Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWA D6 Members Ratify AT&T Mobility Contract

CWA members in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas who work at AT&T Mobility ratified a four-year contract that provides wage increase plus the return of at least 2,000 jobs over the four year agreement.

The settlement was approved by a 70 percent vote. The contract covers about 9,300 AT&T Mobility workers.

"This agreement recognizes the very real contributions that CWA members make to AT&T Mobility's success and provides a positive framework for the future. The return of 2,000 jobs is another very positive step forward, and means continued growth and job security for AT&T Mobility workers," said Claude Cummings, CWA District 6 vice president.

The tentative agreement calls for annual wage increases of 2 percent, 2.5 percent, 2.25 percent and 2.5 percent over the contract term, and maintains existing pension plans without any retrogressive changes. It also provides for a $1,000 ratification bonus, and creates a transfer plan for workers to move between Mobility and the core AT&T contract in District 6.

99 Percent Spring Training: Challenge to Corporate Power is On!

 

 

99%Spring-National_Training_Team

National trainers from 60 organizations, including nine CWAers, lead off the 99% Spring Training.

 

 

 

Next week will be a time of unprecedented activity around the country, as union members, environmentalists, religious, civil rights, community and immigrant activists, Occupiers and many more join a nationwide 99 Percent Spring training on how to gain economic justice. During the week of April 9-15, 100,000 people will attend a training; sessions will be held in every state, in large and small communities, in union halls, churches and living rooms.

Nine CWAers helped lead the national training that kicked off the 99 Percent Spring training in Washington, D.C., last month. Another 35 CWAers attended "train the trainer" sessions and will be leading programs next week. More than 2,000 CWA members are expected to sign up for the training.

To be a part of this growing movement, click here for a list of training locations. More sites are being added everyday.

This training is just the start of a renewed movement to take the economy back from the 1 percent and challenge corporate greed. "The 99 Percent Spring really grew out of the work many progressive groups already have been doing together, from the Occupy movement to the Selma march to the fight for workers' rights and to reform the broken Senate rules," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "It's become a key part of our resistance, our massive need to fight back and get our country back."

The training will tell the story of our economy, how we got to this point of extreme income inequality and what we can do about it. Participants will tell their own stories about why they're part of the 99 percent and will learn the strategies for nonviolent direct action.

Following the week of training, activists will be ready for Shareholder Spring and other actions to take on corporate greed and the 1 percent.

Register now for the training at http://www.cwa-union.org/pages/99_spring_training_locations. If you don't see a training near you, this link provides a larger list of trainings.

AT&T Workers Stand Behind Their Bargaining Teams

 

 

Local 7750-ATT

CWAers from District 7 join Local 7750 AT&T members in the fight to hold on to the American Dream.

Below: Members of CWA Local 2204 join an informational picket in Lebanon, Va.

Local 2204-ATT

 

 

 

With just two days until their contracts expire, AT&T workers across the country are mobilizing to close ranks around their bargaining teams.

On last night's national AT&T call, CWA Vice Presidents Chris Shelton, Ralph Maly, Seth Rosen and Jim Weitkamp talked about the status of bargaining in their districts and answered questions about health care, AT&T demands on sick leave and other issues.

Listen to a recording of the call here.

Shelton said that AT&T can't be allowed to "erase the bargaining of the past 50 years in the next five minutes" and that many of the company's demands make it impossible for workers to balance work and family responsibilities. Maly condemned AT&T's outsourcing and offshoring of jobs and noted that the pace of bargaining was far behind the 2009 negotiations. Yet, Weitkamp told AT&T members to keep up the pressure on the company as bargaining goes down to the wire.

Rosen summed up the goals of all four negotiations: "We have a very clear common goal that when it is all added up — wages, benefits, the complete package — that every single member, from the lowest paid to the highest, will be better off at the end of the contract than he or she was at the beginning."

CWA President Larry Cohen tied the fight for fair contracts at AT&T to every campaign by working people for economic justice and a voice on the job

Reports from the field covered a roundup of mobilization.

"This is a battle," said Tonya Hodges of CWA Local 1298, who is a mobilization coordinator and also chairs the Yellow Pages bargaining team. "We'll fight until we're bloody at the bargaining table, but if workers aren't doing things in the field to show the company their support, none of it matters."

On Saturday, there will be candlelight vigils, informational pickets, rallies and union hall open houses scheduled throughout the districts.

In District 1, members will be rallying Saturday on the New Haven Green in Connecticut for good middle class jobs along with labor organizations from New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. District 4 is hosting a hunt for a fair contract at a huge Easter egg hunt for families in Indianapolis. Telecommunications and Technologies members are holding rallies and public demonstrations from New Jersey to Colorado and are building coalitions in every location, reported Shari Wojtowicz of Local 7250, and CWAers in northern and southern California are holding big rallies today.

Jane Phillips of Local 4900 said CWAers in District 4 have "ramped up mobilization to a whole 'nother level. For the past three weeks, our inside folks have been doing stand-ups nearly every day. Technicians are honking off the company, blaring their car horns as they drive in and out of the office."

"Things are getting a little scary around here as we get hairy," said Louie Rocha of CWA Local 9423 as he talked about D9 members' protests of the company's appearance policy.

Last weekend, CWA authorized President Cohen to call strikes if fair contracts cannot be reached by midnight on April 7. An overwhelming majority of the voting AT&T members in District 1 (95 percent), District 4 (92 percent), District 9 (93 percent) and Legacy AT&T (93 percent) voted to approve the strike authorization.

At the District 6 meeting today, Cohen pointed out how AT&T was underestimating the solidarity of members across CWA and across the labor movement. In an article in today's Wall Street Journal, CWA members who work at call centers in Texas and Missouri told the reporter what happens to managers who are being trained as strike replacements.

At a call center in Arlington, Texas, trainees from management share a fourth-floor break room with the workers whose jobs they would be expected to fill, call-center worker and union official Paige Johnson told the WSJ. "We look through them," Johnson said. "We try to make it our business not to engage them in conversation."

Tensions run even higher at a call center in Lee's Summit, Mo., reported the Wall Street Journal. The large, windowless suite it occupies is surrounded by a "never-ending hallway," according to Sarah Harreus, a union representative who works there. "A lot of us have misdirected some of these scabs to the complete opposite door," she said.

District 6 members will be negotiating with AT&T Southwest next year.

Community Rallies Behind GE Workers in Iowa

 

 

GE Rally

GE workers in West Burlington, Iowa are standing up for a union voice.

 

 

 

For more than a half-century, the General Electric switchgear plant has been a fixture of West Burlington, Iowa. Now the community is rallying behind GE workers who are organizing for a union voice and to keep those jobs in West Burlington.

Nearly 200 people — including federal, state and local officials and more than 15 local unions — turned out at Crapo Park last Saturday afternoon ahead of the April 11 union representation election to join IUE-CWA.

"Burlington is a pretty good union town," said CWA organizer Jeff Lacher. "You don't think of Iowa as the industrial Midwest, but Burlington is right on the Mississippi River. There's a UAW represented plant for the Case Corporation and a munitions plant that has the Steelworkers. There are a number of factories that are organized. GE is the exception."

The demonstration was titled "Rally to Keep GE in Burlington." Just two years ago, the company threatened to close the plant, but production and maintenance workers agreed to drastic pay cuts to keep it running. Then, as an added incentive to stay, GE received thousands of dollars in financial support from local governments.

"This company making gazillions and millions and billions of dollars a year didn't have any trouble at all coming to the taxpayers of West Burlington and the state of Iowa asking for a handout. And they ought not to have any problem paying decent wages to you folks," said State Sen. Tom Courtney (D-Burlington), according to a local newspaper at the rally. "I couldn't be more behind you."

While the vote is on April 11, it's unlikely that workers will know the outcome right away. There are 170 eligible employees, but GE wants 197 people to be included in the vote. On Wednesday, workers found out that GE has hired the Labor Relations Institute, which offers a guaranteed winner package; if LRI doesn't stop workers' efforts to form a union, the company doesn't pay.

Click here to show GE workers your support.

Puerto Rico Telephone Installers Join CWA

CWA's membership in Puerto Rico swelled last month, as dozens more telephone installers voted in favor of union representation.

Eighty-one installers at JAF Communications, a Puerto Rican telecommunications company, cast their ballots on March 16 at the Caguas and Ponce facilities, and the workers prevailed with a majority.

"This constitutes a sum victory for CWA, which now represents all JAF employees in all Puerto Rico areas," said Local 3010 President Rafael Castro-Torres.

With CWA's help JAF installers have been steadily growing the membership of the Unión de Trabajadores de las Communicaciones (UTC/CWA). But in 2009, an attempt to organize this same JAF unit failed.

So this year organizer Lizbenet Vazquez launched new campaign. She vowed to keep it "clean" and never bad mouth JAF management. She gained the trust of installers with weekly visits to Caguas and Ponce. When the company's vice president tried to convince installers — some of whom still don't have health care after working 15 years on the job — that it would provide better pay and benefits, Vazquez was there to tell the truth.

"I told them, 'Remember two years ago he made the same promises and he never kept his word,'" Vazquez said. "And they realized it's true, he never did that."

Jesus Rodriguez, Julio Martinez, Jose Berrios, Luis Diaz, Joel Santiago, Saul Berrios and William Acosta were part of the internal committee.

ver.di Helps Keep the Pressure on T-Mobile

 

 

Verdi_Bridge_Rally

Members of ver.di, facing tough negotiations with T-Mobile in Germany, show solidarity with their U.S. colleagues at T-Mobile USA.

 

 

 

CWA activists and T-Mobile USA workers are continuing to spotlight the company's bad decision to close seven call centers, affecting the jobs of 3,300 workers.

They're getting lots of support, especially from ver.di members, who themselves are in tough negotiations with T-Mobile in Germany.

In Bonn, about 1,000 members of ver.di held a rally outside the headquarters of T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom. They made sure to show their solidarity with T-Mobile USA workers and include fairness for T-Mobile USA workers in that protest.

Following a rally outside the T-Mobile call center in Allentown, Pa., the mayor joined the fight to keep the call center open. CWAers and T-Mobile workers are meeting with elected officials in Brownsville, Texas and other locations, to build support for keeping the 3,300 jobs in the U.S.

And the Seattle labor and progressive community is joining a big demonstration outside T-Mobile USA's headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, where workers will deliver banners from every call center slated to close, with signed messages from workers, community supporters and their families.

Ads on Facebook, Google and other prominent websites are spreading awareness about T-Mobile, along with an online petition.

Learn more at www.weworkbettertogether.org.

CWA/NETT Training Visits Cleveland

 

 

Cleveland_Workers_Mosaic

TNG and NABET members learn latest video editing skills through CWA/NETT.

 

 

 

CWA/NETT returned to Cleveland the last two weeks of March to teach members the basics of Final Cut Pro.

With the help of NABET-CWA Local 42, 29 members received computer editing training from longtime BURST instructor and CBS News veteran Jim Talluto. This beginner class included 4 TNG members, one CWA member and 24 NABET members.

"Training was designed to accommodate a broad range of skills and Jim's excellent teaching methods and personable manner were universally praised by all who attended," reported Jim Kolendo, vice president of NABET-CWA Local 42.

The mobile training lab now moves to New York City, Minneapolis and Portland, Maine, said Kevin Celata, CWA/NETT Program Administrator. And an intermediate version of the Final Cut Pro class is in development.

"More stations are migrating to Final Cut Pro video editing systems in broadcasting," Celata said. "For the news industry, reporters are needing to diversify their skills to do more and compete for jobs. In some cases the paper is moving to video and not training the member."

CWA Report Details Identity Theft at Overseas Call Centers

Offshored call center jobs pose a serious threat to consumers' personal data, according to an updated report released by CWA.

Building on the December 2011 report, which examined how offshoring call center jobs hurts the US economy and workers, CWA has established a disturbing pattern of fraudulent and criminal activity targeting U.S. customers being serviced by overseas call centers.

Key findings include a recent investigation by The Sunday Times, which discovered that call centers in India are gathering personal financial data from several UK banks and peddling the information on the black market. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission uncovered a telemarketing scam this year, in which call center employees in India impersonated debt collectors and defrauded Americans out of more than $5 million.

In recent years, there have been a growing number of incidents involving overseas call center employees stealing from customers, said the report. At the same time, outsourcing companies and overseas governments have failed to protect consumers with data breach notification and data protection laws.

The CWA report underscores the urgency behind the bipartisan "US Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act," which penalizes American companies for shipping call center jobs overseas. This week the bill has garnered 110 cosponsors.

Click here to read the full report, "Why Shipping Call Center Jobs Overseas Hurts Us Back Home."

'Oh Susana' Sings a Different Tune

CWA launched a new website this week that continues to expose Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's record of favoring out-of-state corporations at the expense of New Mexico working families and homegrown small businesses.

The revamped www.OhSusana.org will now be a clearinghouse for progressives to get information about Martinez and join campaigns against her destructive pro-corporation, anti-worker agenda.

Just as Martinez is getting more and more vice presidential buzz, CWA released a new background memo Tuesday that calls into question her national appeal.

And CWA, which represents 4,000 public sector workers in the state, is also using the new online platform to build awareness around the governor's decision not to fill thousands of vacant jobs for nurses, educators, social workers, environmental scientists and cultural affairs employees. Public employee vacancies are as high as 30 percent in some sectors, said Miles Conway, who heads CWA's NM legislative-political action team.

"Any chance the governor gets a change to run her government more like a Walmart, she does," said Conway.

State employees have already been forced to take furlough days, pay cuts and heavier workloads with little say in the bargaining process. Now she's seeking to further strip workers' rights and voices through negotiations

"It really rolls the contract back to the age of political patronage in the civil service," said CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson. "She really wants to politicize whole state's workforce."

The website has already had some success in mobilization. When it first debuted earlier this year — focusing on the state's Corporate Tax Fairness Bill — it collected 5,000 signatures calling on Martinez to sign the bipartisan legislation requiring multi-state big box companies doing business in New Mexico to pay their fair share of taxes. Ignoring the coalition of small businesses, union members and civil rights leaders who worked hard for passage of the legislation, Martinez vetoed the bill.

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