Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWA Union Hall Call on August 2

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Join the next CWA telephone town hall on Thursday, Aug. 2, at 7 pm ET to hear the status of Verizon contract bargaining and what's at stake one year after its expiration. Click here to register.

CWA Mourns District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen

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Seth Rosen was first elected and sworn in as District 4 vice president in 2005.

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CWA District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen tragically drowned last Friday while vacationing in North Carolina. He was 55.

Rosen died hours after negotiating a tentative agreement for 15,000 CWA members at AT&T Midwest, and District 4's bargaining team worked all night to wrap up the settlement that provides for wage increases, improvements in employment security and retiree protection. The bargaining committee was determined to finalize a fair agreement to honor Rosen and his lifetime of work on behalf of CWA members.

"Seth was a giant in our movement, the deeply loved vice-president of District 4 for the last seven years, a member there for thirty or more years." CWA President Larry Cohen wrote in a letter to members. "But every day for him was like he was still a steward in 4309 — service, leadership, commitment, a volunteer. For decades, no matter his position, he did everything we do in CWA — phenomenal organizing, breakthrough political and community work, and, through his last day, negotiations and representation."

Rosen's passion to help workers gain a voice on the job could been seen not only at CWA, but also in his work with Stand Up For Ohio, Jobs with Justice and Policy Matters Ohio. As news of his death spread, hundreds of friends, supporters and allies flooded Facebook with stories of him rocking the bullhorn at rallies, leading jam sessions and mentoring young union leaders.

"He knew how to size up your heart and mind and then grab hold of it in the service of our shared vision for a just world," wrote SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

"Seth valued people in a way that few do," wrote Kirk Noden, executive director of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. "He didn't need a fancy system to tell him that the most important thing in front of him was the people around him — the workers he represented, the staff he supervised, his labor colleagues, his family, his band, down to the person he'd meet in a crowd. He was on time and he was present for every conversation because he deeply cared about us. There was nothing more important than you when you were with Seth. They say that good organizers believe in people...Seth believed in us and he loved us."

"Seth Rosen was a steadfast advocate for social and economic justice and a tireless voice for workers," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). "His advocacy helped thousands of Americans secure fair pay and benefits for their hard work and his collaborative abilities helped strengthen the labor movement."

At this year's CWA legislative political conference, Rosen told attendees, "We just don't get attacked, we fight back."

Rosen himself was a scrappy guy who spent his entire career fighting for workers' rights.

In 2005, Rosen was elected vice president of District 4, representing 50,000 members in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin — battlegrounds for the most brutal attacks on workers' rights. Though his leadership, progressives were able to defeat Ohio's infamous Senate Bill 5, which limited collective bargaining. He played a pivotal role in shaping the direction of campaigns and keeping unity in both Ohio and Wisconsin — yet much of his work is uncredited, as it went on quietly behind the scenes through countless face-to-face meetings and phone calls, said friends. He was a risk taker who never wavered in the fight to build a new movement for good jobs and strong communities.

"We couldn't have been better positioned to have a guy like Seth lead CWA at the onset of these attacks," said Jeff Rechenbach, who preceded Rosen as District 4's vice president.

Rosen was a "Renaissance man, great musician, brilliant strategist, political savant" who could have done anything he set his mind to, Rechenbach added. "Fortunate for the labor movement, he set his mind to promoting the cause of workers' rights."

Prior to becoming vice president, he served as administrative director to Rechenbach, coordinating the union's organizing, mobilization and Jobs with Justice program in his district. More than 14,000 workers in new units were organized during the fifteen years that Rosen coordinated the District 4 organizing program.

Rosen helped form the Cleveland Jobs with Justice Workers' Rights Board in 1993 and the National Jobs with Justice Workers' Rights Board in 2004.

He chaired the CWA Executive Board Committee on Organizing, as well as the board of directors of Policy Matters Ohio. Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland appointed him to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Nominating Council, where Rosen served from 2007 to 2010.

Before joining CWA's international staff in 1989, Rosen was an officer, chief steward and steward of CWA Local 4309, while employed by the Ohio Bell Telephone Company.

A musician, Rosen played guitar and mandolin with the Sethro Quartet and Gene's Jazz Hot. Cleveland's Barking Spider Tavern hosted a "musicians' memorial" in his honor Tuesday night.

All of CWA join his wife Kathi, daughter Amanda and son Josh in mourning the loss of a great union leader and a great man. CWA has established the Seth Rosen Organizing Fund, which will be reserved for purposes greater than those we otherwise fund, at workplaces and in our communities. Any local or individual wishing to donate can send a check payable to the Seth Rosen Organizing Fund, c/o CWA Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hill, 501 Third Street, NW, Washington D.C. 20001.

Linda Hinton Sworn in as District 4 Vice President

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CWA President Larry Cohen swears in Linda Hinton as District 4 vice president.

 

 

 

 

CWA President Larry Cohen this week swore in Linda Hinton as the new District 4 vice president. Cohen recommended and the Executive Board approved the appointment of Hinton following the tragic death of Seth Rosen, who had served as vice president since 2005.

Hinton, 60, has served as assistant to Rosen since 2005. She has served the union in many capacities over the years, most recently directing the district's legislative and political programs and building a strong movement of workers and allies throughout the Midwest, most recently, the Stand Up for Ohio coalition. District 4 covers about 50,000 CWA members in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The swearing-in took place in Cleveland; CWA local union leaders and staff were attending the contract explanation meeting about the tentative agreement reached July 20 with AT&T Midwest.

CWA District 4 and T/T Reach Tentative Deals with AT&T Units

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CWA District 4 and the Telecommunications and Technologies Sector last week reached tentative agreements in their respective negotiations with AT&T Midwest and AT&T Legacy. Summaries of the tentative agreements are posted at www.cwaatatt.com.

CWA members and leaders across all districts continue to support bargaining that is continuing in District 9 with AT&T West and Local 1298 with AT&T East. The contract covering CWA members in District 3 with AT&T Southeast expires Aug. 4.

In District 4 — covering about 15,000 CWA members at AT&T operations in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin — the bargaining team reached a tentative three-year agreement that provides for wage increases, improvements in employment security and retiree protection. Workers also won limits on forced overtime and changes to unfair attendance policies.

CWA T/T Vice President Ralph Maly noted that Seth Rosen, CWA's vice president for District 4, would have said that "we achieved our goal of a net gain when considering pay, health care and employment security."

CWA members at AT&T Legacy, representing about 5,500 workers at locations nationwide, also will see real improvements in jobs, job security and pensions, in addition to wage gains, under a separate tentative agreement finalized last Saturday, said Maly.

All the CWA districts and sectors have worked together and supported each other in the fight for good health care, retirement security, good wages and everything that makes up the American Dream.

Separate negotiations are continuing with AT&T West, where 18,000 CWA members throughout California and Nevada are mobilizing and supporting bargaining, and with AT&T East in Connecticut, where 4,000 members of CWA Local 1298, members of District 1, are standing together for a fair contract. The 24,000 District 3 members throughout the Southeast are keeping up their mobilization efforts as the clock ticks down to the Aug. 4 contract expiration.

121 Lawmakers Tell American Airlines to Obey the Law

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American Airline's 10,000 passenger service agents are entitled to choose for themselves whether or not they are represented by a union, 121 members of Congress told CEO Tom Horton in a strongly worded letter Monday.

The letter clearly states that Congress did not intend to retroactively enforce a new law that requires 50 percent of employees to show interest in union representation before the National Mediation Board can schedule an election — shooting down the key argument currently blocking the vote.

The letter cites an exchange between two senators during debate on the legislation regarding this specific issue:

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa): "Am I correct that the showing of interest requirement set forth in this legislation should only apply prospectively and should not apply to any application for representation pending at the time of the effective date of the legislation?"

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.): "Yes."

The law had passed in February. At that time, CWA, on behalf of agents, had already petitioned for an election date the previous December, and the NMB used the original threshold — 35 percent of employees expressing interest — when it called for a vote starting on May 17.

But American Airlines has since used every tactic possible to stop workers from voting. First the airline refused to provide the names and addresses of employees so they could receive their ballots. So CWA made its own labels, which the NMB accepted and rescheduled the delayed election to begin on June 21.

Then American Airlines filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth to block the election, and Judge Terry Means recently agreed that the 50 percent rule was in effect.

"We are disappointed that you sought a legal injunction instead of proceeding with the union representation election once the statutory requirements for holding that election were met by the Passenger Service Agents," members of Congress wrote. They added, "We are confident that congressional intent on this issue is clear, despite the recent showing by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Means."

The Justice Department has appealed the district court's decision and further appeals court proceedings are scheduled for October.

The full text of the lawmakers' letter can be found here.

Tell American Airlines to stop squashing their employees' right to vote by writing your own letter here.

Cohen, Solis Rally Workers To Bring Jobs Home

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CWA President Larry Cohen rallies activists in San Francisco in a call to bring jobs home.

 

 

 

 

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and CWA President Larry Cohen on Tuesday rallied California labor activists around one simple message: Bring Jobs Home!

Protesters flooded San Francisco's Union Square to call on Congress to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

"It's not just manufacturing jobs that are outsourced...it's all of our jobs, anything they can move, they move," Cohen said. "In five years, 500,000 call center jobs were moved out of this country."

CWAer Christina Huggins, an AT&T technician, told the California Labor Federation's blog that the company downsized her five-building complex to just one floor.

"When we look at our internal directory at AT&T, we see all of our jobs are now in Slovakia, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in Manila — all of these workers with the titles of what we used to do," she said. "And those were all good-paying, union jobs with pensions."

The rally was just one of many events around the country highlighting the AFL-CIO's Bring Jobs Home campaign.

Over the past decade, more than 50,000 manufacturing sites closed and 6 million American manufacturing jobs were lost to offshoring. More than 500,000 call-center jobs have also been shipped out of the country.

Last week, a majority of senators voted in favor of the Bring Jobs Home Act — legislation that would close the loophole allowing outsourcers to still be eligible for tax breaks and provide incentives to companies that bring good jobs back from overseas. The bill failed to get the 60-vote "super majority" needed to break a Republican filibuster and move the bill to the Senate floor. The final vote was 56-42.

But California is currently considering AB 2508, which would ensure that all call centers for public services, such as CalWorks, are staffed only with workers employed in California.

Workers Sway Lawmakers on Verizon Wireless/Big Cable Deal

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CWAers rally outside of Rep. Steve Israel’s campaign kickoff and call out the congressman for not standing up for good hometown jobs.

Below: Strong feelings about Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) not joining his fellow lawmakers in expressing serious concerns about the Verizon Wireless – Big Cable deal.

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Can you hear us now? Verizon workers spent weeks urging New York Democratic Reps. Steve Israel and Carolyn McCarthy to fight the proposed monopolistic deal between Verizon Wireless and Big Cable.

They didn't hear a peep.

But after two big rallies outside Israel's offices, the congressman is now pledging his support to save workers' jobs. And so is McCarthy.

"We've got to hold our friends accountable," said Mike Gendron, executive vice president of CWA Local 1108.

Earlier this month, Gendron had repeatedly reached out to both lawmakers, asking them to sign a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski citing concerns about the venture's impact on consumers in their districts and across the country. Under the proposed agreement, Verizon Wireless and major cable companies will jointly market each other's products — allowing them to offer a "quadruple play" of video, internet access, voice, and wireless service that would subsequently eliminate competition, kill 72,000 jobs, lead to higher prices and deepen the digital divide between cities and wealthy suburbs.

CWA didn't know where Israel or McCarthy stood until they refused to join 32 members of Congress in calling on the FCC to make certain that the final agreement follows the requirements of the 1996 Telecommunications Act and preserves competition.

So CWAers rallied outside of Israel's regional office last week, demanding that the congressman explain himself. When they didn't get a response, 200 activists staged another demonstration at Israel's campaign kickoff last Sunday, lining Old Country Road with red shirts and protest signs.

That finally got their attention. Gendron and other local labor leaders met with Israel that very Sunday afternoon to talk things over. Then McCarthy's office came calling.

"It's amazing what a little pushback can do for you," Gendron said.

CWA Study: Verizon Wireless/Big Cable Deal is a Job Killer

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A new CWA report finds that the proposed deal between Verizon Wireless and big cable companies will cost workers and communities as many as 72,000 lost jobs if approved. Read the full report here.

The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing the deal that would allow Verizon Wireless and companies including Time Warner and Comcast to sell each other's products, thereby eliminating competition.

To safeguard jobs and protect the interests of consumers and communities, CWA is calling on regulators to: 1) prohibit Verizon Wireless and the cable companies from cross-marketing in Verizon's landline footprint, 2) require Verizon to build the state-of-the-art fiber optic FiOS network to 95% of Verizon households in existing markets and increase FiOS buildout in rural and low-income areas, and 3) ensure that Verizon Wireless and other cable companies are not able to lock out competitors.

Verizon has made it clear that it will not follow through with an expansion of its FiOS service to customers and communities that do not currently have access to it. Despite the fact that FiOS is profitable for Verizon, CEO Lowell McAdam said that the company plans to stop its buildout of FiOS television and Internet services in the next several years and "wind down the FiOS spend."

But if Verizon were to build out its network, about 72,000 new jobs would be created, the CWA report found. Job growth would be concentrated in eight Eastern states and Washington D.C.

Some previous assessments by the FCC of the impact of mergers and other deals on jobs haven't held up. The FCC failed to fully consider how the AT&T/T-Mobile USA merger would positively affect jobs. Regulators did not approve that merger, and last month, T-Mobile USA shut down seven call centers, affecting the jobs of 3,300 workers while it continues to offshore work to Asia and Central America. In this case, regulators' analysis was flawed.

CWA District 6 Mobilizes for 2012 Election

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Gearing up for the national and state races around the country, CWA District 6 leaders gathered in Oklahoma City last week to kick off their political action program.

"The takeaway is how important the political and legislative part of CWA is for our growth and our continued growth," CWA Local 6128 President Darlene Kirchgessner told the 52 representatives attending the training. "If we don't have that, we don't get people in place to help the labor movement. We have to get our members on board with that."

State coordinators talked about what's at stake in 2012, outlining key races and ballot measures for CWA. During a skill building session, attendees practiced the best ways to sign up volunteers and approach members about donating to CWA's political action fund. There was a workshop on the long-term and permanent infrastructure of the LPAT program. Participants also watched and discussed two films — "The Heist" and "Citizens United" — about the attacks on workers and democracy.

"We really focused on how difficult this is going to be," said Sylvia J. Ramos, assistant to the vice president in District 6. "Four out of our five states are red. This isn't going happen overnight. It's going to take constant member outreach, member education."

Representatives came from all over, including Texas state employees, Missouri state employees, CenturyLink, IUE, Lucent and AT&T. District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings and CWA National Political Director Rafael Navar were also in attendance.

At the end of the day, each person shared what they learned and what they would commit to do going forward. Leaders are now brainstorming creative ways to organize PAC drive ideas, leaflet and support AFL-CIO-endorsed candidates in Texas's runoff election next week.

"Everyone walked away with a really positive outlook and pumped up go back to their locals to work on PAC drives," said Kara Hutchason, state coordinator for CWA Local 6316.

ver.di Leader: AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile Like Night and Day

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TU and CWA activists in Albuquerque are joined by ver.di leader Lothar Schröder, left.

Below: Demonstration outside the Albuquerque call center calls on T-Mobile USA management to bring back good jobs.

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This past month, Lothar Schröder, Executive Board Member of ver.di, the German union representing over 2 million workers, including those at T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom, has been traveling to T-Mobile locations throughout the United States, meeting with T-Mobile USA workers and the CWA activists who are helping them get a union voice.

He also observed the stark differences between the two companies: AT&T Mobility remains neutral in organizing campaigns and T-Mobile USA uses fear and intimidation to stop workers from having a union.

Schröder held numerous offsite meetings with T-Mobile employees in Nashville, Wichita, and Albuquerque. In all three locations, he heard workers talk of management intimidation around job metrics, on-the-job surveillance and imposed scheduling, as well as harassing calls made by managers to workers' homes about family and medical leave. (One worker had MS, another, a premature baby.) Outside the call centers, workers were convinced that they were under surveillance and many were reluctant to talk long.

Schröder then traveled to an AT&T Mobility Retail Store in Metairie, La., where the workers are represented by CWA and he had no problem meeting with a dozen employees in the break room to talk about the benefits of collective bargaining. That was a stark contrast to T-Mobile USA management, which refused to let Schröder in to any T-Mobile facility, despite his standing as the second ranking official in T-Mobile USA's parent company. A T-Mobile "spokesperson" called Schröder a "third party."

Workers Stand for America Rally

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Tens of thousands of workers will unite next month in Philadelphia — the birthplace of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — to demand economic freedom and opportunity for all.

Activities kick off Friday night, Aug. 10, at Independence Hall, where national labor leaders will be signing the Second Bill of Rights. Inspired by President Franklin Roosevelt's proposed 1944 economic bill of rights, union leaders drafted 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 following morning, Aug. 11, thousands of CWA and IBEW activists and allies will rally in front of Verizon's local headquarters 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 main event: a rally for working families. Timed to preempt both the Democratic and Republican national conventions, the "Workers Stand for America" event aims to be a conversation changer, redirecting partisan squabbling toward a serious discussion on restoring the American dream for the next generation.

In the coming days, CWA will be encouraging its allies and politicians on both sides of the aisle to attend the rally and sign the Second Bill of Rights.

For more information visit http://www.workersstandforamerica.com/.

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.

Save the Date: CWA Customer Service Professionals Conference

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CWA Customer Service Professionals will meet Oct. 14-17 in St. Louis. Call center and customer service workers from every CWA District, Sector and Division will participate. Click here for registration information.

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