Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

You Won't Want to Miss Next Week's Town Hall Call: March 21

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Join CWAers from around the country on Thursday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m., ET. It's an important call, with updates on everything affecting CWA members and our union.

Register here:

Arizona Working Families Rally for Immigration Reform

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CWA activists waved signs in Spanish that read, "The time has come."

Below: CWA President Larry Cohen speaks to the crowd outside Arizona's state Capitol.



CWA President Larry Cohen called for a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants before 800 union members, their families, immigration advocates, faith leaders and community leaders rallying at the Arizona state Capitol.

"We need to tell each other, this is not about legal and illegal only," he said last weekend. "It's about hard-working women and men. It's about people who share The Dream with us. It's about our children and our children to come."

To loud cheers, Cohen asked, "Are we going to demand that people who work here get the same pay? Are we going to say to the recruitment agencies, 'You are the real criminals. You are the ones who should be locked up. Not the immigrants who come here fighting poverty.'"

Other speakers included AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Activists waved signs in Spanish that read, "The time has come."

Watch this video to find out why these CWA members and retirees are fighting for our jobs, our families and our future in Arizona.

Outrage Grows Over Allowing Knives on Planes

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AFA-CWA Vice President Sarah Nelson (third from right) and leaders from the Coalition of Flight Attendant Unions join Rep. Ed Markey on Capitol Hill.

At a press conference today on Capitol Hill, the Coalition of Flight Attendants Union rallied their growing number of allies against TSA's new policy allowing small knives on planes.

This week Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) introduced a bill to stop the TSA policy from taking effect as planned on April 25 what's now being called the "No Knives Act."

"If TSA won't reverse its policy to allow knives onto planes, then Congress will take action with this legislation," said Markey. "There is no reason for a passenger to have a knife on a plane and allowing knives on planes puts our Flight Attendants, pilots, and passengers at greater risk."

Grimm, along with two other members of the House homeland security committee Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) have already formally objected to the decision.

They're joined by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who said the items could be used as weapons. "While it's true that pilots are safe, locked behind cockpit doors, these dangerous items still pose a significant hazard to the flight crew, other passengers, and even the integrity of the plane," said Schumer.

Pilots and air marshals agree. US Airways and Delta are calling on TSA Administrator John Pistole to reconsider the decision.

And some families of 9/11 victims are speaking out against the reversal of the knife ban.

Sign AFA's White House Petition and help keep knives and other dangerous objects out of the aircraft cabin and on the ground where they belong.

Bargaining Update

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WHUT Channel 32 workers on the picket line.


  • CWA reached a tentative agreement covering about 60 workers at Verizon North (formerly Verizon Midwest). The contract at Verizon West, covering about 5,000 workers, has been extended while negotiations continue.


  • GateHouse's opening contract proposals for employees of The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., treat the newsroom as if it were in a "right-to-work" state. The bargaining unit is calling on workers to stick together during the difficult negotiations. Read more here.


  • Three suburban Philadelphia units of TNG-CWA have voted to accept a final offer from Alden Capital-21st Century CMH, the company buying the bankrupt Journal Register Co.'s properties. Read more about the vote here.


  • IUE-CWA Local 313 members at Dresser-Rand Co. in Painted Post, NY, have ratified a new agreement. It covers about 345 workers.


  • CWA Local 3181 representing about 1,400 Palm Beach County employees including electricians, maintenance workers, parks employees and animal-control workers is pushing the county for multiyear pay increases. "It's about time that the county commissioners stand up and make a decision. Step up and do the right thing and treat these people with some respect," President Richard Poulette told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.


  • After five years and more than 50 layoffs, employees at the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services in Ohio are receiving their first pay raise since 2008. Read more here.


  • After an IBM executive sent an extremely offensive memo, in which he describes people asking for work-life balance as "complaining," the Alliance@IBM team is striking back. Workers are requesting that Human Resources review the executive's statements and launch an investigation to ensure that no qualified person has been illegally passed over for promotion because of an inability to work his recommended 15-hour days. Read the memo and the response from Alliance@IBM here.


  • Washington Teachers recently refused to participate in a pre-screening event of a documentary on DC schools because of NABET-CWA Local 31's ongoing dispute with the station. After the unit rejected a contract last year, the station retaliated by firing four of the six employees. The case is still pending before the NLRB. Read more here.

Missouri Legislature Targets Unions with Paycheck Deception Bills

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The Missouri House and Senate this week approved separate bills that would severely restrict the way unions can collect and spend dues.

The House endorsed a measure that would require unions to seek written consent from members each year to spend dues on political activity. The Senate voted to require public employee unions to seek annual consent before they automatically deduct dues from their members' paychecks.

"The Senate one is scarier because if it becomes law, every public sector union would cease to be a union," said CWA Local 6355 President Bradley Harmon. "They would have zero members on January 1. Workers would have to sign authorization cards and keep signing authorization card every year after that."

But neither bill covers all unions in the state. First responders, policemen and firefighters' unions whose membership is more likely to vote Republican have been exempted.

The legislature goes on Spring Break today, and CWA activists are gearing up to start canvassing Senate districts and supporting House Republicans who voted against the paycheck deception bill.

In an editorial, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ridiculed the legislation, writing, "Missouri Senate blames unions for economic woes. Oh, please."

For those of you wondering who could possibly be blamed for the moribund economy all of us in Missouri and the nation suffered through in recent years, worry not.

The Missouri Senate has found the culprit. It's public employees.

It's those absurdly high-paid teachers, nurses, janitors, secretaries, pothole fixers and home health care workers.

Early Tuesday morning, while some of those workers were helping roll over your grandma or grandpa at the nursing home so they didn't get bed sores, the Republicans who lead the state Senate set things right. They gave initial approval to a bill that will make it a little harder for the unions that represent those public employees to collect [dues] that might be used to elect thoughtful people to elected office.

Take that.

It's not like those unions have been very successful. Missouri state workers are the lowest paid in the nation. Union membership has been declining. The candidates the unions generally oppose, Republicans, hold overwhelming majorities in both the House and the Senate.

But because union-bashing has become a big-money deal on the national scene (thanks to Wisconsin and Michigan), the lemmings in the Missouri Senate don't want to be left behind. They're doing the bidding of their corporate overlords in the American Legislative Exchange Council, which promotes cookie-cutter legislation written by corporate lawyers to enhance their bottom lines.

Progress Missouri recently leaked audio from a strategy session between national conservative groups and GOP lawmakers. Their discussion covers "big money" coming into Missouri to finance anti-worker campaigns, threats to Republican lawmakers who don't support the groups' anti-worker agenda and strategies for conducting public opinion research to help hoodwink Missouri voters into supporting policies designed explicitly to undermine the middle class.

"It's very much part of a national campaign to undermine workers and our organizations," Harmon said.

U.S., Mexico, Canada Telecom Workers Unions Expand Partnership

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Telecom union leaders meet in Mexico City.

The leaders of CWA, STRM the independent Mexican Telephone Workers Union and the Canadian Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) met in Mexico City to continue their tri-national work supporting workers' rights.

President Larry Cohen, CWA; Secretary General Francisco Hernandez Juarez, STRM; and President Dave Coles, CEP, set new plans for the tri-national group, especially the continued support for bargaining rights for workers at Atento, T-Mobile and America Movil.

New joint programs for the tri-national group include education and actions opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP), joint actions on movement building, support for immigrant rights, and continued work on joint organizing.

Global union solidarity and international cooperation are the only ways workers can stand up against global capitalism, the unions said.

As part of March 8 International Women's Day, the three unions also called for action to ensure that the rights of women workers to collective bargaining and freedom from workplace harassment and intimidation are secured, along with fair policies on maternity leave and work-family balance.

Union Women Demonstrate for End to Violence Against Women

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CWA women joined the UNI Global Union campaign calling for zero tolerance for violence against women and girls during the UN Committee's week-long deliberations. They tweeted, texted, posted to Facebook and raised awareness of the intimidation, harassment and danger that women still face. Here's the team: standing from left, Anita Long, 1101; Jacquetta Rawls, 1040; Dana Holland, 1180; Sharon Brown, 1105; Leticia Scrivens, 1101; Colleen Smith, 1105; Pamela Guff, 1040. Seated from left: Joyce Hart, 1040; Karen Leemou, 1105; Ramona Russell, 1040; Cecilia Hope, 1040.

UNI Global Union and the global labor movement are calling for zero tolerance of violence against women and girls at home and in the workplace.

As the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is meeting in New York through March 15, union women from 27 countries are demonstrating to break the cycle of violence against women and to press their governments for enforceable laws that protect women and girls from harm.

UNI Global Union is calling on all union women to "be outraged and be engaged" and to work to end this assault on women and girls. UNI also stressed that women must be able to join unions without fear and intimidation.

At the conference, CWA has over 20 volunteers from Locals 1101, 1105, 1180 and 1040. They were joined over the two-week period by Secretary Treasurer Annie Hill and CWA Representative Nancy Biagini. Below are personal perspectives from some of the volunteers:

Colleen Smith, CWA Local 1105:

I was thrilled and honored to be given this opportunity to represent my Local at the CSW. While I attended numerous sessions, all with different topics, every day one particularly involving "paid" leave for domestic violence stuck out the most. I had the pleasure of sitting in on a discussion with two amazing women from Australia; Ludo captured my attention and is an incredible advocate, to say the least. She not only shared with us that in her country they have a "paid leave of domestic violence" clause, she also encouraged us to begin to bargain for that right here in the United States. I never thought about how domestic violence could affect work performance, but the fact is it does. As a young female and a newly appointed steward, I realized I would hate to see anyone lose their job because they couldn't either afford to take off or feel like there isn't a safe haven for them.

Leticia Scrivens, CWA Local 1101:

I'm a mother of a seven year old girl and I've always been an advocate for women's rights, so when I was asked by CWA if I would be interested in volunteering for a Stop the Violence on Women and Girls Campaign, I immediately said, "Yes." I had no idea what to expect, nor did I know what was expected of me. However, what I experienced not only inspired me, but made me changed my perspective on women's issues.

When I thought of women's issues, I thought of issues like equal pay, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. These were the issues that I felt affected me and the women I knew. Since attending some of the seminars given this week, I've heard stories of human trafficking, mother's abusing daughters, and child brides married off because their parents could not afford to take care of them. These stories made me realize that all women's issues, although different in many ways, stem from a common problem lack of empowerment whether financial or emotional.

These issues seem so vast and complicated that it's overwhelming to think we could ever solve them. However, working with the resourceful, strong, talented women that I met this past week and knowing how much we accomplished in such a short amount of time, gave me hope. Even though we may not resolve all women's issues this generation, we could leave the world a little better and make our daughters a little stronger to continue the struggle where we leave off.

Read more volunteers' stories here.

Enforceable Job Protections Needed in T-Mobile-MetroPCS Merger

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The T-Mobile-MetroPCS merger won the Federal Communications Commission's stamp of approval this week without even a vote. Instead, the agency's staff approved the deal in a bureau-level decision, typically reserved for routine transactions.

CWA is disappointed that the FCC did not bring the merger issue to the full commission for a vote. This action is unprecedented in a merger of this magnitude. The $30 billion deal, involving 38,000 employees and 43 million subscribers at T-Mobile and Metro PCS, is simply too big and too controversial to be handled at the bureau level.

Especially troubling is the agency's failure to incorporate enforceable job protections for T-Mobile and MetroPCS workers in its merger review. In light of T-Mobile's actions last year, when it closed seven call centers, affecting 3,300 workers, the FCC should have adopted specific conditions to any deal.

CWA applauds Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for her statement. She wrote: "I have expressed to the parties my concern that as they move ahead, American workers do not get left behind. Major job losses are not in the public interest. The companies have pledged to me that they have no plans to close any domestic call centers, to move them offshore, to close any retail stores, or to reduce retail positions as a result of this deal...I expect that the company will keep its word and live up to these promises."

CWA also appreciates Commissioner Mignon Clyburn who raised concerns about the employment impact of this transaction.

In a March 8, 2013 press release, T-Mobile stated in part, "In particular, we have repeatedly stated and reiterated that we have no plans to move call centers offshore, or to reduce employment levels at those call centers."

We expect T-Mobile USA to keep its word that not only will the company grow and retain call center jobs here in the United States, but that it will do the same for network technician positions as well. T-Mobile has now said publicly that the "synergies model" they shared with FCC assumes no layoffs, and we'll hold them to that.

Today CWA ran an ad in Politico reminding T-Mobile of that promise.

CWA Ad Targets NJ Gov. Christie's Lotto Privatization

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CWA has launched an ad campaign targeting New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's plan to privatize the state lottery.

The television commercial will run as a statewide cable buy for the next few weeks.

"Even though New Jersey has an efficient, award-winning lottery, Gov. Christie is stubbornly seeking to privatize it. This is a big gamble in terms of both job loss and our state's economy," said Seth Hahn, legislative and political director for CWA New Jersey. "With one in ten New Jerseyans already out-of-work, lottery privatization is a bad deal which would make foreign corporations rich while making things worse for taxpayers and small businesses."

The state is now reviewing the one and only bid to run the sales and marketing functions of the state lottery. It's a partnership comprised of Italian, Canadian and New York-owned groups.

As CWA's ad points out, billions of dollars could go to these politically-connected foreign companies, while New Jersey small businesses stand to lose customers and revenue. A study by the Asian American Retailers Association found that 7,000 jobs would be lost in New Jersey if the lottery were privatized.

Watch the ad here.

CWA Political Director Joins CHCI Advisory Council

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CWA Political Director Rafael Navar is joining the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute 2013-2014 Advisory Council. The council includes members of Congress, union leaders and Fortune 500 executives.

CHCI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides scholarships, internships, fellowships and other programs for Latino youth. Its mission is to empower the next generation of Latino leaders by promoting higher education, leadership training and career development.

NLRB Will Appeal Recess Case to Supreme Court

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The National Labor Relations Board announced this week it will ask the Supreme Court to reverse a lower-court ruling that made President Barack Obama's three recess appointments unconstitutional.

In January, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in Noel Canning v. NLRB that Obama's appointments were invalid because Congress was on a break, not technically fully recessed.

Now with less than three members on the NLRB, it is unable to make decisions on pending cases concerning the livelihoods of men and women. Unless the Supreme Court overthrows Noel Canning, more than 300 NLRB decisions made in the past year could be nullified.

In an interview on The Ed Schultz Show, CWA President Larry Cohen described what's currently at stake.

"The law we have is essentially hollowed out," he said. "The largest management group in this country and the management's attorneys are all telling their clients you don't have to obey anything, you don't have to subject yourself to the National Labor Relations Act. Because right now it's not functioning. And they like it that it's not functioning. And of course with the Senate rules the way they are, it's not going to function. And the Senate Republicans and Chamber of Commerce are determined that there will not be Democratic majority on the NLRB for the entire four years."

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

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