'I Am A Drum Major For Justice...'

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Nearly 2,000 CWA activists joined the tens of thousands of people marching on the National Mall this past weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and to reinforce the fight to ensure our democracy works for every American.

CWAers traveled from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia and Georgia, joining hands with civil rights activists, students, union members, community organizers, environmental activists, people of faith and many more, all part of a movement to bring the dream of economic and social justice closer to reality for all. CWA red mixed with SEIU purple, AFSME green, UAW blue and other unions gathered around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

"If I had to pick one word to describe my feelings during the March on Washington it would have to be 'overwhelming,'" said CWA District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton. "Such diversity! To be surrounded by brothers and sisters, and especially our elders who were there 50 years ago and have returned today, reinforces my desire to continue the struggle. It was about jobs then, and it is still about jobs. There is so much more work to do, and we cannot falter."

Hinton said that at one point during the march, she grew tired from walking. But then she witnessed the elderly woman with a walker struggling with each step.

"She continued. She had been walking for 50 years and never gave up, and nor will I," Hinton said.

CWA activists wore t-shirts reading, "I am a drum major for justice..." echoing a famous, powerful line from one of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sermons.

In 1963, marchers were fighting for jobs, economic justice and racial equality. While the country has made progress, much of the movement's work remains unfinished. Many of the marchers and speakers reflected on their own hopes and dreams, as they remembered MLK's historic "I have a dream" speech. They talked about the murder of Trayvon Martin, fighting to restore the Voting Rights Act, boosting the minimum wage and shrinking the gap between the nation's rich and poor.

"This is not the time for nostalgic commemoration," Martin Luther King III told the crowd. "Nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more."

Georgia Rep. John Lewis, the only surviving speaker from the 1963 march, said, "I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama, for the right to vote. I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us. You cannot stand by. You cannot sit down. You've got to stand up. Speak up, speak out and get in the way."

On Wednesday, activists gathered again on the Mall to hear speeches by President Barack Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, who all stood on the very spot where MLK rallied the nation.

"It was an amazing event to see so many people come together – people committed to fairness for all and to finally push to bring an end to racism in this country," said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins. "I was honored to be there with so many labor folks, civil rights, community and faith based groups. As I marched, listen to the speakers and watched people of all ages, races and gender, I was filled with emotion."

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CWAers were a part of the March on Washington in 1963 and again 50 years later, as workers, civil rights activists, greens students, people of faith and many more came together to support the dream of democracy and justice for all.


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No one can do it alone. Building a movement of allies is how we will achieve economic and social justice.


 

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CWA activists from Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, the mid-Atlantic and other states bus to DC for the March. Many took overnight buses to get here in time.


 

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Bus greeters hand out t-shirts and lunches as CWAers head out for the rally and march.


 

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On the way to the Lincoln Memorial.


 

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CWA D4 Vice President Linda Hinton, center, Sonny Morgan, IUE-CWA, left, and Sylvia Ramos, assistant to D6 Vice President Claude Cummings, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.


 

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The march ended at the MLK memorial.


 

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In San Jose, Calif., some 500 people, including members of CWA Local 9423, marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington at a march sponsored by the NAACP, unions, community groups and others.

Check out more photos here.

Cablevision Workers Not Backing Down

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The "Tech 22" – Minee Smalls, Jaywalk, Chilo and DMAC – perform in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Cablevision workers from Brooklyn, invited by the National Action Network to perform at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, took the stage with their latest rap, "Dear Mr. Dolan: Where The Papers At?" It's a call for fairness from the company that has refused to bargain a fair contract for the 280 workers.

Check it out.

In January 2012, Cablevision workers in Brooklyn voted for their union, Communications Workers of America Local 1109. Since then, Cablevision management has thrown everything at this group:

  • Illegally firing 22 workers earlier this year – they got their jobs back as a result of tremendous support from the community and elected officials.
     
  • Paying techs in Brooklyn about 20 percent less than workers doing the same jobs in the Bronx and other locations to stop any more workers from choosing a union – this and other unfair labor practices are the focus of an NLRB hearing set to begin later this month.
     
  • Refusing to fairly bargain with workers as the law requires.

In a Huffington Post piece, CWA President Larry Cohen pointed out that "for months, it was in doubt whether we would have labor law on Labor Day. Cablevision led the attacks on the National Labor Relations Board with full-page ads depicting board members, who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, as puppets of unions. But a bipartisan Senate voted to confirm all five board members and now Cablevision management will be held accountable once more for their actions."

He asked, "But as we celebrate Labor Day, the real question for Americans is what does fairness at work look like? Terror and recrimination from management like Cablevision's or, as the music demands, a fair deal for employees?" Read the rest of Cohen's post here.

Last Labor Day, the Cablevision workers released their first rap, "We Are the Union." Check it out here.

And read more about their fight for economic and social justice at www.thecablevision99.org.

Huge, Nationwide Action by German Telekom Workers Protests T-Mobile USA Firing, Intimidation

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An amazing National Day of Action energized thousands of DT and T-Mobile workers across Germany. They're telling management to stop the intimidation of T-Mobile US workers. In Dusseldorf, ver.di activists put up a huge "Josh" sign and ran out of leaflets and buttons because of the great demand.

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In a tremendous display of solidarity, Deutsche Telekom workers, members of ver.di, Germany's biggest union, held a nationwide Day of Action today at 20 T-Mobile locations. The German workers are shocked by the unjust terminations and management's treatment of workers at T-Mobile US and are supporting their U.S. colleagues who want union representation.

Actions took place in Berlin, at corporate headquarters and the office port in Bonn, in Brüehl, Dortmund, Duesseldorf, Dresden, Kempten (and Schweinfurth), Leipzig, Ludwigshafen, Schwerin, Heilbronn, Koblenz, Mainz, Mannheim, Munich, Saarbruecken, Stuttgart, Trier and other locations. The scale of this action is unprecedented; 10,000 or more workers participated, distributing leaflets, wearing buttons, taking photos and most important, promising to join in even more solidarity actions.

"Unions and employees in the United States must be treated with respect, dignity and fairness. Arbitrariness, threats and dismissals are 'management tools' from the early years of capitalism and unworthy of a modern German company with operations in more than 50 countries around the world," said Lothar Schröder, member of the Executive Board of the United Services Union (Ver.di). "I urge the (DT) Executive Board: Allow US workers to have a voice in the workplace through CWA!"

 

 

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"We are all Josh" was the message in Brühl (above) and Dortmund (below) as ver.di activists spread the word about T-Mobile US's intimidation of workers.

German workers are protesting the escalating attacks against T-Mobile US employees who actively support CWA representation, as well as the anti-union attitude from upper management of the company, a subsidiary of DT. Workers who want union representation face sanctions up to and including dismissal, ver.di pointed out.

One victim of this practice was Josh Coleman, a customer service rep and union activist who was fired despite having won several awards and praise for his outstanding job performance. German workers have taken Josh's case on as their own, wearing t-shirts that say "We Are All Josh" and hanging "Josh" signs in call center locations. ver.di members say that Josh has to be reinstated, otherwise the protests will be extended and expanded. ver.di also reported that "In the factories there were many good discussions with our colleagues. These discussions were marked by horror at the behavior of T-Mobile US management and of great solidarity with their colleagues in the United States."

The action is part of the international campaign "We Expect Better," anchored by several international union organizations.

Last week, T-Mobile US CEO John Legere was visiting Witchita, Kan. On his way out, he stopped where Coleman was hand billing. Coleman introduced himself and said he is a former employee and asked Legere to reinstate him and Legere repeated "I appreciate what you're doing" and drove off. Here's the flyer that activists handed out:

 

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Take a look at all the Day of Action pictures here.

T-Mobile Worker Partnership Hits the East Coast

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Outside the MetroPCS store in Harlem are CWA organizer Zelig Stern, New York State Senator Bill Perkins, and DT Works Councilors and ver.di activists Conny Parisi-Bohmholt and Steffi Frank.

Below: New York State Senator Bill Perkins talks with NYC police who were called by T-Mobile management after refusing to hear the senator's request that the company recognize the workers' union and bargain in good faith.

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An exciting partnership between ver.di members at Deutsche Telekom in Germany and their U.S. colleagues who want a CWA voice at T-Mobile US is getting stronger everyday.

In addition to the huge National Day of Action today held in 20 German cities, ver.di activists are meeting regularly with T-Mobile call center and retail workers and Metro PCS retail workers here in the U.S. to help workers build their union.

Earlier this month, Philipp Gammler and Dirk Esser, two DT Works Councilors and members of ver.di, traveled to Dallas and Houston to spend a week with retail sales workers from MetroPCS, now part of T-Mobile US, and CWA members from AT&T Mobility who are helping T-Mobile workers get the union they want.

In Germany, Works Councilors are elected worker representatives at specific companies. The Works Council is established and protected by law, and is charged with protecting the interests of workers. The company must inform the works council about everything regarding the workforce, including hiring, firings, transfers, corporate restructuring, any changes in work organization, and more.

This week, Cornelia Parisi-Bohmholt and Stefanie Frank, also longtime Works Councilors at DT and ver.di members, are meeting with MetroPCS workers and AT&T Mobility CWA members in New York and the Washington, DC, metro area.

They've visited several stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn and later met with MetroPCS workers who talked about their issues at work, why they want a union and management's response.

Parisi-Bohmholt said it was crucial for the German activists to meet with U.S. workers because whenever she has an argument with management in Germany about the struggle at T-Mobile US, she can quickly counter anyone who says, "ver.di and CWA are just lying" by asking, "Have you been there? Have you ever met a T-Mobile worker?"

"Then I say, "I have been there. I talked to these workers and I can tell you, they are not lying!" she said.

With New York State Senator Bill Perkins, the German and U.S. activists went to the MetroPCS store in Harlem. Perkins represents the district in which the store is located, and supports the workers desire for respect and fair treatment. But when Perkins tried to convey a message to management that the company should bargain in good faith with the workers, management instead called the police.

"None of my actions was threatening, illegal or unethical," Perkins said. Yet T-Mobile management in Germany "is attempting to portray me as an aggressor against them. I will closely monitor this situation going forward and continue to support MetroPCS workers' fight for respect and fairness at work," he added.

Organizing Update

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AT&T Mobility

AT&T Mobility employees in the North Dakota Retail Sales Group (formerly Alltel) are the newest members of CWA Local 7500. There are 58 retail sales workers in this unit. CWA Local 7500 President Lisa Hicks did an outstanding job organizing this group.

PPMWS Organizing Cooperative

The PPMWS Organizing Cooperative and the New York Typographical Union #6 have successfully organized 14 new members in the greater Boston area through both internal and external organizing. All new members work in a variety of pre-press and production roles within Collins Images, Schell Printing, Thurman Printing, Leary Business Solutions, Sterling Printing, Yankee Offset and Park Press.

Airline Unions Call for Prompt Action on US Airways-American Merger

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Unions representing 70,000 workers at US Airways and American Airlines called on the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Department of Justice to move quickly to trial so that the merger decision could be made without delay.

The unions are CWA, AFA-CWA, the Transport Workers Union, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the Allied Pilots Association (APA), and the U.S. Airline Pilots Association (USAPA), representing Flight Attendants, passenger service employees, mechanics, technicians, aircraft dispatchers, pilots and others.

The Department of Justice is seeking to block the merger, as are the attorneys general of six states. CWA leaders Veda Shook, president of AFA-CWA, and Ed Mooney, CWA District 2-13 vice president, met with the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, pointing out that the merger would result in good jobs for 9,100 Pennsylvanians and that Pennsylvania consumers would benefit from enhanced air service. The DOJ lawsuit maintains that US Airways and American have too much overlap in their route networks, but the airlines note that only 12 of their nonstop routes are similar.

The letter from the unions to the DOJ said:

We urge the U.S. District Court and the Department of Justice to begin the trial on November 12, 2013 in order to get to a speedy resolution to this exciting merger. Our message to consumers everywhere is simple: "Let us compete for your business" starting as soon as possible. Our members want a fair shot at competing in the marketplace. The airlines we work for, US Airways and American Airlines, can together succeed in a way that neither airline can alone, bringing new competition to the domestic and international airlines that serve Americans. The improved network and higher quality product will attract new customers, allowing the airlines to compete with the megacarriers in a way neither airline can do alone, creating greater job security for our members as a result.

Delaying a trial puts our families and our customers at further risk. For American and its employees, the uncertainty of the last two years in bankruptcy has already exacted a heavy toll. Employees at US Airways have had similar hardships with two bankruptcies since 9-11. In order to make new American competitive, that uncertainly should be ended as soon as possible.

The livelihoods of hard-working aviation professionals at American and US Airways hang in the balance. Jobs are at stake if this merger does not go through. For our members, job security that comes with truly competitive airlines is on hold as we wait for trial. Our members have borne the brunt of the severe turbulence in the aviation industry. Justice delayed is justice denied for our members. This merger makes sense for competition, customers, and the members we represent who want nothing more than to compete aggressively on a level playing field to serve those customers.

Building Our Movement

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CWA members attend the latest Fairness At Patriot rally in St. Louis on Tuesday. Police arrested UMWA President Cecil Roberts for the ninth time.


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Florida U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, meets with CWA District 3 Staff Representative Bill Eberhardt and members of CWA Locals 3104 and 3112.


 

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Striking fast-food workers and community members rally at a McDonalds in St. Louis. Today fast-food workers across the country mounted one-day walkouts. The United Media Guild recently organized staffers at STL 735, a group that supports fast-food workers and their fight for fair wages and the right to form a union without retaliation at more than 15 restaurant chains.


 

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CWA activists cheer on striking fast-food workers in Nevada.


 

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CWA and UAW members get ready to knock on doors to engage union voters in Roanoke, Va. This fall, Virginians will be voting for a new governor.

Democracy Initiative: This Fight Is Not Relegated To The Past

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Each of the four convening organizations of the Democracy Initiative worked to mobilize members to attend the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The leaders of the coalition – CWA President Larry Cohen, Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune – released this statement on the eve of the event:

Tomorrow on the National Mall, civil rights heroes will stand shoulder to shoulder with labor, environmentalists, champions from the LGBT movement, good government advocates, and concerned citizens from around the nation. In the footsteps of Martin Luther King, Jr. and all those who fought so hard to make the dream of justice come closer to reality, we are gathering not just to commemorate an event that changed the course of history but to amplify its call to action five decades later.

The fight to ensure our democracy works for every American is not relegated to the past – it demands our attention and our action now and in the future. Corrupting corporate money is flooding our political system and drowning out the voices of everyday Americans. Congress has ground to a halt amid unprecedented obstruction in the U.S. Senate. By gutting the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Supreme Court has undermined one of the signature legislative achievements of the Civil Rights movement and resulted in dozens of voter suppression bills nationwide. The assault on the principle of "one person, one vote" is worse than it has been in generations.

We are gathering together tomorrow in Washington to send the signal that this is our fight – and we are mobilizing to win it now.

The Democracy Initiative community is engaging our members, supporters, and Americans across the country because we know that at the heart of each of our core issues is the critical need for a functioning system that respects political equality. If we want to protect working families, keep our air and water clean, and pursue justice for every American, we must protect our democracy.

This cross-movement collaboration for our democracy would simply not have been possible or imaginable were it not for the legacy of those who came to Washington demanding change and pursuing equality and cooperation 50 years ago. Tomorrow, we will join together so that we can make the dream they marched for one step closer to coming true.

#StandWith

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Today, Organizing for Action has launched a digital day of action to engage supporters of comprehensive immigration reform.

Here's how you can participate:

1. Print out a sign at http://standwithourfuture.com/.

2. Write in your own reason for why you support immigration reform.

3. Share your photo on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Here are some of CWA's photos. Let us know when you've posted your own!

A Message to CWA Members from the Secretary of Labor

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Secretary of Labor Tom Perez.

Brother and Sisters:

From the U.S. Department of Labor, where I proudly work in a building named for my great predecessor Frances Perkins, let me wish all of my friends at the Communications Workers of America and your families – wherever you are – a safe, happy and healthy Labor Day. This Labor Day feels special in many ways: it's the Department of Labor's centennial, and this week we celebrate the March on Washington 50 years ago – a transformational moment in our history that was just as much about labor rights as it was about civil rights. Today, let's remember that these two movements remain inextricably intertwined, their interests converging time and time again, their goals essentially the same.

It's also my first Labor Day as Secretary of Labor, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about me. I grew up in Buffalo, New York as the youngest of five children in an immigrant family. Buffalo was and still is a whole lot more gritty than glamorous. It's a place that exemplifies the values we all care about, the ones we want to hand down to our children.

My father was a physician in the local VA hospital. He died very suddenly when I was 12, and my best friend's father became like a surrogate dad to me. He was a union man, and I remember the struggles he and his family went through when he lost his job. And that was the first time I saw how the labor movement served as a lifeline and a support network for people when the going got tough.

The principles that took hold within me then have deepened throughout my time in public service, including my strong belief – which you share – that we can only succeed by reaching out to everyone who wants to work in good faith toward mutual goals. They are the same principles that stirred 250,000 Americans to converge on the National Mall 50 years ago to demand justice from their government. They are the principles members of CWA so bravely and selflessly march to defend every day in the streets, keeping alive the spirit of that August day in 1963, when many CWA members joined the March for Jobs and Freedom. And when you boil those principles down to their essence, they are all about one thing: protecting and promoting opportunity for American workers.

This expanded opportunity can only happen when workers have bargaining rights and a voice at work. Organized labor is one of the greatest forces for economic security the United States of America has ever known. Standing together, speaking with one voice, you built America's middle class.

You know how important the work that lies ahead for us truly is. CWA members have been in the trenches fighting for an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, for economic justice for workers. You are making your voices heard in the fight against the growing problem of income inequality over the past few decades, and you know that fair wages will create benefits that ripple across the whole economy. You stand with the President in your faith that the well-being of working and middle class families depends on bargaining rights and real opportunity: good jobs, ladders to the middle class through skills training and education, strong safety and health protections, and the ability to retire with dignity and peace of mind. You also are powerful advocates for President Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage, which will benefit 15 million people who lay awake at night sick with worry about how they're going to pay the utility bill, what they'll do if the car breaks down, or whether they can put dinner on the table the next day.

People like A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and Walter Reuther – who helped lead the March on Washington – were leading the fight for workers' rights as well. All of you who continue to stand up for economic justice carry a part of that legacy into the everyday struggles that remain. I can promise that as long as I am Secretary of Labor, the department will stand with you...it will be a bulwark against those who want to undermine the rights of workers...those who want to dismantle the system of collective bargaining that has served workers and employers so well...those who want to leave hard-working Americans with no leverage to secure better wages, benefits and working conditions.

Thank you. I hope you will take this day to recharge, spend time with your families, enjoy the benefits of your hard work, and gather your strength for the work ahead. Sincerely,

Thomas E. Perez
U.S. Secretary of Labor

Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, CLC. All Rights Reserved.

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