CWA e-Newsletter: August 1, 2013
August 1, 2013
- We Did It! Senate Confirms Democratic Majority NLRB
- NABET-CWA...Keith Olbermann...Live From Times Square!
- Bargaining Update
- FCC Should Deny Verizon Bid to Replace Wireline Communications in Areas of NY, NJ
- CWA President Arrested During Civil Disobedience for Immigrant Workers' Rights
- AFL-CIO: All Workers Deserve a Living Wage
- A Call for Social and Economic Justice
- CWA Activists Support Fast Food Strikers
- Building Our Movement
- Union College Scholarships Announced
CWA updates one of the AFL-CIO's old NLRB signs.
For the first time in a decade, the National Labor Relations Board has five Senate-confirmed members.
CWA led this fight, and e-mails and phone calls from thousands of activists made all the difference.
Senate Democrats stood strong to force the Republican minority to stop the obstruction that kept too many of the President's executive nominations waiting for Senate action for as long as two years. That means that this Labor Day, 80 million private sector workers will continue to have the protections of federal law and the only agency that can enforce workplace rights will be fully functional.
CWA President Larry Cohen pointed out that, "President Obama began his second term without a Democratic majority on the NLRB, and for workers that has meant continued delay in workplace justice, whether to enforce their bargaining rights or protect them from an employer's illegal action. The Senate action confirming the NLRB members is a step toward justice for millions of workers."
The five NLRB members are Democrats Mark Pearce, Nancy Schiffer, and Kent Hirozawa, and Republicans Harry Johnson and Phil Miscimarra.
Groups like The Democracy Initiative, founded by CWA, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and NAACP, and the Fix the Senate Now coalition are continuing to work for Senate confirmation of additional executive branch nominations and judicial nominations that have languished because of the broken Senate rules. With 60 votes required for the Senate to move forward on any business, and Republicans determined to abuse the rules to block key nominations, it's no surprise that little is accomplished.
The Democracy Initiative now includes more than 60 organizations and also is working to curb the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics and stop the attack on voter rights.
The ESPN studio in New York City's Times Square.
When Keith Olbermann returns to ESPN2 later this summer with his new and highly anticipated late night talk show, NABET-CWA members will be manning Times Square Studios, the site of the program. Disney/ABC, the NABET-CWA Sector and NABET-CWA Local 51016 last week signed an agreement which provides that the technical crew for the Keith Olbermann show be covered under the Union's Master Agreement with the ABC Television Network. The show will air live Monday through Friday nights at 11 p.m. ET.
The agreement covers studio and control room technicians assigned to the show by ABC, and follows previous agreements between the Network and NABET-CWA for the Washington, DC-produced ESPN shows "Pardon the Interruption", "Around the Horn", and "Highly Questionable." Times Square Studios is also the venue for the NABET-CWA covered program, "Good Morning America" which airs weekday mornings on ABC.
Art Mazzacca, President of NABET-CWA Local 51016 in New York City stated, "This agreement will provide a tremendous amount of work, 52 weeks out of the year, to our members, and will provide them with the benefits of a good Union contract." NABET-CWA members recently ratified their national ABC contract, which runs through March 2017.
"I am very proud that an additional group of NABET-CWA members will be putting their craft talents on display in the highly competitive late night television market," remarked Jim Joyce, President of the NABET-CWA Sector. "Our members already work on NBC's 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno', 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon', 'Saturday Night Live', and ABC's 'Nightline'", Joyce added.
By the way, Keith Olbermann is no stranger to working with NABET-CWA crews. His MSNBC show, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" was produced at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City and was covered by a NABET-CWA agreement with NBC. His ESPN2 show is expected to launch on August 26.
The CWA CenturyLink bargaining team has reached a five-year tentative agreement with the company that provides employment security for 11,000 CWA-represented workers in 13 states.
The proposed agreement provides new limitations on CenturyLink's ability to contract out and move call center work outside the footprint, and includes a commitment to return jobs that have been outsourced and offshored. Details are being provided to CWA District 7 members and locals, and a ratification vote will be scheduled.
This proposed agreement covers Legacy Qwest CenturyLink members in these states: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa. CenturyLink workers in Montana are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Some 60 S&P Guild members, many sporting red Guild T-shirts, came to watch their co-workers on the bargaining committee, despite management's best efforts to deter observers from attending. Guild negotiators on Tuesday restated the importance of employment and retirement security. Read more here.
Last Saturday, CWA members and supporters throughout West Virginia rallied outside Frontier Communications headquarters in Charleston, W.Va. The crowd included lots of members of Local 2001 and other CWA locals that are bargaining with Frontier for a new contract. The current agreement covering 1,600 workers expires Aug. 2. UMWA President Cecil Roberts, CWA District 2-13 Vice-President Edward Mooney and District 1 VP Chris Shelton, elected officials and labor leaders from across the state were among the speakers.
Guild bargaining continues at The Washington Post, where workers' contract expired on July 26. The union had offered to extend the contract for two more years, with all terms remaining the same except for pay.
Guild members picketed in front of the Cleveland Plain Dealer Tuesday to send a simple message: The Plain Dealer lied to the Guild during bargaining last year. The very next day, newspaper management eliminated the jobs of about 50 journalists, cutting more than a third of an already depleted newsroom staff. Read more here.
Two months ago, the Chicago Sun-Times fired its entire photography staff. To mark the anniversary, the photojournalists protested outside the newspaper headquarters Tuesday morning holding enlargements of their photographs. "While our reporters are doing the best they can to take photos with their iPhones and still trying to deliver quality stories, visually, the story has taken a big hit," Beth Kramer of the Chicago Newspaper Guild told ABC7 News.
IUE-CWA Local 81021's Avis-Budget Negotiating Committee reached a tentative five-year agreement with the AB Group (Logan/Headquarters) and Avis (Downtown/Cambridge). The tentative agreement provides annual wage increases and improvements in wage progression at both companies, among other gains. The union bargaining committee voted unanimously to recommend the proposed contract; a ratification vote is being scheduled.
CWA urged the Federal Communications Commission to deny Verizon's application to end wireline communications to residents and businesses in some areas of New York and New Jersey. Read the filing here.
Instead of rebuilding the copper network, Verizon substituted "Voice Link," a wireless technology to businesses and residents in parts of Fire Island, N.Y., and three barriers islands in New Jersey.
Verizon moved ahead without any regulatory oversight and without plans for any consumer protections and data collection. Apparently it wants to do more of the same, because it's seeking a waiver of the FCC's requirements for discontinuance of service and notification of customers, CWA said.
The Commission should deny "automatic approval" of Verizon's application, and instead require Verizon to resubmit its application. Verizon's experiment with Voice Link can be a "technology trial" under the process the FCC is proposing to review how the transition from wireline to wireless should proceed.
Hundreds of local and state elected officials, public safety officials, residents and small business owners detailed consumer hardship, inadequate and unavailable alternative services and increased costs they face as a result of Verizon's action.
Here are just a few of the comments filed with the New York State Public Service Commission:
- We are year-round residents on Fire Island and need a hard line to run our business and to monitor our property from the DSL line. After the storm, I temporarily had the Home Connect system and it worked poorly. Calls would ring for 30 plus times before I even knew they were coming through and we had no internet which is essential to run a business. Sometimes calls didn't even go through. VOICE LINK DOESNT WORK. — Barbara Heller, 7/6/2013
- During Hurricane Sandy I lost my power but was able to communicate using my land line phone. My cell phone had no service. If I was limited to only wireless service I would not have been able to notify my utility of the outage. If I had needed emergency service I could not have called for it. — Theodore E. Debowy, 6/28/2013
- We have service on Fire Island (Saltaire) and due to Super Storm Sandy we have been required to change our hard line to Verizon Voice Link and to Hotspot for internet. The Voice Link is marginal and the hotspot is awful. Verizon would prefer not to restore our hard lines but so far the service is spotty and much more expensive than the phone/internet service we had. — Joel Dictrow, 7/18/13
CWA President Larry Cohen marches with immigration reform, faith, community and union leaders.
Below: Cohen was arrested at a sit-down protest on Capitol Hill.
Activists from labor, immigrant rights, faith, environmental, civil rights and community groups launched "40 Days of Action and Prayer for Families" on immigration reform with a demonstration and civil disobedience outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen was among the leaders who were arrested at a sit-down protest that focused on the failure of the House of Representatives to take action on immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. (Watch the video here.)
The civil disobedience action sent a strong message to House leaders that the fight for immigrant families is growing and will continue through Congress' five-week August recess and into the fall until the House produces a comprehensive bill that provides a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Cohen said, "All of us in CWA are proud to stand for citizenship and against intolerance. I am proud to represent our members today as we demonstrate the broad movement that supports a citizenship path for 11 million of our co-workers and neighbors. We will support this campaign as long as it takes whether we are sitting in the streets or organizing in our communities."
CWA activists and others will raise this issue at meetings and actions in the home districts of their members of Congress.
Other groups participating in today's action were: Center for Community Change, National Immigration Law Coalition, AFL-CIO, Gamaliel, SEIU, Greenpeace, United Farm Workers, America's Voice, US ACTION and CASA de Maryland.
Reps. Luis Gutierrez, Jan Schakowsky and Raul Grijalva came out to support the immigration protesters.
The Washington, D.C., City Council stood up for working families by passing the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA), which requires retailers with more than $1 billion in annual sales and with stores of more than 75,000 square feet to pay workers a living wage package of $12.50 an hour. The LRAA would lift thousands of working families in Washington, D.C., out of poverty and support decent wages across the retail industry. The mayor now must sign the LRAA in order for it to become law.
This legislation was approved despite Walmart's threat to cancel the opening of three planned D.C. stores unless the council backed down. Nationwide, Walmart pays workers very low wages and cuts their hours, so much that many employees qualify for food stamps, Medicaid and other government assistance.
A new report by the Democratic staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce, which analyzed government assistance and Medicaid data, found that "a single 300-person Walmart Supercenter store in Wisconsin likely costs taxpayers at least $904,542 per year and could cost taxpayers up to $1,744,590 per year. That's about $5,815 per employee."
The California legislature also is looking to crack down on Walmart's determination to get the taxpayers to pick up its compensation costs, with a proposed bill that will "levy a fine of up to $6,000 on employers like Wal-Mart for every full-time employee that ends up on the state's Medi-Cal program – the California incarnation of Medicaid," Forbes.com reported.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council commended the effort to help lift thousands of working families in Washington, D.C., out of poverty, and to push the retail industry nationwide to pay decent wages to workers.
"Large and extremely profitable corporations from outside the District attempted to bribe local officials with promises of jobs, while threatening to cancel the planned opening of stores in Washington if the City Council voted for the LRAA. The City Council's vote was a brave repudiation of these shoddy threats.
"While Washington, D.C., like communities across America, needs more jobs and retail establishments, it wants good jobs that lift up the community and build a future for all residents.
"A broad coalition of faith, community and labor organizations came together in a multi-year grassroots campaign to win the passage of the LRAA, creating a model for allies and colleagues nationwide who are facing similar promises and threats from companies looking to pressure local communities in a troubled economy.
"The AFL-CIO joins the growing number of organizations, faith leaders and District residents calling on D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray to continue setting the standard for corporate accountability and responsibility by standing with Washington, D.C.'s working families and signing the Large Retailer Accountability Act."
The AFL-CIO Executive Council released this statement in response to the tragic shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, with a call for social and economic justice for communities of color. The council pledged to take action around these issues.
The labor movement gains its strength from our common belief that all people have intrinsic value and deserve dignity as their birthright, and that people of every race, religion, color and sexual orientation deserve access to the "American Dream."
This dream of equality, fairness, and opportunity – the dream of raising a family, of having a home, and making a decent living doing work that makes you proud – is the beacon that attracts aspiring citizens from around the world.
That same dream – a dream that we all reach for – was snatched from a young black high school student named Trayvon Martin last February when he was shot and killed as he walked home one evening.
This tragedy and the sense of unrealized justice it left behind have been traumatic for many – particularly for those who have struggled to make their way in a stagnant and increasingly unequal economy.
Trayvon's death – and the subsequent trial – have reopened the deep and unresolved wound of racism in our country. Nearly fifty years after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom we have made tremendous progress, but we still have a long way to go. Racism remains deeply rooted in American society. The Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act and weakened anti-discrimination laws. Too many Americans are out of work and facing unfair and discriminatory barriers as they try to enter the workforce. Racial profiling occurs far too often, creating distrust in communities at a time when we need to be coming together.
The Trayvon Martin case is a painful wake-up call that much work remains to be done in the march toward opportunity and justice for all. President Obama recently noted that we all need to do some soul-searching and start a conversation about race in America in families and churches and workplaces. As we re-dedicate ourselves to continue this march, along with our allies, we will heed the President's call to begin conversations about race with our leadership, members and staff to ensure that this tragedy leads to real action and tangible change.
The AFL-CIO will be deliberate in our commitment to advancing a full dialogue regarding racial disparities and violence in all our communities.
We shall encourage our national affiliates and our state and local bodies to participate fully in a dialogue with our partners and allies and work diligently to support policies at the federal, state and local level that eliminate discrimination, profiling and violence and to denounce Stand Your Ground laws that are advanced by the anti-worker, pro-voter suppression American Legislative Exchange Council.
Activists join STL735 in a one-day strike for higher fast-food wages.
Below: CWA and Missouri AFL-CIO members walk a fast-food worker back to her job.
In cities across the country, CWA activists stood shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of fast-food workers striking to demand a living wage and respect in their workplaces.
In St. Louis, United Media Guild activists and allies took to the streets to support striking workers. Four months ago, the Guild organized eight staffers at STL 735, a group that supports fast-food workers and their fight for fair wages and the right to form a union without retaliation at more than 15 restaurant chains.
In a show of unity the next day, St. Louis faith and union leaders walked strikers back to their jobs. It was the continuation of a growing partnership between leaders in the two communities. A year ago, faith-labor breakfasts began bringing together union presidents and clergy on a regular basis to talk about shared values. "Labor in the Pulpit" events have helped congregations to learn about the labor movement. And at last year's Labor Day parade, the faith community carried a huge banner in support of workers.
"It's not just unions – it's a very broad coalition," said Shannon Duffy, a business representative at the Guild and labor co-chair for St. Louis Jobs with Justice. "It's exciting times. If we're going to do anything substantial and make an impact, we have to think about how we build our alliances."
In New York City, CWA supported fast-food workers – from McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC and many other chains around the city – who also walked off the job in a mass protest for higher pay.
And in New Jersey, CWA has focused on an upcoming ballot initiative on Nov. 5 to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.25. This week activists canvassed neighborhoods in Essex County to drum up support.
Members of CWA Local 6300 attend Tuesday's UMWA rally outside the St. Louis headquarters of Arch Coal to protest the company's move to slash retiree and active miners' health care benefits in bankruptcy.
In St. Louis, labor activists show support for each other's battles on Tuesday. UMWA members came out to the fast-food workers strike and strikers attended and spoke at the UMWA rally.
CWA District 9 Staff Representative Sara Steffens organized a Mom's March that joined up with a Student March for Peace in Oakland on July 20. The Oakland rallies were part of a "National Day of Action" calling for "Justice For Trayvon" in over 100 cities nationwide. (Photo by the Mercury News)
CWA and affiliates offer several scholarship programs for continuing education that are open to members, their children and grandchildren. Read more about the CWA Joseph A. Beirne scholarship here and about IUE-CWA scholarships here.
CWA Joseph A. Beirne First-Year Scholarship Winners for 2013-2014
Taina Quinones, daughter of David Quinones, Local 1101
Nick Miczan, son of Jeff Miczan, 1123
Michelle Feasel, daughter of Roxanne Feasel, 1036
Myles Patrick LaFrance, son of Edward Keough, 1171
Feven Laine, daughter of Hadgu Laine,3204
Sheresa Alise Rankin, daughter of Heidi Rankin, 3641
Madelaine Hill, granddaughter of David Hluch (Retired), 4340
Patrick G. Anderson, son of Gerald Anderson, 2107
DeVante Parker, grandson of Vera Berry (Retired), 13000
Giovanni Meza, son of Vanessa Meza, 9509
Sarah Elizabeth Schutte, daughter of Mark Schutte, 4009
Thomas Mitchell Gatlin, son of William Gatlin, 6171
Christian Velasquez, son of Jesse Velasquez, Jr., 6215
Naomi Lam, daughter of Karen Lam, 9415
Tearney Lopez, granddaughter of Cheryl Elfering, 7601
CWA Joseph A. Beirne Second-Year Scholarship Winners for 2013-2014
Kelli Williams, daughter of Claudia Williams, 1084
Darius Gonzalez, son of Emilio Gonzalez, 1107
Elizabeth Palena, daughter of Ilene Palena, 1039
May Chang, daughter of Helen Nan, 1032
Anna Fazzini, daughter of Lisa Fazzini, 13000
John Hughes, son of John Hughes, 2336
Chelsey Robinson, daughter of Becky Robinson, 3310
Nicholas Bernier, son of Raymond Bernier, 3250
Dylan Moore, son of Jerald Moore, 4671
Parker Van Riper, daughter of DeAnne Van Riper, 24008
Ethan Pollock, son of Earl Pollock, 6016
Michelle Garcia, daughter of Norma Garcia, 6143
Kayla Ellis, daughter of Lori Ellis, 7901
Angela Brouqua, daughter of Richard Brouqua, 9421
Charles Grigsby, grandson of Lynn Ludlow, 39521
IUE-CWA awarded these scholarships for the 2013-2014 academic year:
Amanda Volenski is an IUE-CWA Local 1140 member employed at Electric Machinery
Kelsey Alfermann, daughter of Wayne Alfermann, IUE Local 1114
Erica Bauer, daughter of Thomas Bauer, 502
Alexander Brand, son of Brian Brand, 775
Alyssa Brown, daughter of Anjanette Brown, 775
Brianna Colbert, daughter of Steven Colbert, 648
Alyssa Foley, daughter of Timothy Foley, 162
Michael Fox, son of Victor Fox, 901
Noah Friedman, son of Mark Friedman, 301
Dalton Gennocro, son of Darrin Gennocro , 101
Joe Hines, son of Jon Hines, 648
Messeret Kebede, daughter of Kebrom Kebede, 201
Justin Krishart, son of Sharon Krishart, 502
Meghan Lupole, daughter of Daniel Lupole, 502
Chelsey Robinson, daughter of Larry Robinson, retired member, 761
Jay Padhiar, son of Suresh Padhair, 75 FW
Brennan Pike, son of Wayne Pike, 729