Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWA Telephone Town Hall Tonight

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You won't want to miss the CWA national town hall call tonight at 7:30 pm EDT. The call will include updates on Verizon, CWA's voter registration drive in Pennsylvania and how activists fought to secure Trade Adjustment Assistance for T-Mobile workers.

Listen to the call at

CWA, IBEW Reach Tentative Agreements with Verizon

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Verizon workers marched through downtown Philadelphia on Aug. 11, rallying for a fair contract.




CWA and the IBEW have reached tentative agreements with Verizon Communications covering 45,000 members from Virginia to New England.

The tentative contracts maintain workers' standard of living and employment security over the next three years and reaffirm that workers' bargaining rights are necessary to maintain the middle class in America. Read details of the CWA agreements here. CWA and IBEW are hopeful that the agreements will lead to additional investment and jobs going forward.

Also, CWA and IBEW members fired during the August 2011 strike, whose cases were being prosecuted by the National Labor Relations Board, will return to work as part of the tentative agreement.

Separately, CWA and Verizon reached a tentative agreement covering 70 Verizon Wireless technicians in New York.

The officers, staff and bargaining committee members of both unions worked endlessly, day and night, over the past 16 months, on behalf of the 45,000 active and 70,000 retired members. And they credited the mobilization of tens of thousands of members and allies throughout the labor and progressive communities in making a big difference in the negotiations. Verizon workers stood together to get the best possible agreement, CWA and IBEW said.

Over the past several weeks, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George Cohen met with union and management negotiators in efforts to help reach a fair settlement. CWA and IBEW appreciate the work of Director Cohen in helping to bring about a resolution after 16 months of negotiations. The previous contract expired in August 2011, and following a two-week strike that led to a better framework for bargaining, CWA and IBEW members continued to work under the terms of the expired agreement while negotiations continued.

D7 CenturyLink Workers Standing Strong for New Contract

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CenturyLink management is demanding a lot of givebacks from workers at the former Qwest Communications, but CWAers are standing strong with their bargaining committee to get the fair contract they deserve.

The agreement covers 11,000 workers in the 14 District 7 states: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa. It expires Oct. 6.

At the opening of negotiations last month, CWA District 7 Vice President Mary Taylor told the company that workers' priorities are job security, bringing back jobs that have been offshored to the Philippines, absence and time-off scheduling policies, and more. The bargaining team has been pushing for these and other positive changes and fighting back against the company's giveback demands. CenturyLink wants "flexibility" so it can compete with Comcast and other cable companies, it said.

The 32 retiree chapters of D7's Retired Members' Council sent a strong message of support to CWA's CenturyLink Bargaining Team: "We are 25,000 strong...and we want you to know we are behind you 100%. We are ready and willing to do what it takes to reach a fair contract. We are part of the history to gain better contracts during the past 60+ years and we will support your efforts any way we can.

"We know it was the collective power of all of us that has given us a standard of living that allows us to care for our families. With CWA we have a voice and collective bargaining. Let us know what you need from us; we'll be there!"

Pride at Work Puts 'Boots on the Ground' in Cleveland

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30 CWAers joined this year's Pride at Work convention in Cleveland.




CWAers had the biggest voice and largest participation at this year's Pride at Work convention, held in Cleveland last week. About 180 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered union activists attended, with at least 30 CWAers on hand. Pride at Work gives voice to LGBT workers across the union movement.

Activists held a "Boots on the Ground" Day of Action, and spent a day walking neighborhoods and knocking on doors in Cleveland, especially where voters might need to re-register now to vote in the November elections.

Shane Larson, CWA's legislative director, and Tiffany Heath, TNG-CWA, were elected co-presidents, succeeding Donna Cartwright, a retired TNG-CWA member, and Stan Kiino, an AFA-CWA activist.

Delegates adopted resolutions supporting passenger service agents at American Airlines, who have been fighting for some 15 years for a union voice, and calling on T-Mobile USA to support true and full equality by not blocking workers' right to a union voice. Other convention topics included a discussion of key LGBT labor issues, creative organizing strategies, voter suppression, developing social media skills and more.

Speakers included CWA Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hill, AFA-CWA President Veda Shook and CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins.

PA Voter ID Law Heads Back To Lower Court

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CWA activists hit the streets to register voters in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.




The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has sent the state's controversial voter ID law back to a lower court to determine if acquiring the necessary IDs interferes with voting rights.

The state's Commonwealth Court has until Oct. 2 to respond. Judge Robert Simpson, the very judge who previously refused to stop the law will be reviewing the availability of ID cards and whether the new law disenfranchises voters.

Getting an ID hasn't been easy. According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, "Nine rural counties have no driver's license centers at all, and in an additional 20 counties containing 1.5 million people, driver's license centers are open three or fewer days a week. Only seven of 67 counties have more than one driver's license center." The Washington Post recently reported that it took four hours for a Philadelphia woman just to get her ID.

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. Activists have been registering hundreds of voters at train and bus stations in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

"It's a big deal in Philadelphia. We have a lot of seniors who are having trouble," said Daphne Taylor, steward for CWA Local 13500. "Lots of people migrated from down south, where they didn't have birth certificates they had midwives. We're telling them how to get free IDs and other forms of ID so they can go to the ballot box."

Pennsylvania officials can't cite any evidence of voter fraud in the state. Nationally, the voter fraud rate is 0.0004 percent (or 4 ten-thousandths of a percent), according to the Brennan Center.

CWA/NETT Provides Training For Laid Off Members

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CWA's Sheri Wiles, Robyn Thrasher and Edward Dogan learn about fiber optic installation.

Below: Margaret Walsh, who worked for Cincinnati Bell for 13 years, gets hands-on fiber optic installation training.





Fiber optics installation training is helping dislocated telecommunications workers find their way back into well-paying jobs.

Last week, 11 former Cincinnati Bell technicians began the 32-hour course combining classroom work and hands-on training to earn an Electronic Technicians Associations Fiber Optic Installer credential. The class was provided by CWA/NETT Academy with funding support from the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board (SWORWIB).

"Everyone is going to fiber optics," said Sherry Wiles, who worked for 18 years at Cincinnati Bell and specialized in inside repair. "We just worked with copper. This gives us the chance to learn new skills that will lead to a job that pays well."

In May, Cincinnati Bell had announced it would lay off up to 150 employees, as it outsourced its call center operatives to StarTek Inc., which then shipped those jobs to the Philippines. To help its dislocated members, CWA Local 4400 offered up its headquarters for the training and aims to place them into companies where it has representation.

This year, about 60 CWAers have gone through the same fiber optics installation course, said Kevin Celata, CWA/NETT training administrator.

"We welcomed working with the SWORWIB," said Celata. "Anytime we can partner with the workforce system to help our members who are being displaced, we make sure that happens."

Learn more at or visit CWA/NETT on Facebook

President Cohen on Ed Show Tonight

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Tune in tonight to the Ed Show at 8 pm EDT on MSNBC, and watch CWA President Cohen talk about jobs and offshoring, China and Mitt Romney.

U.S. House Photographers Join NABET-CWA

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New members Bob Lewis, the organizing committee leader, and Toni Freeman celebrate their win.




Photographers who work for the U.S. House of Representatives, shooting official photographs for members and groups of visitors at the capitol and on congressional delegation trips abroad, are now members of NABET-CWA.

The unit voted 6-2 to join the union, not for more money as federal employees their salaries are set but for respect and better working conditions. In addition to photographers, the unit includes lab operators and an administrative specialist. The nine new members of Local 52031 join fellow NABET-CWAers in the House Recording Studio and Senate Recording Studio.

"NABET-CWA is honored to represent the U.S. House photographers. They now have a voice at work, and we will make sure that voice is heard and respected when contract negotiations commence," said NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce.

Ads Spotlight House Members Positions On Call Center Bill

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CWA is airing a new radio ad buy, supporting Michigan Rep. Mike Michaud, who is fighting to keep good customer service jobs in America, and opposing his three House colleagues who aren't.

The spots criticize Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.), Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) and North Dakota Senate candidate Rep. Rick Berg (R) for blocking a call center bill (HR 3596) from coming to the House floor earlier this year.

"Overseas call center employees have been caught selling credit card numbers, mortgage information and even medical records. Yet Congressman Rick Berg voted against consideration of a bipartisan bill in congress to protect American jobs and consumers," one of the ads says. Listen to the audio here.

The ad buy is part of CWA's larger campaign initiative to support members of Congress who want to restore good-paying jobs, and inform the public of the lawmakers who are standing in the way legislation to curb corporate deception and outsourcing.

CWA's campaign will be active in at least 50 races nationwide, focusing on grassroots actions, phone banking and other tactics.

Sarbanes Pushes Campaign Finance Reform

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CWA, along with the NAACP and Greenpeace, praised U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes' (D-Md.) new campaign finance reform bill to empower the average small donor.

"The epidemic is clear. Money has corrupted our political sphere for far too long. Many blame political corruption on our elected officials but never endeavor to change the pay-to-play system that forces our leaders to be beholden to the wealthiest donors," the organizations wrote in a letter today. "The Grassroots Democracy Act implements true change by creating a system where ALL Americans have an equal voice. That's what Democracy looks like."

The act's "Democracy Dollars" voucher program would encourage a genuine grassroots campaign model by offering a 5:1 public financing match for candidates who reject PAC money, and a 10:1 match for those who only accept grassroots donations. And every eligible voter would get a $50 voucher or tax credit to donate to a campaign of his or her choice.

Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law

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A county judge has struck down provisions of Wisconsin's law that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for public sector unions.

In a 27-page decision last Friday, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas ruled that parts of the law "single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association and therefore infringe upon the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions." The judge also said it violated equal protection by dividing workers into separate and unequal classes.

However, GOP Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has filed a motion to block the ruling on behalf of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who made attacking public workers his signature initiative after taking office. The decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court.

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