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CWA e-Newsletter: Sept. 18, 2014

September 18, 2014

CWA e-Newsletter

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Passenger Service Agents at US Airways/American Vote Big for CWA Representation

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In the biggest organizing victory in the South in decades, 9,000 American Airlines passenger service agents joined with their nearly 6,000 US Airways colleagues and overwhelmingly voted for a CWA voice at the merged airline.

By an 86 percent vote – 9,640 for, 1,547 against – airport and reservations agents said yes to representation by the CWA-IBT Association. US Airways agents have been CWA members since 2000. US Airways merged with America West in 2005; passenger service agents at the former America West had organized with the IBT in 2004. After the merger, the CWA and the IBT formed the Airline Customer Service Employee Association, CWA-IBT.

Three-quarters of the American agents work in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona and 2,300 are home-based reservations agents.

01a_Claudia Redd

Claudia Redd, a home-based reservation agent, spoke about their journey to get a union as airport agent Steve Langhi looked on. They were surrounded by other Americans Airlines workers who came to Washington, D.C. to witness the National Mediation Board certifying that they had won the election to join CWA.

Below: American Airlines passenger service agents who journeyed to Washington, D.C. for the vote count pose for a victory photo with CWA Organizing Director Sandy Rusher (second row, center).


CWA President Larry Cohen said the vote showed that workers who can make a fair choice about union representation want bargaining rights. "When it is left to the employees, they would rather have a voice," he said. Cohen spoke about the victory on the Ed Show.

Richard Shaughnessy, an agent at Miami International Airport for 27 years, has been a leader in the American agents' fight for a voice and bargaining rights.

"The merger between American Airlines and US Airways is an exciting time for all of us. But even more exciting is our victory today," he said. "We're the front line employees who interact with our customers every day, and we are looking forward to a positive relationship with management to make this merger 'work' for all of us. We are anxious to get to the bargaining table."

Carroll Locklear is a home based reservations agent in Texas. "I've been with American Airlines for 18 years and through all of those years I have been praying for this day. We have been the odd employees out for so long, because we were the only employees without union representation. Gone are the days that management can take what they want when they want. This will be a win-win for all of us," she said.

"We feel stronger now with this vote," Eula Smith, a customer service agent in Charlotte, said. "I'm a 60-year-old woman with 42 years with this employer. You can't live in the South and make a decent wage unless you are in senior management in a corporation or belong to a union. We need this. We need not just a union, we need CWA."

Ken Grunwald is a 23-year-reservations agent, working at the call center in North Carolina. "I'm proud to remember everyone over the years who worked so hard for our union voice, who never gave up in the face of adversity, and who gave their blood, sweat and tears so that we would have the opportunity to celebrate this victory today," he said. "It's a victory for all American Airlines employees! I'm so excited to think that we will finally be able to negotiate a legally binding contract. We now all have each other's 'back'."

Vickey Hoots has been a US Airways reservations agent at the Winston-Salem, N.C., cell center for 29 years. "This win was a long time in coming at American Airlines, just as it was at US Airways. I'm so proud of all our members and we're excited that we will be able to negotiate the industry leading contract that our members deserve," she said.

Janet Elston, an agent at Dallas International Airport, says, "19 years ago, a handful of agents started a drive to obtain representation for AA airport and reservations agents. Many hundreds of activists have spent thousands of hours over the years to get us to today's election result. They never wavered and never, ever gave up. We have finally achieved what most thought was impossible: union representation for our work group. Now we'll begin a new working relationship with our company, with a legal binding contract."

Many Americans Airlines workers experienced firsthand the thrill of victory at the National Mediation Board as the result of the nationwide votes by passenger service agents at the New American Airlines to join CWA was projected on the screen. See the video here.

Justice at CNN after 11 Years

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After 11 years, CNN employees finally have a measure of justice. The NLRB on Monday, Sept. 15, found "overwhelming" evidence of anti-union animus at the cable news giant and ordered it to "make whole" more than 300 employees who lost their jobs and the benefits of union representation in the wake of the company's phony reorganization scheme to get rid of unionized workers.

"On behalf of our CNN members in Washington, D.C. and New York City, NABET-CWA is grateful for today's decision by the National Labor Relations Board," said NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce. "These workers have waited far too long for this measure of justice to finally be delivered and have suffered far too much as the result of these unlawful activities. CNN should finally do the right thing now and immediately comply with the orders of the National Labor Relations Board issued today."

CWA President Larry Cohen said, "All of us in CWA should be proud of our work and the coalition that helped support Senate confirmation of the NLRB members in July 2013. Without a functioning NLRB, this decision would never have been possible. But today belongs to the 300 technicians and their families, and our hearts and minds are with them."

The NLRB ordered that CNN rehire about 100 workers and compensate 200 more employees, who continued to work at the company without the benefits of a union contract, on the order of tens of millions of dollars.

CNN is required to restore any bargaining unit work that was outsourced since the end of the contracts. The company also must recognize the employees' union and resume bargaining with NABET-CWA Local 11 and NABET-CWA Local 31.

"Today is a good day to stand up straight," said Tyrone Riggs, who lost his job in 2003. "I never gave up hope. I never wavered. I knew justice would prevail."

In December 2003, CNN terminated its longstanding technical subcontracting relationship at Team Video Services (TVS), a firm which had employed NABET-CWA-represented workers in Washington, D.C. and New York City. The union immediately filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB, which, due to various delays, were not brought to trial before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the NLRB for almost five years.

Finally, in November 2008, after 72 days of trial, the ALJ ruled against CNN and in favor of NABET-CWA. The ALJ found, in part, that CNN had engaged in "widespread and egregious misconduct" and had demonstrated "a flagrant and general disregard for the employees' fundamental rights." The ALJ's 169-page decision ordered the employer to take seven basic actions to remedy the widespread violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

CNN ignored the decision and delayed justice further by appealing the ALJ's ruling. Two years later, in October 2010, CWA filed another motion with the NLRB, calling on the board to give this case priority over all other pending cases.

Elections Matter

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Republican Leaders Introduce Bill to Cripple the NLRB

Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) threw down the gauntlet to U.S. workers this week by introducing a bill to fundamentally alter the mission of the National Labor Relations Board.

McConnell, who is the Senate minority leader, and Alexander, the ranking Republican on the Senate committee that oversees worker and workplace issues, would prefer a non-functioning, paralyzed NLRB rather than the current one that gives workers some path to workplace justice. Their bill, called the "National Labor Relations Board Reform Act," would add a sixth board member and require the board to consist of three Republicans and three Democrats. That would ensure that unfair labor practice and illegal management tactics, like firing workers who show support for union representation, would never be resolved.

Alexander has been warning for months of his plans to attack workers' rights and the NLRB if Republicans win control of the Senate in the November elections.

CWA President Larry Cohen said Alexander's plan to "change the NLRB from an advocate to an umpire" is absurd. "No regulatory agency in this country operates like that," Cohen said.

"Apparently these Senators never read the preamble to the National Labor Relations Act," he continued. "The preamble clearly states that the purpose of the Act is to promote collective bargaining. The bipartisan drafters of the law, and confirmed by every generation of Republicans except the current leaders, absolutely understood that government needed to be pro-collective bargaining or management interests would trample workers. In the first ten years of the NLRB, 10 million workers achieved collective bargaining rights. Alexander and McConnell are guilty of a total fabrication of what the law says and the outcomes during its early decades."

Listen to more of Larry's remarks on The Ed Show here.

To volunteer to work to elect senators who will support workers, sign up here.

Without the NLRB, there would be no framework to enforce workers' rights and resolve disputes and no path to justice for workers who have been harmed by employers' illegal actions. Employers could break the law with impunity, knowing that workers have no recourse. The dysfunctional Senate rules and obstructionist Republican Senators kept the NLRB from having a full slate of members for a decade.

Then, late last summer, through the extraordinary efforts of the Democracy Initiative, co-founded by CWA, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and NAACP, the Fix the Senate Now coalition and Democracy partners helped changed the rules, leading to Senate confirmation of a full-five member board.

CWA: AT&T/DIRECTV Merger Will Advance Broadband Buildout and Benefit Consumers, Workers

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The proposed AT&T/DIRECTV merger will advance the deployment of high-speed broadband, strengthen competition in the video and broadband markets, and promote collective bargaining and good, career jobs, the Communications Workers of America said in comments filed today with the Federal Communications Commission. CWA urged the Commission to move forward expeditiously to approve the transaction.

Read the full filing here.

The AT&T/DIRECTV merger will improve the economics for AT&T's investment in high-speed broadband, the critical infrastructure for the 21st century, CWA said. Video is the major driver of broadband expansion, producing the revenue stream to support investment in high-speed networks. As a stronger video competitor, a merged AT&T/DIRECTV will have the economic incentives to increase investment in the high-capacity networks that are so essential to drive economic growth, jobs, and the social benefits enabled by high-speed digital technology.

"The AT&T/DIRECTV transaction is good for employees and good, career U.S. jobs," CWA said.

AT&T has the largest full-time union labor force of any company in the United States and its collective bargaining agreements define pay and benefits, rights, protections, and fair treatment. AT&T respects the collective bargaining process, and as guaranteed by CWA's collective bargaining agreements, AT&T's labor relations policies that support collective bargaining will extend to DIRECTV's non-management workforce after the transaction.

CWA represents 110,000 employees in AT&T's wireline, wireless, and broadband lines of business.

UMASS Report: T-Mobile Plays the Corporate Rating Scam

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A new research report by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Labor Center is questioning the validity of popular corporate ratings systems in "The Corporate Rating Sham: The Case of T-Mobile."

Tom Juravich, professor of sociology, evaluated the various awards and recognitions received by T-Mobile US from 2011-13, and concluded that these awards cannot be viewed as objective measures of corporate performance.

Why T-Mobile?

"The U.S. market has witnessed an explosion of corporate ratings programs in the last 20 years," Juravich said. "T-Mobile received at least 47 'best of' awards from 2011 to 2013, making the company an excellent candidate for our study."

The research took a close look at awards based on "employee surveys" that often tout T-Mobile as a "best place to work," in a geographic region or a particular group of workers. These "surveys" are mainly conducted by the employer, not a neutral third party, using a small number of workers.

A better indicator of T-Mobile's treatment of workers is the National Labor Relations Board national complaint issued against the company for its abuses of workers' rights, including harassing and firing workers who want union representation and other labor law violations.

"At the same time that T-Mobile was named 'One of the World's Most Ethical Companies' by one corporate ratings organization, a highly-respected independent analyst rating gave T-Mobile a CCC rating, the lowest score possible."

Read more about the labor program at UMASS and the full report here.

IUE-CWA Local 89119 Members Ratify New Five-Year Contract

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In protracted negotiations that saw a final and best offer rejected by members and going to the brink of a strike, CWA Local 89119 members finally received an offer that they ratified this week.


CWA Local 89119 members, who provide maintenance and logistics support for the U.S. Navy’s Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) aircraft at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, ratify a new five-year contract.

The members provide maintenance and logistics support for the U.S. Navy's Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) aircraft at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.

IUE-CWA staff member Eric Benjamin assisted in the bargaining. Local 89119 President Jeff Martens, who led bargaining committee, said L-3 Vertex Aerospace, the employer, was surprised by the resolve and unity of the members, especially their readiness to go on strike.

Less than a week after they announced the strike, the company came back to the bargaining table.

"The company listened to and adequately addressed the Local's remaining concerns," Martens said. "The Local membership agreed on the final adjustment and voted to ratify the agreement."

Local 3179 Overwhelmingly Ratify New Contract with City of Clearwater

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By a 10-1 margin, CWA Clearwater members have ratified a new contract to run from October 1, 2014 until September 30, 2017. It is the 15th collective bargaining agreement the members have reached with the City since 1976.

In the vote, 395 voted to approve the contract and 33 voted against the contract. Local 3179 President Stephen Sarnoff said the new deal not only benefits members but the city and its residents.

"I want to thank our bargaining team and those members who worked with the team to negotiate an agreement that will benefit all of our members and guarantee that our lowest paid members receive an extra boost in their wages," Sarnoff said.