T-Mobile USA Regional Vice President Tom Ellefson led an unrelenting,
and ultimately, personal attack on technicians on Long Island, N.Y., who
wanted a union and bargaining rights.
Ellefson and other top managers camped out at the Long Island
facility and held mandatory captive audience meetings with those techs
who weren't publicly supporting union representation. These meetings
excluded six techs who are strong union supporters who could raise
opposing views or ask pointed questions.
In the meetings with only those who were undecided or opposed to the
union, Ellefson personally attacked the integrity, skills and commitment
of those workers who have been working for a union voice for more than a
Ultimately, the management campaign succeeded in turning a majority
against joining the union. The Dec. 30 vote was 6-10, against CWA
CWA is protesting Ellefson's and T-Mobile USA's unacceptable behavior
to T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom in Germany. DT executives
claim to support the freedom of association worldwide and respect
workers' bargaining rights in Germany, but tolerate the abusive behavior
of T-Mobile USA management.
That will change. The whole world is watching Tom Ellefson and
CWA applauded President Obama's decision this week to recess appoint
three new members to the National Labor Relations Board, allowing cases
involving violations of workers' organizing and bargaining rights to
The recess appointments were necessary if the NLRB was going to
continue to function. With just two members, the NLRB would be unable to
issue any decisions, according to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Unfortunately, too many members of the U.S. Senate have sought to
obstruct the people's business by pledging to block appointments to the
NLRB and other important agencies.
The Senate has been virtually paralyzed by the abuse of Senate rules
that enables an individual Senator to block action. All measures before
the Senate now require a supermajority of 60 votes just to get to the
floor for debate and discussion. As a result, progress on the programs
and policies that working families need has come to a halt.
"Without these recess appointments to the NLRB, working men and
women, for the first time since 1935, would have no place to turn for
workplace justice. It's shameful that in the increasingly global
economy, U.S. workers' rights lag dramatically behind the rest of the
world and too many Republican Senators are determined to block U.S.
workers from exercising even limited rights. We applaud President
Obama's leadership that gives American workers at least some chance of
justice on the job," said CWA President Larry Cohen.
Register now for CWA's 2012 National Legislative-Political
Conference, which will be held in Washington, D.C., Jan. 31- Feb. 2, and
for the first CWA Presidents' Meeting, which opens immediately after the
LP conference on Feb. 2. The deadline for the special hotel rate is Jan.
CWA activists will take up major threats to our democracy — corporate
money in politics, broken Senate rules, voter suppression and
legalization for immigrants — and how we can fight back and restore our
The Legislative-Political conference opens at 1 pm on Jan. 31. On
Feb. 1, after a morning session, activists will spend the afternoon
lobbying on Capitol Hill. The conference wraps up around noon on Feb. 2.
Vice President Joe Biden, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Common
Cause President and CEO Bob Edgar, and members of Congress including
Reps. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), who has introduced a bill to limit offshoring
of call center jobs, and Raul Grijalva (D-Tex.), are expected to attend.
CWA's first Presidents' Meeting, established by delegates at the 2011
CWA Convention, begins at 1 p.m. on Feb. 2. The meeting is held in
non-convention years so CWA local leaders can hear members' appeals.
Both meetings will be held at the Omni-Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert
Street in Washington. The registration fee for the Legislative-Political
Conference is $25 per participant. Click
here to register for both the L-P Conference and the Presidents'
The deadline for the special hotel rate is Jan. 8. To make hotel
Governor Forced to Reverse Order Restricting Citizens' Access
The line to get inside Indiana's statehouse stretched down the
street and around the block Jan. 4 as activists prepared to fight the
GOP's latest attempt to pass anti-union "right-to-work" legislation.
As Indiana's 2012 legislative session opened Jan. 4, CWA members were
among thousands of workers who packed the capitol and chanted "Union!"
to protest the Republican leadership's renewed and rapid push to pass an
anti-union "right-to-work" law.
The fight is expected to be especially intense, with reports that
Republicans want to pass the bill before the nation's eyes are on
Indianapolis for the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.
For now, Democratic lawmakers are trying to slow the process by
denying Republicans a quorum. Democrats remained in caucus behind closed
doors on Wednesday. It's not clear what will happen Friday, Jan. 6, when
a joint House-Senate hearing is scheduled on the bill.
Workers scored an early victory Wednesday as Gov. Mitch Daniels was
forced by public pressure to overturn an order capping the number of
people who could be inside the statehouse. The order, which didn't apply
to lobbyists, was designed to impede the large protests that forced
lawmakers to table right-to-work legislation last year.
As activists arrived, only one entrance to the capitol was open and
the line of people waiting to enter stretched down the street and around
the block, CWA Local 4900 Vice President Preston Dorfmeyer said.
Once inside, they were restricted to a single elevator and found a
formidable police presence. "At every office entrance I saw, there were
two police officers posted," Dorfmeyer said. "I counted at least 70
police officers stationed inside the statehouse and at least two dozen
Although Daniels' announcement lifting the order came about 10:30
a.m., Dorfmeyer said, "It was after 1 p.m. before I saw the line to
enter get down to a manageable level."
As always in right-to-work battles, Indiana Republicans make the
tired claim that the law restricting private-sector union rights is
necessary to attract business to their state. Not true, says Thomas
McKenna, a former director of Indiana's Department of Commerce.
McKenna told the New York Times that it's absurd for the
bill's supporters to suggest that even a small number of companies ruled
out Indiana simply because it does not have right-to-work status.
"He said that the legislation's supporters had repeatedly refused to
cite the name of any company that has taken that position. 'I think
they're making it up,' he said," the Times reported.
Cablevision workers in Brooklyn are standing strong, despite a very
hostile and intense anti-union campaign being waged by management.
Management has been holding four captive audience meetings per week,
every week, up until the Jan. 26 election.
CWA Local 1109 Executive Vice President Chris Calabrese said more
than 70 percent of the 280 field technicians, dispatchers and other
operations employees have signed cards seeking representation.
The workers also have the strong support of Rev. Al Sharpton, who is
inviting them to the National Action Network breakfast honoring Dr.
Martin Luther King in Harlem on Jan. 16. Rev. Sharpton also will lead a
delegation to meet with Cablevision CEO James L. Dolan.
this great video about Cablevision workers and their determination
to get a union voice.
Prosecutors Say Professor, University Willfully Violated OSHA
A professor and the University of California are facing felony
occupational safety and health violations three years after a UCLA
laboratory fire killed UPTE-CWA member Sheri Sangji.
The University of California and a UCLA professor are facing
unprecedented felony charges in connection with a chemistry lab fire
that fatally injured UPTE-CWA Local 9119 member Sheri Sangji three years
Sangji, a 23-year-old staff research assistant, was severely burned
when air-sensitive chemicals burst into flames and ignited her clothing.
She died 18 days after the Dec. 29, 2008, fire.
Since then, UPTE-CWA leaders have fought relentlessly for an overhaul
of the university's safety and health standards, while pushing
authorities to pursue Sangji's case.
"The filing of criminal charges is an important wake-up call for
universities and principal investigators (PIs) who often pay less
attention to safety than their counterparts in industrial labs," said
Joan Lichterman of Local 9119's safety and health committee.
"Universities need to ensure that their PIs have the necessary training
to ensure the health and safety of employees they direct, and PIs need
to be aware of their personal responsibility. They both must be held
accountable when experiments go astray."
The Los Angeles Times reports that the L.A. district
attorney's office brought the charges after a lengthy investigation of
UCLA's lab safety practices and Sangji's training and supervision by
professor and researcher Patrick Harran.
Harran and the university each are charged with three counts of
willfully violating occupational safety and health standards.
Specifically they are accused of failing to correct unsafe work
conditions in a timely manner, to require clothing appropriate for the
work and to provide proper chemical safety training.
Harran faces 4½ years in prison and the school could be fined up to
$1.5 million for each of three violations. The Times' research
indicates that the criminal charges are the first of their kind for an
academic lab accident.
The potential penalties far exceed the $31,875 that Cal/OSHA fined
UCLA in 2009 after ruling that Sangji hadn't been trained properly and
wasn't wearing protective clothing.
At the time of her death, Sangji was a recent college graduate who
took the laboratory job while applying to law schools. Her devastated
family has been pushing investigators to bring charges, calling it the
"the first step toward any kind of justice."
"It won't bring Sheri back, but we do hope this will help keep other
young people safe and keep other families from being destroyed," her
sister, Naveen Sangji told the Times.
But UPTE-CWA activists say attitudes, as well as safety standards,
must change to truly protect workers.
In a Times letter to the editor, Local 9119 member Lynn
Kessler said not all supervisors are taking UCLA's improved rules
seriously. She described doing research in 2011 with radioactive
material and being "harshly ridiculed by my supervisor for insisting
that I receive radiation safety training, wear protective clothing and a
badge dosimeter to keep track of my radiation exposure."
online poll is seeking input from members to help the CWA Executive
Board decide on a possible presidential endorsement in 2012.
"If we endorse a candidate, he or she will have the full weight of
CWA's political resources, so your vote is extremely important," CWA
President Larry Cohen said. The Board will discuss an endorsement Feb.
Local unions are being asked to reach out to members and invite them
to take CWA's Presidential ePoll and share it with co-workers. Locals
can share the ePoll information on their Facebook and Twitter profiles.
The website with the poll also features a wealth of information about
the candidates and their stands on jobs, collective bargaining,
retirement security and other issues essential to workers and their
Find the poll at