Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Sign up for the Sept. 20 CWA Telephone Town Hall

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You won't want to miss the next CWA national town hall call, set for Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 pm EDT. Sign up at www.cwa-union.org/cwacall.

CWA, Allies Will Register 25,000 New Pennsylvania Voters

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Left to right: Chris Kennedy, Nick Alpers, Yvette Herrera, John Jordan, Don Engleman, John Johnson, Jr., Daphne Taylor, Dave Szczepanski and Andre Jones, Sr.

 

 

 

CWA has partnered with the Pennsylvania NAACP, Transport Workers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union to register 25,000 new voters in the Keystone State by Oct. 1.

Volunteers will be taking to the streets of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with voter registration forms and information about the state's new voter identification law, a measure recently passed by the GOP-dominated state legislature that is designed to suppress turnout particularly in minority communities.

"Together, we will work day and night in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to register new voters and educate current voters about what they now need to do to participate in the democratic process," said CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney. "Some in the State Legislature may think they can keep eligible voters away from the polls with unnecessary hurdles, but they need to think again."

Today, the state Supreme Court held a hearing on the controversial voter ID law in Philadelphia. The NAACP, CWA and others held a news conference outside City hall just before the hearing to show how nasty and unjust this partisan attack on citizens' right to vote has become. NAACP Chairman and CEO Ben Jealous joined Mike Davis, vice president of CWA Local 13000,  other Pennsylvania labor and civil rights leaders and a number of minorities or senior citizens who rallied in opposition, according to The Washington Post.

This year the Pennsylvania legislature passed and Governor Tom Corbett (R) signed a new law which required voters to present government approved photo ID in order to vote. Reports show that some 750,000 Pennsylvanians do not have an acceptable ID, especially elderly and lower income residents, students and people of color. Proponents of the law claim it's intended to prevent voter fraud, but have acknowledged that voter fraud has not occurred in the state in recent history. Since 2000, only 10 cases of in-person voter fraud have been proven nationally.

Now, if you're an elderly veteran who gave up his driver's license, you're most likely not going to be able to vote in the November elections in Pennsylvania. But if your son is Jim Cramer, the wacky host of CNBC's financial show "Mad Money," you'll get some personal attention from the state voter registration agency. After tweeting that his father wouldn't be able to vote, Cramer's 90-year-old dad got a personal phone call and help from state officials.

Too bad the other 749,999 registered voters in Pennsylvania who don't have an "official" state-issued form of identification won't get the same service.

CWA Stands With The Chicago Teachers Union

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United Airlines flight attendants support The Chicago Teachers Union.

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CWA supports the fight by Chicago teachers, members of the AFT, for a fair contract and a voice in the classroom. Sign this petition to send that message to The Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Here's what CWA President Larry Cohen said:

It's time to confront elected officials who try to divide working women and men. Chicago's Mayor should heed the words of President Obama, who in his Labor Day proclamation just a few days ago said, "I am committed to preserving the collective bargaining rights that helped build the greatest middle class the world has ever known. It is the fundamental right of every American to have a voice on the job, and a chance to negotiate for fair pay, safe working conditions, and a secure retirement. When we uphold these basic principles, our middle class grows and everybody prospers."

Whether in the public or private sectors, whether we are union or not, working men and women need to defend those rights as we did in Wisconsin and across the nation over the past 18 months.

The Chicago teachers are more than willing to support reform but this cannot include class sizes of more than 40 students, almost total reliance in evaluating teachers on test scores, and scapegoating teachers and other educational staff for much bigger problems.

Quality public education is critical in every 21st century democracy and all of us need to stand up and fight back.

NewsGuild-CWA President Bernie Lunzer writes that there's no merit in merit pay systems.

50 NJ Hospital Workers Win Union Recognition

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In the wake of the sale and privatization of a public county hospital, CWA Local 1036 fought to protect workers' representation rights, rather than lose the unit.

That hard work paid off last week when 50 workers won voluntary recognition from Aspen Hills/Ocean Healthcare, which purchased Buttonwood from Burlington County in August.

Employees both former public-sector members who stuck with the hospital after the sale and new hires will now be covered by a CWA contract. CWA Local 1036 will represent all licensed practical nurses, activity coordinators, psychiatric aides and maintenance staff.

CWA Local 1036 also collected a significant showing of interest from certified nursing assistants at Aspen Hills, which will trigger an election for 60 to 80 more workers in a couple weeks.

Activists Go Head-to-Head with TPP Negotiators

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CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins speaks to the TPP protest in Leesburg, Va.

Below: About 200 activists from CWA, Sierra Club and Citizens Trade Campaign joined the latest round of the trade talks.

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About 200 activists from CWA, Sierra Club and Citizens Trade Campaign joined the latest round of the Trans Pacific Partnership talks in Leesburg, Va., where they had the opportunity to confront negotiators about the secret talks. The TPP trade deal would be the biggest trade agreement in U.S. history; it's NAFTA on steroids and a bad deal for workers, consumers and the environment.

About 50 CWAers and progressive activists who registered as stakeholders attended a briefing session with negotiators and asked questions and raised concerns about the deal. CWA locals from D2-13 turned out for the event, along with CWA headquarters staff.

At the briefings, activists talked with trade representatives from Australia, Chile and other countries; the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, Department of Labor and State Department, and journalists, among others. The issue of workers' rights specifically was raised with the chief negotiator from Vietnam; it was no real surprise that the negotiator sidestepped the question of Vietnam guaranteeing workers' rights to form free trade unions.

At the afternoon rally, CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins said, "The TPP is shaping up to become one of the biggest and most destructive trade agreements because it could lead to even more offshoring of our manufacturing and service sector jobs, downward pressure on wages and benefits, and the subversion of our labor rights and environmental protections. But the public is unaware that the TPP even exists because negotiators are keeping their proposals hidden. Americans deserve the right to know what's being proposed in our names."

Chamber of Commerce lobbyists and other business representatives have seen all the texts, but millions of Americans facing a big upheaval in jobs, environmental standards, consumer rights and other areas are being kept in the dark.

The next round of negotiations will be in December.

Michigan Collective Bargaining Measure Will Be On Ballot

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The Michigan Supreme Court ruled last week that a proposed November ballot question to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state's constitution should be put before voters.

Protect Working Families, a coalition of labor unions backing what's now being labeled Proposal 2, is now ramping up its canvassing and phone banking efforts to educate voters.

"CWA is small, as far as the labor movement goes in Michigan. But we're definitely doing our fair share, above and beyond," said staff representative Mike Schulte. "I'm proud of my locals. On our first shift canvassing, we did 300 times what we were asked to do."

According to the ballot language, Proposal 2 would:

 

  • Grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions.
  • Invalidate existing or future state and local laws that limit the ability to join unions and bargain collectively, and to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees' financial support of their labor unions. Laws may be enacted to prohibit public employees from striking.
  • Override state laws that regulate hours and conditions of employment to the extent that those laws conflict with collective bargaining agreements.
  • Define "employer" as a person or entity employing one or more employees.

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 Michigan Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of Protect Working Families. The opposition's last-ditch appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court then failed.

New Video Spotlights the Personal Costs of Offshoring

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CWA's latest video "Why Wouldn't You" features call center workers from across the country sharing stories about losing their jobs to outsourcing.

Perla, a T-Mobile call center employee from Brownsville, Texas, says, "When I lost my job, I thought about my house payments, car payments, tuition." Iceatra, a T-Mobile worker from Allentown, Pennsylvania, says her "whole life flashed before my eyes."

A few short years after pocketing millions in taxpayer dollars to establish call centers, American companies are now offshoring these jobs, sticking communities with unemployment and financial ruin. From 2006 to 2010, the U.S. call center industry representing 3 percent of the U.S. workforce lost 500,000 call center jobs.

CWA has worked with companies like AT&T and US Airways to bring jobs back, including 5,000 Internet tech support jobs and 700 reservations jobs, but too many companies are continuing to send these good jobs overseas.

That's why CWA strongly supports legislation sponsored in the House by Reps. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Dave McKinley (R-W. Va.), and in the Senate by Senators Robert Casey (D-Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) that would make companies that off-shore call center jobs ineligible for taxpayer funded grants and loans, and offer U.S. consumers the opportunity to be connected to a U.S.-based call center. Unfortunately, the House bill was stalled over the summer when Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives blocked consideration of the bill. The Senate version of the bill has been introduced and cosponsors are signing on.

Show your support by watching and sharing this video today. Then click here to tell your Senators to support the bill to bring these workers' jobs back home.

October is Call Center Action Month

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CWA, in partnership with UNI Global Union, will be observing Call Center Action Month in October.

The union is kicking off the month of actions with the newly updated report, "Why Shipping Call Center Jobs Overseas Hurts Us Back Home."

CWA has launched a campaign to build public support for the call center bills introduced in the House by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) last December and in the Senate by Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.) last July.

And CWA President Larry Cohen will be visiting call centers during the official week of action, Oct. 8-12. Locals across the country are already planning actions, such as pre- and post-shift parking lot rallies and lunchtime workshops on issues of importance to call center workers.

"We encourage you to organize actions that focus attention on the stress and anxiety suffered by call center workers because of call handle times and the use of scripts," CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins wrote in a letter to local presidents.

Flight Attendants Remember 9/11

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AFA-CWA's Veda Shook, Sara Nelson and Darren Shiroma pay their respects to the Flight Attendants who died on September 11 in Shanksville, PA.

 

 

 

 

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