Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Working People Deserve a Functioning NLRB

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The AFL-CIO Executive Council this week sent a clear-cut message to Senate Democrats: Empower the National Labor Relations Board, or else.

Leaders called on President Barack Obama to nominate a full package of nominees to the NLRB five board members and a general counsel that the Senate must swiftly confirm. They urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to do everything in his power to confirm these nominees, even if it means overhauling the Senate rules to overcome a Senate GOP filibuster.

The New York Times writes:

Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America and chairman of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s organizing committee, said in a news briefing that Senate Democrats had various options on how to get those nominees approved and "we expect you to use all the options."

Mr. Cohen warned that if Senate Republicans filibustered to block the nominations and Senate Democrats did not then adopt tougher rules to overcome filibusters, "we will mobilize and take action against the Senate Democrats like we never have before."

"We will be mobilizing across the country in every state in every one of their offices," he added.

As it stands, the NLRB is toothless. On Jan. 25, a three-judge panel of Republican appointees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declared President Barack Obama's three recess appointments to the NLRB unconstitutional because the Senate wasn't technically recessed, only away on winter break. In knocking down three of the board's five members, the Noel Canning ruling completely vaporized the NLRB's ability to enforce U.S. labor law.

At its February meeting, the AFL-CIO Executive Council, representing 57 affiliate unions, outlined their plan of action in a statement condemning the decision, which has "seriously undermined enforcement of the law and made an already weak law even more lopsided against workers exercising their rights." It said:

The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Noel Canning is unprecedented, and it is sweeping in its potential reach. By the court's logic, more than 300 recess appointments made by Presidents Reagan, Clinton, Obama and both Presidents Bush were invalid including 141 appointments made by President George W. Bush alone. It's a shocking and far-reaching decision that dramatically and painfully illustrates the consequences of Senate Republicans exploiting Senate rules to prevent President Obama from getting all but two of his nominees confirmed to the NLRB and any of his nominees confirmed to the District of Columbia Circuit.

Bargaining Update

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CWA Local 9400 members rally in support of the AT&T Mobility bargaining committee.

 

  • Today, US Airways Flight Attendants ratified a single contract with double-digit pay increases, industry-leading job protections and work rules, and a seat at the table as full partners in the merger with American Airlines. The contract, reached with the assistance of the National Mediation Board, sets the stage for additional improvements, uniting both groups under one agreement and positioning Flight Attendants for future improvements. With an overwhelming number of Flight Attendants participating, the contract was ratified by 80 percent. Read more here
     
  • CWA District 6 yesterday announced members have ratified their contractual agreement with AT&T Southwest, covering about 22,000 members at AT&T operations in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri. An earlier tentative agreement was turned down by a narrow margin last month. "Over 60 percent of our members voted in favor of this agreement, which over its life assures them good wages, family health care and job security," said CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings.
     
  • Negotiations are continuing with AT&T East in Connecticut, covering 3,000 members of CWA Local 1298.
     
  • CWA has reached a tentative agreement with AT&T Mobility covering 22,000 workers. Details of the tentative agreement are being provided to members and locals, and a ratification vote by the membership will be scheduled. AT&T Mobility workers covered by this contract are customer service representatives, technicians and retail store workers in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
     
  • CWA District 9 has reached a tentative contract with AT&T West covering about 18,000 CWA members at AT&T operations in California and Nevada. Details of the tentative agreement are being provided to members and locals, and a ratification vote by the membership will be scheduled.
     
  • Registered nurses at Kenmore Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., continue to work without a contract. This week dozens of RNs and their labor allies picketed the hospital to protest management's demand they make concessions on wages and benefits after the hospital posted more than a $3.8 million profit last year. Listen to their story here
     
  • The Woodbury County Board in Iowa approved raises for the 57 county Sheriff's Office jailers and process servers represented by CWA Local 7177. Read more here

 

NYC Officials Condemn Cablevision's Illegal Firings

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CWAers call on New York City's city council to hold Cablevision accountable for labor violations.

New York City's elected officials are lobbing criticism at Cablevision for unjustly firing 22 workers attempting to use the company's "open-door" policy last month.

During a hearing on Tuesday, city council members dug into whether Cablevision's mistreatment of 22 Brooklyn Cablevision-Optimum workers violated its franchise agreement with the city. The agreement requires the company to "recognize the right of its employees to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing in accordance with applicable law."

"The company is engaging in textbook union busting," Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) said during the hearing, according to Newsday.

Meanwhile, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is urging the NBA to hold its 2015 All-Star Game at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn not Madison Square Garden, which is owned by Cablevision CEO James Dolan.

In an open letter to the NBA, de Blasio wrote, "A corporation crosses the line when it subjects its employees to unfair treatment and summary termination without just cause. We have a responsibility to stand up to such injustices not reward them with the privilege of hosting an event as popular and prestigious as the 2015 NBA All-Star game. Cablevision a company that has a franchise agreement has refused to bargain in good faith, and this anti-worker stance is an affront to our values as New Yorkers."

He added, "Choosing Barclays over Madison Square Garden will send a clear message that we will stand up for working people, right here in New York City, and everywhere else."

Tell the NBA not to reward companies who attack their workers. Sign the petition now!

Repeal the Sequester

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The AFL-CIO Executive Council is calling on Congress to repeal the looming, economically destructive budget cuts known sequestration. Unless lawmakers act, $85 billion in automatic cuts will devastate Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and other vital programs on Friday.

In a statement at its winter meeting, the council said:

The solution is to disarm the hostage-takers so they no longer can hold the economy hostage to get their way. Disarming the hostage-takers means repealing "sequestration" not replacing it. Across-the-board cuts would increase unemployment and harm the economy, but so would replacement cuts of the same size.

There is no economic need to replace "sequestration" or meet any arbitrary deficit reduction target. Further fiscal austerity before the United States returns to full employment only would weaken the economy and cost jobs. If the "sequester" is to be replaced, it should be replaced in a way that minimizes drag on the economy which is by raising additional revenues from the wealthiest households and corporations. Since January 2011, 70 percent of deficit reduction has been through discretionary spending cuts, which is an important reason why the recovery has been so sluggish. Under no circumstances should the "sequester" be replaced by furloughs for federal employees, who already have sacrificed $103 billion to reduce the deficit.

Earlier this week, in an interview on The Ed Schultz Show, CWA President Larry Cohen said, "It is going to take mobilization by of all of us working Americans, whether we're union or not, to say, 'We're fed up with this!'"

Listen to Cohen's full interview here

The Time is Now for Immigration Reform

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The AFL-CIO Executive Council this week reaffirmed its commitment to working on a pathway to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.

Leaders advocate keeping families together and holding employers accountable for their hiring practices. Their framework for comprehensive immigration reform also proposes a data-driven approach to immigration that would determine future visas based on labor market needs, as well as the improvement not expansion of guest worker visa programs that too often deny basic civil rights to immigrant workers.

Read the full statement here

Protect the Voting Rights Act

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CWA activists urge the Supreme Court to uphold Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

 

CWA activists joined labor and civil rights organizations in rallying outside the Supreme Court in support of the Voting Rights Act on Wednesday.

Inside, the justices were hearing oral arguments about Section 5 of the law, which demands that areas of the country with a history of racial discrimination must get permission from the Justice Department or a federal court before adopting any change in their voting rules. The deciding factor is whether or not those changes would negatively affect minorities.

Opponents say Section 5 is outdated. But with the continued bombardment of voter ID laws and other voter suppression tactics that threaten the rights of minority voters across the country, it is needed now more than ever.

CWA Locals 1032, 1040, 2201, and 3215 joined headquarters staff in shouting "No justice no peace!" on the Supreme Court steps.

The Supreme Court is now deciding whether to uphold or strike down this provision of the act.

Congress Renews Violence Against Women Act

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A bill reauthorizing and expanding the Violence Against Women Act will soon reach President Obama's desk.

Today, the House passed the Senate's bipartisan reauthorization of the bill, which extends the 1994 law's protections to immigrants, the LGBT community and Native Americans. The legislation sailed through on a 286-138 vote, with 199 Democrats joining 87 Republicans, and now goes to the White House.

"Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk," said Obama in a statement.

CWA Endorses Bill Halter for Arkansas Governor

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Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Bill Halter lands CWA's endorsement.

CWA on Wednesday announced its endorsement of Bill Halter in the 2014 Arkansas gubernatorial election, citing the former lieutenant governor's steadfast support of working families over corporations and Wall Street.

"Our members want a Governor who will stand with them against Wall Street, the Chamber of Commerce and anyone else who continues to try and enrich themselves at the expense of hard working families in Arkansas," said CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings. "This is an extraordinary early endorsement for an extraordinary public servant, who will make an extraordinary Governor."

Formally announcing the endorsements were CWA Local 6502 (Springdale) President Mary Ann Hopkins; CWA Local 6503 (Hot Springs) President Mike Koller; CWA Local 6505 (Marion) President Mike Richmond; CWA Local 6507 (Little Rock) President Gerald Murray and CWA Local 6508 (Little Rock) President George West.

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