CWAers Stand Strong at Cablevision-Optimum

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CWA activists, members and supporters were out in force at the Cablevision-Optimum annual meeting today in Bethpage, N.Y., spotlighting the fight for a fair contract for nearly 300 members of CWA Local 1109. Inside the meeting, CWA activists raised questions about the company's fight against workers who just want a fair contract, questions that CEO John Dolan refused to answer, said Chris Calabrese, executive vice president of Local 1109. "CEO John Dolan was arrogant and dismissive even though the questioners were shareholders and had the right to attend and raise important issues. He even called the police to have them thrown out of the meeting and arrested," he said.

Cablevision workers remain energized and motivated, no matter what. Because of a tremendous community and public support campaign, 22 workers who were illegally fired and locked out earlier this year are back at work, a huge victory. This group is strong, Calabrese said. "Our bargaining team is strong too. But we're not going to settle for less while other Cablevision workers have gotten big wage increases," he said.

The bargaining committee had been meeting for several days in Washington, D.C., in negotiations with Cablevision-Optimum led by George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. While significant progress was made, those talks stalled this week as Cablevision refused to negotiate a fair wage rate for the Brooklyn workers, one that would be commensurate with what other Cablevision technicians and employees earn.

Community groups and elected officials throughout the New York City region are standing strong with the Cablevision workers and are ready to continue the fight, Calabrese said. Recently, the City Council held a hearing on whether Cablevision-Optimum's anti-worker campaign had violated its franchise agreement with the City of New York, and major Democratic mayoral candidates and other leaders joined rallies and demonstrations to push Cablevision to do the right thing.

In today's Wall Street Journal, CEO Dolan said that he looked forward to a pending NLRB hearing. That's a far cry from his remarks during recent bargaining, when Cablevision said it would file a legal motion to block two National Labor Relations Board complaints that charged Cablevision with multiple violations of the law.

Cablevision claims that the directors of two NLRB regions have no standing because the appeals court rules that all of President Obama's recess appointments and two NLRB members in particular were not constitutional. This decision is preposterous since it would mean that more than 100 recess appointments by Presidents Obama and Bush, and their decisions, would be thrown out. CWA is calling on the Senate to "Give Us Five" and confirm a package of five nominations to the NLRB so that 80 million private sector workers won't lose the protections of labor law.

CWA Urges the Senate to Confirm All 5 NLRB Nominees

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A Senate committee cleared all five nominees to the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday, sending them to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

"Workers can't afford to wait any longer," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "For 80 million Americans in the private sector, it's all they have. The NLRB is the only agency that safeguards employees' right to organize and negotiate, and it's the only agency that can stop and remedy injustices in the workplace. Partisan warfare has obscured what's really at stake here."

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously approved Philip Miscimarra and Harry Johnson, the two Republicans. Current board Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce received approval from six of the 10 Republican senators. Meanwhile, only Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined Democrats to approve the current Democratic members Richard Griffin and Sharon Block.

Sen. Tom Harkin called the vote "a step in the right direction."

"While it is disappointing that some of my Republican colleagues refused to support the entire package of nominees in today's Committee vote, I hope that as we move to the floor we can put politics aside and do our duty to consider all of these nominees fairly on their own merits," he said in a statement. "This is an exceptionally well-qualified package of nominees, and they all deserve to be swiftly confirmed."

Yesterday, during a debate on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rebuffed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's warning that he better not to change the Senate rules on nominations.

"Senator McConnell defended the status quo of gridlock and obstruction in Washington, saying 'there is no real problem here.' I could not disagree more. Senator McConnell may choose to ignore it, but the problem of gridlock in Washington is real and it needs to be fixed," Reid said. "Despite the agreement we reached in January, Republican obstruction on nominees continues unabated. I want to make the Senate work again."

 

TU Members in U.S. and Germany Stand Up for T-Mobile Workers

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A banner from CWA and TU activists from District 3 in the southeastern U.S. gets to TU/ver.di members at the T-Mobile call center in Dusseldorf, Germany.

 

 

TU members in the U.S. and Germany are doing everything they can to support T-Mobile USA workers in their fight for a CWA voice and rights on the job. TU is the joint union formed by CWA and ver.di, the largest union in Germany, to strengthen the voice of T-Mobile workers on both sides of the Atlantic.

 

 

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ver.di members in Germany show their support for Josh Coleman, a T-Mobile USA customer service rep in Wichita, Kan., who was fired for supporting the fight for a union voice at T-Mobile.

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In Germany, TU members are showing their solidarity with Josh Coleman, a customer service representative in Wichita, Kansas. Coleman was fired by T-Mobile USA, despite the fact that the allegations management made against him were later rescinded by those managers. Coleman was fired for calling back a customer, which T-Mobile USA directs employees to do, and offering customers a limited period of free Internet service, which Coleman did not do. At no time did management provide any evidence of these charges, and in fact all were withdrawn by those managers and supervisor who made them.

But Josh still was fired, and the reason seems very clear to TU members in Germany and the U.S.

Coleman is an active union supporter who has publicly supported the effort for bargaining rights in flyers, online videos and other materials. In fact, managers have discussed ways to terminate Coleman in meetings.

 

 

 

T-Mobile workers in Germany are shocked by this behavior by a company that in their country talks about the positive value of its partnership with workers and their union.

Want to learn more about what T-Mobile USA workers are up against? Check out the latest report that features T-Mobile workers speaking out before a panel of leaders, representing community and faith based organizations, the U.S. Congress and South Carolina state legislature, the global and national labor movements, students and more.

Demonstration at DOJ Calls for Prosecution of Big Bankers

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CWA President Larry Cohen and Deborah Castillo, a member of Local 6350, at a news conference.

 

 

Former homeowners and activists from across the country protested in front of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., on Monday to spotlight the reckless and corrupt behavior by big banks that have unfairly cost families their homes, and the government's refusal to prosecute these actions.

Seventeen former homeowners were arrested during the protest; demonstrators who set up tents to stay all night also were arrested.

At a news conference held as part of the protest, CWA President Larry Cohen said: "Shame, shame, shame on bankers and the Department of Justice for thinking that banks are not only too big to fail, but they're too big to jail." He then introduced Deborah Castillo, a member of CWA Local 6350 in St. Louis.

The protest was organized in part by Occupy Our Homes, a grassroots organization that grew out of the Occupy Wall Street demonstration to support homeowners facing foreclosure. Other union, grassroots and community organizations also joined the demonstration.

The group called on the Justice Department to prosecute bankers that have engaged in wrongdoing and called for restitution to homeowners for the banks' actions. In too many cases, the banks, many of which received substantial taxpayer bailouts, refused to provide fair mortgage relief, engaged in unfair practices and improperly withheld funds due to homeowners. Many homeowners received far less than the compensation that was due to them under a $9.2 billion settlement reached between the government and the nation's biggest mortgage companies over those companies' improper foreclosures. Some former homeowners received as little as $300.

CWA Supports Thousands of UC Health Care Workers on Strike

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Members of UPTE-CWA Local 9119 walk the picket line at UC San Francisco to support striking AFSCME workers.

Below: CWAers on the picket line at UC San Diego.

UPTE-CWA health care professional members went on a full-day strike Tuesday in support of AFSCME's patient care technical workers at University of California hospitals across the state.

Workers joined AFSCME Local 3299 picket lines at all five UC medical centers, raising awareness about fair wages, a secure retirement and staffing levels and other conditions that promote quality patient care. UPTE-CWA members know this fight all too well – and it's in their best interest that AFSCME wins a good contract.

"The strike doesn't mean we are not interested or care about our jobs, our position," said Michele Freeman, a clinical social worker at UC San Diego. "It's because we are here and we like working for the UC system that we know we are important to them and they need to recognize that."

The two sides have been negotiating a new contract for nearly a year.

On Tuesday, workers called for fairness. UC's decision to lay off employees, speed up work and underfund staff only serves to hurt both workers and patients. Though the five medical centers made more than $500 million in profit last year and the state has increased its funding, UC still wants to slash retiree benefits. And despite UC's hollow cries of being broke, the number of officials making more than $1 million each year has quadrupled.

Workers are demanding real reform. That means caps on executive pensions and electing union representatives to governing boards of our pension and retiree health benefits funds to ensure accountability and transparency.

Check out this UPTE-CWA video of members explaining why they joined the strike line.

Building a Movement 50 Million Strong

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Members of CWA Locals 6300 and 6350 join a crowd of 4,500 Mine Workers and supporters at a rally outside the bankruptcy court in St. Louis. The court will soon make a decision over Peabody/Patriot’s scheme to deny retired workers their health coverage.

 

 

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At CWA's latest Political Leadership Boot Camp in Richmond, Va., activists generated more than 50 phone calls in support of confirming all five National Labor Relations Board nominees. Read more about the trainings here.

 

 

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CWA Local 4603 activists joined the Raise Up Milwaukee Rally to support the city's low-wage workers' fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without employer retaliation. Pictured from left to right: Jim Courchane, Greg Tennyson, Keisha Hollis-Wilson, Clarissa Williams, Chris Drotzur, and Derrick Robinson.

 

 

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CWAers supported hundreds of non-union workers with taxpayer-supported jobs who went on strike in Washington, DC. At the Good Jobs Now rally, they called on "the federal government to stop being America's leading poverty job creator by paying us living wages and benefits." Learn more at http://goodjobsnation.org.

 

 

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Activists flooded Union Station and wrote letters to President Obama, demanding that he intervene to support living wages for federally contracted workers. Click here to read a letter from Natividad Lucila Ramirez, who has spent 21 years making Union Station a clean and welcoming place.

 

Bipartisan Vote by Senate Judiciary Committee Moves Immigration Reform Forward

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By a bipartisan vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to move comprehensive immigration reform to the full Senate, a big step forward toward our goal of fixing the broken immigration system. The bill includes CWA's number one priority: a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrant workers and a path for DREAMers, those now young adults who came to the U.S. as children.

Other key provisions include:

 

  • Creation of a new bureau of immigration and labor market research that will study job markets and make recommendations on shortages.
     
  • A guarantee that labor recruiters will be regulated by the Department of Labor.
     
  • Limits on the number of H-1B visas, as opposed to the broad expansion of the visa program that tech companies wanted.

Senate action is expected after the Memorial Day recess, and there likely will be additional amendments and CWA and our allies will monitor and address. The bill also must pass the House of Representatives, expected to be a tough battle.

CWA, along with other unions, faith and community leaders, civil rights activists, immigrant organizations and others, will continue to work for comprehensive reform of our broken immigration system.

Bargaining Update

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West Virginia workers rallied outside of Frontier Communications' headquarters.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Ahead of contract negotiations, more than 100 CWAers rallied in front of Frontier Communications offices in Charleston, W. Va. Next month will be the first time workers will be bargaining with Frontier, which purchased Verizon's West Virginia landline operations in 2010. Read more here.
     
  • Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants rallied outside Alaska Air Group's annual stockholders meeting as they continue to press management for a fair contract. Flight Attendants' contract negotiations began in November 2011 and have been ongoing for the past 18 months. Mediation will begin in July.
     
  • The Guild bargaining committee at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo met with the company in Waikiki last week to attempt to narrow the scope of negotiations to critical issues including wages, job security, health care and management rights. But the company rejected most of the guild's proposals. Read more here.

 

Organizing Update

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CWA Local 3010 gained recognition for six AT&T Mobility warehouse workers in Puerto Rico. The recognition was conducted last week under the AT&T card check agreement.

145 Members of Congress Say 'No Knives on Planes'

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The Coalition of Flight Attendant Unions, representing nearly 90,000 flight attendants, commended U.S. Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Michael Grimm (R-NY) for their efforts to generate bipartisan support to keep knives out of airline passenger cabins. Markey, Grimm and 143 House colleagues signed a letter to the Transportation Security Administration, calling the proposed rule change "dangerous, unnecessary, and irresponsible."

"The TSA should deny any knife from ever being brought into a passenger cabin of a plane. I want to thank the Flight Attendants, the pilots, the air marshals, the TSA screeners, and the airlines who all stood up and said 'no' to this terrible idea," Markey said.

"We have heard from a host of stakeholders on this issue, and the consensus is simple: no knives on planes. We can never be too careful when it comes to protecting the safety of our flight crew and passengers. Keeping knives off our planes is a smart decision and one that should be upheld," Grimm said.

On March 5, 2013, the TSA announced plans to allow passengers to carry certain knives aboard aircraft. Flight Attendants immediately mobilized and soon the coalition to block the rule change included pilots, gate agents, air marshals, TSA officers, passengers, law enforcement officers, several airline CEOs and the airline trade association.

On April 23, implementation was delayed, and opposition to allowing knives on planes is growing. The coalition, which includes AFA-CWA, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Transport Workers Union, is continuing to build support for keeping the original ban against knives on planes.

Miss the CWA Town Hall Call?

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Did you miss out on this month's CWA Activist Union Hall Call? Listen to the archive here!

Introducing FrontierRising

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Frontier Communications has awarded CWA/NETT Academy the contract to administer the Joint Labor/Management committee for providing training to its members under a new program called "FrontierRising." The program allows those eligible members at Frontier (former Verizon territory) to enroll in a wide variety of training programs for the duration of the contract.

"The CWA negotiated benefit FrontierRising will allow our members to maintain and expand their skills. This is a great opportunity for us to work together with the company and make real progress in building our skills to keep up with the next generation technologies. We are pleased to have CWA/NETT Academy on board," said Ed Mooney, CWA District 2-13 Vice President.

More information can be found at www.FrontierRising.org.

Want to Help Oklahoma Families? Here's How

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CWAers who want to help families in Moore, Okla., who have suffered devastating losses from the tornado that struck just outside of Oklahoma City this week have several options.

The United Way of Central Oklahoma has activated its disaster relief fund and more Information about donating is available at www.unitedwayokc.org. Donations also can be mailed to United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK 73101, with notation for May Tornado Relief.

Donations of $10 can be made to the Red Cross by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999 or to the Salvation Army, which will be setting up mobile feeding units, by texting "STORM" to 80888.

Happy Memorial Day

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Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, CLC. All Rights Reserved.

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