Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

April 19, 2012


Workers Rally to Protect T-Mobile Call Center Jobs


T-Mobile workers, CWAers and labor activists rally at T-Mobile USA corporate headquarters in Bellevue, Wash

T-Mobile workers, CWAers and labor activists rally at T-Mobile USA corporate headquarters in Bellevue, Wash. Below, activists carried banners with messages from workers at the seven call centers T-Mobile wants to close in June.

activists carried banners with messages from workers at the seven call centers T-Mobile wants to close in June


T-Mobile USA workers on Monday sent a loud, clear message to their CEO Philipp Humm: Keep good call center jobs in America and bring back the thousands you've shipped overseas.


More than 100  CWA members, along with other union and community supporters, delivered the 100,000-signature petition -- criticizing the company's decision to close seven US call centers and lay off 3,300 workers in June -- to T-Mobile headquarters in Bellevue, Wash. Protesters demanded that Humm return 6,000 overseas jobs, which have been moved to countries like Honduras and the Philippines, and ensure that workers can freely choose union representation without fear of retaliation.

The rally included workers from call centers slated to close in Allentown, Pa., and Frisco, Texas.

"We want T-Mobile to know about our struggle," said Jamone Ross, a worker from Frisco. "We've all given a lot. A lot of us have given up weekends, so we can have decent schedules to have a small glimpse of our families during the week. I'm always saying, 'Hey I might not be able to go to church' or 'I can't go to that party Saturday night since I don't get off until midnight.' We all sacrifice a lot to maintain our jobs. The loyalty is very one sided."

Blake Poindexter, another worker from Frisco, was enraged by the company's abuse of taxpayer dollars. In four of the seven communities where call centers are slated to close, T-Mobile received a total of $14.2 million in taxpayer dollars from state and local economic development subsidies. Poindexter's community awarded the company $3.7 million alone.

"Our state gave T-Mobile millions of dollars to create jobs and what did they do in return? They took the money and now they're turning their backs on me, my co-workers and our whole community," he said. "T-Mobile is putting profit ahead of its workers and costing thousands of workers their jobs."

Watch a video of the Bellevue protest here.

CWA activists are now working to spotlight this abuse of taxpayer dollars and a new bipartisan bill that penalizes American companies for sending call center jobs overseas. They've launched an online ad campaign to urge support for the call center bill, which now has 110 House sponsors, and are working with elected officials to keep open all seven if the call centers set to close in Allentown; Frisco; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Brownsville, Texas; Thornton, Colo.; Redmond, Ore.; and Lenexa, Kan.

Check out all the action at and on Facebook.


Next CWA Town Hall Meeting


Make sure to join the next CWA telephone town hall, set for Thursday, April 26 at 7:30 pm EDT. Go to to register.

Agents Fight Back, Union Election to be Scheduled


Passenger service agents at American Airlines were hit with a devastating reorganization plan yesterday that will affect nearly 10,000 agents. Agents face layoffs, outsourcing, the loss of wages and benefits, being forced to work from home for no benefits, and likely even more cuts in the future as they are the only major workgroup at the airline without union representation.

But now agents will have the opportunity to get that union voice. The National Mediation Board has determined that American Airlines agents are entitled to a representation election; dates for the voting process are still to be set. CWA has been working with agents who want a union voice and had filed for an election last December.

"Once again we are being told what will happen to us and we are given no voice in the process," said Bryan Wall, a Sacramento-based agent. "Other employees have options because they are represented by unions and will negotiate. We don't know where or when this will end, but we will fight back through our Ad Hoc Committee and our union after we win the election. It's time for us to demand the respect we deserve."

"I work at one of the stations targeted for outsourcing. I am personally worried about my health insurance," said Jutta Fitzgerald, a Columbus, Ohio based agent. "I see what is being done to the employees and I believe this is why we need a strong union. I have never seen a company treat its employees how American Airlines treats us. The agents need to go union, now more than ever."

American Airlines filed for bankruptcy protections last year, despite having $4 billion in the bank. CWA was successful in winning recognition for the agents' Ad Hoc committee by the federal judge overseeing the bankruptcy.

Activists are organizing and fighting back, and the next opportunity to make a stand is the April 25 bankruptcy court hearing in New York City. "This is our chance to be represented alongside the high-priced attorneys, consultants and investment advisors, and we encourage everyone to come out," agents said.

Keep up with the latest at

CWA Activists Rally Around 99 Percent Spring/Challenging Corporate Power


Tens of thousands of progressive activists nationwide joined 99 Percent Spring / Challenging Corporate Power trainings last week, laying the foundation for a series of non-violent, direct actions this spring.

Participants told stories about what made them part of the 99 percent, discovered the roots of America's economic collapse and learned how to fight back.

At the CWA headquarters training, CWA President Larry Cohen choked back tears as he described T-Mobile's recent decision to close seven call centers and lay off 3,300 workers. "I'm tired, I'm angry, I'm distressed from seeing how hard our members fight these battles only to go backwards," he said. "The only way we can fight this is together."

John Smith, who hosted a 60-person session at CWA Local 4320, said a lot of contact information was exchanged among the participants. This week CWA members banded together with Jobs with Justice and other activists for a Tax Day protest.

More national demonstrations are being planned, including a protest at the Verizon Communications shareholder meeting on May 3. Keep an eye on for future actions.

CWA Members Plan Protests for Verizon Shareholder Meeting


Taking a stand against corporate greed, CWA activists plan to protest Verizon's annual shareholder meeting on May 3.

The gathering starts at 10:30 a.m. at the Von Braun Center, an arena located in downtown Huntsville, Ala. Shareholders will be voting on nine proposals, including an AFSCME and CWA General Fund proposition requiring Verizon to publically disclose its federal- and state-level lobbying.

At the same time, across the country, CWA members will be rallying against Verizon's decision to send thousands of American jobs overseas and the company's plans to gut pensions, charge more for health benefits and cut disability. Despite raking in billions of dollars in profits, Verizon has stiffed workers while tripling the compensation of its CEO, Lowell McAdam to $23.1 million.

Next month's shareholder meeting protest is an extension of the 99 Percent Spring/Challenging Corporate Power's "Shareholder Spring." After training in direct, non-violent action, activists are now preparing demonstrations and actions at shareholder meetings of Chevron, Bank of America, Walmart and Wells Fargo.

More information will be available at


CWAers Join Nationwide Protest Against Corporate Tax Dodgers





Tax Day in Racine, WI with CWA Local 4611

CWAers in Racine, Wisx., members of Local 4611, demonstrate on Tax Day.




On April 17, Tax Day, across the country, activists from CWA and other unions, the AFL-CIO, Move On and other members of the 99% Spring coalition called on corporations and the 1% to pay their fair share in taxes.


In Washington, D.C., CWA activists joined a Tax Day march on the IRS. Joining Jobs with Justice, SEIU, AFL-CIO and others, the protesters drew attention to the inequality in the tax system that forces most Americans to pay more taxes than General Electric, Boeing, DuPont, Wells Fargo and Verizon Communications put together. Afterward, they continued to raise awareness about the wealthiest 1 percent’s loopholes and tax breaks at a "Billionaire Block Party" at John Marshall Park.




TaxDay in White Plains, NY with CWA Loca 1103

In White Plains, N.Y., members of CWA Local 1103 spotlight how Verizon’s stiffs workers and taxpayers.




Twenty-six major corporations paid no federal income tax, despite raking in billions of dollars in profits, between 2008 and 2011, according to a new report by Citizens for Tax Justice.  In fact, these companies actually made more money after taxes than before taxes over the past four years, thanks to IRS rebate payments.


Wells Fargo was the most profitable tax evader, grossing $21.6 billion in tax subsidies during the four-year period, according to the non-partisan, non-profit research study. GE came in second with $10.6 billion, and Verizon placed third by pulling in $7.7 billion. They were followed by Boeing, which garnered $6 million in tax subsidies.

In fact, few firms actually pay the full 35 percent corporate tax rate. Last year, another study by the Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy  found that 280 corporations paid on average only half that amount.


Grassroots Support Boosts Citizens United Amendments


A growing grassroots movement has energized the movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision, Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday.

Speaking at a summit, Congressional sponsors of amendment efforts -- along with local and state elected officials, national advocacy organizations and activists -- lambasted the Supreme Court decision, which gave corporations the same rights as people, opening the floodgates to unlimited amounts of corporate money in politics. And they showcased how their longshot attempt has suddenly gone mainstream.

CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson told the summit that workers will stand and fight the corrosive influence of money in politics.

"We cannot make real change for our members until Citizens United is undone," he said. Check out this tweet and another one from the summit.

Check out CWA's live tweeting of #Democracy4Sale here.

Hawaii and New Mexico have passed resolutions calling on Congress to overturn Citizens United, while resolutions are pending in 17 other states, according to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). In addition, more than 147 cities -- such as Portland, Maine and Boulder, Colo. -- have passed resolutions, and attorneys general from 11 states recently added their support.

"We are fighting for grassroots democracy and we're going to win this fight because you're going to help us at the grassroots level, and most importantly because the people of the United States understand that by allowing big-money interests to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns is not what people fought and died for to maintain this great country and our democracy," said Sanders, chief Senate sponsor of the Saving American Democracy Amendment. Read more here.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), sponsor of a similar constitutional amendment in the House, said groundswell is proof that the movement is moving forward. "This amendment process is about a ground game," he said.

At least 11 members of Congress gathered in the Capitol Visitor Center hearing room, including Democratic Reps. John Conyers (Mich.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Keith Ellison (Minn.), Rush Holt (N.J.), John Sarbanes (Md.), Betty Sutton (Ohio), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Ted Deutch (Fla.), Hank Johnson (Ga.), Peter Welch (Vt.), and David Cicilline (R.I.).

CWA, Public Citizen, Common Cause, People for the American Way and Move to Amend, all joining the summit, are working together to end the unfettered influence of corporate money.

AFL-CIO Launches 'CEO Pay and the 99%'


The AFL-CIO revamped its executive pay watch website today, adding new shareable infographics and data on the business world's wealthiest 1 percent.

The renamed site "CEO Pay and the 99%" gives users a look inside CEO salaries in a database sortable by industry, state and the top 100 highest paid executives. It features data on corporate cash hoarders, the CEO-to-worker pay gap, the growing influence of mutual funds on pay issues and the world of private equity.

Did you know it would take a worker 11,000 years to earn the equivalent of Apple's CEO salary? Were you aware that over the past five years, Verizon Communications cut 41,100 jobs, but still stockpiled $14 billion and paid its CEO $23.1 million last year?

Companies are increasingly under fire for out-of-control CEO pay. On Tax Day, Citibank shareholders voted against extravagant compensation for the bank's top executives, including CEO Vikram Pandit's $15 million pay package.  It was the first time a Wall Street firm faced such a stinging rebuke.

Visit to write the Securities and Exchange Commission and urge the agency to implement the Dodd-Frank Act's requirement that public companies disclose their ratio of CEO-to-worker pay.

Remember the Fallen on Workers Memorial Day, April 28



Workers Memorial 2012

Click on the above to view for information and materials for Workers’ Memorial Day.




CWA members will join workers around the nation next Saturday in remembering those who've died or been seriously injured on the job.


Across the country, events highlighting workplace safety will mark Workers Memorial Day, which coincides with the anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's founding on April 28. Workers will hold memorial services for those who have lost their lives and call on elected officials for strong workplace protections. CWAers will participate in events that include:

* Just before Workers Memorial Day, Senate Democrats are expected to call a hearing about strengthening OSHA with resources, dollars and personnel, said CWA OSHA Director Dave LeGrande.

* NYCOSH will award its 2012 Karen Silkwood honor to John Gentile, vice president of CWA Local 1103. Named for the union activist, who died under mysterious circumstances after investigating health and safety issues at her plutonium processing plant, the award acknowledges courageous individuals who tell the truth about workers' rights. "It's well deserved," said LeGrande. "John is the most ardent supporter of CWA efforts concerning health and safety. He's not concerned about asking the hard questions and doing the hard work."

* In California, SoCalCOSH, together with more than 250 community members, will gather at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center and bring attention to the tragic death of UPTE-CWA Local 9119 member Sheri Sangji, a 23-year-old UCLA research associate who suffered extensive burns in a horrific lab fire in 2009. Just last week, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge granted a final request to delay the arraignment of her chemistry professor and the UC Board of Regents.

* MassCOSH, Massachusetts AFL-CIO and Greater Boston Labor Council will issue a report on workplace fatalities in the state outside the Massachusetts State House.

Click here for a fact sheet and more information on events you can organize for Workers' Memorial Day.

In 2009, 4,340 workers died on the job -- at an average of 12 workers every day -- and about 50,000 were killed by occupational diseases, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But the BLS's report of more than 4.1 million work-related injuries and illnesses is far from an accurate record of workplace hazards. Many workers fail to file reports with their facilities, while management persuades employees that their injuries are just not worth reporting, according to the 2011 edition of the AFL-CIO report, "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect."  Researchers estimate the true injury and illness toll is two to three times greater -- 8 million to 12 million each year.

IUE-CWA’s Jim Clark Recognized by White House




Jim Clark/WH

IUE-CWA President Jim Clark was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” for his advocacy of energy efficiency opportunities that improve green manufacturing, performance and competiveness. 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.




Apply Now for Morton Bahr Online Scholarship at Empire State College


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 degree.

Union members, their families and domestic partners are eligible to apply for the scholarships, which include undergraduate tuition and fees.

Click for more information and to download the "Bahr application book," which includes the application and other information.

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