Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Join Us for CWA's First 2012 Union Hall Phone Call

Make sure to join us next week for our next Union Hall Call for an update on Verizon bargaining and the important work CWA activists are doing all across the country.

Click here to sign up now to join the call on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m. EST.

During 2012 we will build on the energy and excitement of 2011 as we gain momentum and strengthen our movement. Together we will stand united against the billionaires, corporate executives, and right-wing politicians who continue to attack our rights.

Make sure you are part of it by joining our call next week.

CWA to NLRB: Verizon Wireless Subverted Union Election

CWA has asked the National Labor Relations Board to throw out a narrow Jan. 6 union election loss for 13 workers at a Verizon Wireless facility in Bloomington, Ill., charging that the company repeatedly violated the law to ensure the vote would go its way.

Widespread support existed for a union last November when the retail sales workers and customer service representatives contacted CWA to assist them in organizing. When workers petitioned for an election, 76 percent supported the union. By the time the election was held two months later, the vote was 7-6 against the union, a result of the company's illegal tactics.

Verizon Wireless planted two "retail sales leads" in the unit to spy on union supporters and thwart the campaign, according to CWA's complaint. The company claimed the workers weren't supervisors, yet both were required to attend management training and management-only anti-union meetings. At least one employee claims to have witnessed or overheard the planted workers reporting on the union campaign to management.

To further intimidate workers, the company also packed the small facility with as many as seven top-level company executives for weeks before the election. They included Verizon Wireless's top HR official, Matt Antonek, who is headquartered in New Jersey, and the presidents of the company's Midwest Area and Illinois/Wisconsin region. Some of the top managers contacted union supporters at their homes, delivering their anti-union message. At least five of the Verizon Wireless officials were on hand at the facility during the election.

In one of the most serious violations, CWA charges that Verizon Wireless illegally offered a member of the workers' organizing committee a promotion to management at another facility, to take place after the election.

Union supporter Tyler Book said the company adopted an "either you're pro-company or pro-union" stance before the election. "That really made us angry that you can't be both pro-union and pro-company," Book said. "We think it's a good way to make our company better."

"The tactics used by Matt Antonek and Verizon Wireless to undermine the organizing effort of 13 workers are reprehensible," said CWA District 4 Organizing Coordinator Curt Hess, who assisted the workers. "Any group, with less courage and determination than that of the Bloomington workers, would have easily crumbled under the company's pressure long before an election could have taken place."

Wisconsin Coalition Submits 1 Million-Plus Signatures to Oust Walker

Activists Fired Up for Election Campaign to Recall Anti-Union Governor



Tim Sager-Wisconsin

CWA Local 4630 retiree Tim Sager was one of the Wisconsin activists selected to deliver boxes of petitions this week in the campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker. Local and national media watched as the 1 million-plus signatures were submitted.





Bursting with smiles and pride as the national media watched, Wisconsin activists made history this week as they delivered more than 1 million petition signatures in the campaign to recall Gov. Scott Walker.

"It was snowing and it was cold, but I don't think too many of us felt it," said CWA Local 4630 retiree Tim Sager, one of 140 activists hand-picked to make the Jan. 17 delivery. "I couldn't think of a better way to end the recall signature-gathering process than to actually be able to physically carry a box of the petitions in and present it."

Nearly as many people signed the petitions as the 1.12 million who voted for Walker in 2010. But his popularly began plummeting, even among Republicans, as soon as he took office.

Walker immediately pushed the legislature to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers, something he'd never talked about doing during his campaign. His actions and arrogance set off a firestorm of opposition that escalated as he slashed budgets for education and vital services while championing tax breaks for corporations and the rich. One in every four registered voters signed the petitions supporting his recall.

The United Wisconsin recall campaign needs 540,209 valid signatures to trigger an election that could oust Walker. It would be Wisconsin's first-ever election to attempt to recall a governor, and only the third nationally. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators are also targeted, and collectively nearly 1 million more signatures were submitted to unseat them.

"Across the state, our CWA local activists have been an important part of not only the million signatures to recall Walker but also the recalls to take back the state Senate," CWA District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen said. "We are ready to continue on to the next phase, the election, and elect a governor and state senate that will bring back good jobs and strong communities in Wisconsin."

When the broad-based United Wisconsin coalition held its first meeting in Madison, Local 4630's Sager and his wife, Genny, signed up to start collecting pledges from people who would support or be involved in the recall campaign. Soon, Sager was appointed as one of two coordinators in Green County, just south of Madison.

"I had absolutely no experience in organizing, other than being a mobilization chair at one point for Local 4630," Sager said. "I started following our (Democratic) state representative around as she did a listening tour. I hung out a United Wisconsin sign and started collecting signatures, pledges, looking for volunteers and that kind of snowballed."

The coalition rewarded Sager and other county coordinators around the state by inviting them to deliver the boxes full of petitions. After a luncheon, they marched around the capitol square toward the Government Accountability Office, where a truck full of boxes was waiting. Fellow activists lined the sidewalks and cheered. The happiness was "infectious," Sager said.

One by one, each member of the delivery team hoisted a box and walked inside the state office building to a small room set up for collecting the petitions. Wearing a yellow CWA retired members' button, Sager can be seen prominently in footage aired Wednesday on MSNBC's The Ed Show and the Rachel Maddow Show.

The million-plus number was supposed to be a secret until a celebration later that night, but it had leaked hours earlier. Even so, Sager said, "it was still impressive at the party when you saw the big signs with that 1 and six zeros."

Environmental Groups, Unions Support Obama's Pipeline Decision

CWA joins the Natural Resources Defense Council, SEIU, UAW, Transport Workers Union, Sierra Club, United Steelworkers and Amalgamated Transit Union in issuing the following statement:

The Keystone XL Pipeline is a complex project which deserved the careful consideration regarding its environmental and economic impacts that the Obama Administration planned to provide.

In a cynical move, the House Republican leadership called for a rapid decision on the pipeline in exchange for agreeing to keep the payroll tax cut in place. The payroll tax cut enacted last year has been an important part of efforts to turn around our struggling economy. While the House Republicans wrapped job creation rhetoric around their pipeline demands, they have rejected numerous opportunities to support programs creating good U.S. jobs. Here are a few of the jobs initiatives proposed by the Obama administration that Republican members of Congress have rejected:


  • The House initially voted against again extending Unemployment Insurance benefits, as well as against the measure to continue the cut in payroll taxes. If the House action had held, the economy would have lost 1.5 million jobs.


  • The Republicans are blocking any consideration of the Restore the American Dream Act which would create/save 2.3 million jobs in 2012 and 3.1 million jobs in 2013 without offering any alternative that would lead to direct job creation.


  • The Republicans opposed the extension of the Highway Trust Fund which would create 100,000s of jobs and provide for critical infrastructure repair.


  • The House Republicans allowed the funding for crucial modernization projects for our airline infrastructure to expire, at the expense of tens of thousands of jobs, to pursue a political agenda to hold down wages and block democratic elections in the airline industry, the goal of one corporation.


  • House Republicans rejected Obama administration initiatives to fund jobs for teachers, firefighters and police, despite strong community support for more responders.

A project this far-reaching deserved better than the "politics as usual" strategy of a do-nothing Republican Congress. Their job blackmail agenda is simply wedge politics. Addressing global climate change, establishing sustainable and secure energy sources, and creating and retaining safe and family-supportive jobs are keys to a positive future for our children and grandchildren. President Obama has acted wisely.

Activists, House Democrats So Far Stalling Indiana 'Right-to-Work'

GOP's Goal: Pass Anti-Union Bill Before City Hosts Super Bowl Feb. 5



Indiana Registry Table

CWA and other union members staffing a table in the Indiana statehouse have directed thousands of citizens to lawmakers' offices in the fight to stop a so-called "right-to-work" bill.

Below: CWA Local 4900 members were among hundreds of activists who donned NFL gear and marched last week from the statehouse to the stadium where Indianapolis will host the Super Bowl in two weeks.

Indiana Statehouse




Determined union members and Democratic lawmakers in Indiana are keeping the so-called "right-to-work" debate alive, denying Republicans the opportunity to pass the anti-union bill quickly and quell the controversy before their capital city hosts the Super Bowl in two weeks.

On Wednesday, Jan. 18, CWA and other union members filled the statehouse with chants of "Occupy the Super Bowl!" Union members and allies have been protesting inside the capitol and making hundreds of visits to lawmakers' office every day since the legislative session began Jan. 3.

The fight is focused on defeating the bill in the House, but activists say if necessary they will take their protests to the Super Bowl Feb. 5, and all the days of hype leading up to it.

With the National Football League Players' Association actively supporting the workers' fight and global media in town for the game, "It's an opportunity to highlight how inhospitable Indiana is becoming for working men and women," Indiana AFL-CIO spokesman Jeff Harris said.

Democratic House members continue to boycott daily legislative sessions, preventing a quorum and so far blocking the Republican majority from passing the bill. Republicans have voted to impose $1,000 daily fines on the 35 absent Democrats, who, in turn, have gone to court to challenge the GOP's attempt to withhold the fines from their paychecks.

Democrats continue to do other legislative work and have tried to resolve the "right-to-work" debate with proposals that include a public referendum on the issue. Polling shows that only one-third of Indiana voters support right-to-work, and an overwhelming majority, 71 percent, want a referendum.

Wrongfully Terminated Workers Maintain Daily Vigil



Terminated Verizon Workers

Three CWA Local 13000 members wrongfully terminated during the Verizon strike maintain a daily vigil at a Verizon Wireless store in Philadelphia to show support for a fair contract for Verizon Wireless workers. Two of those workers, shown above, are Ed Martin and Martin Checkovage. Not pictured is Rob McFadden.




Three CWA Local 13000 members who were wrongfully terminated during the Verizon strike have not wavered in showing their support for a fair contract for their sisters and brothers at Verizon Wireless.

Members Ed Martin, Martin Checkovage and Rob McFadden, have kept a daily vigil outside the Verizon Wireless store on Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia to persuade people not to buy Verizon Wireless services or products until workers at Verizon Wireless get a fair contract.

"They have been covering this store everyday since the return to work last August," Local Executive Vice President Jeff Reamer said. "Their dedication and solidarity speaks to our members' support and determination for Verizon Wireless workers."

CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins said, "The dedication of these workers demonstrates what is at stake for union members at Verizon Wireless. They are fighting to maintain good middle-class wages, benefits and working conditions."

CWA Radio Ads Press Anti-Union Lawmakers to Pass FAA Funds

CWA launched radio ads this week targeting two U.S. House freshmen Republicans who are holding Federal Aviation Administration funding hostage unless their anti-union demands are met.

Congressmen Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) and Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) are among key Republicans who are blocking passage of a long-term FAA Reauthorization bill, once again putting the critical agency at risk of being shut down.

At issue is an unrelated National Mediation Board rule that ensures that airline union elections are subject to the same democratic rules as all U.S. elections. Adopted in 2010, the rule simply says that only votes actually cast will be counted. Previously, employees who didn't vote were counted as "No" votes.

"That is a standard different from every other form of democratic election in our nation, and not one single member of Congress could have been elected if used in their own races in 2010," CWA said in a statement.

The ads, running in Minnesota's 8th and Wisconsin's 7th congressional districts, highlight both Cravaack's and Duffy's roles in "weighing down this important bill with an unrelated, controversial provision." The ads conclude by asking voters to, "Tell him enough! Quit playing games with our jobs, our infrastructure, and our future."

If no new long-term or temporary funding is approved by Jan. 31, the FAA faces another shutdown. Last summer, 4,000 FAA employees and tens of thousands of airport construction workers were sent home for two weeks until Congress passed temporary funding. That marked the 21st stop-gap funding measure since the agency's last real budget was approved in 2007.

CWA, AFA-CWA and other unions are pushing for Congress to finally pass a long-term budget, which is essential in order for critical airport and aviation construction and safety projects to go forward.

Click here to hear the ads.

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