Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWA: FCC Decision on Big Cable Deal Will Kill Jobs, Harm Consumers

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The following is CWA's statement on the FCC, by a unanimous vote, approving the Big Cable deal:

The FCC's decision allowing Big Cable to virtually monopolize wireline and video connections to millions of homes will lead to job loss and hit consumers with higher prices. It will slam the door on our country's high speed future because it has destroyed any incentive for Verizon to continue the build out of its high speed FiOS network.

It is clearly an example of the FCC, just as the Department of Justice did last week, acting on behalf of corporate interests, not the public interest and clearly not jobs.

Both the DOJ and the FCC now have shown that they are content with an anti-competitive deal that will result in job cuts, higher prices, and fewer choices for consumers. Regulators have demonstrated a striking disconnect between their support for this deal and the Obama administration's goals of affordable high speed Internet access for all and particularly, the creation of good jobs that are necessary to push our sluggish economy forward. The U.S. is near the bottom among global democracies in both price and access to high speed Internet.

The weak conditions on cross-marketing that both the FCC and the DOJ have put in place will result in fewer choices for consumers who already have limited options. Nor have regulators outlined how these limitations can be enforced.

For communities like Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, cities across upstate New York and most of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Virginia, there will be extremely limited, if any, options for high-speed broadband service. That is unacceptable.

Some elected officials got it right. More than 49 members of Congress, elected officials from every level across New York State, mayors from Boston and nine upstate New York communities, and many more weighed in on the harm that workers, consumers and communities will suffer. Sadly, federal regulators weren't listening to their voices.

Senators Promote Call Center Bill

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Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey teams up with former T-Mobile employee Barry Lagler, Jr., to promote call center legislation.

Below: Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown holds a town hall meeting with members of CWA Local 4309 in Cleveland.

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Sens. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) used their August recess to advocate keeping good call center jobs in the United States.

Both Senators, who face re-election in November, took the issue to the stump this week, promoting the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act of 2012, which would make businesses that ship call center jobs overseas ineligible for federal grants or loans. It would require companies to disclose when their calls are being transferred abroad and give consumers the right to talk to a U.S.-based operator. Tell your senators to support the bill by signing this petition.

"There is no reason an issue like this shouldn't be bipartisan," said Casey, speaking at the Lehigh County Labor Council offices, according to The Express-Times. "It's not a Democratic or a Republican issue. This is a workers' issue. It's an American issue."

Casey, who introduced the bill, stood next to former T-Mobile USA employee Barry Lagler, Jr., who lost his technical support job after T-Mobile closed its Allentown call center. The facility had employed 605 workers.

"Thank God for CWA," said Lagler, explaining how CWA had petitioned the Labor Department for Trade Adjustment Assistance for the displaced workers. "Some of these folks had babies. Others bought a house. Now these people have hope for the future."

Brown, co-sponsor of the bill, joined CWA members in Cleveland to discuss the legislation this week.

"Most Ohioans who have had to call a major company for a service repair or to get an answer about their cable bill have ended up speaking with a worker in a different time zone, on a different continent," said Brown, according to The Hill. "When companies send call center jobs overseas, they don't just frustrate consumers they hurt our economy as well. With thousands of Ohioans looking for work, it just doesn't make sense to ship these jobs overseas."

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Ohio has at least 167,480 call center jobs.

NABET and NBC Partner with CWA/NETT

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Participants practice fiber optic cable installation.


During the day-long classes, members gained hands-on practice.


NABET-CWA Local 11 members.




NBC is poised to rip miles of copper out of its iconic 30 Rock building and rewire it with fiber optic cable. But instead of outsourcing the work, the company recently partnered with CWA to train 40 daily hires to do the high-tech installation.

"If NBC needs and wants manpower, we're certainly ready to develop that manpower because that's our future," said NABET Local 11 President Thomas Cappo.

Back in April, Cappo started talking with NBC management about improving the skill sets of the company's daily hires, and he was able to negotiate utilizing CWA/NETT to train the members to do the fiber optic installation. CWA/NETT is a training program to improve CWA members' skill sets through courses ranging from digital photography to data network design.

Members happened to have down time during the Olympics, when NBC stopped all work in fear of accidentally disrupting the broadcast. So NABET Local 11 pounced on the opportunity to host three training sessions taught by a leading fiber optic training company. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., workers listened to lectures and gained hands-on practice. At the end of course, they all took a certification exam and everyone passed.

"We enjoy opportunities where labor and management can come together and collaborate," said Kevin Celata, CWA/NETT training administrator. "Everyone benefits."

After such a successful project, Cappo is now working to get the same training for 30 Rock's maintenance team and crews out in NBC's Long Island City bureau.

"If they're trained and capable, it'll keep the company from getting anyone else," he said.

Learn more at or visit CWA/NETT on Facebook.

Stand Up to Verizon

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People are talking about Jen Travis.

The mother of three is speaking out at local union halls and through YouTube about how she was unjustly fired. One year ago, Travis went on strike against Verizon, and though she had a 15-year unblemished record at her Pittsburgh call center, the company falsely accused her of assaulting a manager on the picket line.

"I am praying for your success Jen as well as the success of The CWA. May God allow you prevail!!!! I will share this!!!" wrote one Facebook user. Dozens of others have chimed in to say, "Fight 'em, Jen" and "The truth will prevail!"

Travis isn't alone. She was just one of dozens of Verizon workers who were unfairly disciplined in retaliation. John Inzanian, a 22-year employee, was suspended after he was run over by a manager's car during last year's strike. Leighton McGeachy, who came from a Verizon family and spent 12 years on the job, faced false accusations of reckless driving before he was summarily dismissed.

Watch their stories at CWA's new website, Stand Up to Verizon.

And check out the video from our Aug. 11 Verizon rally in Philadelphia that featured some of the fired strikers.

If you're interested in having one of the fired Verizon strikers like Jen or Leighton speak to your local, contact Kate Shaughnessy at

Ad Campaign Spotlights House Members Support for Call Center Bill

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CWA has a radio ad buy on the air right now, supporting four members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are fighting to keep good customer service jobs in the United States. The ads thank U.S. Senate candidates Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM) and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (Wisc.), as well as U.S. House candidates Betty Sutton (Ohio-13) and Tim Bishop (NY-1).

"Big banks and corporations that have been bailed out by taxpayers are sending [call center] jobs overseas. Congressman Tim Bishop is as outraged as we are," one of the ads reads. Listen to the audio here.

The radio ad buy is part of CWA's larger campaign initiative to support members of Congress who want to keep good jobs in the U.S., and also to let the public know who's standing in the way of legislation to stop corporations from ripping off taxpayers and sending jobs overseas.

The campaign also will focus on grassroots actions, phone banking and other tactics; the CWA campaign will be active in at least 50 races nationwide.

In the House, more than 130 Members are supporting the bi-partisan bill, H.R. 3596.

And CWA Local 7777 has a great new video ad that focuses on offshoring by companies like Avaya. Watch it here.

Miami Herald Elder Abuse Series Wins Guild's 2012 Broun Award

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The 2012 Broun Award judges spent several months reading entries before choosing a winner. Clockwise from left: Chair Scott Stephens, former reporter with the Cleveland Plain Dealer and staff member at American Federation of Teachers; Sandra Banisky, former deputy managing editor at the Baltimore Sun and journalism instructor at University of Maryland; Robert Struckland, former reporter at the Missoulian and an AFL-CIO speechwriter, and Elmer Smith, retired columnist from the Philadelphia Daily News and part-time journalism instructor.




A Miami Herald series that exposed what contest judges called a "gut-wrenching epidemic of elder abuses and deaths" in Florida's assisted living facilities has won the NewsGuild-CWA's 2012 Heywood Broun Award.

"Through the aggressive pursuit of records, shoe-leather reporting, and vivid writing, the Herald's reporting team delivered journalism that was hard-hitting, fair, and life-altering," the four journalists serving as judges said in a joint statement. "With Florida the home to the nation's largest percentage of seniors, the importance of the series cannot be overstated."

The project, Neglected to Death, took reporters Michael Sallah, Carol Marbin Miller and Rob Barry more than a year to investigate and produce. The award, including a $5,000 check, will be presented at a dinner Oct. 16 at the Maritime Institute conference center near BWI. In addition, "Awards of Distinction" will be presented to The New York Times and NPR, each with a $1,000 check. Read more about the winners here.

The Heywood Broun Award is named for the New York columnist who helped found The Newspaper Guild, now known as NewsGuild, in 1933. As a journalist, Broun was a champion of the underdog and the award honors reporting that upholds that tradition.

The 2012 Broun contest drew 78 entries, 62 from print and 16 from broadcast. The quantity and "tremendous quality" of entries, the judges said, was uplifting in a time of grave concern about newsroom staffing cuts, ownership consolidation and other changes threatening traditional reporting and its vital role in a democracy.

"In the tradition of Broun, the majority of the stories shined a bright light on wrongs and tried to right them. They gave voice to the voiceless, and made visible the invisible."

CWA Case Study: Working Around Asbestos

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A new CWA case study examines three successful efforts to decrease telecommunications technicians' exposure to hazardous asbestos-contaminated materials.

"The creativity and strident determination of CWA Local union officers and occupational safety and health activists to ensure the Union's members are provided safe and healthful working conditions is demonstrated in each of these cases," writes David LeGrande, CWA's Occupational Safety and Health Director.

The experiences of CWA locals in Wisconsin, Virginia and North Carolina all demonstrate the need for CWA occupational safety and health activists to be proactive:


  • Communicate with technicians regarding telecommunications Central Office working conditions.
  • Conduct periodic walk-around inspections of represented work locations.
  • Work with CWA leaders, members, and staff and where possible employers to identify and resolve workplace safety and health issues.

Read more here.

Ryan International Flight Attendants Ratify First Contract

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Ryan International Flight Attendants ratified their first contract last week, ensuring job security and other protections for nearly 200 AFA-CWA members.

"Ryan International Flight Attendants worked hard to achieve the workplace protections and professional standards provided by an AFA contract," said Mary Lou Riley, AFA Ryan International President.

Ryan International provides private charter service and passenger service for the U.S. government, including the Defense Department. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rubloff Development Group.

In other AFA-CWA news, flight attendants at Piedmont Airlines, a wholly owned subsidiary of U.S. Airways, have authorized a strike if management fails to negotiate a new agreement. The airline serves 55 cities throughout the eastern United States and Canada.

"Flight Attendants at Piedmont did not take this strike vote lightly and our overwhelming decision to strike should show management the seriousness of this situation," said Anita Jwanouskos, AFA Piedmont President.

CWA Launches New Blog

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CWA just launched a new blog, Resistance Growing. It'll be a place to join a conversation around the issues of the day, to keep tabs on important stories in the labor movement and to get quick takes on breaking news.

Check it out here.

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