Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Join our Union Hall Call Tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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CWA activists from across the country will talk about how we're building our movement and taking on the corporate and right wing power that is attacking workers' rights and our democracy.

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Former T-Mobile USA Worker Takes Message to Deutsche Telekom

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Blake Poindexter, a former T-Mobile USA worker who lost his job in the shuttering of seven call centers, addressed shareholders at the Deutsche Telekom (DT) annual meeting in Cologne, Germany, today. Poindexter, who now is working with CWA to help T-Mobile USA workers gain bargaining rights, worked at the Frisco, Tex., call center. That center, along with six others, will close in June affecting the jobs of 3,300 workers.

Poindexter asked Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann this question: "Mr. Obermann, will you instruct your managers at T-Mobile USA to refrain from campaigning against workers' attempts to organize a union? Will you end the barrage of negative statements and actions from management each time workers seek to organize a union?"

Despite DT's history of positive union relations in Germany, its subsidiary T-Mobile USA has used a variety of union avoidance tactics to stop workers from choosing union representation, including; holding mandatory captive audience meetings, management intimidation of workers, hiring lawyers and consultants to pursue "union avoidance," and even threatening workers who take a union leaflet. Those union avoidance tactics also are very much in evidence in Connecticut, where 15 technicians who voted for CWA representation a year ago still can't reach a first contract due to the company's superficial bargaining.

In contrast, DT and T-Mobile just reached a new agreement with 50,000 T-Mobile workers in Germany that provided a 6.5 percent wage increase over two years; negotiations are continuing with a T-Mobile technician group.

Also today, an ad signed by prominent U.S. officials, academics and former secretaries of labor appeared in the Bonn newspaper, Bonner Generalanzeiger. This ad reinforces the message from German leaders and scholars who signed a similar ad in the New York Times in March. Both call on DT to give U.S. workers the same respect as German workers when it comes to bargaining rights.

A global online petition is being launched so supporters can show their solidarity with T-Mobile USA workers and their fight for bargaining rights. Go to for more information.

'No More Mr. Nice Girl:' CWA Sets the Record Straight on T-Mobile

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CWA released a viral video that parodies T-Mobile's new "Alter Ego" ad campaign and highlights how T-Mobile's anti-American business strategy is hurting hard-working Americans. The video calls on viewers to take action against offshoring: "Send a Message to T-Mobile, Text 'Save Jobs' to 69866."

Check out the video here.

And find out more about the campaign at

American Airlines Agents Fight for CWA Election

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American Airlines passenger service agents and CWA supporters are fighting back against the airline's attempt to block the union representation election that was ordered by the National Mediation Board.

Agents have some big support, from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senators John Rockefeller, who heads the Commerce Committee, and Tom Harkin, chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

In a letter to American Airlines CEO Tom Horton, the senators said, "It is our understanding that American Airlines is attempting to delay an election for roughly 9,000 employees while arguing in federal court that the amendments to the Railway Labor Act in the Federal Aviation Authority Reauthorization Act should apply retroactively...We strongly urge you to allow the election process to move forward in the interim. Your workers have the right to a prompt and fair election and we urge you to respect that right."

Members of the Illinois congressional delegation echoed that message in a separate letter, calling on Horton to respect workers' rights and stop blocking the election.

Agents across the American system are demanding that Horton respect democracy and stop his attack on workers' rights. Supporters can sign the petition here. More than 23,000 agents and supporters signed a petition to the NMB, calling on the agency to move forward on the election.

Find out more at

Shareholder Spring Keeps Going! Activists Protest Windstream

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Windstream Meeting

CWAers rally at Windstream's annual meeting

About 75 CWA activists demonstrated at the Windstream annual meeting in Little Rock, Ark., then joined an Occupy Little Rock action to protest the city government's plan to displace communities of senior citizens to build a Technology Park.

Members of Locals 6507 and 6171 were on hand, with Local 6171 members making a 12-hour round trip bus ride to Little Rock. Inside the meeting, CWA National Telecom Director Bill Bates called on Windstream to publicly disclose its political campaign contributions on its website, along with company policy for management and Board oversight of those contributions. The proposal received nearly 44 percent of the shareholders vote.

CWA Local 6171 Executive Vice President Dick Frierson took on Windstream's elimination of retiree health care, and told shareholders that retiree health care promises were made to the employees who helped make Windstream profitable.

Following the meeting, activists marched to City Hall to join students and other allies in protesting the city's plans to raze several communities where predominantly elderly residents live to build a Technology Park that can be located elsewhere in the city. CWAers joined that effort to Stop the Attack on the American Dream.

CWA: Frontier Should Put Resources into Customer Services, Not Executive Salaries

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CWA at Frontier

CWA members make some noise at Frontier Communications' annual shareholders meeting.




About 60 CWA activists from Frontier Communications were on hand for the company's shareholder meeting in Stamford, Conn., raising objections to the telecom's demands for big concessions and sacrifices from workers while top executive compensation is soaring.

Frontier CWA members traveled from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Minnesota to rally and leaflet before attending the meeting.

In bargaining, Frontier is demanding cuts in health care for workers, but gave its executives substantial compensation increases over the last three years. CEO Maggie Wilderotter saw her compensation increase to $8.6 million last year; over the past three years, her compensation has gone up 39 percent.

"Frontier is asking workers to take cuts and make concessions, meanwhile it's dishing out tens of millions in compensation to top executives," said CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney. "When executive compensation comes at the price of consumers and workers' well-being, we refuse to be silent. That's why we're here today."

"Frontier's priorities should be updating its infrastructure, improving customer service and ensuring fair treatment and job security for workers," said Ralph Maly, CWA Vice President for Telecommunications and Technologies. "We're part of the 99 percent and we're sick and tired of the 1 percent that rewards itself while so many Americans are suffering."

NLRB Region 2 Authorizes Complaint Against Verizon for Unfair Firings, Discipline

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The National Labor Relation Board's Region 2 has authorized the issuance of a complaint against Verizon Communications for its actions in disciplining and firing workers following the two-week strike by union members last August.

Regional Director Karen Fernbach authorized the complaint for 58 of the 63 cases brought by CWA, following an investigation into Verizon's actions.

"This is tremendous news for workers who have faced harsh discipline, even firing, from Verizon, that was completely unwarranted," said Ron Collins, CWA chief of staff.

"This fight has been about economic justice from the beginning. Some 45,000 CWA and IBEW members spent two weeks on the picket line to force this $100 billion company to bargain fairly, not continue to demand givebacks of $1 billion a year."

He added, "Progressive allies and the 99 Percent Spring coalition are standing with us as workers continue to fight against Verigreedy Verizon and corporate greed across our country. We won't stop now."

Jennifer Travis, a 15-year Verizon employee in Pittsburgh, Pa., never once was disciplined or written up, but was unfairly fired last August by Verizon.

Here's her story: "A couple days after the strike began, I took my husband and 2 of my 3 kids with me to the picket line. For us, being union is all in the family! There were a lot of us on the picket line that day. We were loud and boisterous, but peaceful. The company says that I assaulted a manager. Those are outrageous and false allegations.

"Mine was not an isolated incident. It makes me wonder if the company retaliated against us in an effort to intimidate other members who would consider standing up for their union in the future. If true, that's flat out bullying and it's disgusting."

The regional director's action is the first step of the NLRB process. Now Region 2 will seek to negotiate with Verizon to settle these cases.

Next Generation Activists Storm Minneapolis

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CWA Next Generationg

CWA's 2012 Next Generation class.

Nearly 50 young workers taped dollar bills over their mouths, marched into a Wells Fargo lobby and laid down in front of the bank's trademark stagecoach in protest.

The "die-in" was part of CWA's Next Generation conference in Minneapolis, where activists attended a four-day training on organizing and political action. They learned how to lobby, use social media for union work and build coalitions. Workers discussed the economic slump, foreclosures, voter suppression and how to mobilize more young people.

And those concerns drove them to Wells Fargo last Friday afternoon, where they challenged the bank's detrimental financial influence in politics, including its involvement in getting a voter ID amendment on Minnesota's ballot this November. Jake Lake of CWA Local 1101, who serves on the national AFL-CIO's Young Workers Advisory Council, read a list of the group's demands.

"We demand the top 1 percent of this country stop destroying our country," he said. "Wells Fargo, the Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Business Partnership and the politicians they front have launched an assault on our democracy."

Workers left the lobby chanting, "This is what democracy looks like!" and "We are the 99 percent!" Watch them take action here.

Youth unionization rates are two and a half times lower than those of workers ages 40 to 65. So in order to grow the movement, it's critical to involve more young workers. Through Next Generation, CWA is working to develop young leaders, take advantage of new technologies for communication, organize a growing generation of workers who are not in a traditional employment relationship and launch grassroots groups across the country.

"I didn't know what to expect going into this training. Maybe some background on union history?" said Aiden Sheffield of AFA-CWA 29012. "Well, I learned that — and so much more! I realize how important it is that we stand up together and take part in our democracy — that must be taken back by labor. They say it takes a village, and it really does. I have a better understanding of what I need to do."

President Cohen Speaks at 2012 NPA Conference

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Larry Cohen at NPA

CWA President Larry Cohen addresses the National People's Action convention.




CWA President Larry Cohen addressed this year's National People's Action conference in Washington, DC. The 1,000-person conference came on the heels of several months of actions at corporate offices, executive doorsteps and shareholder meetings. Building on the spring momentum and forging ahead into the election season, Cohen said it was time to reclaim America's democracy from the 1 percent, placing communities before corporations and people over profits.

CWA Local Leaders Learn New Skills at MLI

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MLI Graduates

Minority Leadership Institute graduates.

Local union leaders honed their skills in public speaking, political action and more, graduating this week from CWA's 2012 Minority Leadership Institute.

The diverse group, which included African-American, Asian and Latino CWAers, spent ten days studying topics such as labor history, union leadership, organizing, collective bargaining and voter suppression.

District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings was this year's graduation speaker. An MLI graduate himself, Cummings told participants, "You should understand clearly that you are elected to represent your members and work to grow our union through organizing internally and externally. You should all also embrace the importance of building coalitions with constituency groups and other organizations to start a movement to ensure we re-elect the president and other legislators that will stand with workers in this country on our issues."

Since 1983, over 100 men and women of CWA have completed the MLI training.

This year’s participants included CWA Local 81381 President Evelyn Evans, CWA Local 13000 Senior Clerk Wynetta Ward, CWA Local 3204 Vice President Ed Barlow, CWA Local 4603 Steward Clarice Collins, CWA Local 6507 President Gerald Murray, CWA Local 7019 Area Vice President Mariano Godoy, CWA Local 9003 Steward Myesha Glover, IUE-CWA Local 84913 President Joe Nguyen, AFA-CWA Local 27019 Council Representative Tonnette Monroe, and TNG-CWA Local 34071 President David Pollard.

AT&T Mobility Retail Workers Join CWA

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Nearly 400 AT&T Mobility retail store workers in Mississippi and Wyoming have chosen CWA representation.

Because AT&T has agreed to management neutrality that enables workers to make a free and fair choice about union representation, local organizers and other AT&T Mobility members were able to freely meet with retail store employees in break rooms and meetings spaces.

District 3 Organizing Coordinator Sheila Williams-Cain said, "Once we showed them the difference between what they would have if they had a contract versus what they have now, it was an easy conversation."

The Mississippi unit covers 314 retail store works; the American Arbitration Association certified that a majority of workers supported union representation.

In Wyoming, AAA also certified a statewide unit of AT&T Mobility retail sales workers. The 30 retail employees will join with five network operations workers who voted for CWA representation last year, said District 7 Organizing Coordinator Al Kogler.

CWA Joins TakeAction Minnesota For LPAT Training

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Keith Ellison MN LPAT

Rep. Keith Ellison talks to Minnesota activists at a LPAT training.

Below: Legislative Director Shane Larson instructs LPATs.





CWA activists recently joined forces with TakeAction Minnesota for a joint LPAT training session.

For a day and a half, 65 rank-and-file and local officers discussed why this country needs to form a resistance movement and fight back. LPAT veterans shared their knowledge with those who are new to the procession, and Rep. Keith Ellison addressed participants. Grounded in the election cycle, the training focused on how participants could use what they learned to better implement programs addressing the local issues they're concerned about.

And a considerable amount of time was spent on two important Minnesota ballot measures this fall — a constitutional amendment that would require voters to show a photo ID at the polls and another constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Participants debated how best to use the LPAT structure to talk about and get people to vote 'no' on the amendments.

"It really, really got people engaged," said Staff Representative Douglas Williams.

Key Portion of Voting Rights Act Upheld

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A federal appeals court recently upheld a crucial section of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Last Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuited voted 2 to 1 to turn down a challenge to Section 5, which requires states and localities with a history of voter discrimination to get Washington's approval for any changes in their voting laws and procedures.

This enforcement provision was most recently reauthorized in 2006, but Republican attorneys general from several of the covered states — Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — have since unleashed constitutional challenges to the law. Detractors argue the mandatory supervision is too burdensome, but Section 5 has proved to be an important tool for protecting minority voters.

"Congress drew reasonable conclusions from the extensive evidence it gathered and acted pursuant to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which entrust Congress with ensuring that the right to vote — surely among the most important guarantees of political liberty in the Constitution — is not abridged on account of race," wrote US Circuit Judge David S. Tatel. "In this context, we owe much deference to the considered judgment of the people's elected representatives."

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