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This week, 99 Percent Spring/Challenging Corporate Power — a large
coalition of progressive organizations, from Greenpeace to Occupiers to
CWA — began training 100,000 people across the country to tell the story
of how America's economy collapsed and the history of non-violent direct
action. These teach-ins will give participants the tools to launch their
own progressive actions and campaigns for change.
"We totally oppose Citizens United and that Supreme Court decision,"
CWA President Larry Cohen told
The Ed Show on Monday. "We need to get the money out of politics. We
need to restore democracy to where every vote counts, not every
billionaire counts. So that's the root of the problem and the problem
can be fixed. And we support Constitutional amendments that would do
that. Again, that democracy is critical to why we're seeing the 99
Percent Spring training now."
Hollywood stars Olivia Wilde, Penn Badgley, and Zoe Kravitz also
began promoting the trainings in a
new MoveOn.org video. "Let's all make this a Spring to remember,"
Activists are meeting at 978 gatherings around the country in homes,
community centers, houses of worship, campuses, and public spaces. More
than 2,000 CWAers are expected to be a part of the 99 Percent Spring
training and join in Shareholder Spring actions, including on May 3, the
date of the Verizon annual shareholder meeting. To participate in a
training this weekend,
sign up here.
The Huffington Post that the trainings are focusing on direct,
non-violent actions — not anger. "We want to take action in a way that
inspires a nation rather than be based on anger," he asked. "The anger
is understandable. Our goal is to be part of building a coalition of 50
million or more — not 5,000. We're not going to build something that
will win primarily on anger."
CWA activists from Locals 4050 and 4090 hold a candlelight vigil
outside AT&T's headquarters in Detroit as the contract expired at
SEIU families join members of CWA Local 9510 at a rally for a fair
Members of Local 9431 standing strong for the American Dream at
As AT&T contract negotiations go into overtime, so has mobilization
by CWA members.
CWA members have a lot of creative mobilization actions underway to
support their bargaining teams and to stand up for the American Dream of
good jobs and good benefits.
In District 9, every Friday has been declared "WTF" (Where's the
Fairness) Day. More than 3,000 D4 activists joined a telephone union
hall call this week to hear the latest on the fight to hold on to the
American Dream. Technologies and Telecommunications members are standing
up at call centers, walking through buildings with signs calling for a
fair contract and marching in to work together.
In D1, members of Local 1298 are joining with Common Cause,
Connecticut Working Families and other advocacy groups to call on
corporations, including AT&T, to sever ties with American Legislative
Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative lobbying group that finances
attacks on bargaining rights, voter rights and other measures in state
legislatures harmful to workers and citizens. D9 members also are
calling for AT&T to drop its support of ALEC.
This week, AT&T CWA activists are headed to
99 Percent Spring training, and will work with progressive activists
from community and other organizations to plan actions that will bring
about fair contracts.
General Electric workers at an Iowa switchgear plant voted Wednesday
on IUE-CWA representation. But the results are still unknown, as the
ballots have been impounded due to GE's attempt to pad the bargaining
Last month, the National Labor Relations Board determined the voting
unit should include 170 workers from seven departments (materials,
fabrication, assembly, quality, facilities, environmental health and
safety, and lean manufacturing) at the West Burlington factory. GE
contested the decision, arguing that 27 more workers should be included
in the balloting, and appealed the board's determination.
That means justice and union representation are on hold until the
NLRB makes a determination. "It's enraging," Cohen said.
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.
Workers want to set up a competitiveness and job growth committee, to
work with the company on bringing new products and new jobs to the
plant. They also want a health and safety committee to address concerns
about working conditions, said Jeff Lacher of CWA.
Patrick M. Scanlon, the CWA general counsel who won a $60 million
maternity leave settlement on behalf of workers at a former AT&T
subsidiary, died on April 4. He was 71.
Scanlon, the third general counsel in the union's history, retired in
2005 after 25 years of service to CWA.
"Patrick's roots in CWA go back to our founding days," said CWA
President Larry Cohen. "He worked with the Adair brothers, in their
firm, then came to CWA as general counsel. He was quiet but insightful,
careful but always helpful. He hired brilliant attorneys to work for us
and their work lives on today as part of his legacy. He was physically
strong whether running or working; he loved his family, his union and
CWA General Counsel Pat Scanlon at the 1995 convention, his last
In what Scanlon considered his greatest achievement, CWA brought a
class action suit against Western Electric, the manufacturing subsidiary
of the old AT&T, in 1991. The company had been requiring pregnant women
to take unpaid maternity leave towards the end of their pregnancies; it
only gave female employees 30 days credit toward their seniority — while
other employees on disability leave received full credit — and offered
no employment guarantee when they returned from maternity leave.
As a result of the $60 million settlement, 13,000 telephone company
workers received back pay and seniority credit. At the time, it was the
largest cash settlement ever reached by the Equal Employment Opportunity
Scanlon devoted his entire legal career to organized labor and
workers' rights. After receiving his law degree from the Stetson College
of Law, he immediately dove into labor and employment law, specializing
in the representation of unions. He rose to become president of the firm
that bore his name — Adair, Scanlon and McHugh.
In 1980, Scanlon was named associate general counsel for CWA District
3 in Atlanta. Shortly after Morton Bahr was elected CWA president in
1985, one of his first appointments was the naming of Scanlon as his
"This was new for CWA as for many years we had a law firm act as
general counsel," Bahr said. "Pat fulfilled the role brilliantly, from
his role as general counsel to the union and legal advisor to the
president. I knew I could always rely on him to provide the correct path
for us around any legal question we were faced with."
He advised CWA leaders on the legal conduct of strikes, contract
details and grievances and supervised all aspects of CWA arbitration,
trying more than 200 cases each year. For a number of years he also
served as the CWA convention's parliamentarian.
"He was a dedicated and committed advocate for the cause of working
people and an important mentor to many labor lawyers at CWA and around
the country," said CWA's current general counsel, Mary K. O'Melveny, who
was hired by Scanlon to work at CWA headquarters in 1989. "We are all
very saddened by this untimely loss."
In addition to his work at CWA, Scanlon served on the board of
directors of the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee and the Lawyers
Advisory Panel, a committee of general counsels of major AFL-CIO unions.
He was also a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and
served as co-chair of the American Bar Association Law Section Council's
Equal Employment Opportunity and International Labor Law committees.
CWA President Larry Cohen joins worker rights panel at Economic
Faced with a nationwide attack on workers' rights and their unions,
American workers can learn a lesson from the Brazilians, CWA President
Larry Cohen said Wednesday.
"If we don't build a framework like they did in Brazil, I don't think
we'll be able to reverse this for decades," said Cohen, speaking on a
panel of labor activists at the Economic Policy Institute.
In Brazil 25 years ago, Cohen said, organizers like himself and
fellow panelists — including Luis Carlos de Oliveira, vice president of
the Metalworkers Union of Jundiai, Brazil — would have been jailed. But
today nearly 40 percent of Brazilians belong to a union. The reason —
Brazil's Workers Party built a powerful movement that linked together
jobs, workers' rights and economic justice. United, workers won the
creation of laws that ushered in higher wages, 30 days of paid vacation
each year, four months of paid maternity leave and more.
That movement has enabled Brazil to combat corporate greed and the
wealthy's colossal political influence, the panel explained. Take for
instance the controversy around worker abuse at Foxconn factories. In
China, Apple supplier Foxconn has taken advantage of Chinese workers,
forcing them to work overtime in deplorable conditions for little pay.
Chinese unions are dominated by Foxconn management. Explosions have
killed and injured employees, while the militaristic work environment
has driven many to suicide.
But at Foxconn's plants in Brazil, employees don't work beyond the
maximum 44-hour week established by Brazilian law. Their monthly wages
start at roughly $580 a month, while their Chinese counterparts earn as
little as $246 a month for similar work, according to data compiled by
EPI. In Brazil, Foxconn is working with unions to facilitate more hiring
to assemble more Apple products, and its Brazilian factory lines haven't
seen a single explosion.
Meanwhile, General Electric workers in West Burlington, Iowa, are
struggling this week to organize. In just five years, wages in Shanghai
will equal those in US cities, since American production workers haven't
seen a real wage increase in more than three decades. Cohen called
America's trade policy a "sled ride downhill," as many consumers
celebrate Apple and ignore the labor environment that has relocated US
manufacturing to countries with few workers' rights.
Cohen encouraged the audience to take action into their own hands,
starting with attending a
99 Percent Spring training. "It's not 'how do we speak to our
government,' but 'how do we speak to each other,'" he said.
IUE-CWA President Jim Clark was honored at the White House as a
"Champion of Change" Thursday for his advocacy of energy efficiency
opportunities that improve green manufacturing, performance and
"I believe manufacturing is the backbone of our economy and our
country needs manufacturing to be strong," Clark said. "That's why as
president of IUE-CWA I've made it my mission to bring innovative and
progressive programs to our shop floors — programs that make our plants
more competitive and more efficient."
Clark was one of eight individuals recognized by the program, which
was created as a part of President Barack Obama's Winning the Future
initiative. Each week, the White House commends the leaders of different
sectors for their work to serve and strengthen their communities.
"Cutting waste, reducing energy use and operating more sustainably
translates to less pollution and lower utility bills for businesses
across the country," said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council
on Environmental Quality. "The leaders we've selected as Champions of
Change are proving that sustainable practices work for companies' bottom
lines, and work for the health of American communities."
As a member of the Executive Board of the Manufacturing Skill
Standards Council, Clark steered the creation of a new Green Production
Module, which teaches front-line manufacturing workers about
environmental practices and regulations related to "green production."
The module, launched last year, is the only nationally certified and
portable green tech credential.
Within IUE-CWA, Clark has raised awareness among workers about energy
efficiency and energy saving opportunities on the job. For instance, an
energy efficiency treasure hunt, in which members analyzed energy use in
the building systems and production process, cut a dramatic amount of
waste. For an average one-time implementation investment of only
$34,500, the treasure hunt program saved an average of $97,500 and 779
metric tons of carbon annually, the union said.
T-Mobile workers and CWA supporters are taking a message directly to
T-Mobile headquarters next week, delivering more than 100,000 petitions
to CEO Philipp Humm calling on the company to bring back quality jobs to
There's still time to make your voice heard. Sign the petition at
Union members and other community activists throughout the Seattle
area will rally on April 16 in support of T-Mobile workers who want to
keep their jobs and want the right to fairly choose union
T-Mobile USA announced it was closing seven call centers, affecting
the jobs of 3,300 U.S. workers, even though the company continues to
operate call centers in the Philippines and Honduras employing more than
The company also has put other workers on notice that its
"restructuring" isn't finished; technicians and other technical support
workers are likely next to see their jobs outsourced.
Several T-Mobile workers, members of TU, the joint union established
by CWA and ver.di, which represents German T-Mobile workers, are making
the trip to T-Mobile headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., to make sure the
company gets the message loud and clear.
T-Mobile also has taken $14.2 million in taxpayer subsidies in four
communities where it's now closing operations: Frisco, Tex., $3.7
million; Brownsville, Tex., $5.3 million; Lenexa, Kan., $3.9 million;
and Redmond, Ore., $1.3 million.
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., outside another call center slated to shut
down, workers and community supporters also will rally on April 16.
New York's Empire State College is accepting applications for Morton
Bahr Online Learning Scholarships for the 2012-2013 academic year. The
deadline to apply is May 15 and winners will be announced by the end of
June for the fall semester.
The scholarship honors CWA President Emeritus Morton Bahr and his
lifelong commitment to expanding education and opportunity for working
people. The program enables students to study online through Empire
State's Center for Distance Learning and earn an associate or bachelors
Union members, their families and domestic partners are eligible to
apply for the scholarships, which include undergraduate tuition and
Click here for more information and to download the "Bahr
application book," which includes the application and other information.
Members of seven CWA locals lobby state legislators in Annapolis.
The 2012 Maryland state legislative session closed this week, and CWA
members made some real gains for workers and consumers.
CWAers successfully blocked Verizon's attempt to eliminate Public
Service Commission overview of a potential sale of Verizon assets. A
strong showing of more than 40 CWA members and retirees from seven
locals, plus testimony by Paula Vinciguerra, Local 2106, helped ensure
that SB 813 didn't make it out of the Senate Finance Committee.
With CWA support, the Offshoring Disclosure bill was passed by both
the state House and Senate. It requires state contractors to disclose
any plans to offshore jobs covered by those contracts and to justify why
those jobs would be moved. "In the next session, we'll come back to try
and put a stop to this practice altogether," said Jimmy Tarlau,
assistant to the president for D2-13.
CWA members and the labor community also fought back and won against
another Verizon assault on union members. The Privileged Communications
Involving Labor Organizations, SB 797, was passed. It prohibits a labor
organization from being compelled to disclose communication or
information between a grievant and a union representative unless a
criminal proceeding is involved. Verizon tried to block this bill and
spent a lot of time fabricating stories about what CWA might know about
actions during last year's strike.
The Maryland legislative-political action team did terrific work and
is gearing up to take on more campaigns, Tarlau said.