Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Agents, Not American Airlines, Face ‘Irreparable Harm’ Over Latest Delay

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Agents show that they have been silenced in protest outside bankruptcy court.




The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Means granting a temporary restraining order to block the vote by nearly 10,000 passenger service agents at American Airlines means workers, not American Airlines, will suffer irreparable harm – the standard for such an order.

Judge Means will hold a hearing on June 21 for a preliminary injunction that could further delay the election and again harm workers who have been fighting for their right to a vote at American Airlines for 15 years. Means serves in Fort Worth, Texas and was appointed to the bench by George Bush in 1991.

Last December, CWA filed for an election for the nearly 10,000 agents. The National Mediation Board set an election date, but American Airlines repeatedly refused to turn over its mailing list to the NMB so the vote could go forward. In May, the airlines filed a lawsuit against the NMB, again defying the Board’s legal order for the airline to supply mailing information so the election could proceed. Despite the lawsuit, the NMB moved forward, setting a voting period of June 21- Aug. 2, citing the agency’s longstanding policy and the intent of the Railway Labor Act to resolve representation disputes “as expeditiously as possible.” Now, American Airlines is back in court.

American Airlines filed for bankruptcy with $4 billion in the bank, in large part to throw out its collective bargaining agreements with union workers and gut the jobs, benefits and working conditions for the passenger service group. American Airlines continues to press these workers to make life changing decisions about their jobs, and in a short time frame.

American Airlines doesn’t want to follow the law, it’s trying to rewrite the law.

There is no retroactivity for legislation, and clearly none for the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization. That’s been made clear to the airline by Senate leaders, who wrote to CEO Thomas Horton on May 15. “Beyond the clearly established precedent that limits the retroactivity of changes in the law, in this case, Congress included specific language in the amendments addressing this issue,” they said.

The Senate went even further, they wrote, with floor discussion by the two leading chairmen, Senators Rockefeller and Harkin, confirming that “the showing of interest requirement set forth in this legislation should only apply prospectively.”

CWA President Larry Cohen said CWA and agents have a message for American Airlines management. “This decision will live in infamy as an atrocious assault on workers’ rights. It will be remembered as total collaboration with a management discredited not only by vicious union busting but by the disgrace of bankruptcy. CWA will carry on this fight for representation and justice and decency for as long as it takes. American Airlines CEO Thomas Horton has picked the wrong fight.”

Verizon Workers Rally at FCC on Big Verizon Wireless-Cable Deal

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Nearly 200 CWA members from five states rallied outside the Federal Communications Commission, calling for conditions on the Verizon Wireless-Big Cable deal.




Hundreds of Verizon workers rallied with consumer advocates and community organizations in front of the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday in protest of the proposed monopolistic deal between Verizon Wireless and Big Cable.

Verizon Wireless has put forward a plan to cross-market and resell cable video services with a number of the country’s largest cable operators, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox. This partnership would subsequently eliminate competition, killing thousands of jobs and deepening the digital divide between cities and wealthy suburbs. Consumers would be left with fewer choices and higher prices.

Traveling hundreds of miles to picket the agency, CWA and IBEW members stood outside chanting, “Stop the deal!” and “Hey, hey FCC, we don’t want monopoly!”

CWA Local 2201 President Richard Hatch told the crowd that Verizon promised eight years ago to build a fiber network – high-speed connection at an affordable cost – from Virginia’s booming cities to the rural western part of the state. But the company has since reneged on that promise and cut a third of the workforce. “The citizens of Virginia and the rest of the country deserve better,” he said.

In fact, if the current deal is approved without conditions, Verizon will completely lose any incentive to expand FiOS, the nation’s largest all-fiber optic commercial network. As a result, more than 7 million customers—30 percent of the area Verizon now covers with landlines—will be left without the option for high speed internet and TV.

Adrian Crisp of CWA Local 1118 warned that it would spell the end of his and his wife’s careers. As construction splicers in Albany, NY, they’ve already witnessed Verizon’s refusal to build FiOS in Albany, which has a large concentration of low-income households and minorities.

Protesters responded with loud calls of “Where’s my FiOs?”

Margrete Strand Rangnes, director of the Sierra Club’s labor, workers’ rights and trade programs, stressed that broadband expansion is a key part of solving the climate crises.

“Broadband expansion means reduced carbon emissions, millions of fewer cars on the road and the ability to fully maximize our energy efficiency efforts,” she said. “Broadband expansion also means economic development and new opportunities for both rural and urban communities, and broadband means jobs.”

And consumer advocates from leading organizations, like Consumer Union, also voiced their concerns about the deal at the rally. “Consumers and Labor have a common interest in ensuring a dynamic and competitive telecom sector. As it stands, this deal strangles any hope of competition,” said Mark Cooper, director of research for the Consumer Federation of America.

CWAers presented more than 130,000 petitions from consumers and workers about the deal to FCC officials.

Inside the building, CWA representatives met with FCC officials to share their concerns and urge the FCC to impose conditions on the deal to ensure it is in the public interest. Members delivered petitions and handwritten letters of concern to FCC officials from more than 130,000 workers and consumers. In addition, they distributed copies of a new report, “Slamming the Door on Our High Speed Future,” which details how the proposed deal will destroy jobs and widen the digital divide.

Reps. Edward J. Markey -- one of the authors of the 1996 Telecommunications Act -- and John Conyers, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, also released a letter on Wednesday calling on the FCC and Justice Department to scrutinize the proposal.

June 22 is Day of Action for Verizon and Verizon Wireless Workers

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Join thousands of union members and community partners in a National Day of Action for Verizon workers on June 22.

Activists again will protest the telecommunications giant’s insatiable greed. Verigreedy Verizon is a $100 billion company that has made tens of billions in profits, but when it comes to the 45,000 workers who made the Verizon’s success possible, suddenly it cries broke.

In addition to sky high executive salaries, the average Verizon board member is paid about $230,000 – that’s three times the salary of a top, full-time Verizon worker with years of experience. Meanwhile, Verizon continues to demand big cuts in compensation from workers.

The June 22 events will include new actions and worksite activities, so contact your local union and check out for the latest.

Ver.di’s Ado Wilhelm Joins CWAers in T-Mobile USA Bargaining

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Ado Wilhelm, left, who heads the mobile communications division of ver.di, the German union representing Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile workers, joins the CWA team negotiating for a first contract for 15 T-Mobile USA technicians in Connecticut. With Wilhelm, from left, is CWA Local 1298 President Bill Henderson, Paul Bouchard, Chris Cozza and Cindy Harrity.

TPP Trade Pact Leak Details Special Rights for Corporations

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A newly leaked document from the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations reveals a dangerous plan to grant multinational corporations special powers to circumvent US law.

Published online by Citizens Trade Campaign, the document shows that TPP negotiators are considering allowing foreign companies operating in the United States to challenge American laws, regulations and court decisions in an international tribunal. That tribunal would then have the authority to overrule American rulings on the environment, labor, consumers and other issues.

CWA, the Sierra Club and Citizens Trade Campaign are working together to demand transparency and accountability in the negotiations. Currently the closed door negotiations include corporate lobbyists, but no representatives of workers or the public interest. Called “NAFTA on steroids,” this trade pact could be the largest free trade agreement in the history of the United States. The deal now includes Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Singapore, but Canada, Mexico and Japan also want to join.

During the last round of TPP negotiations, held in May in Addison, Texas, CWAers and allies delivered 42,000 petitions to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

The next major round of TPP negotiations will be held in San Diego July 2-10. CWA and our allies will be there.

Kaplan ESL Teachers Vote to Join TNG-CWA

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Kaplan’s English-as-a-second-language teachers voted last week to join the Newspaper Guild of New York, becoming the company’s first employees to unionize.

Employees voted to join TNG-CWA Local 31003 by a 56 to 28 margin, despite management’s aggressive anti-union leafleting and mandatory meetings.

“These are professional employees, many with masters’ degrees, who are paid at an assortment of illogical hourly rates as low as the $7.25 federal minimum wage,” said Guild President Bill O'Meara. “They know they should be treated better and they deserve a lot of credit for maintaining their focus through Kaplan's incredibly intense campaign.”

Kaplan is the educational subsidiary of The Washington Post Company. The ESL teachers first approached the Guild about organizing earlier this year, seeking help in raising their pay, getting paid time off for illness and vacation, among other issues.

“This is of course a great day for teachers at Kaplan,” said Kaplan teacher Danny Valdes. “But I hope that this shows teachers that we can increase standards industry-wide by coming together to organize.”

The National Labor Relations Board is expected to certify the Guild as the bargaining agent for the group of about 95 teachers this week.

Join Our Union Hall Call on June 21

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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. Join the call on Thursday, June 21.

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