Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWA Union Hall Call Tonight

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Join our Union Hall Call tonight at 7:30 PM ET.



Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) will join tonight’s CWA union hall call. Stabenow is the sponsor of the Bring Jobs Home Act.




CWA activists from across the country will discuss how they are building our movement and the tactics they are using to fight back against the attacks on our rights and our democracy. We’ll be hearing from Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the chief author of the Bring Jobs Home Act, as well as CWA President Larry Cohen and AFA-CWA President Veda Shook.

Listen to the call online at

Thousands of CWA Activists Stand Up to Verizon in Philly

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CWA members and supporters rally outside Verizon’s Philadelphia headquarters.




Nearly 5,000 workers engulfed Verizon’s offices in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday morning, demanding that the company stop its assault on workers and bargain a fair contract.

The streets were filled with a sea of red shirts and chants. CWA International President Larry Cohen, District 2-13 Vice President Ed Moony and District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton fired up the crowd and invoked the 37 IBEW and CWA members who were fired after Verizon workers went on strike last August.



CWA President Larry Cohen,standing with fired strikers, addresses a crowd of 5,000.




“Every day, especially this next week, think about your own life as if you’re walking in their shoes,” Cohen said. “Every one of these fired workers – they’re not giving up. They’re standing up, they’re fighting back. Can we do any less?”

One worker, Jennifer Travis, who worked at a call center in Pittsburgh, was fired after 15 exemplary years on the job. She told her story to 35,000 brothers and sisters gathered at the nearby Workers Stand for America rally. (Watch the highlights here.

“The company says that I assaulted a manager as he escorted a scab across our picket line. Those are outrageous and false allegations. And, together with my union, we are fighting back,” she said. “But mine was not an isolated incident. Several of my brothers and sisters were fired or disciplined last August for similarly trumped up charges. What many of us have in common is our highly visible status as union leaders and activists. It makes me wonder if the company retaliated against us in an effort to intimidate other members who would consider standing up for their union in the future. If that's true, it's flat out bullying, and it's disgusting.”

CWAers marched two miles through Philadelphia to join Travis at the rally, where sprinkler fitters, postal workers, teachers, and other union workers gathered at Eakins Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Cohen told workers, “We’re not walking silently!” And block after block, stopping traffic in all directions, they shouted, “What’s disgusting? Union busting!” and “What do we do when we’re under attack? We stand up, we fight back!”

There, workers demanded that politicians on both sides of the aisle sign on to a new Second Bill of Rights, a list of priorities that workers want featured at the Democratic and Republican national conventions. You can still sign your name by clicking here



After a great rally, CWAers are on the march to the Workers Stand for America event.




“We built this country, we wake it up and we put it to sleep and it’s time to take it back!” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the crowd. “Hard work alone has never led to decent wages and benefits and retirement for every American. It’s hard work and activism.”

And when Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz mentioned that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had chosen Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate that very morning, the crowd booed loudly.

"I couldn't agree more," she said. "What a devastating impact a Romney-Ryan administration would have for America’s working families. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are both top-down and backward for the American worker."

DOJ Decision on Verizon-Big Cable Deal Destroys Competition, Jobs

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In Albany, CWA and IBEW members take on Verizon.




This is the statement CWA issued today on the U.S. Justice Department’s decision approving the Verizon Wireless-Big Cable deal:

The U.S. Justice Department’s decision today to approve the Verizon Wireless-Big Cable deal is exactly the wrong one for workers, consumers and communities. The result is a massive Verizon Wireless/cable/content monopoly, job cuts, higher prices, and fewer choices.

The weak conditions on cross-marketing that DOJ has set in place will do little to continue competition. Instead, this deal will result in Verizon abandoning further investment in FiOS, its high speed network. For communities like Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, cities across upstate New York and most of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Virginia, there will be no high-speed Internet competition -- none.

The cable monopoly with high-speed linked to content bundles that drive average prices higher is not the answer. No other 21st Century nation has chosen this path. Finally, how will the DOJ or FCC police marketing restrictions within a market area?

Not only have regulators lost their focus on competition, but they again show that jobs get no consideration in telecommunications policy. Without incentives or direction for Verizon to continue to build out FiOS, thousands of good paying jobs will be lost.

There is strong opposition to this deal. More than 49 members of Congress, mayors from Boston and nine upstate New York communities, and dozens of local elected officials and consumer advocates have weighed in on the harm that consumers and communities will suffer from the anti-competitive provisions of this deal. More than 100,000 consumers are on record opposing this transaction.


Separately, the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to DOJ Attorney General Eric Holder and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski expressing concerns members of Congress and calling for strong conditions on the deal.

“It seems clear to me that the joint marketing agreements that are a central feature of this transaction create substantial disincentives for Verizon to expand its FiOS deployment,” wrote Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (Mo.) and chair of the CBC.

“Too many lower-income and minority communities do not have affordable access to high-speed Internet, which puts them at a disadvantage in access to jobs, economic activity, education, health care and public safety. Closing the digital divide must be a top priority in your review of this transaction,” he said.

Fired Verizon Workers Speak Out

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One year ago, Verizon fired 37 IBEW and CWA members after they went on a two-week strike. Today, they’re speaking out against the company’s trumped up charges.



Jennifer Travis




Jennifer Travis: “Here we are a year later, and I’ve lost a whole year of my life. I’ve lost a lot. I’ve lost a lot of savings. I’ve lost vacation time. We lost a pregnancy. We’ve lost a lot in a year. And all they’ve done is gain.” Watch more here.



John Inzaina




John Inzaina: “The video is plain as day, and the company still won’t admit they’re wrong. If they can just fire you or suspend you for doing union activity, that’s absurd. Pretty much it looks like the new management that’s in place is just pretty much there to bust the union.” Watch more here.




Leighton McGeachy




Leighton McGeachy: “A lot of people feel like, ‘Oh, if that happened to them, it can happen to me.’ And that's exactly what this company wants.” Watch more here.

In September, the National Labor Relations Board will finally hear their stories at a hearing. The board has authorized the issuance of complaints against Verizon in 58 of 63 cases.

“Verizon thinks they’re making an example out of them. We are making an example out of them!” CWA President Larry Cohen told Verizon workers last weekend.

CWA Launches Election Year Campaign to Stop Call Offshoring

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CWA launched a campaign Tuesday to spotlight legislation armed at keeping call center jobs in the United States.

The campaign will target over 50 members of Congress to ensure that voters are aware of both the key congressional champions of the issue, as well as those who are intent on blocking important call center legislation. It will include major grassroots actions and an online and social media push.

On Tuesday, CWA rolled out its first radio ads in support of the lawmakers backing critical call center legislation. It includes support for Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY), the original call center legislation sponsor; Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WIs.), who is running for her state’s Senate seat; Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), who is also looking to move to the Senate; and Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio).

“Our elected officials should be paying attention,” said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins on a conference call with reporters. “The call center issue isn’t a manufactured political attack, lacking substance – quite the opposite. The US call center industry is a big economic engine, representing 3 percent of the overall US workforce.”

A new study shows that it’s also a bipartisan issue. Of the Democrats, Republicans and Independents polled, 78 percent of voters have a negative view of overseas call centers, and 59 percent said they have a very unfavorable impression of them. According to the poll, 53 percent said they are less likely to vote for a candidate who has voted against relevant legislation proposed in Congress.

“Very few polls today show the kind of unanimity and the kind of intensity that we find in this poll,” said Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners, who shared the findings on the conference call.

Read the full polling results here

CWA District 7 Begins Negotiations with CenturyLink

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CWA’s bargaining team representing CenturyLink workers at the former Qwest Corp. opened negotiations on Aug. 15. CWA represents about 12,000 workers in the D7 states of Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and Washington.

CWA’s bargaining team: Brent Duvall, President, CWA Local 7603; Lisa Avila, Executive Vice President, CWA Local 7704; Ken Saether, President, CWA Local 7906; Audrey Deguio, Executive Vice President, CWA Local 7777; Jay Boyle, District 7 staff, Bargaining Committee co-chair; and Reed Roberts, assistant to D7 Vice President Mary Taylor, Bargaining Committee Chair.

Voter Suppression Moving Forward in PA

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A Pennsylvania state judge refused to block the state’s new and oppressive voter ID law. The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed suit against the measure, is appealing.

The judge called the comments of House Majority Leader Michael Turzai, who boasted that changing the law would help Mitt Romney win the presidential election, “disturbing” and tendentious, but refused to stop the law from going forward.

The Brennan Center for Justice has found that these requirements could cause 10 percent of the electorate to lose their right to vote.

CWA and union activists in Pennsylvania and many other states are keeping up the fight to make sure that people know their rights and can exercise that constitutional right to vote. Read more at

TPP is NAFTA on Steroids

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CWAers, Sierra Club members and activists from Citizens Trade Campaign will be taking a stand in Leesburg, Va., on Sunday, Sept. 9, during the next round of negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership. TPP is probably the biggest and scariest trade deal the U.S. have ever negotiated, and it’s being done in secrecy.

Hundreds of activists have registered as stakeholders, enabling us to question negotiators, hand out materials and let the negotiators know exactly where we stand on this deal that threatens jobs, consumer safeguards, environmental standards and more.

A 3 pm rally is open to the public; advance registration is not required for that event, and CWAers and activists in the area are encouraged to attend and make their voices heard.

More information is available here and at

IUE-CWA Scholarship Winners

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IUE-CWA has awarded 17 partial college scholarships for the 2012-2013 academic year. IUE-CWA members’ children and grandchildren, including those of retired or deceased members, were eligible for the various awards.

Paul Jennings Scholarship for $3,000:

· Christian Lewis, son of John Lewis, Local 761

Bruce Van Ess Scholarship for $2,500:

· Alysia Campbell, daughter of Keith Campbell, Local 106

Sal Ingrassia Scholarship for $2,500:

· Alex Pickard, son of Karen Pickard, Local 800 FW

David J. Fitzmaurice Scholarship for $2,000:

· Craig Stalker, son of Thomas Stalker, Local 301 AE

Robert L. Livingston Scholarship for $1,500:

· Steven Wutzer, son of Brenda Wutzer, Local 380

· Aaron Moore, son of Chandra Nunnery, Local 718

George Hutchens Scholarship for $1,500:

· Joesph Cvengros, son of John Cvengros, Local 717

Willie Rudd Scholarship for $1,000:

· Khoa Nguyen, son of Hung Nguyen, Local 475

James B. Carey Scholarship for $1,000:

· Caitlin Timberlake, daughter of Cynthia French, Local 766

· Ashley Toliver, granddaughter of Judith Stalker, Local 907

· Grace Seghini, daughter of Michael Seghini, Local 444

· Jamie Diu, daughter of Chun Diu, Local 201

· David Helmick, son of David Helmick, Local 717

· Carllie Ray, daughter of Scott Houck, Local 809

· Anna Lenihan, daughter of Kim Lenihan, Local 359

· Aaron Rydzynski, son of Michael Baglio, Local 353

· Brittany Morgan, daughter of Gerald Walker, Local 103

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