Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWA District 3 Reaches Tentative Contracts with AT&T Southeast

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CWA District 3 has reached tentative agreements with AT&T Southeast, Utilities and Bell South Billing that provide wage increases, improvements in benefits and other contract gains over the three year term. District 3 local presidents will participate in contract explanation meetings next week.

Read more about the tentative settlements at

The bargaining team and Vice President Judy Dennis thanked locals and members for their support and mobilization throughout the tough bargaining session, and said, "We are convinced that our members will be better off at the end of this agreement than they are today and that we made real progress in many areas of the agreement."

District 3 covers about 22,000 CWA members at AT&T operations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Separate negotiations are continuing with AT&T West, covering 18,000 CWA members throughout California and Nevada, and with AT&T East in Connecticut, covering about 3,200 members of CWA Local 1298. (See next story for the latest developments.)

Tentative agreements were reached with CWA District 4, covering 15,000 workers in AT&T Midwest, and with CWA's Telecommunications and Technologies Sector, covering 5,500 workers at AT&T Legacy. Members now are voting on those agreements.

CWA Members Hold Unfair Labor Practice Strikes in D9, D1

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CWA Local 9410 members join ULP strike in San Francisco.


CWAers from Local 9415 in Oakland protest outside AT&T building on Webster Street.


Members of CWA Local 1298 join unfair labor practice strike.




Across California and Nevada, CWA members at AT&T West were off the job for two days this week in an unfair labor practice strike.

So far, the National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against AT&T West in response to two unfair labor practice charges filed, and is reviewing several other charges.

"Contract negotiations are never easy, but when AT&T violates the law, the process really can't work," said CWA District 9 Vice President Jim Weitkamp. CWA represents about 18,000 AT&T West workers.

About 3,200 members of CWA Local 1298 in Connecticut who work at AT&T East also engaged in a two-day unfair labor practice strike.

US Airways Flight Attendants Reach Tentative Agreement

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Flight Attendants reached a tentative agreement late Tuesday night with US Airways that would extend job protections and raise pay.

Under the supervision of the National Mediation Board, three intense mediation sessions successfully led to the tentative deal with management. It now goes to AFA-CWA US Airways members for approval.

"Flight Attendants made clear it had to be 'Our Contract First,' before any new merger. And now Flight Attendants have the opportunity to secure their contract first," said AFA US Airways presidents Roger Holmin and Deborah Volpe. "We appreciate the leadership of the National Mediation Board and especially the skilled oversight of Chairwoman Puchala and Mediator MacKenzie in structuring mediation sessions where the concerns of US Airways Flight Attendants could be addressed. Flight Attendants have contributed to the success of US Airways, positioning our airline for a potential merger with American Airlines. An agreement for US Airways Flight Attendants is essential for the airline to take a positive step forward with its current workers as partners in the process."

AFA-CWA represents more 6,000 US Airways Flight Attendants based in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Charlotte and Phoenix.

Stand Up to Verizon

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Leafleting continues outside Verizon Wireless stores.




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

CWA and IBEW workers will be kicking off the activities with a demonstration at the Verizon building at 900 Race Street.

We will then march to Eakins Oval, in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where we will join more than 30,000 people from all over the country to stand up for the middle class and urge all Americans — especially elected officials — to stand with us. The centerpiece of that push is America's Second Bill of Rights, a list of priorities that we want featured at the Democratic and Republican national conventions. Sign your name by clicking here.

At the rally, Jennifer Travis — a member of Local 13000 and one of 28 CWA members fired by Verizon after last year's strike — will speak out against the outrageous and false allegations that cost her job.

Also on Saturday, D9 members will rally in Oxnard, Calif., to support CWAers and the fair contract fights at Verizon Southwest and Verizon East.

The Philadelphia rally ends a week of action to stand up to Verizon greed.

On Black Monday, customer service representatives wore black armbands and ribbons and displayed black balloons at call centers to draw attention to the excessive discipline that they've experienced over the past year. Members of Local 13500 held a big rally at the Verizon Mega center.

On Retiree Tuesday, Verizon retirees joined current workers at actions throughout the footprint to call attention to the company's outrageous healthcare proposals, which would cost retirees thousands more than they now pay for their healthcare.

Also on Tuesday, Jobs with Justice activists supporting Verizon workers delivered thousands of postcards to the Philadelphia office of Verizon board member and Aramark chairman Joseph Neubauer, calling on him to show leadership and help resolve the contract dispute at Verizon. "Mr. Neubauer and all the members of the board share responsibility for the way Verizon treats its workers," said Justin Harrison, a Splicing Technician and member of CWA Local 13000 in Philadelphia. "It's time that they stand up and take responsibility. My co-workers and I are going to be standing up to Verizon and those who support its job-killing policies today and every day until we win a fair deal."

On Wireless Wednesday, workers and allies took their message to Verizon Wireless customers in leafleting at stores.

On Solidarity Thursday, allies joined Verizon workers at practice pickets and rallies. At the Chesapeake Complex in Silver Spring, Md., CWAers from Local 2108 demonstrated how Verizon is turning its back on workers by standing with their backs to traffic with letters on their shirts spelling out V-E-R-I-Z-O-N. Lots of banners reinforced the message that Verizon is "turning its back on customers and employees."

Tomorrow, Family Friday, Verizon workers will be taking family members and friends to picket lines and rallies to show Verizon just whose future we're fighting for.

Bargaining Update: Verizon Southwest

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CWA Local 6171 members count down to Aug. 11 contract expiration.




Mobilization has been building among members of CWA Local 6171 this week, as workers count down until the Aug. 11 expiration of their contract at Verizon Southwest.

The 1,800 workers at Verizon Southwest are facing the same company attacks on healthcare, retirement and job security and wages as workers at Verizon East have been battling for more than a year.

A town hall call on July 31 updated bargaining and mobilization activities; members can listen to that call here.

Black Monday, when Verizon workers took black balloons to call centers and wore black armbands and ribbons to show their determination to stand up to Verizon's attempt to kill middle-class jobs, was just the start of a week-long mobilization campaign. Verizon Southwest members are standing strong in their fair contract fight.

Watch This Ad, Then Take Action

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CWA's new ad opposing the Verizon-Big Cable deal is on the air in the DC metro area, Pennsylvania and Virginia.




CWA is spreading the word that a deal between Verizon and the nation's largest cable companies will kill thousands of jobs, raise prices for consumers and virtually guarantee that too many communities remain stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Starting today, CWA's latest ad opposing the monopolistic agreement began airing in Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Watch it now.

And members have being adding their voices to the growing chorus of mayors, city council members and lawmakers telling the Federal Communications Commission to stop the deal.

Join the campaign by calling the FCC at 1-800-230-7676.

File a comment electronically through the FCC's website.

And sign your name to CWA's petition to stop the Verizon-Big Cable deal.

Piedmont Agents Sign First Contract

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Piedmont union leaders and airline management sign their first contract.




Piedmont Airlines agents' bargaining committee and airline management met this week to sign their first-ever contract.

Committee members Charmaine Celestine, Abdur Bilal and Dennis Dougherty all traveled to CWA headquarters to seal the deal, which went into effect on Monday. They were joined by Piedmont President Steve Farrow, Human Resources Vice President Michelle Foose and Customer Services Vice President Eric Morgan.

The four and one half year (54 month) contract covers 3,700 agents at 79 stations, providing real improvements in pay, job security and health care benefits, as well an effective grievance and arbitration process.

The terms include:

  • A lump sum signing bonus of 6-8 percent of salary in 2012.
  • A new pay system with guaranteed 4 percent raises and additional increases.
  • A first-ever grievance and arbitration process.
  • Longevity bonuses each year for good attendance.
  • Equity for part-time workers for holiday pay.
  • Job security improvements.


100 CWAers at Piedmont Airlines Join Stewards Training

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Piedmont agents spend the day in CWA stewards training in Charlotte.




One hundred new CWA stewards from 42 different Piedmont Airlines stations attended their first training last week.

Over the course of four days, stewards each attended a day-long training class in Charlotte, where they learned more about the new contract, which went into effect on Monday, and their new role in the workplace. They focused on how to solve problems, union building and signing up coworkers. There are 3,700 CWA-represented agents at Piedmont Airlines.

The group included one employee who was hired just nine months ago, but also agents who have spent the last decade fighting for a union voice. Agents flew in from as far as Arizona and New Mexico.

The training was led by Kate Shaughnessy, CWA education staff representative; Jimmy Tarlau, assistant to the vice president for District 2-13; and Abdur Bilal, a Piedmont agent and longtime activist who helped organize the agents.

"It was quite exhausting — 6 hours a day for 4 days — but I must say it is some of the most rewarding work that I've been involved in doing movement work over the last forty years," said Tarlau.

NAFTA on Steroids? Believe It.

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In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Paul Kirk about the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, CWA President Larry Cohen said the U.S. should "refocus attention on domestic employment and the rights of workers and not just the property interests of the one percent."

Cohen noted that in addition to concerns about workers' rights and jobs, the treatment of data and telecommunications services and the impact on workers across this country has received little attention.

Specifically, CWA is concerned that the approach being taken in these negotiations may "restrict the ability of Congress, the states or local governments to require that electronic or telephonic service providers perform the work locally when deemed in the public interest and make sure that consumers are afforded the ability to make an informed choice regarding the services that are provided to them."

The TPP deal could affect legislation like that introduced by Sen. Robert Casey, S. 3402, and in the House by Reps. Tim Bishop and Dave McKinley, H.R. 3596, to bar companies that move call center jobs offshore from receiving federal loans and grants and give consumers the right to be transferred to a U.S. based call center.

"It should be clear by now that the interests of corporate America are not identical to the overall interests of the U.S., and certainly are not the same as the interests of U.S. workers," Cohen said.

We know that the Trans Pacific Partnership would be a disaster for workers, consumers, and the environment. That's probably why it's being negotiated in secret, with only business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce actually able to read all the proposals. Even members of Congress are denied access. What's up with that?

Slate's David S. Levine describes the debacle:

Imagine being invited to formally offer input on a huge piece of legislation, a proposed international agreement that could cover everything from intellectual property rights on the Internet to access to medicine to investment rights in the agreement's signatory countries. For 10 minutes, you'd be able to say whatever you'd like about the proposed law—good, bad, or indifferent—to everyone involved in the negotiations. But there's a caveat: All of your questions, all of your input, on what may be the most controversial part of the package, would have to be based on a version of the proposed international agreement that was 16 months old. And in that 16-month period, there were eight rounds of negotiations that could have changed any and all of the text to which you had access, but no one could tell you if that version was still accurate.

The next round of talks starts Sept. 6 in Leesburg, Va. CWA, Sierra Club and Citizens Trade Campaign activists will be there, calling for public disclosure and access to what could be the biggest and scariest trade deal ever. Stay tuned.

Telecom Workers, Nurses Join CWA

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More than 100 new members have joined CWA through two recent organizing drives in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Workers at CenturyLink in Chambersburg, Penn., voted 18-10 to join CWA Local 13000. A strong inside committee and hard work by Joe Kopeck, a unit president of Local 13000 who works in the organized unit of CenturyLink, and organizer Dave Hoskowicz helped workers come together.

"We're now getting calls from Hanover, Mount Joy, Carlisle. It's continuing to ripple," said Hoskowicz, who also recently organized CenturyLink employees in Bedford and Martinsburg, Penn. "The goal is to organize the whole state."

In Utica, NY, registered nurses at the Faxton Campus of Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare voted 49-31 to join CWA Local 1126. The nurses were especially motivated by a proposed merger with St. Elizabeth's Hospital and had a strong desire to have a collective voice during the changes that may be coming. Karen Marrotta, vice president of the Local 1126's RN Unit, and Frank Murphy, executive vice president of the Local 1126's Healthcare Unit, coordinated the organizing effort. In the campaign's final stages, Bill Nowak and the District 1 Healthcare Coordinating Council, as well as District Organizing Coordinator Anne Luck-Deak, lent a hand.

Marrotta had been in constant communication with nurses at Faxton since their election loss in 2005, waiting for the right time to move forward. The Local also represents nurses at the St. Luke's campus and LPNs/Techs at both locations.

By The Numbers: America Airline's Attack on Workers

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As American Airlines continues to do everything it can to deny passenger service agents a voice in the workplace, CWA highlighted a few numbers that help to put the airline's actions into perspective:

  • 10,000: American Airlines has been doing everything it can think of, legal and not, to stop nearly 10,000 passenger service agents from exercising their legal right to a union representation vote.
  • $27,000: The average salary of an American Airlines' home-based, full-time reservation agent. American is trying to shift many of its reservation agents to this category.
  • $45,000: Salary of a full-time airport gate agent. But only 30% of gate agents qualify as full time employees.
  • $4,182,800: The 2011 total compensation awarded to Tom Horton, President and CEO of AMR and American Airlines.
  • 155: The number of full-time reservations agents, with average salaries pooled together, it would take to match the 2011 compensation of CEO Horton.
  • $6.5 Billion: American Airlines' quarterly revenue this past quarter — the highest quarterly revenue in company history.
  • $5.8 Billion: American Airlines has argued that high labor costs are the primary motive for its bankruptcy filing. However, the bankruptcy filing was made when American Airlines had $4 billion in the bank — leading its then CEO to resign rather than take a company with a staggeringly high cash balance into Chapter 11. Tapped as CEO after making it clear he would submit to all the wishes of a greedy Board, Tom Horton now sits on $5.8 billion in reserves.
  • $250,000 and 21 Days: According to bankruptcy court reports, AMR Corporation, parent company of American Airlines, spent $253,655 on legal costs to push its anti-democratic legal arguments (consultation of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP).
  • $1.175 million: The amount American Airlines has spent on the law firm fighting the National Mediation Board (NMB) against agents' democratic right to vote (total since September 2011).
  • 121: The number of U.S. House Members who signed onto a letter calling on American Airlines to stop denying its passenger service agents the right to have a voice and a vote.
  • Three Months: American Airlines' legal claim rests on the idea that an election filing submitted in December should be subject to legislation passed nearly three months later in February. On December 7, 2011, passenger service agents at American filed for union representation with more than the required 35% showing of interest. In February 2012, the FAA reauthorization bill included a provision that increased the threshold for holding a union election to 50% of employees showing interest. American Airlines claims that the new, higher threshold should be applied retroactively, despite the statements by the Senate authors of those provisions that the 50% threshold absolutely does not apply to the American Airlines election.


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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