CWA activists are headed to spring training.
Next month, 2,000 CWA activists will be attending training to lead
nonviolent, direct protests aimed at reigniting the enthusiasm and
passion of Occupy Wall Street and Wisconsin uprisings. CWA joins more
than 60 progressive groups — collectively called the 99 Percent Spring —
that will be training a total of 100,000 activists at 700 trainings in
"We call on our members in CWA, across labor, across all progressive
groups to answer the call — the call for training in April and the call
to march on all spring. To say to the 1 percent, 'You have peaked. We
are back. We are standing up and fighting back,'" said CWA President
Larry Cohen on a media conference call.
The 99 Percent Spring activists will be targeting at least 40
companies, including Verizon, Chevron and Wells Fargo. In what's been
dubbed "Shareholder's Spring," activists will protest at shareholder
meetings — including the Bank of America's annual meeting in Charlotte,
Other actions will include home occupations to prevent foreclosures
and student-led protests against Sallie Mae and other entities that have
profited from student loan debt.
Jake Lake of CWA Local 1111 trained in DC this week with 100 other
participants to be a 99 Percent Spring/Challenging Corporate Power
trainer during the week of April 9 to 15. Next week he'll continue with
coalition training in New York City, where 1,100 people will be
preparing to launch the April workshops.
"We definitely need to have people power and grow our coalition," he
said. "That's key to our future as middle-class Americans and the 99
percent. There's already a lot of commonalities between the groups,
which is cool."
On the media call, organization leaders highlighted the erosion of
union bargaining rights, voter suppression, attacks on immigrants and
corporate money in politics.
"It's time for us as the 99 percent to really talk about, imagine,
demand and organize around our vision for a new economy," said Sarita
Gupta, executive director of Jobs with Justice.
Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org, said history is
already on our side.
"From the labor movement to the struggle for civil rights, we have
this incredible shared history in America of everyday folks using their
own power and using nonviolent, direct action to create change at the
moments that our country most needed it," said Ruben. "And we think
that's what has to happen now, again."
here to see why CWA members identify with the 99 Percent
Spring/Challenging Corporate Power movement.
During CWA's union hall call tonight, we'll hear reports from today's
National Day of Solidarity for Verizon Workers and we'll talk about the
next step: participating in the 99 Percent Spring training program. On
the call, you'll have the chance to let us know if you want to
This training will help activists:
- Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who's responsible,
what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it.
- Learn the history of non-violent direct action.
- Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.
here to sign up for tonight's call.
If you can't join tonight's call but want to know more about the
Members of CWA Local 2108 rallied early this morning outside the
Verizon Silver Spring, Md., facility and used CWA's mobile billboard
with a message for Verizon: It's time to deliver a new contract!
Across the country, CWA members turned out for the National Day of
Solidarity for Verizon Workers, joined by union, progressive and
community allies at hundreds of rallies and events.
This ad, showing the support of hundreds of national and local
educators and faith and community leaders, ran in major newspapers
March 22 became the unofficial kickoff to 99 percent
spring/challenging corporate power, when union members and others will
again join forces in actions to gain economic justice. At many rallies
today, unions across the labor movement joined each other's fights, with
support from progressive and community activists who know what's at
As the CWA newsletter went to press, CWAers and supporters were still
going strong at rallies in Long Beach, Calif., Irvine, Tex.,
Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., New York City, and many other places.
Hundreds of DC union members and activists join the national day of
solidarity and get ready to march to the Verizon Center.
Below: In San Francisco, a giant crowd of union activists, elected
officials and community leaders marched through the city streets to
protest corporate greed and the 1 percent.
Other locations got an early start; members of CWA Local 2108 rallied
beginning at 7 a.m. at the Verizon Silver Spring, Md., facility.
CWAers also leafleted outside Verizon Wireless stores from Seattle to
Omaha to Orlando, standing up for Verizon Wireless workers who also are
fighting for a fair contract.
President Cohen at the Washington, DC rally, in front of Verizon
"Today, Americans across the country are saying enough is enough with
corporate America's race to the bottom. Corporations like Verizon are
squeezing the middle-class in an endless push toward low wages and no
benefits. Today, we are demanding that the American economy start to
work for the 99 percent again, not just for the Verizon top 1 percent,"
said Ron Collins, CWA chief of staff.
"Companies like Verizon represent all that is wrong with our economy
today: billions in profits, millions for executives, and cuts for
everyone else. Today's Day of Action is about more than the 45,000
Verizon workers still without a contract, this fight is about the future
of the middle class itself."
For more about Verizon and Verizon Wireless bargaining, go to
Ray Myers, Chuck Latimer made CWA and Workers' Rights Their
Above: Ray Myers (r.)
Below: Chuck Latimer.
This past week, CWA lost two committed members, two men who spent
their working lives and their retirement years building CWA and
supporting the rights of working people. Both died as they lived, as CWA
Ray Myers, executive president of the Retired Members' Council, died
March 15 in Lancaster, Pa., at age 73. He was editing an email to his
retiree chapter members when he had a fatal heart attack.
Chuck Latimer, vice president of RMC District 9, died a few days
earlier in San Diego, after returning from an Alliance for Retired
Americans meeting in Las Vegas, where he represented CWA. Latimer was
Myers began his lifetime of work with the labor movement in
Pennsylvania in 1957, working for Bell of Pennsylvania, now Verizon, and
as a member of now CWA Local 13000. Elected president of Local 23 of the
Federation of Telephone Workers of Pennsylvania covering the Chester and
Delaware counties area, Myers continued to serve in that position
following the merger of that organization with CWA in 1984.
He was an activist throughout his working years and well into
retirement, never missing the opportunity to join workers on a picket
line and to build and support CWA's retiree efforts. He was elected
executive president of the RMC in 2010 and also was president of the RMC
for District 13.
"Ray Myers was a wonderful RMC leader," said CWA President Larry
Cohen. "I enjoyed every minute working with him as RMC president and as
an active CWA leader in Local 13000. His enthusiasm, energy and
commitment couldn't be matched."
"He always knew that upon retirement, you didn't end your life as a
union member," said CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney.
Latimer was a longtime member and previous vice president of CWA
Local 9509 who began his career as a technician with Pacific Bell. And
although he retired 26 years ago, local president Bob Borunda said,
Latimer remained active in the union ever since.
As vice president for the District 9 RMC, Latimer served as the voice
of retirees everywhere. He also was a longtime and active delegate to
the San Diego Labor Council.
"Chuck Latimer was a tireless advocate for workers, retirees and his
beloved CWA family," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "Although he
retired 26 years ago, Chuck never stopped fighting for the causes which
were his life's work."
Fittingly, CWA Local 9509 voted this week to rename its union hall
the Chuck Latimer Hall, in recognition of the work he did to fix
anything and everything, from lighting to phones to the dishwasher, said
Secretary-Treasurer Melinda Hawkins.
The families of both men have asked that contributions be made to the
Jobs with Justice Education Fund, 1325 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20005.
Several bills that would penalize American companies for moving their
call center jobs overseas are gaining momentum.
In Congress, Reps. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and David McKinley (R-W. Va.),
have garnered 97 co-sponsors for the CWA-supported bill, "US Call Center
Worker and Consumer Protection Act." Under the bill, companies
outsourcing call centers would lose their federal grant and loan
eligibility for five years, and the Labor Department would create a "bad
actors" list of firms that make a practice of it. It also would require
companies to tell American consumers the location of the call center
employee to whom they are speaking and give the consumer the right to
ask that the call be transferred to a US-based customer service
California, Maryland, Florida, Arizona and New Jersey state
legislatures are also considering similar legislation.
On a media call organized by CWA on Wednesday, New Jersey
Assemblywoman Connie Wagner called her proposal, which would bar
companies that outsource call center jobs from receiving state tax
breaks and subsidies, a "common sense bill" that would help her state
bring down its 9 percent unemployment rate. "Those are good paying
jobs," she said.
But there is opposition. On the CWA-led call, Bishop said that India
and the Philippines — two countries that have benefited immensely from
outsourcing and now boast large call center industries — have launched
an "extraordinary" lobbying campaign against his bill.
"If U.S. call center jobs going offshore is such a big component of
the Filipino or Indian economy, then we're losing a ton of jobs over
there," he told reporters. "If it's important to their economy then it's
important to ours."
Over the past four years, the United States has lost at least 500,000
call center jobs as companies shifted operations offshore, Bishop said.
here to urge Congress to pass the bill and save and restore American
call center jobs.
CWA members from District 1 attend a Senate subcommittee hearing on
a proposed deal by Verizon Wireless and cable companies to share
Below: CWAers deliver thousands of petitions opposing the VZW-Cable
deal to Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Five New York CWA activists spent the day on Capitol Hill Wednesday,
lobbying lawmakers to stop the deal between Verizon Wireless and a
coalition of cable companies that would create an unchecked monopoly in
The members, along with IBEW activists, delivered thousands of
handwritten letters to New York Sens. Charles Schumer (D) and Kirsten
Gillibrand (D), calling on them to oppose the deal. They also met with
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) and the staffs of other New York members of
"They will kill competition. They will kill jobs. They will kill our
union," warned Mike Gendron from Local 1108 in Patchogue, NY.
The push came ahead of Wednesday's hearing to scrutinize the deal
before the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on Antitrust,
Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. Verizon Wireless and Comcast
executives testified, while the five CWA members watched and tweeted
from the audience.
At issue is Verizon Wireless's announcement last December to buy
spectrum currently unused and held by cable operators, including Comcast
and Time Warner. At the same time, Verizon Wireless and Comcast
announced an agreement to cross-promote each other's products and
The deal has the potential to not only hurt union workers, but also
consumers. For instance, Gendron said that only half of Suffolk County
residents had access to FiOS TV and Internet, while everyone else is
forced to pay higher rates for worse service. If the deals move forward,
Verizon won't be expanding FiOS services that compete directly with the
"They should be serving communities," said John Muddie of Local 1122
in Buffalo. "Instead they're abandoning communities."
CWA Local 1109 member Doug Lalima with his family.
Federal officials slapped Verizon with a heavy fine Monday for
"repeat and serious" workplace safety violations linked to the death of
technician Douglas Lalima, a member of CWA Local 1109, last fall.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company
for 10 violations totaling $14,700 — the maximum penalty under the law —
after it failed to provide Lalima and his fellow technicians with
life-saving equipment, such as insulated gloves. Lalima, a 37-year-old
father of four, was in a cherry picker installing steel suspension
strands in Brooklyn last September, when he was electrocuted and burst
The inspection found that the steel suspension strands had not been
grounded during installation. Employees were not wearing hard hats, and
protective equipment had not been inspected. The technicians — including
Lalima, a 15-year veteran of the company — had not been adequately
trained in safe work precautions.
Furthermore, Verizon neglected to list Lalima's death as a fatality
in its requisite records.
"OSHA's fines and citation against Verizon confirm what thousands of
technicians on the ground already know: Verizon's culture of
indifference puts profits over workers' safety," said Chris Shelton,
vice president of CWA District 1. "There is no way to sugarcoat this: if
Douglas Lalima had the proper equipment and training, he would still be
In 2007, Verizon had been cited for similar hazards following the
death of a Rhode Island worker who was also doing work near exposed live
wires. Another New York lineman was electrocuted doing work similar to
Lalima's in 2002, and other Verizon workers have been fatally
electrocuted in recent years while working at sites in Indiana,
Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland.
"The recurring nature of some of these hazards is disturbing," said
Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.