Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

American Airlines Agents Press NMB to Move Forward on Union Election


American Airlines agents and supporters march to the NMB.

American Airlines is still refusing to hand over mailing labels to the National Mediation Board so that passenger service agents can vote on union representation. So workers took matters into their own hands.


On Tuesday, a group of agents and supporters hand delivered labels containing the names and mailing addresses of nearly all voting eligible employees to the NMB's general counsel, urging her to move forward on the union representation election for nearly 10,000 agents.

"American Airlines employees must be afforded their right to choose union representation in a free election," CWA President Larry Cohen said in the accompanying letter to NMB General Counsel Mary L. Johnson. "The timing of the election is particularly critical in this situation, as American Airlines is in bankruptcy and is using that proceeding to make immediate, structural and life changing decisions about passenger service agents."

But in papers filed Tuesday, American's parent company AMR responded that it won't hand over the labels while it contests NMB's decision to even allow the election. AMR is currently suing the agency to stop agents from voting. CWA and the passenger service group are intervening in the lawsuit that AMR has filed against the NMB, supporting the agency's position that the election should go forward.

Last December, CWA filed a request with the NMB for an election, which was supported by more than 35 percent of workers, which was what the law required at the time. But as NMB worked to set an election date, Congress changed the law to require election requests to be supported by 50 percent of workers. The new law went into effect in February, two months after the agents filed. But AMR is seeking to rewrite aviation legislation and substitute its own agenda for that of Congress, so it can muzzle its employees and stop them from having a union voice.

And despite US Bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane's decision not to issue a temporary injunction to bar American Airlines from implementing devastating wage, benefit and working conditions cuts for passenger service agents, agents and CWA supporters are pressing forward for a fair and timely election.

"American Airlines has been doing everything it can think of, both legal and not, to block agents from voting on union representation," said CWA Organizing Director Sandy Rusher. But agents are continuing to mobilize, sending petitions to the American Airlines CEO and to the NMB calling for a fair election now.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and members of the Illinois congressional delegation sent this letter to American Airlines CEO Thomas Horton, calling on him to respect workers' right to vote on union representation.

Find more information at

Activists Protest Secret Trade Deal


District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings speaks at the rally.

Below: Members from CWA, UAW, Sierra Club and more march on the closed-door negotiations.





Nearly 400 protesters marched to the doorstep of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiators this weekend, demanding transparency and accountability in the secretive international trade talks.

Rallying outside the Intercontinental Hotel host to the closed-door negotiations in Addison, Texas they raised awareness that hundreds of international trade ministers and corporate lobbyists are discussing deals that could restrict Internet freedom, reduce access to life-saving medicines and encourage American companies to move more jobs overseas. TPP, they warned, has the power to end "Buy American" policies and weaken environmental law.

"Where is labor?" said CWA Local 6215 Executive Vice President Nancy Hall. "We always build the table. We make the chairs. But we're not allowed to sit there and partake in the discussions. No one there was speaking on our behalf."

During a Dallas area telephone town hall meeting, CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings noted that U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials had access to the texts and proposals, but "workers who face the loss of their livelihoods and communities that face economic downturn are denied any input."

About 95 CWA members joined their progressive partners, like the Citizens Trade Campaign and the Sierra Club, in protesting against what stands to be the largest free trade agreement in the history of the United States. TPP now includes Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Singapore, but Canada, Mexico and Japan also want to join.

Later, activists crashed the conference gala, taking the podium to present US Trade Representative Ron Kirk with their "Corporate Power Tool Award" a fake honor Kirk almost accepted if it wasn't for the intervention of his Secret Service minders.

And other protesters succeeded in replacing hundreds of rolls of toilet paper throughout the hotel with a more informative variety.

The next round of talks is scheduled to be held in San Diego in early July.

"They have kept it so under wraps that no one knows about TPP," said Herb Keener of CWA Local 6215. "We need to start hammering it home and let people know there's another negotiation. We have three months to be on our toes. Let's educate them. That's our job. We have to get it out when no one else will."

CWA State Workers Strike Tentative Deal with Gov. Christie

In a fight with the most anti-union governor in their history of their contract, CWA New Jersey state workers successfully preserved the integrity and enforceability of decades of collective bargaining.

During the year-long negotiations, CWA representing about 60,000 public workers statewide boldly withstood a barrage of attacks at the bargaining table and struck a tentative deal, which now must be ratified by CWA members. Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration had sought more than 90 concessions from the union, eliminating significant chunks of their agreement.

"It is a lean economic agreement in lean times, but it is a robust agreement when it comes to collective bargaining, enforceability, and unity," the bargaining team wrote in a letter to members.

"As you will see, when you read over the final bargaining report, we did not allow the administration to divide us between those earning below $55,000 and those earning above, or between those who work at state colleges and those who don't, or between intermittent workers and full time workers. As you will see, we stood up to all of the worst language demands and did not allow the administration to cover our contract with 'for information purposes only' or whether or not something is left to the 'discretion' of management or the governor. A contract is a contract and Governor Christie knows what every other governor before him has learned: With CWA, if we make a deal, we will live up to it and when you make a deal, we will insist that you live up to it too."

In the beginning, the governor came into negotiations demanding a 3.5 percent rollback in salary and the elimination of all annual step increases and no across the board increases for the life of the contract.

By the end of the negotiations, CWA achieved the continuation of all annual step increases, as well as small, additional across-the-board increases in the third and fourth year of the agreement.

CWA members have been working without a contract since July 1.

Nine New York Mayors Oppose Verizon's Big Cable Deal

The secretive, anti-competitive deal between Verizon Wireless and the nation's four leading cable companies will hurt economic development, diminish job creation, lead to higher prices with fewer options, and grow the digital divide, nine upstate New York mayors said Wednesday.

In a letter to the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, the mayors urged the agencies to "examine the impact of this transaction on competition and consumer choice, and ensure that our communities are not left behind."

Under the proposed deal, Verizon Wireless and major cable companies would market each other's products, allowing them to offer a "quadruple play" of video, Internet access, voice, and wireless service that would essentially eliminate competition. Verizon Wireless would also pay $3.9 billion to buy large segments of the wireless spectrum from Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, and Bright House Networks.

As a result, the proposed deal would deter any expansion of Verizon's high-speed fiber-optic FiOS network, killing thousands of jobs and widening the digital divide. Though FiOS is widely available in New York City and affluent suburbs, the agreement would remove any incentive for Verizon to provide high-speed service to the state's other urban centers cutting people of color and low-income communities off from the opportunities that accompany high-speed Internet.

"As you are well aware, high-speed broadband is critical to economic development and job creation, as well as improvements in health care, education, public safety, and civic discourse which are so essential to communal life," the mayors wrote in the letter. "The economic health of our cities and our upstate region depends upon access to the same first-rate communications infrastructure available to the New York City metropolitan region and the suburban communities that ring our cities."

The letter was signed by Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner, Albany Mayor Gerald D. Jennings, Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan, Kingston Mayor Shayne R. Gallo, Elmira Mayor Susan Skidmore, Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin, Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri and Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilla.

CWA-TU Begins Bargaining

T-Mobile newspaper ad

CWA newspaper ad about T-Mobile bargaining in Connecticut.




Bargaining continued for a first contract for 15 CWA-TU technicians at T-Mobile USA in Connecticut.

During bargaining, CWA Senior Director George Kohl stated, "We have been hard at work for 9 months and should be able to move forward, engage in significant dialogue and hopefully resolve some critical issues." 

But T-Mobile USA continues to stall negotiations, hiring lawyers and consultants whose mission is union avoidance. As bargaining got underway, CWA placed newspaper ads asking why Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile treats its German workers with respect and its U.S. workers with disdain.

In Germany, T-Mobile just negotiated a two-year agreement, which includes a 6.5 percent wage increase, with 50,000 workers and their union, ver.di; negotiations are continuing for T-Mobile Systems workers in Germany as well.

CWA Locals Support the Fight Against Pediatric AIDS

CWA locals contributed more than $253,000 to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation in 2011, CWA Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hill reported. The PAF has been CWA's Charity of Choice for more than 20 years, and since that time, CWA locals have contributed nearly $7 million.

Hill thanked all locals that participated and noted that District 7 had the highest percentage of locals participating.

Individual locals are honored with special awards for their contributions.

Awards will be distributed at District meetings throughout the year.

Federal Judge Overturns NLRB Rules to Ensure More Timely Elections

A federal judge threw out even the modest changes that the National Labor Relations Board approved last year to ensure that workers have fair and timely elections.

Last month, the U.S. Senate upheld the changes that would eliminate 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 Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit to overturn the rule, prompting the judge's ruling.

The judge based his decision on the fact that although there were three sitting members of the NLRB, which constitutes a quorum, the Republican member refused to participate in a final vote on the rule although he did write a dissenting opinion.

CWA Activists Stand Strong at AT&T


CWA Local 9509 members demonstrate in San Diego.

Below: AT&T Legacy members leaflet at AT&T service resellers.








In Pontiac, Mich., members of Local 4123 mobilize against health care cuts.

Below: CWA techs in Norwalk, Conn., members of Local 1298, stand up for a fair contract.





Mobilization is the word across CWA districts, where AT&T members are holding informational pickets, leafleting, wearing red and black, and standing up in solidarity to let management know we're serious about reaching a fair contract. Negotiations are continuing for separate contracts in District 1, AT&T East; District 4, AT&T Midwest; District 9, AT&T West, and Telecommunications and Technologies, AT&T Legacy.

Check out these photos, and more information at

CWA and NAACP Fight Voter Suppression

District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings and NAACP Texas President Gary Bledsoe are urging Texans to speak out about attacks on voting rights at the polls.

Confronting the most aggressive attempt to roll back ballot access in more than a century, Cummings and Bledsoe taped a radio ad, which will run next week on minority stations, telling voters to be vigilant and know their constitutional right.

"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others died for their efforts to ensure that Americans of all colors have the right to vote," says Cummings in the radio spot. "It is time to exercise that right. In many states, new restrictions on our right to vote are being enacted. But for now Texas is not one of them. For the May 29th primary the voting rules remain the same. All you need to vote is a voter registration card."

CWA Candidate Beat Incumbent Mayor

In a big victory for working families, CWA-supported candidate Dwayne Warren unseated incumbent Mayor Eldridge Hawkins, Jr., in Orange, N.J.

Despite Hawkins raising nearly six times more money than his three opponents combined, voters last week chose Warren by more than 1,500 ballots.

"Working people won a big victory in a small town tonight," said Hetty Rosenstein, CWA New Jersey State Director. "Mayor Hawkins made it clear that he didn't respect the dignity of our members' work and our right to bargain collectively. We invested in a major campaign effort to ensure that Hawkins learned the hard way that when Democrats work with Chris Christie against the middle class, we won't go down without a fight."

This week CWA endorsed of Ron Rice for Congress (N.J.-10), citing his record of fighting for working families and his commitment to progressive, Democratic values. Rice is one of four major candidates vying for the nomination in June's Democratic primary to run for the Congressional seat that had been held by the late Rep. Donald Payne.

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