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CWA e-Newsletter: Sept. 26, 2013

CWA e-Newsletter

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Democratic Majority NLRB Restores Bargaining Rights to NBC Universal 'Content Producers'

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It's a big victory for NABET-CWA members at NBC Universal. A decision issued this week by the National Labor Relations Board rejected management's attempt to slash the wages, benefits and bargaining rights of about 100 photographers, editors and writers by reclassifying them as "content producers."

The decision was issued by the three-member Democratic majority on the NLRB. "This shows the value of having a fully functioning, five-member NLRB. CWA and our coalition partners made that possible," said CWA President Larry Cohen.

NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce said the NLRB decision means that NBC workers and their families finally are getting justice. NBC must restore the wages, benefits and bargaining rights that these workers lost. It's a great day for fairness."

Joyce noted that CWA's work to have a fully-functioning Board confirmed by the U.S. Senate means that "the NLRB is now back to issuing important decisions and giving workers a path to justice."

Two years ago, the NLRB's Region 2 ordered NBC to restore the bargaining rights of the workers it tried to reclassify into non-union jobs.

Testimony at the Region 2 Board hearing made clear that while the job title of "content producer" was new, the work performed by these employees wasn't; employees were continuing their regular work. The decision affects NABET-CWA members who lost their bargaining rights as well as new employees hired as "content producers."

The decision cannot be appealed beyond the full NLRB.

New York City MetroPCS Workers Vote to Join CWA

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From left, Julian Gonzalez, Dany Cardenas and Stephen Arnaud celebrate their union election win at the MetroPCS store in Harlem.

Below: Yesenia Cabrera shows her support for a union voice.


New York City retail store employees at a MetroPCS store in Harlem voted Wednesday for a union voice and representation by CWA. The vote was 7-1.

The number may seem small, but it's a huge victory for these workers and for thousands more across T-Mobile US who want representation to address their issues on the job. MetroPCS merged with T-Mobile US earlier this year.

Jose Ortiz, one of the Metro PCS workers, said: "This has been a David versus Goliath struggle and I'm beyond thrilled to say that David won. We look forward to bargaining a fair contract that gives MetroPCS workers a real voice at work. When we stick together we win!"

At a store with nine employees, T-Mobile US executives kept up an intense campaign on workers who are looking for representation on their issues and fairness. T-Mobile US CEO John Legere and other top executives trekked from Bellevue, Wash., headquarters to the Harlem store.

Today's vote ensures representation on issues and fairness on the job.


Before the election, MetroPCS workers were excited when the CWA 1039 union bus rolled up outside the store.

Thousands of union members at T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom in Germany – who have a significant voice on the job, collective bargaining and many seats on the company supervisory board – have taken on U.S. workers' cause and are protesting their company's treatment of T-Mobile US employees. Recently, their union, ver.di, sent a letter to Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile US, telling the company it should cease the captive audience meetings that workers were forced to attend as the workers had requested.

The Metro PCS workers tell their story in this video.

More information available at and

UNI Global Union Stands in Solidarity with T-Mobile Workers

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UNI brothers and sisters in Colombia support Josh Coleman and the T-Mobile campaign.

The Colombia affiliate of UNI ICTS – the global union for the information, communication, technology and services industry – is standing in solidarity with CWA's struggle to defend workers' rights at T-Mobile US.

In a letter, President Yuli Higuera and Secretary Ronald Hincapie Devia wrote:

Some weeks ago, we received the visit of UNI Americas ICTS Regional Director, Javier Carlés, and he told us about your situation, the T-Mobile campaign, and the difficulties faced by American workers to establish unions. In particular, we were impressed by the arbitrary dismissal of Joshua Coleman and the campaign for reinstatement to his job.

We are sure that you think and feel the same way we do. We suffer the same injustices. Our union is small and there is not much we can do to support you, but we want to express that you have our full solidarity.

Your struggle is inspiring for us.

Continue. Do not stop.

After the MetroPCS win in Harlem, Alan Tate, head of UNI ICTS at UNI Global Union, said, "In spite of continued pressure from T-Mobile-PCS management, including a number of captive audience meetings with employees, this small group of workers has won an important victory against a company which seems determined to deny workers' rights to union representation. We applaud these workers and their union, the Communication Workers of America."

Building Our Movement

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The Fight for Fairness at Patriot Continues

The rallies and arrests continue.

On Tuesday, workers once again demonstrated outside Peabody Energy's headquarters against the company's prolonged refusal to pay health care benefits promised to retired UMWA miners, their widows and dependents. Police arrested 15 activists after a spirited march that blocked traffic in downtown St. Louis.

"We understand clearly that it's your fight today, it could be our fight tomorrow," said District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings. "We're going to stand and fight back!"

Watch a video of Cummings firing up the 5,000-person crowd here.

Peabody, the world's largest private-sector coal company, reported $90 million in net income in the second quarter of 2013. But when Peabody executives spun off Patriot Coal in 2007, they did not provide the new firm with sufficient assets to meet its obligations to retired workers and their dependents. Last year, Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy, and through bankruptcy court, has drastically reduced health benefits for retired workers, along with severe cuts in pay, benefits and working conditions for active workers.


District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings marches through downtown St. Louis.

Below: Missouri CWAers rally outside of Peabody Energy.


Iowa State Council Training

The Iowa State Council sponsored a training on movement building, LPAT infrastructure and developing political goals. Participants included members of CWA Locals 7176, 7181, 7172, 7101, 7102 and 7171. CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson and Political Director Rafael Navar presented and led a discussion on critical political issues and races.

To show activists what a partnership with other progressive organizations can look like, Minnesota State Council President Mona Meyer and Terin Mayer, the lead economy organizer of TakeAction Minnesota, gave a presentation on how they've come together to build a movement for social and economic justice.

Already there's been a lot of good work being done in Iowa. Activists are supporting union-friendly candidates for hospital boards to help our nurses' organizing and bargaining campaigns. And CWA is growing its partnership with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a grassroots organization dedicated to community organizing.


CWA local activists from across the state attend the Iowa State Council's training on movement building.

New Local Officers Seminar for TNG, NABET

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In one jam-packed weekend, 33 members from CWA's Newspaper Guild and NABET sectors learned about everything from organizing, mobilizing and collective bargaining to movement building to the nitty-gritty of finance and contract enforcement.


Guild and NABET members at the seminar.

Members came from across the United States, including Puerto Rico, to attend the New Local Officers Seminar (NLOS), held Sept. 20-23 at the Maritime Institute near BWI airport. Their instructors were Guild and NABET staff.

"Thanks to NLOS, I am returning to my local energetic and more informed about what it means to be a leader in my union," said Beth Kramer of the Chicago Guild. "I learned so much that I think my head will be full for months."

Doug Moore, secretary for the St. Louis-based United Media Guild, said, "The seminar exceeded my expectations. I've come back energized and confident as we continue to move forward with growing our membership and prepare for what will be challenging contract negotiations."

NLOS began in 1982. TNG-CWA Rep. Jim Schaufenbil, who attended the first seminar as a member of the Manchester Guild, said the training today is as intense and rewarding as it was 31 years ago.

"That's what we continue to hear," he said. "Year after year, these folks go back home ready and eager and fired up to apply what they learned here."

No TPP, No Fast Track

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CWA Research Economist Ken Peres (left) speaks at the rally.

When lead negotiators gathered in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative last Friday to discuss the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, they were met by a loud crowd of activists. "No TPP and no fast track!" they chanted.

CWA joined a number of organizations – including Citizens Trade Campaign, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, Earth First, Flush the TPP and more – to protest the massive trade deal that could undermine U.S. jobs, workers' rights, environmental regulations and consumer protections. Activists let the negotiators know that they will be holding them accountable and pushing Congress to vote down "fast track," which would limit Congress's consideration of this dangerous trade agreement to an up-or-down vote without amendments.

"Remember, they want to put our workers in competition with countries like Vietnam, who have a minimum wage of $2.23, that's not an hour...for a full day's work," said CWA research economist Kenneth Peres, speaking at the rally.

Read Roll Call's story about the rally here.

And check out AlterNet's photos and video of the activists unfurling banners over the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative reading, "Corporate Coup Against the People and Planet," "Democracy, Not Corporatocracy" and "Transparency: Release the Text."

CWA President Larry Cohen also recently appeared on The Ed Show on MSNBC to talk about the TPP. He said:

We need to say to Congress no fast track. To date, no citizen groups have been involved to any extent in this Trans-Pacific Partnership. It's a race to the bottom. We need a race to the top. And that's where we stand.

Watch the full segment here.

Cablevision Unity Jam

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CWA Local 1109 members and community supporters rallied at the Cablevision Brooklyn garage last night to support Cablevision technicians' continue fight for justice on the job.

The "Tech22" also performed their protest rap song, "Dear Mr. Dolan."


CWA activists Lawrence Hendrickson talks about the union.

Going into its second week, Cablevision continues to face several unfair labor practices charges at a National Labor Relations Board hearing in New York City. The charges include:

  • The company has engaged in "bad-faith bargaining" with zero intent on ever reaching an agreement with Brooklyn technicians. Despite voting to join CWA more than a year ago, these workers still do not have a first contract.
  • CEO James Dolan personally threatened to deny Bronx workers job opportunities and training if they voted for the union.
  • To discourage additional CWA organizing campaigns, Cablevision illegally gave raises of $2 to $9 an hour to every Cablevision employee – except those in Brooklyn.