CWA Local 3204 activists, Occupy Atlanta and Jobs with Justice held
a stealth action at AT&T headquarters in Atlanta, telling the company
to stop layoffs and create good jobs.
CWA Local 3204 activists, Occupy Atlanta and Jobs with Justice
doubled up on the message that AT&T must stop layoffs and create good
jobs in our communities.
A Valentine's Day rally to defend good jobs at AT&T was on everyone's
radar screen, but activists had more plans in the works for the day
before, Feb. 13. After months of planning, groups of protesters -- CWA
retirees and JwJ and Occupy Atlanta activists -- were ready for a
stealth action at AT&T's Atlanta headquarters.
CWA local 3204 President Walter Andrews said "the events were great,
and gave everyone a lot of hope and inspiration that we're fighting
CWA Local 3204 Steward Ernest Talley reported:
"The first group entered the building one by one... and then
proceeded to deliver our written demand, which was to immediately
rescind the proposed 740 layoffs. They locked arms, sat down and refused
to leave. This caught the company completely off guard. Management
actually said, 'We weren't expecting you until the 14th.' While inside,
activists notified local news stations and sang R&B love songs modified
to focus attention on AT&T's corporate greed. This group did intend to
"Meanwhile the second group gathered at a nearby homeless shelter,
where they started a march carrying letters spelling out the message
'Expect Us.' About 70 people were walking down the middle of Peachtree
St., with mid-day traffic honking horns behind them. When they finally
arrived at AT&T's corporate offices, they marched straight to the doors.
Just outside the building, they formed more messages, and a broken
"While all this was happening, several vans pulled up with tents that
had already been put together. We unloaded them, and in one clean swoop,
the Occupation had begun. In a matter of minutes we had approximately 16
tents up, and about 50 more people from Occupy Atlanta joined the
"It was perfectly executed by all parties involved. The next day,
hundreds of workers came for our rally, in a show of solidarity and
Klaus Barthel, an SDP member of the German Parliament, joined the
delegation of German workers and ver.di leaders in meetings with
T-Mobile USA workers in Washington, D.C., and other locations.
German and US workers came together for a week of discussion and
action to help T-Mobile USA workers gain CWA representation.
Read blogs and highlights of the trip by T-Mobile workers at
A delegation of 12 leaders from ver.di, the union that represents
T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom workers in Germany, plus Klaus Barthel, a
Social Democratic Party member of Germany's Parliament, met with
T-Mobile workers actively working for a union voice.
T-Mobile USA customer service reps from Oakland, Maine and Frisco,
Tex., joined techs from Connecticut and Long Island, N.Y., in telling
their stories about T-Mobile USA management's campaign of fear and
harassment wherever workers want a union. Ado Wilhelm, ver.di's T-Mobile
expert, said the German group was there to get firsthand experience
about the situation at T-Mobile USA, to talk to American employees and
to document DT's double standard.
German Ver.di leaders demonstrate outside a T-Mobile store in
Barthel, who also traveled with the group to Tennessee said, "when we
hear that T-Mobile USA workers who take a union leaflet are kept under
surveillance by security guards and reported to management, or that
management holds meetings and excludes union supporters to personally
attack them, or that workers must talk about the benefits of a union in
secret, it is unbelievable that a German company is permitting this
In Nashville, Tenn. and Frisco, Texas, the group leafletted outside a
T-Mobile store and call center, held a public news conference and met
with T-Mobile USA and AT&T Mobility workers. Workers at AT&T Mobility
can freely choose union representation; management has committed to
remaining neutral in union representation campaigns.
Back in Washington, D.C., the German activists will meet with
representatives at the German Embassy. Earlier in the week, a briefing
for Capitol Hill staff also was held.
The Ad-Hoc Committee of Passenger Service Agents, representing agents
at American Airlines, has asked a federal bankruptcy court to prohibit
American's parent company, AMR Corporation, from making unilateral
changes in wages, benefits and working conditions during the union
election campaign, certification and contract bargaining process.
CWA helped airport, cargo, and reservations agents create the Ad Hoc
Committee so they would have legal standing as the airline goes through
bankruptcy reorganization. There is strong support among the 9,300
passenger service and reservations agents for CWA representation; CWA
filed for a National Mediation Board election on Dec. 7, 2011.
AMR Corp. said it would make changes to compensation and other
employment terms of non-management workers who do not have a union, and
also presented specific proposals for changes it wanted in the
collective bargaining agreements of the union groups and currently is
bargaining with them. For non-represented workers, including the
passenger service agents, AMR has said it wants to terminate their
pension plan, eliminate their subsidy for retiree health care,
dramatically increase active employees' health care costs, and cut jobs.
The agents' committee said such changes violate the Railway Labor
Act, which requires that "laboratory conditions" be maintained for
workers while the NMB is processing their election petition. The
passenger service agents already have been hit with big wage and benefit
cuts, beginning in 2003.
The workers' committee also told the court that AMR should be
prohibited from making any unilateral changes during the period between
CWA's certification as the agents' bargaining representative and the
approval of an initial collective bargaining agreement.
"The company can't do whatever it wants to with the union groups,"
said Sacramento-based agent Bryan Wall. "It has to negotiate. With our
upcoming union election, already in the works, I think the company
should agree to wait to make changes until after our election."
In a major victory for Guild members at the Portland Press
Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, a new investor has agreed to pump
much-needed money into the company, saving jobs and the union contract.
Just last month, TNG-CWA Local 31128 members were fending off demands
from a different investor who wanted to shred the union's contract and
strip the union of its seats on the MaineToday Media board.
The new investment from billionaire Donald Sussman will preserve the
seats and the employee stock ownership program that the union negotiated
in 2009, when the family-owned newspaper was sold. Since then, the Guild
has made numerous concessions as it tried to help the newspaper weather
one financial crisis after another.
Faced with even more concessions and their company's threat of
bankruptcy, the TNG-CWA local took matters into its own hands, getting a
message to Sussman that their paper was in trouble. Sussman has deep
roots in Maine and is married to Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.
Intrigued, he met with Guild leaders and then pursued a deal with the
"It was the longest of long shots," said Local Vice President Greg
Kesich, who holds one of the Guild's two seats on the company board.
Now, "not only will we still have our ownership stake in a reorganized
company, we will be working with a much more union-friendly investor
group. We expect to have a voice in important strategic decisions in the
TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer had high praise for the local's
leaders and members, saying they have always strived for a responsible
balance between their needs and the newspaper's.
"This is a local that has always stayed extremely active, even to the
point of getting involved in the business model," Lunzer said. "They are
in a position to help control the destiny of the newspaper, and that
didn't just happen by accident."
CWA has filed a lawsuit against Piedmont Airlines for illegally
suspending pay raises for 3,000 passenger service agents who voted to
join CWA last year.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of
Pennsylvania on Feb. 14, charges that the company's action illegally
discriminates against the agents by cancelling an annual merit and bonus
pay program, a violation of the Railway Labor Act.
CWA says the company's action is in retaliation for workers voting to
join CWA last year, especially since the company has maintained merit
and bonus pay for non-union employees.
CWA is asking the court to order the reinstatement of the pay program
to union represented workers, and to pay lost wages and damages to all
employees who lost wages.
Negotiations for a first contract have been underway since February
CWA activists in New Mexico, working with legislators, unions, and
other progressive allies, won passage of a fair share corporate tax
bill in both the state house and senate.
CWA activists in New Mexico, working with legislators, unions, MoveOn
and other progressive allies, won passage of a fair share corporate tax
bill in both the state house and senate.
Now, the coalition is calling on Governor Susana Martinez to sign the
legislation that requires out of state corporations to pay their fair
share of taxes.
Miles Conway, who heads CWA's New Mexico Legislative-Political Action
Team, said it was an historic moment that brought Senate Bill 9, a bill
to lower taxes for New Mexico businesses and close the longtime tax
loophole allowing out of-state corporations to pay zero taxes to the
Governor's desk for signature.
The final bi-partisan bill requires "big box" stores to pay their
fair share of taxes, and still lowers taxes for homegrown businesses,
The governor has until March 7 to sign the legislation and has
indicated that she may veto the measure. Activists are mobilizing
support throughout the state, with thousands of letter and calls going
to the governor's office.
CWA instructor Dave Cash assists laid-off USW members in Ohio.
CWA/NETT, nationally recognized for providing technical and skill
manufacturing training, is offering a new training program for United
Steelworkers members laid off at two paper companies near Cincinnati.
Workforce One, the workforce board in Butler County, Ohio, requested
that CWA conduct training for the county, based on its expertise in
providing similar training to IUE-CWA members. The USW, which partners
with CWA in joint health and safety training, donated a local union hall
where training is held.
About a third of the nearly 600 workers who were laid off from Mohawk
Paper and Smart Paper will participate in the training program; more
than 135 have completed the course.
Watch local news coverage about the Butler Workforce One Transition
Center, where CWA is conducting the training here.