Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Vote on FAA Reauthorization is Attack on Workers' Bargaining Rights



FAA Reauthorization Bill Politico Ad

CWA's ad in Politico commends House and Senate Democrats who voted against legislation that destroys airline and railway workers' bargaining and organizing rights.



The 157 House and 15 Senate Democrats who voted no on the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization made it clear: democracy isn't a choice between jobs and workers' rights.


The bill passed both houses of Congress, however, and CWA immediately made clear that we will fight back and "we will remember those champions who stood with us this week."

A two-page ad in Politico, the Capitol Hill newspaper, made sure that members of Congress got the message.

"With this vote, House and Senate majorities caved in to the ideological agenda of Delta Air Lines and the 1 percent. This should have been a jobs bill, not the opportunity for an ideological assault by radical politicians. Workers shouldn't have to choose between jobs and their rights on the job," CWA said.

In the House, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi, George Miller and other leaders fought back against the destruction of transportation workers' rights, with 155 Democratic colleagues, stood up for democracy. In the Senate 15 Democratic Senators rejected the measure that makes it even harder for workers to gain union representation.

Now, instead of 35 percent, more than a majority of workers must show support for a union to even trigger the start of the election process, and that list of union-eligible workers is generated by management. It's a particularly high threshold to meet when two airlines are merging and one carrier has union representation but the other does not.

Private sector union elections governed by the National Labor Relations Act require that 30 percent of workers show interest in a union to trigger an election.

This new majority plus standard to trigger an election was included in the law, but the rule that finally put a majority vote election standard in place -- where the outcome is determined by the majority of those voting, and not counting non-voters as no votes -- was not.

Over the past five years, Congress has been limping along, passing short-term extensions of the FAA Reauthorization, but not finalizing the funding bill. Republicans, driven by ideology, never stopped trying to overturn the rule change put in place in 2010 by the National Mediation Board, that instituted a majority vote election standard for union elections in transportation.

Republicans shut the FAA down at least twice, stopping critical airport construction projects and throwing thousands out of work, in an effort to strip out the democratic majority vote standard.


Flight Attendants OccuFLY LAX to Protest Greed, Attack on Workers' Rights



OccuFLY LAX Rally

Over 400 AFA-CWA and union activists hold an OccuFLY demonstration at Los Angeles Intl. Airport to protest the attack on airline workers’ rights and corporate greed.



Chanting, "It's not just about first class, it's about the middle class," more than 400 AFA-CWA Flight Attendants from 20 airlines and activists from Los Angeles area unions turned out for an "OccuFLY" demonstration at Los Angeles International Airport this week.


AFA-CWA delegates attended the union's Board of Directors' meeting this week in Los Angeles in conjunction with the OccuFLY event. CWA President Larry Cohen, Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hill, and CWA District 9 Vice President Jim Weitkamp joined in the rally alongside Flight Attendants and other airline workers at LAX, plus activists from LA Union, the Los Angeles Federation of Labor; CWA; NABET-CWA; UNITEHERE; Teamsters and others.

Activists protested the attack on airline workers' collective bargaining rights inserted in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization and passed by the House and Senate over the strong objection of CWA, AFA-CWA and 17 other unions. The demonstration also targeted corporate greed and excessive corporate compensation.

Maria Elena Durazo, LA Union's executive secretary-treasurer, said airport worker union groups, inspired by OccuFLY, and those who have taken a stand for social and economic justice, have formed the first ever LAX Labor Alliance to support collective bargaining rights and building opportunities for all Americans.

"The FAA reauthorization should be focused on addressing the pressing safety issues that will ensure that the U.S. aviation system remains the safest in the world. Instead, Congress has used this process to gratuitously attack American workers in order to satisfy corporate executives," said Veda Shook, AFA International President. "This controversial labor provision is nothing less than an attack by the 1% against the 99%. We saw it in Wisconsin and Ohio, now we see it for airline and rail workers who are simply seeking the benefits of collective bargaining or fighting to hang on to collective bargaining rights."


CWA, Transport Workers Union Form New Partnership



Larry Cohen_CWA-TWU

TWU Intl President James Little, second left, Executive Vice President Harry Lombardo, and Secretary Treasurer Joseph Gordon, right, with CWA President Larry Cohen, talk with CWA Executive Board members about a new partnership.



The Transport Workers Union of America and CWA have voted to work together in a new affiliation. The new partnership was unanimously endorsed by the executive boards of both unions.


The two unions represent more than 120,000 airline workers and are joining forces to support bargaining and organizing at American Airlines and campaigns at other airlines.

In New York and Philadelphia, TWU members have been a big part of the fair contract fight by CWA and IBEW members at Verizon and Verizon Wireless. In the Midwest, where TWU represents transit workers and CWA represents university and public workers, there's a lot of common ground.

TWU International President James C. Little said the two unions shared "common values and principles that should intuitively benefit our members through working together." CWA President Larry Cohen said partnerships like this "are the only way we will make progress for workers."

TWU represents 130,000 workers in airlines, transit, rail, and gaming. CWA represents 700,000 workers in telecommunications, media, airlines, manufacturing, public service and health care.


Religious, Academic, Community Leaders Urge Verizon CEO to Bargain Fairly

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam was put on notice this week by more than 150 leaders from the religious, higher education, and civil and workers' rights communities who said, it's time for Verizon to "do the right thing and negotiate a fair contract."

In an Open Letter to McAdam, the group said leaders were troubled by Verizon's bargaining strategy and "excessive concessions" that the profitable corporation is seeking from its employees. "Given the largesse Verizon executives have enjoyed, it is shocking that the company would look to impose drastic austerity measures on those whose hard work generated that profit," the letter stated.

"If Verizon is to remain a fixture in our communities, the company must meet the labor standards of our communities and afford its workers the dignity of an equitable negotiation," they wrote.

The leaders told McAdam that they would continue to support Verizon workers "as long as it takes. . . .We hope that you will heed the call for an economy that works for everyone, not just the one percent."

Click here to read the letter and the names of its co-signers.


Offshoring Bill Has 51 Co-Sponsors, With More Signing On

As of this week, 51 House members have signed on to co-sponsor the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, H.R. 3596.

The offshoring bill was a big focus of CWA activists on Capitol Hill last week, as they met with members of Congress and staff to build support for legislation to stop rewarding companies that move good jobs overseas.

The bill's original sponsors are Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Dave McKinley (R-WVa.)

It bars companies that send call center jobs overseas from receiving federal grants and guaranteed loans and requires the Department of Labor to maintain a list of these companies.

It also requires that workers in overseas call centers disclose their name and physical location, and gives U.S. consumers the right to be transferred to a customer service agent in the U.S.


Emarq/CenturyLink Techs Join CWA in Florida

Embarq/CenturyLink technicians from Winter Park, Fla., won CWA Local 3176 representation, following a Jan. 27 decision by the National Labor Relations Board that their 60-59 election victory should stand.

Technicians voted on Nov. 9, but certification was held up pending an NLRB decision on whether a single challenged ballot should be opened and counted as legitimate. The Board backed CWA's claim that the ballot should not be counted because it was cast by an employee not listed on the company's list of eligible voters.

The company decided not to appeal last week and said it will recognize CWA as the workers' bargaining representative. All other Embarq/CenturyLink technicians in Florida are represented by CWA.

CWA District 3 Organizing Coordinator Liz Roberson credits the victory to the technicians' organizing committee and tremendous support from CWA members from Locals 3716 and 3108, Jobs with Justice activists, and 100 CWAers attending a nearby CWA Telecommunications & Technologies Conference in January. During the conference, CWAers demonstrated outside the Embarq/CenturyLink facility, a real boost to the techs.

Not surprising, management ratcheted up the pressure in the final days before the vote, conducting anti-union meetings and pleading with workers to give them "one more chance." The techs stood strong, thanks to terrific groundwork by the inside committee and lead technician Greg Douglas, who collected 65 membership cards prior to the election.

Bob Campbell, president of Local 3176, the local's executive board, members of Local 3108, and District 3 staff all supported the workers' campaign.


Workers Ratify Contract at El Diario Newspaper

A three-year contract at El Diario newspaper in Brooklyn, N.Y. was ratified by Newspaper Guild of New York, TNG-CWA Local 31003 members last week. Approved by a two-to-one margin, the agreement ends seven months of tense negotiations at the newspaper, the nation's oldest Spanish-language daily.

The agreement covers journalists, technicians and other news professionals at the newspaper, a subsidiary of privately held ImpreMedia LLC. Seventeen workers who were facing layoffs, won enhanced severance packages in the contract.

The agreement calls for salary increases of up to 1.5 percent, $1,000 in bonus payments over the term of the contract, pre-tax contributions for medical insurance, a reduction in health care contribution costs, stronger work rules for job assignments, and enhanced disability and sick leave. Management also agreed to a one-year ban on layoffs.

The contract significantly improves on management's original proposals that would have slashed benefits and wages, and eliminated job security through unilateral subcontracting and dismissals.

"This agreement unfortunately reflects the poor financial health of ImpreMedia, and the sector as a whole," said TNG-CWA Local 31003 President Bill O'Meara. "We are eager to move on and support our members' work producing the finest Spanish-language newspaper in the nation."


First of Four Regional "Good Jobs, Green Jobs" Conferences Opens in March

The first of four regional Good Jobs, Green Jobs conferences sponsored by the Blue Green Alliance opens in Atlanta, Feb. 23-24.

CWA President Larry Cohen will speak at the Atlanta conference, and CWA workshops will spotlight successful coalition and movement building, including the work CWA and the Sierra Club have done in Texas and Virginia.

The conferences will look at how our nation can create good-paying union jobs and economic opportunities for workers, and how to resist the growing attacks on our democracy.

Last year's Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference featured more than 100 workshops on subjects including worker safety, clean energy manufacturing, transportation infrastructure investment, emerging green sectors, and the financial tools needed to build the green economy.

Following Atlanta, conferences will be held in Los Angeles on March 15-16; Philadelphia, April 3-4, and Detroit, May 10-11. Click here for more information on the conferences.

CWA's BGA partners have joined CWA's Speed Matters campaign to bring affordable high-speed broadband to every community, and to support building one gigabyte of Internet capacity to schools, hospitals and other anchor institutions in communities across the United States.

Learn more about BGA .


Click Here: A Workers' Roundup of the Web's Best

Out to lunch? New Hampshire Republicans have introduced all manner of absurd bills so far this session. Now they're proposing that the state do away with the law requiring employers to give workers a lunch break. Click here to read more from

The website Alternet is expanding its labor and workers' rights coverage. Click here for the article and a link to sign up for Alternet's weekly electronic newsletter about labor issues.


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