Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

AT&T Bargaining Updates

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CWAers from Local 3403 do informational picketing as bargaining gets underway with AT&T Southeast.

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Members of Local 1298 fight to hold on to the American Dream.

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CWAers from Telecommunications and Technologies rally for fair contract at AT&T.

 

 

 

CWAers listening to the AT&T national call this week heard updates on the status of bargaining for the five contracts — AT&T East, AT&T Legacy, AT&T Midwest, AT&T West and AT&T Southeast. The nearly 7,000 CWAers also got new reports about escalating mobilization and asked questions about key issues for members and their families.

For the latest updates, go to www.cwaatatt.com.

Vice Presidents Chris Shelton, D1; Ralph Maly, Telecommunications and Technologies; Seth Rosen, D4; Jim Weitkamp, D9, and Judy Dennis, D3, reported on the specifics of their contract talks. All agreed that the goal of all five negotiations continues to be that when the complete contract package is added up, that every member will be better off at the end of the contract than he or she was at the beginning.

Chris Shelton: "Every one of our bargaining teams has worked hard to bargain with this company. In the East, Local 1298 has done an outstanding job; it's the company that is dragging its feet. Members must mobilize; we can't let down our guard now."

Ralph Maly: "Members' mobilization has made a huge difference and is critical to our success in getting a fair contract. The T/T bargaining committee continues to work and has made progress in some key areas, including our cash balance account, national transfer plan and other programs. We're also determined to maintain the Alliance and other programs that the company had tried to eliminate. We still have economic issues yet to be resolved and I know that mobilization will make this happen. We also will continue to work in coordinated effort with Districts 1, 4 and 9 to get the contract that addresses the concerns of all our members."

Seth Rosen: "We're making meaningful progress on a broad range of concerns including employment security, overtime, scheduling, attendance, justice on the job and more. However we still have major issues unresolved including: wages, health care, pensions and successorship. For nearly five months we have worked closely together across Districts and T/T and have made significant progress together. We started with different contracts and will end with different contracts, and thus don't make the same agreements at the same time. That is how CWA democracy works."

Jim Weitkamp: "We continue to face very hard bargaining, especially when it comes to wages, medical benefits and pensions. We need major movement by the company on all these and prem tech issues as well. We're dealing with a very rich, powerful and arrogant company and we've been bargaining for more than four months. At the end of the day, the agreements we all reach will have some differences but overall, will be an improvement for members and their families."

Judy Dennis: "Bargaining in District 3 has just begun, but we're coordinating with all the districts and there is lots of communication happening."

Mobilizers from each district reported on the latest actions:

  • In D1, most recently, members of Local 1298 leafleted at local baseball games and held actions at AT&T retailers.
  • Telecommunications/Technologies members from Local 6450 leafleted at this week's Major League Baseball All-Star game in Kansas City; other activists were spreading the word outside the AT&T sponsored golf tournament and in organizing actions at retailers.
  • D4 reported that training 1,000 activists before bargaining even started really paid off, with mobilization and solidarity actions underway weekly throughout the district.
  • In D9, members are taking the fight everywhere, with a huge rally at the state Capitol and actions at the gymnastics trials for the U.S. Olympics.

CWA President Larry Cohen wrapped up the call, pointing out that key to winning this fight was "our ability, across our union, to support each other. Unity means we respect the autonomy of each group, and we will support each other in our fight for health care, for pensions, for good wages, all the things that make up the American Dream."

CWA Verizon Techs Work Overtime to Repair Storm Damage

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Verizon technicians, members of CWA locals across Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, have been racing to restore service to the Mid-Atlantic region after a series of fatal, power-cutting thunderstorms.

"They're working every day, 12 to 16 hours a day," said Naomi Bolden, Roanoke area vice president of CWA Local 2204.

The night after violent storms devastated the area — knocking down trees, poles and wires — crews hit the streets early the next morning to clean up the wreckage and replace electronics. And they have been pulling extended shifts since, replacing 163 poles and re-hanging about 900 downed lines across the region.

Customers have pulled their cars over to say thank you to technicians working on the sides of roads. Some have been offered them food and drink as temperatures soared into the triple digits.

"People have been really thankful," Bolden said.

Verizon has said nice things about CWA members too, praising workers for being on the job for 12 hours-plus daily in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees to bring service back for our customers. But that appreciation stops far short of the bargaining table, where Verizon continues to demand cuts in compensation of at least $10,000 per worker per year and doesn't even think workers deserve a pay raise.

You'd never know that by watching VeriGreedy's PR, however. Verizon is all too happy to boast about the tireless efforts of CWA members who are getting the job done.

"I called Verizon last night and told them the situation and the guys are here today," said Jeffrey Morrison, a Verizon customer in the company's YouTube video of crews restoring service in northern Virginia on July 4. "I was half expecting it to take two to three days, but it took 12 hours, which I think is phenomenal given the magnitude of what's happened over the last week or so."

Service is almost back to normal in the Washington metropolitan area, and crews are now venturing into areas previously unreachable because of downed power lines.

But Verizon now faces two investigations into why 2.3 million Northern Virginia residents lost emergency 911 services for up to four days after the thunderstorm. The Virginia State Corporation Commission and the Federal Communications Commission are both looking into how backup systems failed at the company's main 911 regional facility in Arlington, Va.

The malfunctioning 911 hub also took out landline and wireless phones; people relying on FiOS or cable connections couldn't make or receive calls, and text messaging was unreliable. So local officials told residents that if they had an emergency, they should walk to the nearest fire house or hail a passing police car, The Washington Post reported.

Seems like VeriGreedy has some explaining to do.

Workers Know: There's No More Mr. Nice T-Mobile

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A Carly lookalike rides into the Washington, DC action.

 

 

 

 

This week, AFL-CIO and Jobs with Justice activists, plus supporters throughout the union movement, are holding actions at T-Mobile USA retail stores across the country as part of the AFL-CIO's "America Wants to Work Campaign."

Activists are leafleting customers outside the stores, and at each location, a delegation will go inside to meet with the local manager. The message to management: we need to keep good jobs here in the U.S. and end T-Mobile USA's intimidation of workers who want a union voice.

Last month, T-Mobile USA closed seven call centers, affecting 3,300 workers and their communities. Meanwhile, the company continues to send thousands of jobs overseas, a move that puts extreme pressure on U.S. customer service representatives who have to resolve tough customer issues in just 477 seconds or face discipline. T-Mobile USA received more than $14 million in taxpayer funded economic development subsidies in four of the seven communities where it shut down call centers.

T-Mobile USA management is fighting to block laid off workers from receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance, a government program that helps workers who lose their jobs to unfair trade practices and work moving offshore. CWA has filed for workers to receive these benefits, which include extended unemployment insurance, health care coverage, job training and other pluses.

Today, activists In Washington, D.C., made sure that T-Mobile USA workers know that there's "no more Mr. Nice T-Mobile," despite the company's advertising and empty promises. A Carly lookalike (aka Julia Kann, assistant mobilizer for the DC Labor Council) rode into the action on the back of a motorcycle, calling for T-Mobile to bring jobs back home. Dressed in hot pink, she urged people to text "save jobs" to 69866 to oppose offshoring.

On the Road to Workers' Rights at T-Mobile USA

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Below: Lothar Schröder of ver.di leaflets in Nashville.

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With the help of ver.di leaders Lothar Schröder and Constantin Greve, CWAers are reaching out to T-Mobile USA workers across the country in an organizing blitz.

ver.di is the German union representing more than 2 million workers, including workers at Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile. In Germany, Deutsche Telekom brags about its social compact and support for workers' rights, but it has allowed T-Mobile USA management to wage a campaign of fear and intimidation against workers who want a union voice. Schröder and Greve are spending their personal vacation time in this campaign to help T-Mobile USA workers get their union.

Arriving in Washington in late June, Schröder and Greve met with U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), and did several media interviews. In New York, they met with T-Mobile USA retail store workers.

First stop this week was Nashville, where the temperature hit 100 degrees. Organizers covered the three entrances to the call center and provided leaflets and answers to workers going to the T-Mobile USA call center.

In meetings and home visits, T-Mobile USA activists from Nashville told of workers being humiliated by supervisors, fired for trivial reasons and dealing with stress caused by management intimidation. T-Mobile USA customer service representatives must fix a customer's problem within 477 seconds, that's less than eight minutes, or face disciplinary action. But as more calls are sent overseas to calls centers in the Philippines and Central America, where workers follow simple scripts and can't resolve any customer complaints, it becomes that much harder for U.S. workers to resolve the often lengthy and difficult concerns a customer raises.

Today, Schröder is in Hartford, Conn., joining the TU-CWA bargaining team. Bargaining for the unit of 16 technicians has dragged on for more than 10 months, with T-Mobile USA management determined to stall negotiations. Schröder noted that "It had not been possible to reach an agreement regarding even the simplest things such as the installation of a bulletin board for union information or the provision of the technicians with the tools necessary for their work. The expensive attorney (management has hired) likely had cost Deutsche Telekom more money than all the demands CWA has been bargaining for. This borders on the absurd," he said.

Schröder says he is shocked by during the first few days of his visit. "There is a climate of fear because of totally insecure working conditions, constant fear to be dismissed without any reason, lack of employment contracts and lack of collective agreements. Workers need help and they need support, they need a voice at the workplace and a strong union to protect and represent them." Schröder is appealing to the Deutsche Telekom Executive Management Board to abandon immediately the politics of fear and infringement of workers' rights. "We expect better," is his demand to the Group CEO René Obermann.

Next stops: Wichita, Albuquerque and New Orleans.

Follow the campaign at www.weworkbettertogether.com.

Pennsylvania State Training: What’s on the Line in 2012

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Some 20 CWA local union activists participated in CWA’s 2012 Political Training kick off in Pennsylvania, with two activists from the Transport Workers Union joining in. State coordinator Donnie Engelmann, Local 13000, opened the session that reviewed CWA’s political program and exactly what’s one on the line for workers in the 2012 elections. CWA Senior Director Yvette Herrera, Political Director Rafael Navar, and Jimmy Tarlau, assistant to the D2-13 vice president, were among presenters.

Save the Date: Workers Stand for America Rally on Aug. 11

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Union leaders today launched a national campaign refocus America's agenda on rebuilding economic opportunity for all.

The campaign, "Workers Stand for America," kicks off with two major events. The first is a rally on Aug. 11 in Philadelphia that will bring together tens of thousands of workers to focus attention on jobs and the needs of working men and women -- the country's economic engine.

The second is what leaders are calling the "Second Bill of Rights," which will be presented to delegates at both the DNC and RNC conventions. Inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt's proposed 1944 economic bill of rights, it has five planks: The right to full employment and a living wage; the right to full participation in the electoral process; the right to a voice at work; the right to a quality education; and the right to a secure, healthy future.

"The voices of working families will be heard in the birthplace of American democracy, at the convention and beyond. And we're asking elected officials, leaders on both side of the aisle and people around the country to stand with us," said CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney. "We're determined to create economic growth and prosperity for all — not just the elite few."

Activities in Philadelphia kick off on Friday night, Aug. 10, at Independence Hall where national labor leaders will be signing the Second Bill of Rights.

On Saturday morning, thousands of CWA and IBEW activists and allies will rally in front of Verizon at 9th and Race Streets in support of the 45,000 Verizon workers who continue to fight for a fair contract.

Activists will then march to Eakins Oval, a large park in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where they'll join the crowd rallying for working families.

CWA locals are reaching out to allies to build even more support at the rally, said CWA Local 13000 Vice President Mike Davis.

In a letter to national and international union presidents, AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka asked for help mobilizing and spreading the word about Aug. 11, an "opportunity to connect the faces of ordinary Americans to the basic issues affecting working people in our country."

"Are you with us?" asked Trumka at a media conference at the National Press Club, inviting elected officials on both sides of the aisle to join. "Are you with the American people?"

 

For more information visit www.workersstandforamerica.com/.

Dayton Newspaper Guild a Model for Solidarity, Determination

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Members of the Dayton Newspaper Guild send a silent but strong message to newspaper management.

 

 

 

Newspaper workers who belong to the independent Springfield Newspapers Editorial Association in Springfield, Ohio voted unanimously to merge with TNG-CWA Local 34157, the Dayton, Ohio Newspaper Guild. The SNEA is a unit of 12 newsroom workers at the Springfield News-Sun; the News-Sun and the Dayton Daily News have the same owner, Cox Media Group. At the Dayton Daily News, TNG-CWA Local 34157 represents more than 90 reporters, photographers, copy editors, web designers and editorial assistants, and about 70 percent of those represented are union members. These members have stood together and stood strong against a management that has worked to bust their union for more than two decades.

Members at that newspaper ratified their last contract nearly 26 years ago, but their solidarity is amazingly strong. Until 2007, the old contract terms remained in place, but then management imposed its terms unilaterally.

This management assault has helped create a different kind of union, one where newspaper activists build community support, hold silent protests during bargaining and aren't afraid to take on management over some very bad decisions. Because there is no dues checkoff, members pay dues using direct deposit from their own accounts and bank drafts.

"We have persevered against amazing odds, against one of the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the country. We have made sure that there are basic rules governing our working conditions that the company can't change at a whim. We haven't won everything, but no one does. Our members have come out ahead of the non-union employees time and time again," said Local President Lou Grieco.

Most recently, DDN workers rallied behind their leaders to protest a comment by the newspaper's editor-in-chief, who called union leadership "short-sighted and selfish" for bringing public attention to the paper's plans to send advertising production work overseas. TNG-CWA members packed an area outside the editors' 4 p.m. news meeting, all holding signs stating "I am a Guild Leader." They took that same message to the bargaining table where management is trying to cut more jobs by replacing professional newsroom workers with freelancers.

More Concerns Raised About Verizon Wireless-Big Cable Deal

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Thirty-two members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski citing concerns about the proposed Verizon Wireless/Big Cable deal's impact on consumers in their districts and across the country. Read the congressional letter here.

The letter calls on the FCC to make certain that the final agreement follows the requirements of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and preserves competition.

The current proposal would eliminate competition by allowing the companies to cross-market products, and this would eliminate or prevent the creation of thousands of jobs, deepen the digital divide between cities and wealthy suburbs, reduce consumer choice and raise prices.

The 32 U.S. Representatives who signed on to the letter are: Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Timothy Bishop (D-NY), Robert Brady (D-PA), Bruce Braley (D-IA), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Sam Farr (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Janice Hahn (D-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Michael Michaud (D-ME), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Pete Stark (D-CA), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).

They join other elected officials and community leaders who have been citing serious concerns about the deal.

Earlier this year, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino detailed the economic dangers of the deal for urban areas in comments to the FCC. The Maryland Chapter of the NAACP filed comments explaining how concentrated power in the industry would put poor and minority communities at further economic disadvantage. Nine mayors of cities in New York State signed on to a letter to the Department of Justice and the FCC, expressing concern that the deal would have a devastating impact on their communities. And on June 13, Representatives Edward J. Markey, one of the authors of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and John Conyers, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, released a letter calling on the FCC and Department of Justice to scrutinize the deal.

Nominate Young Women Leaders for the Edna Award

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Do you know an outstanding young woman leader in the social justice movement? There's still time to nominate her for the Berger-Marks Foundation's $10,000 "Edna" award.

Named for Edna Berger — a women's rights pioneer who started as a Philadelphia Inquirer receptionist and rose to become a writer, editor and the first woman organizer for The Newspaper Guild — the award recognizes "a woman who has made an extraordinary contribution to social justice early in her career" and her ongoing work to "significantly improve the lives of working women and men."

Last year, the foundation honored Ana Maria Archila, a Colombian immigrant who is director of a dynamic grassroots mobilization organization called Make the Road New York, with the first ever award.

"We are excited to continue supporting the important work of young activists like these women," said Linda Foley, president of the Berger-Marks Foundation.

Women up to 35 years old can be nominated through an online application (a short essay, resume and two letters of recommendation) until July 31. Click here or visit www.bergermarks.org for more information. A panel of union, civic and activist leaders will make the final selection and present the award in the fall.

TNG-CWA: End Offshored Journalism

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The Newspaper Guild-CWA Executive Council this week called for an end to deceptive practices of offshored journalism.

Responding to the controversy about a content provider called Journatic cranking out "local" news written in the Philippines under fake bylines, the Guild demanded that newspaper publishers start identifying the actual writers and their locations.

"Guild workers continue to have deep pride in their products, but it appears the owners don't share the same sentiments," the Guild said in a statement. "Many Guild-represented regional papers have been the most trusted news on the internet, even when that content is aggregated elsewhere. We know that has not necessarily brought profitability or a sound business model to the products we work for. But the great hollowing out of American journalism, which now appears to be led by publishers, will deal a death blow to quality and trusted journalism."

This week major newspapers in Chicago, Houston and San Francisco acknowledged they published dozens of these outsourced, fake-bylined items in print or online. The practice was first uncovered by "This American Life," which reported that Journatic was relying on cheap foreign workers to write police blotters, obituaries, real estate news and other stories.

 

 

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