Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Supreme Court Decision on Health Care is Victory for the 99 Percent

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Here is CWA's statement on the Supreme Court affirming the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act:

The U.S. Supreme Court decision today affirmed the constitutional right of Congress to establish a personal mandate for insurance, a key element of the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act was a significant undertaking. The Obama administration worked to bring together all the parties in our current system: consumers, insurers, providers, health care facilities, and employers. Congress held lengthy debates and difficult votes. The Affordable Care Act is an important first step toward true health care reform.

CWA, Allies Turn up the Heat on Verizon Board Members

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During the evening rush hour in Chicago, CWAers and supporters are ready to march and rally outside a Darden-owned restaurant and a Banco Popular branch.


Members of Local 2108 in Maryland hold a "funeral" for fair bargaining at Verizon.


In Puerto Rico, members of UPAGRA, TNG-CWA Local 33225, organize actions at a Darden-owned restaurant.

2d.Berkeley_VerizonWireless_UAW_ 5810

In Berkeley, Calif., UAW members show their solidarity and leaflet a Verizon Wireless store.




On June 22, the campaign by Verizon members against Verigreedy took on members of Verizon's Board of Directors, a new tactic to get board members involved in the fight for a fair contract.

In more than 400 actions across the country, activists leafleted outside restaurants owned by Director Clarence Otis and at Banco Popular branches owned by Director Richard Carrion to get the attention of board members who share responsibility with management for stalled negotiations at Verizon.

"Members of Verizon's board are paid $230,000 per year to direct Verizon's business," said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins. "It's time for them to step up and make Verizon management recognize the contributions of front line workers who have helped the company become so successful."

Also this week, CWA members began a postcard campaign with that same message to Director Mark Neubauer.

CWA and IBEW members were joined by students, activists from Jobs with Justice, the UAW, the UFCW, the AFL-CIO and many other allies in the Day of Action events. They held rallies, engaged in street theater and leafleted customers and managers of Darden restaurants, Banco Popular branches and Verizon Wireless stores across the U.S. (Darden restaurants include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille.)

In Chicago, more than a hundred activists rallied and marched outside a Capital Grille restaurant and a Banco Popular branch. In San Franciso, activists marched by a Verizon Wireless store and took a stand against Verigreedy.

Check out all the great photos by clicking here.

CWAers from California to Texas to Puerto Rico who don't work at Verizon definitely get the idea behind building our movement of resistance, and that's why they turned out in huge numbers to stand up against the Verigreedy 1 percent and support the 45,000 CWA and IBEW members who have been bargaining for a year.

Judge's Decision a 'Travesty' for American Airlines Agents

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CWA issued this statement following the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Means that further denies passenger service agents at American Airlines their legal right to vote. CWA immediately appealed the ruling.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Means is a disgrace and a travesty of justice for 10,000 passenger service agents at American Airlines. The Court, despite a clear reiteration of congressional intent by the Senate authors of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization, determined that the 50 percent showing of interest standard should apply to agents who have been waiting for seven months for their lawful, democratic vote.

American Airlines and the court continue to willfully misrepresent federal aviation law. In correspondence with American Airlines CEO Thomas Horton, Senators Reid, Rockefeller and Harkin made clear that retroactivity did not apply, and addressed this specific petition in their discussion on the Senate floor. Judge Means is ignoring these statements, but he cannot change the facts.

Agents have been denied their democratic right to vote, now by a District Court Judge. This is a travesty in a country that prides itself on democratic tradition.

Here in America we're taught to respect democracy and our right to vote. Sadly, the court's decision today is an attack on the rights of these average Americans, agents who just want the opportunity to participate in a democratic election.

Rally for the American Dream Sends Message to AT&T

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4. AT&T_Rally

CWA members and union allies came from across California to rally on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento and to "Fight for the American Dream."




CWA Local 6355 Wins Health Care for Foster Care Workers

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Willene Young of Local 6355 holds just signed-law that gives health care access to foster care parents who help children with special needs.




Foster care providers in Missouri who provide specialized foster care to children with intense medical, behavioral or psychological needs now will be covered by the state employee health insurance plan, thanks to a legislative campaign by CWA Local 6355.

Local 6355 President Bradley Harmon said CWA activists worked hard to get the measure passed. The local's United Foster Parents of Missouri unit has been working with foster parents throughout the state, and hundreds of union members contacted members of the General Assembly about the measure. HB 1576 passed with overwhelming support in both houses of the General Assembly.

CWA 6355 Foster Care Area Representative Tracey Miller said members were "elated" at Governor Jay Nixon's decision to sign the bill into law. "United Foster Parents of Missouri will continue to push the General Assembly to provide Missouri's foster care providers and the children they serve with the necessary resources to help Missouri's most vulnerable kids," she said.

UFPM Member and career foster care provider Willene Young said, "This is going to make a real difference in my life, right away, and it wouldn't have happened without the collective effort of all of our union members who called and wrote their elected officials and lobbied in-person in Jefferson City. There is power in numbers, and this law is proof," she said.

Miller had reached out to one of the key chairpersons who himself was becoming a foster parent. Foster care providers are required to have a special license to care for children with special needs and can't hold another job.

Bradley said the local had been organizing foster care workers since 2009. "We've been building on the model of the University of Tennessee campus workers, who have a dynamic union even though they don't have collective bargaining rights. We're working toward recognition and a contract, but don't expect that any time soon. We really appreciate the support of our vice president, Claude Cummings, in this campaign and all our work. Not every union would embrace this approach, but CWA has given us full support."

Activists Take on 'NAFTA on Steroids'

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This was the message in Dallas, as union members and allies protested secret negotiations for a new mega trade deal, TPP. Negotiators should expect to see more demonstrations at the San Diego session next week.




CWA, environmental and consumer allies are gearing up for the next round of negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a mega-trade deal that so far is being negotiated in secrecy and threatens more U.S. jobs and our environment.

Trade negotiators will meet in San Diego, July 2-10, but just as in Dallas last month, they'll face a strong turnout by activists from CWA, the Sierra Club, Citizens Trade Campaign, Public Citizen and others who oppose the deal because of the lack of transparency, accountability and public access to the proposals being discussed.

The trade deal is sometimes called "NAFTA on steroids," because if ratified, it will be the biggest free trade agreement in the world. Check out this video that talks about why this trade deal is a corporate tool of the 1 percent.

"The 1% has total access to all negotiating documents, while the 99% is shut out. This is not what democracy looks like," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "The 1% will lower labor standards and eliminate environmental safeguards, further chaining our economy to that of Vietnam which has one of the worst labor rights records in the world. It's important to negotiate a trade agreement that protects U.S. workers and our environment."

The US Trade Representative has given some 600 corporate lobbyists and representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce regular online access to the TPP negotiating drafts as "cleared advisors," but continues to block and restrict access to members of Congress and the public.

This week, 133 Members of Congress delivered a letter to United States Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk pressing him to support transparency and openness in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Read the letter here (pdf).

Supreme Court Rejects Limits on Corporate Money in Politics

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This week's 5-4 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Citizens United decision, declaring that the state of Montana cannot restrict unlimited spending by corporations and other groups in elections.

Many advocates of democracy and good government had hoped the Supreme Court would see the Montana case as an opportunity to revisit and revise the 2010 Citizens United decision that has allowed hundreds of millions of dollars, from mainly secret donors, to influence public elections. In the Wisconsin recall elections, just three billionaires gave more money to Gov. Scott Walker than his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, raised in the entire campaign.

But the Court's five justices who brought us Citizens United haven't changed their thinking.

The government of Montana, citing a 1912 statute, attempted to restore true democracy to election and political spending by restricting spending by corporations and other organizations that has spiraled out of control following "Citizens United." But the justices refused to even hear the case, American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock.

CWA agrees with Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, who earlier this year said, the Citizens United decision makes "it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations 'do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.'"

CWA will continue to fight for constitutional changes and other changes such as public financing of elections that will restore true democracy to our political and election spending.

AFA-CWA Urges Passage of Protections Against Domestic Violence

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AFA-CWA President Veda Shook calls for passage of the expanded Violence Against Women Act.




At a Capitol Hill news conference, AFA-CWA President Veda Shook called on Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act now.

"We need to pass comprehensive, expansive reauthorization that expands protections to all victims of domestic violence; female, male, gay, bisexual, transgender, Native American and immigrants. Now is not the time to roll back current law and deny coverage to any victim," she said.

Flight Attendants have been calling their senators and representatives, urging them to take action before summer recess.

Since 1994, when this law was first adopted, there has been bipartisan cooperation and a real understanding of just how important these protections are to millions of people who face abuse. But some Republican Senators are holding up the bill because they don't like the bipartisan improvements that have been added.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), one of the bill's principal sponsors along with Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), has said "you cannot say that we will seek to stop domestic violence but only for certain people."

Five CWAers Win Union Plus Scholarships

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Union Plus, which has been providing scholarships to union members and their families for 20 years, has announced that this year, five winners representing CWA have been selected: one CWA member and four family members of CWAers.

Teresa Albano and her husband both are members of TNG-CWA Local 34071 in Chicago, Ill. Teresa was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to help her reach her dream of completing the college education she began more than 30 years ago. Throughout her working life, Teresa has "participated in many picket lines, strikes, marches and rallies, door-knocking and phone banks."

Clarissa Lin's mother, Carmela Ip, is a member of CWA Local 1040 in Belle Mead, N.J. Clarissa has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship and plans to study biology and become a doctor. Clarissa says her mother's CWA membership meant that her mother could earn a fair wage without working long into the night. "The union is the one responsible for creating my tight-knit family."

Fiona Chalmers, whose father John is a member of CWA Local 1101, has been awarded a $500 scholarship. Coming from a union family in Brewster, N.Y., her mother is a member of SEIU Fiona plans to earn a degree in education and teach in an underprivileged area, and become a proud union member herself.

Alexis Smith's father Richard is a member of CWA Local 2106, in Delmar, Del. She has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Alexis has been a longtime community volunteer who believes, like her father, that a union is "like having a full-time warrior fighting on my team for justice and equality." She plans to become a pharmacist.

Spencer Wilson, whose father Kevin is a member of CWA Local 59051, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Growing up in Walnut Creek, Calif., Spencer learned from his father that caring for others was a big part of what unions do, and he's put that into action as a longtime Boy Scout and volunteer at a camp for special needs children. He plans to study electrical engineering.

It's not too soon to think about applying for a scholarship for the 2013 academic year. Click here for more information (pdf).

Union Plus and Union Privilege, created by the AFL-CIO in 1986, use the collective buying power of unions to offer home mortgages, health care savings, legal assistance and other discounted products and services exclusively to working families. This year's scholarship program awarded grants to 129 students representing 44 unions.

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