Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Another Weak Compromise on Senate Rules Reform

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CWAers deliver petitions around Capitol Hill.

Below: Petitions are delivered to a Senator's office. Fix the Senate Now gathered nearly 1 million petition signatures.

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The incremental improvements in a soon-to-be finalized Senate rules reform deal do not go nearly far enough to deliver meaningful change, transparency and accountability. The Senate has once again missed an opportunity to curb the chamber's abuse of the filibuster and end obstruction.

"This deal is a missed opportunity to move forward or even ensure debate on the critical issues facing our nation," said CWA President Larry Cohen.

"In recent years, the Senate has failed to discuss, debate, or vote on measures that affect jobs, workers' rights, health care, campaign financing, immigration, and the list goes on and on. For members of our union, and progressives throughout the nation, the failure to enact substantial reform of the senate rules almost guarantees that for two more years, there will not be effective debate, discussion or voting on even the critical issues that the Obama Administration has outlined.

"The changes proposed may well make the Senate more efficient when it comes to nominations, including the record number of judicial vacancies. But, the Democracy Initiative that CWA helped launch must continue at full speed. The toxic combination of senate rules, money and politics, obstacles to voting rights, and no path to citizenship for millions of immigrants all add up to continued control by the one percent, and a declining standard of living for the rest of us. Today, we are more committed than ever to building a movement for real change."

 

While there may be provisions that will help with streamlining certain nominations — a potentially significant step forward — the agreement avoids measures that would actually raise the costs of Senate obstruction. Neither the talking filibuster provision, nor the shifting of the burden to the minority to supply 41 votes to keep a filibuster going is expected to be included in the final package. And important details remain unresolved, such as potential conditions attached to the elimination of filibusters on the motion to proceed.

CWA played a significant role in an unprecedented mobilization on this issue. Enormous work was done by the union's legislative, communications and political departments, and LPATs. CWA succeeded in making it the public issue it needs to be. Together with CWA's progressive partners in the Fix the Senate Now coalition, activists sent over 2.5 million emails to members on the importance of fixing the Senate, leading to 100,000 phone calls and nearly 1 million petition signatures delivered to Senate offices.

The tireless advocacy of reform champions Sens. Tom Harkin, Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall was courageous and we were honored to stand with them.

Bargaining Update

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The AT&T Mobility bargaining team meets in Denver.

  • Bargaining with AT&T Mobility for 22,000 customer service, retail store and other workers covered by the "orange" contract opened Jan. 22 in Denver. Read CWA's opening statement  and click here to sign up for bargaining updates and to get more information. Or text "orange" to 69866 for text updates. The current contract expires Feb. 9.
     
  • Negotiations between CWA and Verizon West, covering about 5,000 workers in California, opens on Jan. 28; the current contract expires March 9.
     
  • Also ongoing: negotiations covering telecom workers at CenturyLink in the former Qwest footprint; passenger service agents at US Airways; AT&T West and AT&T East; Verizon Southwest; Disney-ABC; and other CWA and CWA sector employers.

 

Cincinnati CWAers Get Tech Training Through CWA/NETT

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CWA Local 4400 members completed IC3 computer training and earned certification for those skills.

Recently laid-off members of CWA Local 4400 in Cincinnati, Ohio, completed IC3 computer training and earned certification. CWA/NETT worked with the local workforce board and other community organizations to help workers receive Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits, which are provided to workers who lose their jobs because of offshoring.

"CWA/NETT staff has been extremely helpful in assisting our members who lost their jobs. They have provided training, résumé assistance and job searches. CWA/NETT is a great resource for our members," said CWA Local 4400 President Dwayne Phillips.

You can learn more about CWA/NETT at www.cwanett.org.

CWA/NETT Academy provides state-of-the-art training in the latest technologies, including enhanced computer skills and fiber optics training has helped many CWAers find new work in telecommunications, media and other industries.

President Cohen in the News

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CWA President Larry Cohen continued hitting the airwaves and editorial pages this week:

  • Cohen discussed filibuster reform and the Democracy Initiative with Bill Moyers on his award-winning program Moyers & Company. Cohen told the host, "We're going to fight foreclosures as much as we're going to fight for bargaining rights. We're going to fight climate change as much as we're going to fight to raise the standard of living. And it's going to take that kind of a labor movement and I think a lot of us are ready for that kind of a labor movement." Watch the full show and read the transcript here.
     
  • It's clear that comprehensive immigration reform will soon be the Senate's next battle. Writing in The Hill, Center for Community Change Executive Director Deepak Bhargava and Cohen said, "We want to hear filibustering Republicans actually talk and voice their opinions on immigration reform legislation." Read more here.
     
  • Alliance for Justice Nan Aron and Cohen teamed up to explain why filibuster abuse is the root of congressional gridlock. They wrote in The Huffington Post, "The $6-billion November election returned Barack Obama to the White House and ushered in a number of new moderate and progressive voices into the Senate. Why should this expensive, hard-fought victory be deliberately surrendered to a minority led by Mitch McConnell, a man facing a probable challenge from his far right in two years? Most voters who thought they were voting for the president's agenda will be surprised to find the country's policies and problems captive to the politics of a primary race in Kentucky." Read more here.
  • Tonight (January 24), tune into The Ed Show on MSNBC at 8:40 pm ET to watch Cohen's latest interview.

 

Getting Corporate Money Out of Politics

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Chicago CWAers and other activists call for a Constitutional amendment to establish that money is not speech and corporations are not people.

Below: Progressives rallied in 33 states against the Supreme Court's Citizens United decisions.

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CWAers and progressive activists across the country marked the third anniversary of the disastrous Supreme Court Citizen's United decision with nationwide actions over the Martin Luther King weekend protesting the billions of dollars that have subverted our political process.

"Money Out/Voters In" was the theme of the actions held in 33 states. CWA is part of a broad coalition that rejects the Supreme Court's decisions that have permitted corporate and secret political spending to harm our nation's democratic election process. We support amending the U.S. Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech and that corporations are not people and not entitled to constitutional rights.

CWA and progressive allies are determined to break down the barriers to democracy that are blocking progress on the issues that working families care about.

Read more about the campaign to get money out of politics.

Organizing Update

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  • IUE-CWA now represents 5 Identification and Registration Clerks at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Workers, who voted 3-2 for a union voice, are responsible for IDs, registration and back ground checks on the 7,500 other government contractors at the site. Employees had gone five years without a pay raise.
     
  • Employees at Lan-Tel Communications & Underground Services have voted to remain represented by CWA Local 6360. Read more here.

 

Can Your Facebook Updates Get You Fired?

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Sometimes. But you may have more protection than you think.

The National Labor Relations Board is standing up for workers' right to freely discuss their jobs, bosses and workplaces online, as long as it is "concerted activity." That means employees can tweet, post on Facebook, blog and use other social media to comment about conditions at work, without fear of retaliation or getting fired — as long as the posts are part of an online conversation between coworkers, or are intended to provoke a response from coworkers. What remains unprotected is an online personal rant that does not seek a response.

"Many view social media as the new water cooler," Mark G. Pearce, the board's chairman, noting that federal law has long protected the right of employees to discuss work-related matters, told The New York Times. "All we're doing is applying traditional rules to a new technology."

Thanks the NLRB's rulings and advisories, CWA representatives have been able to resolve social media disputes and to negotiate much better policies that have been either codified in the collective bargaining agreement or established as a mutually agreed to employer policy.

Make Sure Your Voice is Heard as CWA Builds a Movement for Justice and Democracy

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CWA’s movement building website is live!

And CWAers are talking about how they’re building our movement. From a CWA-Sierra Club partnership in Texas to Stand Up Ohio to work with Jobs with Justice in communities across the country, we have stories to tell about the work we’re doing.

By joining forces with other organizations, like civil rights groups, women’s organizations, students, religious groups, environmentalists and many more, we grow stronger. That’s the way we’ll reach our goals. If we don’t work together, we won’t make any progress on our core issues: good jobs, retirement security, health care and bargaining rights.

At www.cwa-union.org/voices, you can download resources and learn more about our fight for economic justice and democracy. Just as important, you can share your story that will be posted on the interactive map and will inspire more activists to join in.

It’s easy to do. Just click on the “Share Your Story” button and follow the instructions to make your own message. Stories should be between 1 and 2 minutes.

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