Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWAers, Atlanta Activists Pull Off Stealth Action at AT&T

 

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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.

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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 back."

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 be arrested.

"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 heart.

"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 protest.

"It was perfectly executed by all parties involved. The next day, hundreds of workers came for our rally, in a show of solidarity and appreciation."

 

 

Ver.di, T-Mobile USA Workers Document Campaign of Fear

 

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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 http://weworkbettertogether.org/.

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.

 

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German Ver.di leaders demonstrate outside a T-Mobile store in Nashville, Tenn.

 

 

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 treatment."

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.

Agents Ask Court to Bar Changes in Working Conditions

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."

New Investment Saves TNG-CWA Jobs at Portland, Maine Newspaper

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 company.

"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 company's future."

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 Sues Piedmont Airlines for Retaliation Against Union Supporters

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 2011.

New Mexico CWA Coalition Wins Fair Tax Bill, Now on Governor's Desk

 

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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, Conway said.

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/NETT is Training Laid Off Paper Company Workers

 

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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.

 

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