Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

More Brooklyn Cablevision Workers Join CWA

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Vision Pro workers stand up for good jobs.




Workers at Brooklyn Cablevision contractor Vision Pro last week voted in favor of CWA representation.

Vision Pro employees voted 43-3 to join CWA, following workers at Falcon Communications, who also overwhelmingly chose to unionize in July. In January, 282 Brooklyn Cablevision joined CWA.

"This is a great day for Vision Pro workers and for all cable technicians who want a voice on the job," said Deane Crawford, a Vision Pro technician. "We are proud to join our brothers and sisters at Falcon and Cablevision, because we are all fighting for the same thing: good jobs, respect and fairness."

District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton told the New York Daily News that workers are building momentum.

"When we won one election, they called it a fluke. When we won two, they said it was a coincidence," he said. "But after three elections for union rights at Cablevision and its contractors, this is a movement that is not going away. Workers across the city are demanding fair wages, better conditions and above all: respect."

Louisiana AT&T Mobility Retail Workers Join CWA

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AT&T Mobility retail store employees in West Monroe, La.




Building on District 3's organizing momentum in Mississippi, AT&T Mobility retail store workers in Louisiana joined CWA.

The Louisiana unit covers 781 employees. District 3 Organizing Coordinator Sheila Williams-Cain reported that the American Arbitration Association certified that a majority of workers supported union representation last week.

Local organizers were able to freely meet with retail store employees in break rooms and meetings spaces because AT&T has agreed to management neutrality. Janice Bradley of Local 3414, Shalanda Brown of Local 3406, Ganece Darden of Local 3519, Steve Edler of Local 3410, Charles Zardes of Local 3410, Eric Lehto of Local 3407, Brandi Michelli of Local 3403, Esther Pond of Local 3806, McMarshall Whitaker of Local 3411, Henry Rosenthal of Local 3402 and David Pierce of Local 3404 all worked hard on this campaign victory.

Between Mississippi and Louisiana, nearly 1,200 new retail sales employees have joined CWA in the past few months.

CWA Runs Ad Telling Politicians to Bring Good Jobs Home

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Lois Williams

Below: Amanda Hill





CWA has a message for Democrats and Republicans: Bringing good jobs back home will aid the economic recovery.

The 30-second television spot began airing on Current TV this week during coverage of the Republican National Convention and will continue into the Democratic National Convention. In the ad, Lois Williams explains how CWA worked to bring her AT&T call center job back to Detroit.

"A few years ago I was laid off when thousands of call center jobs like mine were sent overseas," Williams says. "But my union, CWA, worked to bring my job back. And they did it. Customers are happier talking to American representatives. And when AT&T returned to Detroit, other big companies followed. Bringing good jobs back is the beginning of an economic recovery for Detroit and for America. I'm living proof."

A second ad features Amanda Hill, an AT&T customer assistant in Goldsboro, NC, who was hired 4 1/2 years ago when CWA brought back an entire call center from overseas. "When AT&T returned to Goldsboro, they literally gave thousands of people benefits and a path towards a real career," she says in the spot.

Watch both ads here.

CWA has been working with lawmakers in Congress to bring back tech support and call center jobs. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) recently introduced the 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 also 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 Casey's bill by signing this petition.

CWA Reminds Democrats that Collective Bargaining Boosts the Economy

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CWA's ad in the Democratic National Convention program.




When convention-goers open up their Democratic National Covention programs next week, they'll see a new CWA ad campaign reminding leaders of an important lesson in history.

The text says:

Democrats knew it then...

In 1938, the economist John Maynard Keynes wrote to FDR about the nation's economic crisis and said: "I regard the growth of collective bargaining rights as essential" to restoring economic prosperity.

FDR knew how important workers' bargaining rights were to rescuing Americans from the depths of the Great Depression.

Today, too many leaders have forgotten that. But collective bargaining rights are more important than ever.

That's the only way working Americans will get any share of the productivity gains they've produced over the past 40 years. And it's the only way we'll get our economy moving forward again.

Save the Date: Sept. 9 Rally Against TPP

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Let's stop NAFTA on steroids.

On Sept. 9, the latest round of negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership the biggest Free Trade Agreement in U.S. history is heading to Leesburg, Va. CWA activists will be rallying with labor, environmental, public health, Internet freedom, consumer, Occupy and other social justice organizations at 3 p.m. outside the negotiation site at the Lansdowne Resort at 44050 Woodridge Parkway in Leesburg.

Right now, the TPP is being negotiated in secret. Only a handful of corporate lobbyists and trade officials have been able to see the details of the trade pact. This exclusive group includes lobbyists from Verizon, who want to make sure that the TPP makes it even easier to offshore call center and tech support jobs. It would create even more incentives for corporations to offshore manufacturing and service sector jobs and put even more pressure on workers' wages, benefits and collective bargaining rights.

The deal now includes Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and Mexico, but Japan has also indicated that it wants to join.

It's time for the negotiators to hear from the people who will be most affected by this deal.

There will be a free shuttle bus to "TPP: Out of the Shadows! Rally for Good Jobs, Affordable Medicine and a Healthy Environment" from downtown Washington, DC. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

Michigan Collective Bargaining Initiative Will Be on Nov. Ballot

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The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Monday afternoon that a proposed November ballot question to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state's constitution should be put before voters.

"The right to collectively bargain is fundamental in our country, however the Republican dominated legislature in Michigan doesn't believe that. They feel they have the authority to strip fundamental rights from workers, in order to bolster Corporate America," said staff representative Mike Schulte. "CWA members in Michigan have been on the front lines fighting to defend workers' rights. We have consistently had volunteers throughout the state, canvassing neighborhoods to educate voters on the amendment and encouraging voters to support working families by voting yes."

Opponents are expected to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.

It's been a wild ride for the ballot initiative.

Supporters collected nearly 700,000 signatures to put a proposal protecting collective bargaining on the ballot. The petition was approved by the state's Board of Canvassers in March.

But in July, Attorney General Bill Schuette at the request of GOP Gov. Rick Snyder issued an erroneous and politically-motivated opinion to take it off the ballot. Then, the Board of Canvassers deadlocked along party lines, blocking citizens from voting on the proposal in November. That's what sent the fight to the state's courts.

Responsibility for Employees' Health and Safety Doesn't End at U.S. Borders

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American workers assigned to duties overseas don't give up their right to health and safety on the job, according to a recent OSHA case.

The case against ABC, involving NABET members covering Japan's tsunami and resulting radiation leaks, cost the network a $3,000 fine in a settlement with OSHA. But CWA, NABET and NewsGuild leaders say the small penalty pales next to the far-reaching precedent the case sets.

"OSHA officials made it clear that the agency provides coverage of U.S. companies and their employees, even if the work is performed outside the United States," CWA Safety and Health Director Dave LeGrande said. "This decision has tremendous potential for union safety and health activities for our NABET and Guild members, and others, who perform work outside the country."

NABET Local 51016 members sent to cover the tsunami in Japan were given radiation monitoring badges. In addition to those readings, ABC told the union and OSHA that it had workers' equipment and personal items tested for radiation when they returned. But other than a summary report, ABC refused to hand over the full and final results of the tests.

"It turned out that ABC hasn't been truthful about how much monitoring they had done, and the results they got were inconclusive at best," LeGrande said. "We don't really know what level of exposure the workers had."

AP Photographer, TNG-CWA Member, Helps Save Women in Burning Car

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A TNG-CWA member appears on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.




NBC Nightly News has a full report on the uplifting story of good Samaritans, including Associated Press photographer Gerald Herbert, a member of News Media Guild-CWA.

One of the first on the scene of an accident in Mississippi, Herbert found a woman inside a burning SUV screaming for help. He tried to get her out, and flagged down other motorists; nearly 20 stopped. When the rescue of the woman and her sister were certain, only then did Herbert begin taking the magnificent pictures NBC Nightly News uses liberally in its report.

"That was one of the most horrible feelings in my life to walk up there run up there and see her pinned and to hear her screams as the flames were getting bigger, her screams for help," Herbert told NBC.

A Labor Day Message from Secretary Solis

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Labor Secretary Hilda Solis




Brothers and sisters

Today, I want to extend my warmest wishes to the Communications Workers of America. Thank you for your commitment, your talent, your hard work, and your service to this country. On behalf of everyone at the Department of Labor, I'm honored to wish all of you a great Labor Day.

Labor Day is the celebration of a promise fulfilled. For generations, the promise of good jobs, fair treatment and wages, and a seat at the bargaining table has sustained the economic security of America's vital middle class.

Labor Day is also a call to action, a reminder that we must defend that promise to ensure that dignity and opportunity remain the birthright of all workers in this country.

We know what's at stake, and we know what we have to do.

We must continue to get people back to work. We've come so far in the last 3 1/2 years, but we've still got a long way to go. We were bleeding more than 800,000 jobs a month when President Obama took office. But over the last 29 months, we've created 4.5 million private sector jobs.

You're supporting this recovery by fighting practices like outsourcing that devastate workers, families and communities and bringing American jobs home. President Obama and I are standing with you by calling for an end to tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and rewarding companies that bring jobs home. You're also leading the way in preparing our workforce for the jobs that will fuel the engine of the 21st Century economy by investing in education and skills training that will help workers keep pace with the rapidly changing information industry.

With all you do for workers, it amazes me that some say we can't afford unions right now, that labor unions are the problem in this country. But I think they've got it just plain wrong. CWA helped build America's middle class. You are now and always will be part of the solution.

For me, this Labor Day has added meaning. My dad, who was a proud union member, passed away this year. When I was in ninth grade, he would come home and ask me to sit with him at our kitchen table. From his pockets, he pulled pieces of paper with writing in Spanish on them. They were scribbled messages from co-workers: safety grievances, questions about paychecks that didn't add up, and ideas about how to improve the productivity of the line.

He'd ask me to translate them into English. When I asked what they were, he explained: "They are the voice of the workers." It was from him, as a young girl, that I learned about the critical need for workers to have a seat at the table.

Today, I honor his memory with a call for unity and strength a commitment to keep building on our achievements to meet the urgent needs of working families.

One thing is certain: the promise of the great American worker will never be broken. Working together, there's no challenge we can't overcome.

Hilda L. Solis

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