Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Bargaining Update

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Guild members rally for a fair contract at Bloomberg-BNA.

  • The Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA Local 32035, at Bloomberg-BNA has reached a tentative accord on its first contract since Bloomberg bought BNA, a legal information provider, for nearly $990 million in 2011. The proposed contract provides across-the-board pay raises, an increase in the company match on the 401(k) plan and bonuses. Get the details here.
     
  • CWA members at Verizon West and supporters will rally this Saturday for a fair contract. Negotiations covering 5,000 workers continue. Find more info here.
     
  • The Pacific Media Workers Guild bargaining team at the San Francisco Chronicle has adjourned without agreement. No new talks are scheduled with Hearst Corp., and all Chronicle Guild members will be meeting on March 20 to discuss important decisions about the company's future and their jobs. Read more here.
     
  • YP Holdings, which operates Yellow Pages, plans to lay off 120 employees in St. Louis as part of a companywide outsourcing of jobs. "We've been bargaining to increase the health care benefits and severance for several members after they're gone," CWA Local 6300 President Mike Mehringer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

 

Congress, CWA Call on FCC to Protect Jobs in T-Mobile-MetroPCS Merger

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CWA and dozens of House Democrats are urging the Federal Communications Commission to impose job-protection conditions on the proposed T-Mobile-MetroPCS merger.

In a filing on Monday with the FCC, CWA said solid evidence provided by T-Mobile to the FCC show that absent conditions the merged T-Mobile-MetroPCS will cut a significant number of jobs in the United States, despite claims to the contrary from T-Mobile and MetroPCS.

After the FCC forced T-Mobile and MetroPCS to substantiate their initial claims of job growth, the companies admitted there will actually be "job reductions." According to the CWA filing, the companies now attempt to characterize those jobs losses as a "relatively small number." CWA pointed out, through document after document, why the applicant's characterizations just are not true. The synergies touted by T-Mobile and MetroPCS are indeed euphemisms for firing workers, and CWA believes the numbers reflected in those documents are significant, not "small."

"The CWA filing indicates that before making a decision on the merger, it is critical that the FCC understand the specific job impacts of the 'synergies,'" said CWA Telecommunications Policy Director Debbie Goldman. "The FCC should add conditions to any deal that would keep the 'synergies' from evolving into a fancy word for 'firings,' as is now the case."

The filing arrives just days after 62 members of Congress wrote to FCC Chair Julius Genachowski, urging him to "consider requiring the companies to commit to preserving U.S. jobs as part of their merger agreement" and "seek enforceable commitments."

These actions build on comments filed previously by a wide range of national public service organizations that include the NAACP, AFL-CIO, SEIU, Sierra Club, National Consumers League, Alliance for Retired Americans, Center for Community Change, Jobs with Justice and USAction.

State and local officials including mayors in Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia also previously filed letters with the FCC urging substantive commitments to protect existing jobs, as well as expand opportunities in the United States.

If approved, the transaction would combine T-Mobile, with 30,000 employees and 33.2 million customers with MetroPCS, which directly employs 3,700 to service about 9.3 million customers.

Unfortunately, both have a history of shipping good jobs overseas. MetroPCS, the fifth largest U.S. wireless carrier, already outsources 100 percent of its customer service work to overseas call centers. Last year, T-Mobile closed seven U.S. call centers affecting 3,300 workers; the Labor Department certified that workers were entitled to trade adjustment assistance because T-Mobile offshored that work to the Philippines and Central America.

T-Mobile workers would not be facing this grim reality if the FCC hadn't rejected the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile two years ago. In that proposed deal, AT&T promised zero layoffs, keeping all call centers open, and returning home 5,000 offshored call center jobs. Moreover, AT&T, the only unionized wireless company, would have given T-Mobile workers a real opportunity to vote for union representation.

Flight Attendants Union Coalition Blasts TSA Decision to Allow Dangerous Items onto Aircraft

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AFA-CWA President Veda Shook talks about TSA's new, dangerous knife policy.

The Flight Attendants Union Coalition, representing nearly 90,000 Flight Attendants at carriers nationwide, condemned the Transportation Security Administration's recent decision to allow knives and other dangerous objects into the aircraft cabin, relaxing a more than decade-long ban.

"Flight Attendants will not stand silently by as knives are re-introduced to the aircraft cabin," AFA-CWA President Veda Shook told NBC World News Tonight with Brian Williams.

The coalition called it a "poor and shortsighted decision." Flight Attendants serve as the last line of defense in aviation security responsible for ensuring the safety, health and security of the passengers in our care.

Join us in keeping our aircraft cabin safe. Tell TSA to keep knives out of the cabin by signing our petition at www.NoKnivesOnPlanes.com.

Halligan Filibuster Evidence that Senate Rules Reform Compromises Don't Live Up to Intent

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Senate Republicans' second filibuster of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Caitlin Halligan demonstrates that the U.S. Senate needs actual rules reform, not compromise agreements that fail to live up to their stated intent.

"The Halligan filibuster not only destroys the intent of the rules reform compromise agreement for this Congress, but also blows up the Gang of 14 agreement from 2005 that was supposed to limit the obstruction of qualified judicial nominees," said George Kohl, CWA Senior Director for policy and legislation. "This is just the latest reminder that, instead of Senate compromises that perpetuate Senate gridlock, we need actual and substantial rules reform in the U.S. Senate."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, "If my Republican colleagues don't like this woman for whatever reason, vote against her. Don't stop her from having an up-or-down vote."

We agree and hope Senator Reid and his caucus recognize that despite settling for watered down Senate rules reform in January, the Republican failure to live up to the terms of that agreement should once again open the door to more substantial reforms. Only through real Senate reform can we ensure that nominees like Halligan receive up-or-down votes and that the Senate engages in actual debate and deliberation on key issues, instead of hiding behind obstructionist tactics.

Read more here about how filibuster abuse has resulted in a non-functional National Labor Relations Board.

President Signs Violence Against Women Act

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With President Obama's signature, the protections of the Violence Against Women Act finally are restored. The Communications Workers of America is pleased that the House of Representatives Republican majority finally put aside partisan politics to pass this important legislation.

CWA and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA helped spearhead the implementation of the Act in the early 1990s. Since then, this landmark legislation has brought offenders to justice and kept victims safe. Our country has seen a 64 percent reduction in domestic violence, but we need to reduce the incidence of these assaults even more.

Sadly, domestic violence is still widespread in our communities. That's why it was so critical for Congress to not only reauthorize the Act, but expand its safeguards to include immigrants, the LGBT community and Native Americans.

Restoring the protections of the VAWA is an important step forward toward protecting all victims of abuse.

CWA Endorses Barbara Buono for New Jersey Governor

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CWAers endorse state Sen. Barbara Buono for New Jersey governor.

Elected leaders of dozens of CWA Locals have thrown their weight behind state Sen. Barbara Buono for New Jersey governor.

"With one in ten residents out of a job, now more than ever, New Jersey needs leaders who will look out for working families and the middle-class. Our Locals overwhelmingly voted to support Barbara Buono for governor because she understands and is on the side of middle-class families," said Hetty Rosenstein, CWA's state director. "Barbara Buono grew up in a working family and knows what it's like for families to struggle to make ends meet. She'll fight for all of New Jersey's families, not just the 1 percent."

CWA is New Jersey's largest state worker union, representing 35,000 state employees.

Buono, who has been a steadfast supporter of collective bargaining, received the endorsement at the Labor Education Center in New Brunswick.

"CWA is made up of hardworking New Jerseyans and I am honored to receive their support," said Buono, who aims to square off against Republican Gov. Chris Christie in the November gubernatorial election. "They have long defended the all-American notion that if you work hard you should be able to take care of your family. As governor, I will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them to ensure that is a reality in New Jersey."

Buono has backed a responsible budget to create jobs, supports an increase in the minimum wage and opposes Christie's risky plan to privatize the state lottery. Buono is also a co-sponsor of the Save New Jersey Call Center Jobs Act, which ends tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and requires public disclosure of outsourcing.

Sign the Petition: No Back Room Trade Deals for the 1%

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If lobbyists for the 1 percent get their way, the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement will allow corporations to accelerate the offshoring of jobs, intensify attacks on our rights at work and inflict even more damage to our environment.

Even though the public has been barred by the U.S. Trade Representative from reviewing proposals for this massive new trade deal, approximately 600 corporate lobbyists have been named "cleared advisors," giving them regular access to the negotiating documents and the negotiators.

Please help put an end to this type of back room deal making by demanding that negotiators drop the secrecy and negotiate a fair deal for working families.

Send a message to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk by signing this petition.

Check Out 'Brothers on the Line'

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If you're in New York later this month, you'll want to catch a screening of "Brothers on the Line." This acclaimed documentary it received "Best Documentary Feature" at the Texas International Documentary Festival last year will be shown at The Anthology Film Archives, Courthouse Theatre, 32 Second Ave., New York, on Wednesday March 20 at 9:30 pm.

This terrific film looks at the three Reuther brothers, who fought for social justice and helped workers build their voice through the United Auto Workers.

It was directed by Victor Reuther's grandson Sasha Reuther and narrated by award-winning actor Martin Sheen, and includes rare archive footage, personal photos, oral histories, and original interviews with a spectrum of prominent personalities.

More information about the screening at http://www.newfilmmakers.com/film.

Union Plus Mortgage Brings Peace of Mind to CWA Member

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The Union Plus Mortgage Assistant Program helped CWA's Valerie Brown buy her dream home.

When Valerie Brown from Queens, NY, was nervous about buying her first home, she turned to her union, CWA, for advice on home ownership.

"I didn't want fears to keep me from doing something I really wanted to do buy my own home. I knew that CWA members could take advantage of discounts and special programs, and I searched for union-backed mortgages on the internet. I found the Union Plus Mortgage Program and I learned I could save on closing costs and other protections for union members," says Brown. "I also liked that first-time homebuyers, like me, could be eligible for $500."

The Union Plus Mortgage Assistance Program was an important feature for Brown, who helps New York City residents feed their families through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as Food Stamps.

When she battled breast cancer a few years ago, she personally felt the vulnerability that comes when one can no longer work. "The thought of not being able to work is scary. I like the fact that the Union Plus Mortgage gives me peace of mind knowing that help will be available to me should I need it," she says.

Union members who experience unemployment or disability may qualify for interest-free loans to help with up to six monthly payments through the Union Plus Mortgage Assistance Program. Members who are on strike or locked out for 30 days or more may qualify for help with up to six monthly payments through grants that do not have to be repaid.

In addition, active and retired union members can apply for a $500 First-Time Homebuyer Award. After moving in last year, Brown made it a priority to tackle as many do-it-yourself projects as she could, including giving the home's interior a quick facelift with a fresh coat of paint. Inspired by her favorite home decorating television shows and a $500 check from Union Plus in hand, Brown was able to transform her house into a home.

Brown's 3-bedroom, 1 1/2 bath, single-family home is a dream come true. Friendly neighbors, summer barbecues and a 10-minute walk to work are the icing on the cake. "It's a good feeling when you work toward something, and you achieve it. It's nice to know that my house is mine. If I can do it, anyone can," says Brown.

Thinking about a new home of your own? Consider the Union Plus Mortgage Program. With savings on closing costs and security that no other mortgage program offers, it's the perfect mortgage and it's only available for union members, their parents, and children.

Union Plus Mortgage Assistance is available to participants who have had their Union Plus mortgage for at least one year. Since the program's inception, over $9.3 million in mortgage assistance has been provided. To learn more about the Union Plus Mortgage, call 1-800-848-6466 or visit UnionPlus.org/Mortgage to find a loan officer near you.

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