Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWA Town Hall Meeting Tonight!

Make sure to join the next CWA telephone town hall, set for this evening, April 26, at 7:30 pm EDT. Go to www.cwa-union.org/cwacall.

CWA activists from across the country will join the call to discuss their participation in 99 Percent Spring training, Verizon and AT&T updates, and the next steps we are taking to fight back against the attacks on workers' rights and our democracy.

AT&T District 9 Members Ask: Where's the Fairness?

CWA AT&T members in California and Nevada have a simple question for management: "Where's the Fairness?"

As bargaining for a new contract covering 18,000 workers at AT&T West continues, CWAers are taking that message everywhere. "This simple, direct question is not just a slogan. It is a collective question by workers to their employer. Workers who know they can't get answers to questions like this unless they ask in unison," said CWA District 9 Vice President Jim Weitkamp.

For a while, management wasn't sure what to do about it. When premise and U-Verse technicians from garages throughout the state wore the stickers, management in Reno, Sacramento and San Jose sent some workers home, though workers in other location went about their normal schedule. As other technicians and workers joined in solidarity, management seemed "to be in complete disarray," the district said. Customer service representatives in some locations were told they couldn't wear the stickers, others heard nothing from supervisors.

Here's a video of members of Local 9423 talking about their actions.

"We will continue on the offensive until justice is achieved. The simple equation is this: our labor, delivered peacefully, for fair compensation, working conditions and dignity in the workplace. This is why we fight, and this is why we don't give up," Weitkamp said.

In a separate AT&T development, CWA Vice President Ralph Maly, telecommunications and technologies, will speak to shareholders at the company's annual meeting on April 27 in Salt Lake City.

99 Percent Spring/Challenging Corporate Power Plans Training, Actions

 

 

CWA at Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting

CWA activists join protesters outside Wells Fargo's shareholder meeting in San Francisco.

 

TNG-CWA at NYT Shareholder Meeting

Nearly 70 Guild-represented reporters and editors at the New York Times leaflet the company's annual shareholders meeting.

 

 

 

Did you miss 99 Percent Spring training last week? It's not too late to get involved.

All the materials and videos are now online. Check it out: www.cwa-union.org/99online. It takes about an hour to complete and you don't have to finish it all in one sitting. You'll share your own story of economic hardship, learn how the 1 percent wrecked our economy and get the tools to plan actions in your own community this Spring. Just like the in-person trainings, the online training has all you need to get ready to help the 99 percent take back the country.

 

 

CWA at ATT Newspaper Ad

CWA newspaper ad.

 

 

 

Among the nearly 100 organizations joining in 99 Percent Spring, CWA was the third most active organization in hosting trainings and having members participate. More than 50,000 people attended the seven-hour training program, with sessions held in every state, and another 50,000 are slated to do the training online.

Across the country, activists are ramping up direct, non-violent actions. In San Francisco on Tuesday, CWA activists were among the 500 people protesting Wells Fargo's lending practices and foreclosures, interrupting CEO John Stumpf's speech to shareholders at least four times. Check out this coverage by a TNG-CWA member.

In Detroit, the labor movement joined several thousand protesters in disrupting General Electric's annual meeting with chants of "Pay your fair share!" on Wednesday, and actions also were held around Citibank's annual meeting last week. Next up is Verizon's shareholder meeting on May 3, the latest in as many as 40 Shareholder Spring actions this year.

Get involved with the 99 Percent Spring at http://actions.the99spring.com/actions.

CWA Members Plan Protests for Verizon Shareholder Meeting on May 3

 

 

VZW Greed App Billboard

VeriGreedy Verizon billboard.

Below: Verizon workers rescued Fios, a 1-year-old tabby, from a tree.

union cat

 

 

 

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

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

Are you a shareholder? Raise your voice and cast a vote against CEO Lowell McAdam's $23.1 million compensation package. You can find the current proxy statement here.

Too far from Huntsville to come in person? Around the country, activists will be demonstrating and leafleting to make sure their local communities know about Verizon's failure to bargain fairly with workers, its tax dodging and its demands for major givebacks by workers and retirees while the company posts record profits. CWA rallies are currently being planned in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Roanoke, Va.; Richmond, Va.; Salisbury, Md.; Hampton, Va.; Wilmington, Del.; Dover, Del.; Portland, Ore.; Twin Cities, Minn.; and other locations.

The 99 Spring/Challenging Corporate Power has prepared an action tool kit about VeriGreedy. Read more here.

And check out www.unioncat.com. On Wednesday, Verizon workers came to the rescue of a cat trapped in a tree with a cable-wire noose in New York. Workers have named the 1-year-old tabby Fios, and he's now joining the fight for a fair contract.

More updates can be found at www.unityatverizon.com.

Passenger Service Election at American Airlines is On!

The National Mediation Board has set the elections date for the CWA representation vote among nearly 10,000 American Airlines passenger service employees.

Voting materials for the telephone and online voting will be mailed out by the NMB starting May 17; votes will be counted with the final results announced on June 19.

American Airlines organizers are urging all agents to make sure the airline has their correct address so they can receive the voting materials from the NMB. All the latest election news, and information about getting a replacement ballot if necessary, will be available here.

Meanwhile, CWA is supporting the efforts of agents who are fighting back against AMR Corp.'s latest round of restructuring that will result in the loss of jobs, benefits and income for thousands of passenger service agents.

American Airlines announced it planned to completely close the Tucson reservations center, outsource work affecting both reservations and airport agents and force res agents to work from home with no benefits and a reduced wage scale, among other restructuring plans.

"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."

Agents attended the airline's bankruptcy hearing in New York on Apr. 25, and are waiting for the bankruptcy judge to rule on the request by the Ad Hoc committee for a temporary injunction to prevent the company from changing agents' working conditions until after the election.

The passenger service group is the only major employee group at the airline without union representation.

Cohen: 'The status quo is not stable'

 

 

Larry Cohen at ver.di Strike Rally

CWA President Larry Cohen marches with ver.di leaders at a strike rally in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Larry Cohen in Dusseldorf

In Germany, CWA President Larry Cohen is given a flag signed by hundreds of ver.di activists. It will be displayed at CWA Headquarters.

CWA T-Mobile German Flyer

CWA members support German T-Mobile workers.

 

 

 

 

CWA President Larry Cohen, renewing his call for international solidarity, used a trip to Germany this week to underscore how the erosion of American workers' rights should serve as a wake-up call for the global labor movement.

"The status quo is not stable," said Cohen, speaking to 250 leaders of the Social Democratic Party of Germany in Bonn. "We cannot stand still. The enemies of collective bargaining are always on the lookout for opportunities to weaken trade unions. And in fact, a primary export from the USA is the set of tactics that employers use to undermine trade union participation and policies to reduce collective bargaining rights."

Cohen said the SDP leaders indicated overwhelming support for a joint campaign of ver.di and CWA to bring bargaining rights to T-Mobile USA workers. CWA has been working with T-Mobile USA workers who want a union voice, but U.S. management of the Deutsche Telekom-owned company continues its campaign of fear and intimidation of workers. T-Mobile USA announced recently it will close seven call centers, affecting the jobs of 3,300 workers.

Speaking at a strike rally with 10,000 ver.di members in Dusseldorf, Cohen told workers he had hoped Deutsche Telekom would import Germany's high standards for workers' rights when it first entered the U.S. market in 2000. But the exact opposite happened.

"Now we are even afraid that Deutsche Telekom could export the U.S. model of union avoidance," he said.

In 2008, CWA and the German union ver.di formed a joint union for T-Mobile workers named TU to represent US workers of T-Mobile. ver.di leader Lothar Schröder and other ver.di activists and members have been crucial supporters of the campaign to topple the double standard of the company recognizing labor rights in Germany, but ignoring them in the United States.

However, T-Mobile USA has continued to deploy a barrage of anti-union tactics, Cohen told Social Democratic Party members this week. Management holds mandatory meetings to discourage union organizing, disciplines workers for reading union literature and films interactions between employees and union organizers. The company's human resource department has even advertised for managers with skill in maintaining a "union-free environment."

"We have great challenges ahead of us to establish labor rights as a central element of an open economy," he said. "Our politicians must take seriously the need for global standards. Too often labor standards are moved to the side — or worse still dismissed as secondary. Our collective interests are united in raising working standards higher, not see them fall lower. Only our collective movement can create conditions to restore workers' rights to organize."

Cohen said to "reverse union intolerance," workers need to hold each and every company accountable. In the case of Deutsche Telekom, he urged lawmakers to sign onto a German statement of principles: Ein Offener Brief für Arbeitnehmerrechte. (An open letter on workers' rights.)

At the strike rally, Cohen said CWA members have been inspired by ver.di's strength in its rolling strikes against Deutsche Telekom. Over the past two weeks, T-Mobile workers and CWA activists have gathered in front of T-Mobile stores nationwide, holding signs reading, "Solidarity with ver.di" and "Good work — fair salaries."

"We cannot win our fight for union rights, decent work and fair pay only in one country," he said. "This is a global fight and that's why unions have to stand together all over the world."

New Project Builds Enthusiasm Among CWA Retirees

A new project to encourage more CWA retirees to become active and effective voices for our union got off to a great start with a series of three telephone town hall meetings.

More than 20,000 retirees participated in the hour-long calls.

The project is reaching out to retirees who haven't joined the RMC or haven't had much, if any, contact with CWA since their retirement. Judging from the enthusiasm of this week's calls, these CWAers want to re-engage and stand up to protect working families, said George Kohl, CWA senior director.

During the call, CWA retirees had the opportunity to ask live questions about whatever was on their minds, from Medicare and Social Security to the call center bill to keep good jobs here in the U.S. They also had the chance to weigh in on how the offshoring of call center jobs has affected them, and how they wanted to participate in future campaigns.

Kohl and Legislative Director Shane Larson worked through the hour-long program, with the help of two outstanding retiree leaders: Addie Wyatt, president of the RMC for California, Nevada and Hawaii; and Patrick Welch, president of the RMC for New York, New Jersey and New England.

Wyatt talked about the latest action that she and other CWA activists were involved in: a Tax Day protest that spotlighted companies like Verizon that don't pay their fair share of taxes. "We have to protect the benefits we have earned, and we all need to be a part of the fight," she said.

Welch stressed the importance of being active politically, by participating in CWA's political program and joining the Retired Members' Council. "We'll never match the big dollars of these corporations, but we have something else: people power," he said.

Currently, there are 50,000 CWA retirees who are active RMC members. This initial stage of the retiree project is contacting another 100,000 retirees.

Senate Rejects U.S. Chamber-Backed Attack on NLRB Rule Change

The U.S. Senate upheld the very modest changes made by the National Labor Relations Board last year to ensure that workers have fair and timely elections.

Every Democratic Senator, plus Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, voted against the big campaign by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Senate supporters to block even these modest changes in workers' right to organize and bargain collectively.

The Chamber of Commerce also has filed a court challenge to the rule change.

The new rule eliminates some of the stalling tactics that employers use, specifically, filing lawsuits to challenge the eligibility of workers to vote in a representation election. The rule changes postpone such challenges until after the vote.

"The preamble to the National Labor Relations Act actually says its purpose is 'to promote collective bargaining.' The U.S. has fallen far from that standard, and workers' rights are under attack. The U.S. Senate today took a small step in protecting workers' right to organize and bargain collectively by upholding modest rule changes made by the NLRB," CWA President Larry Cohen said.

"Our middle class standard of living has fallen as collective bargaining rights have declined. The United States is now near the bottom among industrialized democracies in bargaining and organizing coverage. U.S. income inequality is the worst in 100 years. The gap between wages and productivity in the U.S. is widening as workers are unable to bargain to improve their conditions," he added.

USAID Suspends Aid for Call Center Outsourcing

The U.S. Agency for International Development has "suspended" an initiative training Filipino workers for call center jobs outsourced by American companies.

Responding to concern that the English language training project was undermining and weakening the U.S. workforce, the agency last Friday established a high-level task force to review the matter. The decision arrived just one day after Reps. Tim Bishop (D-NY), lead sponsor of a CWA-supported bill to penalize American companies that ship call center jobs overseas, and Walter Jones (R-NC) "vehemently" opposed to the use of taxpayer dollars and demanded that the "ill-advised project be discontinued immediately."

"It's bad enough that some of our largest corporations are soaking U.S. communities and taxpayers for generous financial incentives to locate in a community, only to leave local workers jobless when they eventually ship the call center jobs overseas," said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins. "But it's incredible to realize that these corporations are relying on taxpayer money to train foreign replacement workers — and that they're avoiding basic tax obligations through complicated avoidance schemes in the process."

In a letter to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Bishop and Jones vowed to "use every legislative option available to permanently prohibit USAID from engaging in such practices in the future."

Two years ago, Bishop was instrumental in ending a similar USAID program that spent millions in taxpayer dollars to train offshore IT workers in Sri Lanka.

Since 2007, more than 500,000 call center jobs have been outsourced from the United States to foreign countries. Bishop, along with Rep. Dave McKinley (R-W.Va.), are the key sponsors of H.R. 3596, the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, which will create a "bad actor" list of companies that send U.S. call center jobs overseas; require that overseas agents disclose their name and location; and give consumers the right to be transferred to a U.S. facility. It will also bar U.S. companies that outsource call center jobs from receiving federal grants and loans for five years. CWA is a strong supporter of this bill; there are now more than 117 co-sponsors.

Guild Journalists Win Six 2012 Pulitzers

 

 

Pulitzer Prize Winner

Pulitzer winner David Kocieniewski proudly wears a Guild sticker at a New York Times' celebration.

 

 

 

TNG-CWA members from coast to coast have won six of the most coveted awards in journalism, a Pulitzer Prize, for reporting on everything from violence in Philadelphia's schools to famine in East Africa.

Guild winners for 2012 also included a Boston film critic, a Denver photographer who chronicled the struggle of an Iraq veteran suffering post-traumatic stress, and a New York Times journalist who won for explanatory reporting for what judges called a "lucid series that penetrated a legal thicket to explain how the nation's wealthiest citizens and corporations often exploited loopholes and avoided taxes."

A pair of winners from the Seattle Times, Michael Berens and Ken Armstrong, have donated their $10,000 prize so that other Seattle journalists can get investigative reporting training. Berens and Armstrong's investigation revealed how a little known governmental body in Washington State was moving vulnerable patients from safer pain-control medication to the cheaper but more dangerous methadone.

A full list of winners and links to their work is on the Pulitzer website.

Remember the Fallen on Workers' Memorial Day, April 28

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

In honor of Workers' Memorial Day, they'll be gathering with state and local OSH groups, labor activists and community leaders to hold memorial services for those who have lost their lives and call on elected officials for strong workplace protections.

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

Last week, at a Senate hearing, unions, safety experts and watchdog groups advocated a simpler and speedier process for creating workplace health and safety rules. Since 1981, it's taken the Occupational Safety and Health Administration nearly eight years on average to issue each new safety rule, with some being delayed as long as 19 years, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. That's twice as long as the Transportation Department and more than five times as long as the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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.

CWA/NETT Training Launches Virtual Homeroom Style Website

 

 

CWA/NETT Brochure

The new CWA/NETT brochure describes the expanded online academy.

 

 

 

Over the past decade, CWA/NETT's online academy has grown from a modest beginning of about a dozen course offerings to well over forty of the finest "professional-grade" training courses, plus a full Associates Degree. As an added bonus, CWA members are now granted full complimentary access to Lynda.com, where they will find hundreds of the most popular software tutorials — everything from Acrobat to Microsoft Word, Photoshop to Excel.

Now a new, interactive brochure describes the new expanded CWA/NETT. Many members believe it's their most valuable union benefit.

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