May 9, 2013

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You Won't Want to Miss the Next CWA Town Hall Call: May 16

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Join CWAers from around the country on Thursday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m., ET. It's an important call, with updates on everything affecting CWA members and our union. Sen. Tom Harkin has been invited to speak about the uncertainty surrounding the National Labor Relations Board. We'll be talking about Patriot Coal's scheme to shed its retiree health care obligations, the broken Senate rules and much more.

Register here: http://cwa-union.org/cwacall.

Take a Look at CWA's 74th CWA Convention Highlights

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We've posted more than 500 photos from our 74th convention in Pittsburgh. Take a look at all the photos here.

 

Bargaining Update

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  • Six years after Compass Airlines began commercial operations, Flight Attendants have overwhelmingly ratified their first contract. The five-year agreement, reached with the assistance of the National Mediation Board, provides immediate economic improvements, as well as enhanced job security and protections.
     
  • Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants have filed for mediation with the National Mediation Board. Negotiations started in November 2011, and the talks have stalled over compensation.
     
  • A busload of West Virginia CWAers made the 12-hour trip to Frontier Communications' corporate offices in Connecticut to participate in the company's annual shareholders meeting. Read more here.
     
  • Correction: Last week we wrote about nurses at Kenmore Mercy Hospital. They work in New York, not New Jersey.

GOP Goes After Overtime Pay

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House Republicans would like us to think they're family friendly. But their nearly party-line vote of 223-204 on the "Working Families Flexibility Act" is just the latest piece of GOP legislation that does the exact opposite of what its name suggests.

H.R. 1406 is an attack on the 40-hour work week. A revision of the decades-old "comp time" legislation, it claims that it would give employees the option of turning their overtime hours into paid time off for personal reason, so parents can attend soccer games or attend parent-teacher conferences. The reality is that it's excuse for employers not to pay workers overtime.

Economist Eileen Appelbaum explains:

The proposed legislation undermines the 40-hour work week that workers have long relied on to give them time to spend with their kids. The flexibility in this comp time bill would have employees working unpaid overtime hours beyond the 40-hour work week and accruing as many as 160 hours of compensatory time. A low-paid worker making $10 an hour who accrued that much comp time in lieu of overtime pay would effectively give his or her employer an interest-free loan of $1,600 – equal to a month's pay. That's a lot to ask of a worker making about $20,000 a year. Indeed, any worker who accrues 160 hours of comp time will in effect have loaned his or her employer a month's pay. This same arithmetic provides employers with a powerful incentive to increase workers' overtime hours. Instead of having to pay time-and-a-half wages when an hourly-paid employee works longer than the standard 40-hour work week, the employer incurs no financial cost at the time the extra hours are worked.

It's no wonder that the National Partnership for Women and Families said the bill was "based on smoke and mirrors."

CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson wrote to members of Congress, "Nothing prevents the employer from later making the unilateral decision to cash the time out instead. Furthermore, the employee isn't guaranteed that the accrued comp time can be used when the employee needs it – it's up to the employer's approval. Should a business fold, the employee will lose the value of their comp time. This isn't flexibility for workers – it's an opportunity for employers to use comp time as an alternative to offering vacation or sick time and shifting the burden of accrued time off from employers to employees. This is not what working families need."

President Obama Must Tackle Mexico's Labor Rights Record

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Ahead of President Barack Obama's trip to Mexico, labor leaders called on him to address "Mexico's dismal labor rights record."

In an op-ed in Politico, CWA President Larry Cohen, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, UAW President Bob King and USW President Leo Gerard cautioned that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's stance is still unknown.

"From 2006-2012, the government of Felipe Calderón mounted a full-scale assault on democratic labor unions in Mexico, combining all the mechanisms of labor control built up during 70 years of one-party rule with full-scale military assaults on striking workers. Although the compensation of Mexican workers relative to U.S. workers in manufacturing was lower in 2010 than in 1975, Calderón was determined to drive wages even lower to attract foreign investment," they wrote.

"It is not yet clear whether Peña Nieto intends to continue Calderón's repressive policies, or whether he will finally respect Mexican workers' rights. The message that Obama sends could make a crucial difference."

Read more here.

We're Building a Movement 50 Million Strong

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Union Taxi driver Abdi Buni, an organizer with CWA Local 7777, has been appointed to the new Denver Immigrant and Refugee Commission. Commissioners, appointed by Mayor Michael Hancock and confirmed by Denver City Council, are charged with developing partnerships between the city's immigrant and refugee communities, as well as identifying mutual challenges and opportunities.

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CWA and Casa de Maryland activists celebrate Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signing legislation that will allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses.

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A public hearing without the public? New York's state Senate GOP refused to allow activists to testify at a hearing on campaign finance reform and locked them out. Now CWA, Brennan Center for Justice, Center for Working Families, Citizen Action of NY, Common Cause NY, League of Women Voters of New York State and New York Public Interest Research Group are filing a complaint with New York's Committee on Open Government. Read more here.

Organizing Update

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  • West Penn Printing employees voted 26-21 to join CWA Local 14827. The company mounted a vehement anti-union campaign, hiring an expensive "anti-union persuader" and using scare tactics on workers whose only pay raises have come in the form of mandated minimum wage increases. But house calls, informational leafleting and organizing meetings paid off with a win. This effort came out of the PPMWS Organizing Cooperative effort, where they have placed full-time local organizers in four regions of the sector.
     
  • CWA Local 9415 beat back a decertification election at Comcast by a vote of 89-35. The key issue was the new system of metrics that the company wanted to impose, so that it could essentially get rid of any worker it wanted. While the group faced and fought off a decertification attempt in 2008, this time they were even stronger.

Remembering Our Fallen Law Enforcement Officers

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As communities across the country come together during National Police Week, CWA honors Corporal Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman.

The West Virginia State Troopers, members of CWA Local 2019, were shot and killed last year after arresting a DUI suspect for reckless driving.

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Let's Hear It for Nurses

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It's National Nurses Week, a celebration aimed at raising awareness about the value of nursing and the role they play in bettering health care for all Americans. Join us in thanking the nearly 3.1 million registered nurses nationwide – including many CWA nurses – for all the critical work they do 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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