Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

American Airlines Agents in Bankruptcy Court to Protest AMR's Cuts



American Airlines Rally

Agents rally outside of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.

Below: Protesting AMR's muzzling tactics, agents tape mailing labels over their mouths.

American Airlines_Silenced Workers




More than 100 American Airlines agents and CWA supporters today asked a federal bankruptcy court to stop AMR Corporation from implementing drastic, cost-cutting changes in pay, benefits and working conditions in advance of their union representation election.

Speaking for the Ad Hoc Committee for Passenger Service Agents, which called on US Bankruptcy Court Judge Sean Lane to issue an injunction, employees spoke out against the company's anti-worker tactics. The agents, who filed for a representation election last December, are the only major workgroup at AMR without union representation.

"I have been stunned at how low this company, that I have worked so hard for, and for many years trusted, will go to keep us from having that voice," said Rosemary Capasso, a American Airlines agent and chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for Passenger Service Agents, at a press conference. "Even while in bankruptcy while they're kicking long-time employees to the curb, outsourcing jobs, taking away retirement security, telling us we have to work harder for significantly less money they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on union busters and attorneys to squash our effort to have a representation election."

The National Mediation Board has called for a union representation election for the nearly 10,000 passenger service agents to be held from May 17 to June 19. Sample ballots are scheduled to be mailed out on May 10. In demonstrating that they want representation, agents should fall under Section 1113 of the bankruptcy code, just as the unionized workers do, said Ed Gilmartin, general counsel for AFA-CWA.

However, for weeks, AMR has refused to turn over the list of names of agents who are eligible to vote in the election, so that the NMB has been unable to mail out voting instructions. Refusing to comply with the NMB's directive, AMR has, in fact, sued the agency to block the workers' representation election from going forward.

Protesting these muzzling efforts, some agents wore mailing labels over their mouths during the bankruptcy court proceedings.

CWA filed for an election last December 7; American Airlines wants to substitute its own agenda for congressional action and has filed a lawsuit based on an empty legal claim.

Send a message to NMB General Counsel Mary Johnson asking her to stand up to AMR and ensure the election moves forward at

For more updates, visit or follow the agents on Twitter at!/cwa4aa.

CWA State Workers Reach Tentative Deal in New Jersey

CWA State Workers reached a tentative agreement with New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Details are being presented to members and will be available as the ratification process goes forward.

CWA Demands Public Trans-Pacific Trade Talks



TPP_Shipping Jobs Away

Activists make signs ahead of the TPP rally in Dallas.




CWA and its progressive allies on Saturday will march on corporate America's latest power grab: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement.

As hundreds of international trade ministers and corporate lobbyists gather in Dallas for confidential, closed-door negotiations on May 12, activists will rally for a public debate on the potentially destructive trade deal.

CWAers and activists from all over Texas will be making the trip to Addison, Tex., for the 1 p.m. rally, with Local 6215 Executive Vice President Nancy Hall, among others, speaking at the event. Information on buses and carpooling is available at

"It is unacceptable that an agreement with such far reaching implications is being negotiated behind closed doors and in complete secrecy," said CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings. "The only people with access to texts, in addition to the governments involved, are the nearly 600 corporate trade advisers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce can see the texts, but because none of the texts has been released to the public, workers who face the loss of their livelihoods and communities that face economic downturn are denied any input."

He added, "Every trade deal has resulted in a loss of jobs for U.S. workers. It's no surprise that a recent Wall Street Journal poll found 69 percent of Americans believe that free trade cost jobs. They're right."

On Wednesday, activists and Dallas area residents joined a telephone town hall to hear experts from the Sierra Club, Citizens Trade Campaign and CWA discuss what ordinary people can do to stop the TPP.

If ratified, the agreement will put an end to "Buy American" policies and other initiatives to keep good jobs in the United States. U.S. workers already have seen far too many good jobs go offshore, from millions of manufacturing jobs to at least 500,000 call center jobs that have been sent overseas from 2006 to 2010.

At stake are policies that will likely impact agriculture, the environment, health care, consumer safety, banking regulations and Internet freedom.

Currently, the TPP stands to be the largest free trade agreement in the history of the United States. It now includes Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Singapore, but Canada, Mexico and Japan also want to join.

Say no to backroom deals for the 1 percent by signing a Citizens Trade Committee's petition for the public release of all TPP proposals. "Americans deserve the right to know what U.S. trade negotiators are proposing in our name," the petition says. The signatures will be presented to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and other trade negotiators this week in Dallas.

Real Bargaining Rights Produce Big Gains for ver.di Members at T-Mobile



CWA at T-Mobile

CWAers in Miami show their solidarity with their German colleagues in ver.di.




In a big victory for Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile workers, ver.di the union representing more than 2 million workers announced a tentative agreement with DT that provides for a 6.5 percent pay increase over two years for 50,000 workers in Germany. Negotiations are continuing for workers at DT's T-Systems unit.

ver.di members have been holding rolling strikes and mobilizing for a fair contract. They've also been supporting the efforts of T-Mobile USA workers who want the right to bargain here in the United States. In 2010, CWA and ver.di formed TU, a joint union representing T-Mobile workers in both countries, and ver.di union activists have taken on the fight of T-Mobile workers in dealings with DT.

CWA President Larry Cohen said the settlement is a huge step forward for ver.di, TU and the global labor movement: "Why is this settlement possible in Germany, yet in the United States, T-Mobile USA management continues a campaign of fear and intimidation in workplaces where workers want to organize and engages in superficial bargaining at best in Connecticut, where technicians voted for CWA representation last year?"

The difference is that ver.di and the support for collective bargaining is so strong in Germany and many other countries, including those in Latin America and Asia, Cohen said. Bargaining is the way to end income inequality for working Americans, he said, adding, "this is what democracy looks like."


CWA LPATs Gear Up for 2012 Election




CWA LPATs gather for a three-day political action training session.

Below: CWA LPATs work on state plans and goals.

CWA Poli-training




Gearing up for the 2012 presidential election, CWA LPAT activists from around the country gathered last week for three days of political action training.

"If we're going to make change as a community, we in the community have to start fighting," said Anita Andrews of CWA Local 4322.

Huddling in suburban Maryland, they reviewed their strategic election targets and LPAT responsibilities, and then circled up with their respective districts to hammer out state plans and goals. CWA President Larry Cohen met with participants one evening, kicking off a discussion of their personal "I am the 99%" stories. CWA National Political Director Rafael Navar led workshops on skill building, such as how to sign up volunteers and approach members about donating to CWA's political action fund. Participants learned about the Labor Action Network, or LAN, and the importance of tracking and reporting data.

They also heard from the AFL-CIO about an unprecedented move to give members more say over how the union will spend its campaign war chest. By taking part in campaign activities phone banking, knocking on doors, signing up volunteers participants can earn currency in Workers' Voice, the Super PAC arm of the AFL-CIO. That currency, in turn, can be allocated to voter registration for the participants' local candidate of choice, online ads or other issues.

While the training stressed the importance of 2012, it laid out a long-term plan to sustain that election-year energy through coalition building. Throughout the weekend, members shared tactics and war stories from their recent legislative victories.

"We've been able to heal a huge rift between labor and the progressive movement that's existed in Oklahoma for two decades," Dave Ratcliff of CWA Local 6012. "Now we're working together like never before. Now it's like we're one. Unfortunately, it took what the Republicans have been doing to get us to this point. We're playing a lot of defense. But we're playing with a much better team."

CWA Supporters Help Keep the Heat on Verizon, Verizon Wireless

Three-time Grammy winner Steve Earle last week called out Verizon Communications for hitting up workers for another $20,000 a year in compensation cuts while posting another record earnings quarter this year.

This was just one of the actions aimed at pushing Verizon management to do the right thing and bargain fairly.

As part of Shareholder Spring, a crowd of 1,000 workers, students and progressive activists demonstrated inside and outside Verizon's annual meeting on May 3 in Huntsville, Ala. They called on the company to stop its assault on customers, employees and American taxpayers; Verizon has earned the nickname "VeriGreedy" for its emphasis on corporate greed.

Check out this video from the shareholder meeting, featuring Earle's great song, "God is God."

Earle, a musician, writer and actor, is a strong supporter of workers fighting for economic and political justice, among other progressive stands.

Verizon, meanwhile, is a $100 billion company that won't bargain fairly with 45,000 union workers who want to hold on to the American Dream.

In addition to the company's demands for $20,000 in annual givebacks from workers, amounting to $1 billion a year, Verizon wants another $1 billion a year from consumers for upgrading their phones.

Despite billions in profits, Verizon dodges taxes and has sent thousands of American jobs overseas. It didn't pay a dime in federal corporate income taxes from 2008-2010. In fact, it got a nearly $1 billion tax rebate over that period. And Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam makes more money in one day than a Verizon technician makes in an entire year.

CWA Activists Work to Recall Wisconsin Gov. Walker



Madison WI T-shirt

Wisconsin CWAers get out the vote.

Below: Denise Williams of CWA Local 4630 volunteers at phone bank in Madison.

CWA Phone Banking




With less than a month until Wisconsin's recall election, CWA activists have been working around the clock to get Republican Gov. Scott Walker out of office.

"It's a civil war here," said Lindy McGraw of CWA Local 4630, who devotes 10 hours a week to the recall effort. "I just hope that people see the light."

McGraw and members of her local women's committee have been helping out wherever they're needed, from data entry to educating people about Walker's anti-worker, anti-family budget. Every weekday at noon, they join the Solidarity Sing-Along for a singing protest at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

On "CWA night" at the phone bank, volunteers reached thousands of union households between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. last week, said Mark Frey of CWA Local 4630. On May 16, CWA will partner with Madison Teachers, Inc. for another round of outreach to union families around the state, reminding them of Walker's successful effort last year to strip public sector employees of their bargaining rights.

"We're telling union households to get out the vote and educating members about the legislative climate," Frey said. "It's a very powerful tool."

In 2010, 26 percent of all Wisconsin voters were in union households, compared to 17 percent of voters nationwide.

The recall election scheduled for June 5 will be a rematch between Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who won Tuesday's primary to become the Democratic Party's nominee. Polls show the race is currently tied. During the last face off, voters in union households made up roughly one third of Barrett's total vote in the election, according to the exit polls.

Shareholder Spring Rallies at Bank of America's Annual Meeting



Bank of America_Charlotte

CWA members rally outside the Bank of America shareholders meeting in Charlotte, N.C.




CWA members joined 1,000 demonstrators Wednesday in protesting at the annual Bank of America shareholders meeting. Billed by 99% Power and UNITY as the "Showdown in Charlotte," activists spotlighted the bank's foreclosure practices and its lack of corporate accountability. Read more here.

Occupy Your Cameras! Deadline June 1 for Photo Contest

The Newspaper Guild-CWA and the Labor Heritage Foundation are sponsoring an Occupy Movement photo contest, with prizes for best student, best amateur and best professional photo.

Three $333.33 prizes will be awarded, totaling $999.99 in recognition of the 99 percent for whom the Occupy Movement is fighting. The deadline to enter is June 1.

Photos must be submitted by regular mail and should be no smaller than 4x6 inches and no larger than 10x13. For the mailing address and all contest rules, click here or go to

Entries will be judged by participants at the 34th Annual Great Labor Arts Exchange, June 22-25, 2012 at the Maritime Trades Institute conference center near Baltimore. Winners will be selected based on the number of votes received.

Click here for more information.

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