, costs of managing the lottery have skyrocketed. "Before hiring Northstar, New Jersey's lottery enjoyed unmatched efficiency compared to other states, keeping 34 cents in profit from every $1 in ticket sales. Under Northstar, expenses rose, sending profit margins down to 30 cents on the dollar for the 2015 fiscal year's $3 billion in revenue," AP reported. Northstar must pay a penalty each year it under-performs, this year about $14 million, AP noted. That means New Jersey taxpayers will pick up the tab for the rest of the $136 million shortfall.
Don Villar, president of NABET-CWA Local 54041, produced and submitted this video to the Democracy for All campaign. It spotlighted actions by CWA's Illinois Legislative and Political Action Team to get big money out of politics. Check it out here.
Ready to make your own video? Until December 2, activists can upload a short video (30-90 seconds) about big money in politics and the need for a constitutional amendment – the Democracy For All Amendment – to overturn the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United decision. A $1,000 prize is awarded every week, plus five category prizes of $5,000 each and a grand prize of $25,000 at the end of the contest.
The videos can be funny, serious, creative, dramatic, or musical. You can talk about other issues that are important to you, as long as you tie it back to the influence of money in politics and the need for the Democracy For All Amendment.
This week, the WAGE Act – Workplace Action for a Growing Economy – was introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) "The system is broken, and needs to be fixed," they said. The bill will strengthen protections for working people who want to join unions and establish real penalties and consequences for corporations that violate working people's rights.
The bill would:
- Triple the amount of back pay that employers must pay to workers who are fired or retaliated against by employers.
- Give workers the right to bring lawsuits to recover monetary damages and attorneys' fees.
- Allow for federal court injunctions to immediately return fired workers to their jobs.
- Establish civil penalties up to $50,000 for employers that commit unfair labor practices and doubled penalties for repeat violations, bringing the NLRA in line with other workplace laws.
- Give the NLRB authority to impose penalties on officers and directors of employer violators.
- Allow the Board to issue a bargaining order on finding that an employer prevented a fair election, when a majority of employees signed authorization cards within the previous 12 months.
- Set a 30-day time limit for employers to challenge an NLRB decision.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, "The economy is a set of rules that for too long has been rigged against working people. The WAGE Act is about changing these rules."