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CWA e-Newsletter: September 4, 2014

CWA e-Newsletter

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American Workers Need a Raise and a Union

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On MSNBC's Ed Show yesterday, CWA President Larry Cohen said all of us should stand behind the fast food workers – and Walmart workers, the Committee for Better Banks and others – who are fighting not just for a raise but for a union voice. All working Americans need a raise and need bargaining rights in order to share in today's corporate profits, he said.


MSNBC's "The Ed Show" looks at the fight by low wage workers for a union and a raise.

Below: In Kansas City, members of CWA Locals 6360, 6355 and 6450 join Stand Up KC and support striking fast food workers today at a Kansas City Taco Bell. Photo credit: James Raines.


Jennifer Epps-Addison, executive director of Wisconsin Jobs Now and a leader of the campaign for fairness for fast food and other low wage workers, also joined the program, and said workers were ready to do whatever it takes for their $15 an hour and their right to form a union.

Last year, Epps-Addison was awarded the Edna Award, given by the Berger-Marks Foundation to recognize contributions and leadership in social justice made by an outstanding young woman. The Foundation was established with a bequest from the estates of Edna Berger, the first female lead organizer for The Newspaper Guild-CWA, and her husband, the legendary Tin Pan Alley song-writer Gerald Marks.

In 150 cities across the country, fast food workers and supporters, including many CWAers, rallied and engaged in civil disobedience.

Read more about today's actions here.

Fight Back Against Big Money in Politics

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On Sept. 8, the U.S. Senate has an historic opportunity to begin to restore some balance in our political system by voting "yes" on S.J. Resolution 19, a Constitutional Amendment to enable Congress to limit political spending and get big money out of politics.


In Virginia, CWAers and allies working to get big money out of politics deliver tens of thousands of signed petitions to Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.

CWA Legislative-Political Team Activists joined other members of Common Cause, Public Citizen, People for the American Way and other organizations in working to take on big money in politics in rallies and actions this week. CWAers helped deliver petitions signed by tens of thousands of citizens to their Senators in Virginia, Illinois and Indiana.

Money isn't speech. But the Supreme Court, in several decisions, has given this flood of corporate money and massive contributions from wealthy donors the protections of free speech. The result: the richest one-tenth of 1 percent controls our elections and drowns out the voices of ordinary citizens.

The Democracy for All Amendment requires two-thirds approval of the Senate, House and the states. It's a long road. But there is strong grassroots and public support for taking action that makes it clear that money isn't speech and that Congress can restrict political spending.

So far, 16 states and more than 550 cities have formally called on Congress to pass the amendment.

Make your voice heard. Send a message to your Senators here.

Labor Day and Every Day

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On Labor Day, President Obama traveled to Milwaukee to tout the nation's economic recovery – and talk about how much further we have to go.

"I want an economy where your hard work pays off – with higher wages, and higher incomes, and fair pay for women, and workplace flexibility for parents, and affordable health insurance, and decent retirement benefits," Obama said. "I'm not asking for the moon. I just want a good deal for American workers."

The President made it clear: "If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, I'd join a union. If I were a firefighter or police officer risking my life and helping to keep my community safe, and wanted to make sure I came home safely to my family, I'd join a union. I'd want a union looking out for me," he said.

That's important to hear.

As CWA President Larry Cohen told The Ed Schultz Show, "We need Democratic leaders like the president and vice president to be saying that every day, not just Labor Day, and make that the message of this election, so working people turn out to vote."

Economic populism is what's going to motivate workers to go to the polls. And it's a message that will cut through the distortions and misrepresentations in all the negative ads this campaign season.

"We have to fill the space with what should good government be doing, rather than personal issues or social issues the Koch brothers and others would use to divide us," Cohen said.

At a time when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's attacks on collective bargaining have "totally taken over the Republican Party," Cohen said, politicians must remind voters of what it takes to build a strong, vibrant middle class.

"Elections are about choices, and the choice is clear," he said.

Bargaining Update

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Frontier Communications, West Virginia

CWA members at Frontier Communications in West Virginia ratified a new four-year agreement, retroactive to August 2013. CWAers joined in months of mobilization to support their bargaining team. The agreement covers about 1,500 workers.

FairPoint Communications


FairPoint workers and supporters in Portland, Maine, rally for a fair contract on Labor Day.


On Labor Day, members of CWA Local 1400 and the IBEW who work at FairPoint, joined by union activists and supporters throughout Portland, Maine, pushed the company to get back to the bargaining table. Hundreds of union members, showing their support for the workers' fair contract fight, marched from the Southern Maine Labor Council's annual Labor Day breakfast to the rally, then through the streets of downtown Portland to the FairPoint building. The company walked away from negotiations and imposed a contract on Aug. 28; CWA and the IBEW have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

About 2,000 FairPoint workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are covered by the negotiations.

Princeton Experts Say: 'We're No Longer Living In a Democracy'

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A new Princeton University study has some bad news: Our democracy has slowly transformed into an oligarchy.

Using data measuring 1,779 policy issues between 1981 and 2002, researchers asked, "Who governs?" and "Who really rules?" And they discovered the nation's top 1 percent and corporations wield the most power.

"The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence," they wrote.

CWA and our partners in the Democracy Initiative have pledged to work together to attack the blocks to our democracy.

We do know what democracy should look like. That's why we're determined, with our partners, to get big money out of politics, change the broken Senate rules, ensure voting rights so all citizens can turn out on Election Day, and gain a path to citizenship for immigrants.

"Zombie Republicans" Fail to Address Immigration

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In some great street theatre in Bakersfield, California, a citizen coalition of CWAers, SEIU members, immigration activists and allies, and community and faith activists called out House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) and other House Republicans for their failure to take up comprehensive immigration reform.

They also urged President Obama to sign an executive order to help the more than 11 million immigrants and their families in the U.S. who have been waiting for years for relief.


Activists in Bakersfield, Calif., call out Rep. Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans for their failure to take action on immigration reform.


"House Republicans are acting like zombies," CWA California Political Director Rob England said. "They exist but they don't do anything, especially on immigration."

Activists rallied outside McCarthy's office in Bakersfield, wearing zombie rags and face masks of House GOP Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and others, then danced zombie-like to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." With the crowd chanting "sign it, sign it," an activist wearing a mask of President Obama signed a piece of paper, signifying the executive order that immigrant rights supporters want the President to sign.

The Kern Coalition for Citizenship includes members of CWA, the United Farm Workers, Cesar Chavez Foundation, SEIU, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, United Domestic Workers, G.I. Forum, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), which has been at the center of the fight for immigrant and refugee rights for 21 years.

Sept. 21: Join the Largest Climate March in History

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Get ready to march! CWA is partnering with more than 1,000 organizations to demand that world leaders take action to battle climate change.


What: People's Climate March
When: Sunday, Sept. 21 at 11:30 a.m.
Where: New York City

It'll be the largest climate march in history.

As we peacefully raise our voices and flood the streets, the United Nations will be holding a summit on the climate crisis, where UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will be urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution. With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we'll take a stand to bend the course of history.

We're working toward a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

Learn more at

TNG-CWA Statement on Murder of Steven Sotloff

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Newspaper Guild-CWA President Bernie Lunzer issued the following statement on the murder of journalist Steven Sotloff:

"It appears that barbaric and radical extremists have again murdered a journalist as an act of revenge against the United States. Like James Foley two weeks ago, Steven Sotloff was murdered by horrific means shown in a video meant to terrorize and disgust the world.

"Because they are willing to risk their lives to tell stories from the darkest corners of the world, journalists have always been especially vulnerable targets for kidnappers. Now they are being preyed on by the most vile and vicious terrorists the modern world has ever seen. As we send our profound sympathy to the Sotloff family, we urge the entire world to continue to condemn these atrocities and to work together to stop an enemy to all humanity. Murdering storytellers who are courageously trying to understand and explain conflicts is an attack on civilization itself."

Trans-Pacific Partnership Update

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The latest round of TPP negotiations got underway this week in Vietnam, a nation reviled around the world for its human rights and labor abuses. The average minimum wage in Vietnam is 28 cents an hour; the average wage is 75 cents an hour.

CWA and partners are fighting back against the TPP trade deal and fast track authorization that would push it through Congress without any opportunity for amendments.



Rep. Tim Bishop joins the No Fast Track/No TPP rally at CWA Local 1108.

CWAers and union activists in New York rally against fast track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Joining them outside CWA Local 1108 was Rep. Tim Bishop, a strong supporter of the Buy America Procurement Act, which is threatened by the TPP. Bishop is a longtime CWA supporter and a vocal opponent of TPP. Attending the rally were members of IBEW Locals 25 and 1049, UAW 259, RWDSU 1102, RWDSU 338, CWA Locals 1108, 1104, 1005 and the Printing Trade Alliance, Laborers Local 66, NYS United Teachers, and community partners Long Island Jobs with Justice and Long Island Progressive Coalition.

Next CWA Telephone Town Hall Call on Sept. 18

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Sign up now for the next CWA town hall call, on Thursday, Sept. 18, starting at 7:30 pm ET. The call will last half an hour.

Register at and pick up the phone when you get the call.

We'll hear from amazing activists from the US Airways/American Airlines campaign, and other speakers. Don't miss it.

Movement Building

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Put the People First!


UCW members at Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville and other locations tell the UT Regents and lawmakers to "Put the People First."


Members of United Campus Workers-CWA Local 3865 are mobilizing for a budget that puts the people first. The coalition of unions and worker organizations, community, faith, and student groups came together earlier this year to focus attention on Tennessee Republican Gov. Haslam's devastating budget cuts and to call for living wage jobs, fully funded public education, and workers' rights to organize and bargain.

At campuses across the University of Tennessee system, CWAers are showing their support as budget discussions affecting university workers and programs get underway.

Local 3865 writes, "Without campus workers, our campus wouldn't work – but that reality isn't reflected in the budget. Despite the fact that thousands of higher education employees in Tennessee make less than a living wage, and many more make right around it, we aren't a priority for state spending. Tuition is going up on our students; buildings are getting built all around our campus; but our wages – well, they're right where they've been for a while. That's why we're taking action. We're calling for a budget that puts the people first. We need a living wage, because a full-time job should keep you of poverty, not in it! Budget deliberations are happening right now at the campus level, and within the month are going to start at the state level. We need to speak out for ourselves and one another to make sure we're a priority!"

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