Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWA Telephone Town Hall TONIGHT Oct. 18

You won't want to miss the CWA national town hall call tonight at 7:30 pm EDT. We'll hear the latest developments from our CWA state political coordinators working in key states and races for the 2012 election.

CWAers Take Action For Call Center Jobs

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CWA President Larry Cohen joins participants at CWAs customer service professionals conference in phone banking for U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.




CWAers from across the country gathered this week for the 2012 Customer Service Conference in St. Louis just one of the many events coinciding with Call Center Action Month worldwide.

The conference featured panel discussions about contractual language, offshoring and organizing. The 150 participants talked about the industry's challenges and the political environment.

Speakers included CWA President Larry Cohen, District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings, Piedmont Airlines ramp agent and CWA leader Abdur Bilal and Missouri State Rep. Karla May.

"There are more than 5 million customer service workers in the United States, employing more than 4 percent of the American workforce," said Chief of Staff Ron Collins. "The more CWA can grow and organize this key sector, the better we can reduce workplace stress, negotiate better working conditions for our members and, most importantly, challenge offshoring. Too many companies have shipped jobs overseas to low-wage countries, devastating the domestic call center industry. But bringing these good jobs back home will help jumpstart our economy building stronger communities, quality jobs and enhanced security for consumers' personal information. That's why we're telling Congress to pass the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act."


During the conference, attendees participated in three different actions. Some leafleted an AT&T worksite. Others did an action at Wells Fargo, which is expanding its call center operation in the Philippines after laying off hundreds of American workers. And a number of activists, including Cohen and T-Mobile workers, made phone calls in support of Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is running for re-election against Rep. Todd Akin. (Compare McCaskill and Akin's records at

CWA, in partnership with UNI Global Union, kicked off October with two new reports, "Why Shipping Call Center Jobs Overseas Hurts Us Back Home" and "Making the Right Call Redesigning Call Centres from the Bottom Up." CWA has launched a campaign to build public support for the call center bills introduced by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.). Locals across the country have also planned demonstrations, such as pre- and post-shift parking lot rallies and lunchtime workshops on issues of importance to call center workers.

Follow all of the actions and updates at and

Elections Are About Choices

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District 3 Vice President Judy Dennis leaflets and talks to CWAers at the Yellow Pages operation in Tucker, Georgia.




CWA District 3 Vice President Judy Dennis, Local 3204 activists and CWA District 3 staff were out early this week, leafleting CWA members about the November elections and exactly what's at stake. Leaflets were distributed at an AT&T call center, an AT&T Mobility Center and the Yellow Pages operation, all in the Atlanta area.




Members of Local 3204 are ready to head out to three AT&T facilities in the Atlanta area to leaflet for Election 2012.




CWAers were glad to have the opportunity to talk with Dennis, and expressed their opinions on lots of issues, the district said. More leafleting is planned between now and Election Day, along with visits to customer service centers throughout the district to mark Customer Service Month.






District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings talks up President Obama and distributes leaflets to 800 CWA members at St. Louis call center.




In St. Louis, District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings, Local 6300 President Mike Mehringer, local union activists and CWA staff hand-billed the 800 CWA members at an AT&T call center in St. Louis this week. Activists talked with members and distributed flyers that contrasted the "two visions for the middle class" of President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.

Cummings was meeting with customer service workers as part of Customer Service Month.






President Cohen talks with members of Local 2108 at Verizon's Chesapeake Complex in Silver Spring, Md.




CWA President Larry Cohen met with CWAers at the Verizon Chesapeake Complex in Silver Spring, Md. Cohen and CWA Local 2108 President Marilyn Irwin were on hand as workers heard from Democrat John Delaney, the CWA-backed candidate for Congress in Maryland's 6th district. Cohen and Irwin also met with CWA members, talking about workplace issues for call center workers.






CWA Political Director Rafael Navar and CWA activists meet with CenturyLink workers in Phoenix on the presidential race and the Carmona-Flake Senate race.




CWA Political Director Rafael Navar has been meeting with CWAers in Florida, Arizona, New Mexico and other states to talk about candidates and issues that are important to CWA and working families.

In Phoenix, Local 7019 members, Arizona political coordinator Joe Seeley and other CWA activists leafleted and met with CenturyLink workers to talk about what's at stake in the presidential race between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, and well as the tight Senate race between Democrat Richard Carmona and Republican Jeff Flake. Read more about the issues at

CWA activists have leafleted over 700 worksites with election materials.

Countdown to November 6

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CWAers spread the word about No on Prop. 32.




In California, early voting is now underway, and CWAers are ready to spread the word about Propositions 30 and 32 across the state. Activists got materials and more info at the District 9 conference in Reno, then set out for several rounds of precinct walks, phone banks and worksite leafleting.

Prop. 32 is the deceptively named "Stop Special Interest Money Now Act." It really was written to make it illegal for workers to voluntarily make political contributions through payroll deductions. Corporate executives don't use payroll deduction to make their contributions they just write big, fat checks. This is a definite no.

Prop. 30, deserves a yes vote. It asks everyone in California to pay a fair share of taxes to fund public education and public services for a temporary period of time, to restore $20 billion in cuts to education and public safety from over the past three years.







CWA retirees in Georgia work on registering voters.




District 3 retirees have been working hard to contact unregistered voters who are CWA members. Over the past week, the RMC members have been calling CWAers to make sure they register, and to remind other retirees about giving to CWA's political action fund.






AT&T workers and Sen. Sherrod Brown call for bill to bring good call center jobs home.




In Ohio, CWAers and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown called for tough legislation that would keep good call center jobs in the U.S. and gives consumers the right to be transferred back to a U.S. agent.

At a news conference in Niles, Ohio, Senator Brown stood with Dan Harshbarger and Renee Rouser, AT&T call center workers from Boardman and members of Local 4320, and Ron Gay, vice president of Local 4300, to make the case for the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, sponsored by Brown and Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey.

"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. By requiring companies to disclose when their calls are being transferred abroad, businesses could be encouraged to keep their call centers jobs here in the United States," Brown said.

Brown is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate, against State Treasurer Josh Mandel. Check out their records at

Don't Get Bained

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Workers tell voters the truth about Romneys economic plan.

Below: The Bain Worker Bus Tour is making stops in New York Missouri, Massachusetts, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.





Workers who have been "Bained" and lost their jobs when Bain Capital, formerly headed by presidential candidate Mitt Romney, took over their company, are on a bus tour to tell everyone just what a Romney economy promises for the future: lost jobs, lost health care, lost pensions and lots of outsourcing and offshoring.

The bus tour stopped outside Bain Capital headquarters in New York this week, and workers from the Bain-owned Sensata plant in Freeport, Ill., were greeted by a crowd including lots of union members and supporters. "I've worked at Sensata Technologies for six years, and next month my job is being outsourced to China," said Mary Jo Kerr. "Knowing that co-workers and I will be jobless, while the Chinese economy and its people will benefit from Bain Capital's selfish business practices makes me angry." After Bain bought Sensata in 2006, workers went from having jobs to seeing those jobs offshored in just six years.

The bus then headed to the Presidential debate at Hofstra University, where more workers spoke up about Bain.

According to the Washington Post, "During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission...Bain played several roles in helping these outsourcing companies, such as investing venture capital so they could grow, and providing management and strategic business advice as they navigated this rapidly developing field."

CWA Workers Will Build 90 New York City Buses

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A New York City bus manufactured by New Flyer.




CWAers at New Flyer's Minnesota facility have begun manufacturing 90 heavy-duty clean diesel buses for New York City.

The contract from the New York City Transit Authority and the MTA Bus Company was the result of CWA coordination and collaboration. "CWA came together and we worked through it from New York to Minnesota," said John Desm, president of CWA Local 7304.

In July, New Flyer had reached a contract to build the 60-foot buses for New York and deliver them by the end of the year. But in September, the city held up placing its order for the buses while the purchase underwent an independent review.

With the contract in limbo, the company was forced to implement reduced schedules and three-day work weeks. As the delay dragged on, New Flyer gave notice to workers that there would have to be 114 layoffs, said Desm.

But Desm had reached out to CWA District 1 Legislative Political Director Bob Master for help. Master and CWA Local 1180 President Arthur Cheliotes contacted New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who was doing the review of the city transit contract.

Then, just as the company approached its deadline to make a decision about layoffs, the comptroller called back to say the contract had been approved.

The next Monday, workers began work on the buses.

"We're really, really happy to help brothers and sisters in Minnesota who are building state of the art buses for city of New York and we're proud CWA members are moving New Yorkers around the city," said Master.

Edna Award Recognizes Restaurant Worker Organizer

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Veronica Avila, the daughter of immigrants who grew up in Chicago's poor meatpacking yards and returned to organize its restaurant workers, has won the 2012 Edna Award.

The Edna, which carries a $10,000 prize, recognizes young women who have distinguished themselves as leaders of the social justice movement. It is named for Edna Berger, a women's rights pioneer who started as a Philadelphia Inquirer receptionist and rose to become a writer, editor and the first woman organizer for The Newspaper Guild.

Avila founded the Chicago chapter of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, building on her experience as an organizer for Unite HERE Local 1, to recruit more than 700 restaurant workers. Avila organized training programs, helped to place workers and spearheaded a campaign for fair treatment of employees of the Darden Group, which owns Chicago's Capital Grille, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and other chain eateries.

"I totally agree with the other judges in our choice of Veronica Avila, executive director of Restaurant Opportunity Centers United, for her unending work with youth, passage of the DREAM Act and to raise the Illinois minimum wage, and for changing the face of the restaurant industry in Canada and the U.S," said Carol Rothman, secretary-treasurer of The Newspaper Guild-CWA, who served on the award's panel of union, civic and activist leaders. "As one nominator said, she drives herself and extracts the same drive from those she organizes."

Avila will receive the Edna at an awards reception on Nov. 14 at the National Press Club. Three women will also receive Awards of Distinction, featuring $1,000 prizes. They are Nusrat (Jerin) Arifa, National Organization for Women board member and chair of the National Young Feminist Task Force; Lydia Edwards, director of Legal Services for the Brazilian Immigration Center; and Viridiana Martinez, who is leading the fight for immigrant rights as founder of the North Carolina Dream Team and now as a prisoner in Florida, where she was detained after declaring her undocumented status.

"It's truly inspiring to see what these young women are doing to lead the fight for social and economic justice in their communities," said Linda K. Foley, president of the Berger-Marks Foundation, which was created by bequest of Broadway composer Gerald Marks in honor of his wife Edna.

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