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CWA Members Ratify Verizon Contract
CWA members ratified a four-year agreement covering about 35,000
workers from Virginia to New England.
CWA Local 7019 members picket CenturyLink in Phoenix, Arizona.
Below: CWA Local 7800 activists spread the word about CenturyLink
Contract highlights include an 8.2 percent compounded wage increase
over the next three years, and additional cash payments. Also on
ratification, CWA members who were fired by Verizon during the August
2011 strike will return to work.
"This contract ensures that every one of our members will see an
improvement in their standard of living. It was a tough fight, and we
turned back efforts by the company to gut our contracts. Now, we'll keep
up the fight to expand good jobs for Verizon workers," said CWA District
1 Vice President Chris Shelton, who represents members in New York, New
Jersey and New England.
CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney, who represents Verizon
workers in the mid-Atlantic States, said, "The unity and determination
of CWA and the IBEW over 16 months of bargaining, and the support of our
allies, made this contract possible. Our goal now is to make certain
that CWA members continue to be a key part of this company's future."
The contract had expired in August 2011. A two-week strike, an active
member mobilization and support campaign by progressive allies, and
final intensive negotiations under the auspices of the Federal Mediation
and Conciliation Service brought about this settlement. The new contract
expires August 2015.
CenturyLink Contract Extended Day to Day as Negotiations Continue
Tough bargaining continues at CenturyLink, where the CWA bargaining
team is pushing forward on critical issues of jobs, health care, and
other issues. In a message to members, CWA District 7 Vice President
Mary Taylor expressed thanks to members for "your continued support and
solidarity. 'It Takes All of Us' is not just a slogan; it is a reality.
We are all frustrated that we don't have a deal yet, but we will not let
our frustration compromise our ability to hang in there and do the work
necessary to obtain a fair agreement."
NYT Staffers Consider Byline Strike
New York Times staffers welcome the company's incoming chief
executive with signs reading "Save Our Times" in New York and
Washington, DC (inset).
Hundreds of New York Times staffers have quietly signed pledges to
withhold their bylines, photo credits and producing credits.
"They have also pledged to work strictly to the terms of the
contract," the Newspaper Guild of New York mobilization committee wrote
in a memo. "We don't know yet if we will have to go down this road, but
it is vital that we be prepared."
TNG-CWA has been bargaining with the Times since the contract expired
20 months ago. "In real dollars, they're demanding pay cuts as far as
the eye can see. It is high time for them to believe us. We will accept
nothing less than fair wages and benefits," the memo said.
On Monday at 3:40 p.m. union members gathered in New York and
Washington, DC, holding signs that read, "Without us it's just blank
space" and "Save Our Times." They took a group photograph to give to the
company's incoming chief executive, Mark Thompson.
And on Wednesday, members delivered a letter to publisher Arthur
Sulzberger, saying "the company's negotiating goal of sub-inflation
raises would perpetuate an era of shrinking compensation" that would
have a "withering effect on morale."
They also took to Twitter to get out the message: "Retweet this to
show support for @nytimes journalists & staff who are fighting wage and
benefit cuts #saveourtimes."
AT&T Boosts Pension Plan
AT&T has taken steps to further strengthen its defined benefit
pension fund by contributing a $9.5 billion equity stake. Retirement
security is a critical issue for working families, and AT&T's proposed
action means a strong future for the fund.
AT&T's announcement comes at a time when many companies have moved in
the opposite direction, eliminating or underfunding their pension plans
and putting workers' retirement security at risk. The Labor Department
will be reviewing AT&T's request.
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AFA-CWA President Veda Shook (left) canvasses in Washington State.
Below: Activists remember the civil rights activists killed for
registering African Americans to vote.
AFA-CWA International President Veda Shook spent a day with activists
from the Washington State Labor Council, meeting with candidates and
walking neighborhoods to encourage working Americans to vote.
Ballots for the election went out Oct. 19. Washington State and
Oregon conduct their elections by mail.
Following a session at the UA (Plumbers and Pipefitters) hall with
labor-backed candidates Rep. Jay Inslee, who's running for Governor;
Suzan DelBene, candidate for the 1st congressional district; and State
Treasurer Jim McIntire, activists fanned out for labor neighborhood
walks to talk one-on-one with their union neighbors.
Before the walk, Shook talked about why the "labor neighbor" program
was so successful and how contact with union co-workers will make all
the difference in the 2012 election. Shook also thanked Inslee for his
strong support for workers' rights and his vote to safeguard bargaining
and organizing rights in the Federal Aviation Administration funding
About 50 activists, including members of CWA Local 6215, Jobs with
Justice, MoveOn, Texas Organizing Project and Texas Alliance for Retired
Americans rallied outside the Dallas County Records Building as early
voting in Texas began on Oct. 22. Local President Brett St. Clair and
activists handed out leaflets that focused on why "Texas Seniors Have a
Big Stake in These Elections," and urged everyone to vote. Early voting
runs through Nov. 2.
Many of the activists carried signs remembering civil rights
activists who were killed in Mississippi because they were registering
African Americans to vote.
The Texas State Employees Union, CWA Local 6186, sent an email blast
to all members alerting them about early voting. TSEU reminded members
that voting matters, and determines "how we want our State and Nation to
be run. This decision has never been more important in our state, after
enduring one of the worst sessions in over 50 years. Last session, we
witnessed the Governor and the majority party CUT AND GUT some of our
most crucial public services. The collateral damage has been felt by us
CWA Local 7072 President Estella a Madrid leaflets in Albuquerque.
In New Mexico, CWA public sector members are leafleting public
school-food services workers, making sure that CWA members know just
what's at stake in the November elections. Estella a Madrid, President
of CWA Local 7072, and a crew of activists got creative in leafleting
maintenance and operations members at the Lincoln complex in
Senator Bob Casey met with about 140 CWA members at the D2-13
district conference in Hershey, Pa., this week to talk about his plans
to keep good jobs in the United States, his commitment to fair trade,
safeguarding Medicare and other big issues in the November election.
Casey is in a tight election with Republican Tom Smith.
Casey, along with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, is also a Senate
sponsor of the U.S. Call Center Workers and Consumers Protection Act, S.
3402, which would penalize companies that move call center jobs
overseas. There are about 200,000 Pennsylvania workers employed by call
"We're concerned that some of the steps companies are taking to
outsource jobs, those steps are being taken without consequence. We also
have concerns about fraud, concerns about confidentiality being
violated" in overseas call centers, he said.
The tax code has to be fixed to eliminate "perverse incentives" for
companies to re-locate overseas, Casey said. Under current tax law,
companies get a tax break for moving jobs offshore.
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KABE employees celebrate their organizing win.
Workers at a Univision-owned TV station voted last week in favor of
Two units at KABE in Bakersfield, Calif., voted to join the union.
The Engineering/Master Control/Production group voted 11-2, and the
Clerical group voted 4-2.
"We are very happy that employees at Univision Bakersfield stood up
with courage and conviction and said enough is enough, they are now
going to have a voice in the workplace," said NABET-CWA Local 51
President Kevin Wilson.
Starting in August, it's been a tough campaign. Employees faced
intimidation and immense pressuring during one-on-one meetings with
managers. Univision even brought in a former NABET member, who is now in
management, to dissuade employees from voting yes.
"They were really twisting arms," Wilson said. "They told a single
mom that she was going to lose her benefits because negotiations would
start with a blank page. She was pretty freaked out about that."
But when the woman's coworkers went to the National Labor Relations
Board website to show her that it's illegal to threaten employees with
the loss of benefits during an election, they found that KABE had
blocked access to the website. "I'd never seen a company do that
before," Wilson said.
Todd Thorpe, a production employee since 1989 with the station said,
"I had heard that Univision didn't like unions and the company certainly
proved this to be a difficult process. But we all stuck together and
watched each other's backs and kept at it. The Union's leadership told
us exactly what to expect from the company and we were well prepared for
all of their tactics."
Employees will now be electing their bargaining committee and
formulating their proposals in the coming weeks to provide fairness and
justice in the workplace.
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CWA activists are alerting passengers at 15 airports across the
country that American Airlines is replacing experienced, trained
employees with minimum wage workers.
American Airlines is crying poor — the airline filed for bankruptcy
last year — but it's sitting on $8 billion in cash as it looks to slash
even more jobs, wages and benefits. Yesterday CEO Tom Horton even
emailed employees to tell them that the company has "outperformed all of
our major domestic competitors in year-over-year revenue growth for six
CWA activists have been joined by members of TWU, SEIU, AFA-CWA and
Jobs with Justice in spreading the word. In just one example, cargo
agents are being replaced by workers earning just over minimum wage in
most cases and few or no benefits. Also recently, three American
Airlines flights had to make emergency landings when rows of seats —
maintained by an outside vendor that replaced airline employees in Fort
Worth and Tulsa — came loose in flight.
"After 24 years of loyal service, management is kicking me to the
curb. My middle-class wage is just too much for them to pay, so instead
a low-wage contractor is replacing me. I am 51 and well on my way to
planning for retirement one day. But now, I am going to have to start
over," said Freddy Lopez, an American Airlines cargo agent at Miami
Vera Daniels, an agent at JFK in New York, said, "For most of my 10
years as an American Airlines Passenger Service Agent, I've been very
happy in my work life. I enjoyed assisting our travelers and was
passionate about my work duties as a front-line employee...Now, though,
there has been a drastic shift in the work environment. Suddenly, we
were informed that our jobs were being outsourced to low-cost companies,
the new standard of corporate America. Companies like American Airlines
that once embraced patriotism and support for our communities now are
selling out to the lowest bidder — and forget about customer service!"
American Airlines passenger service agents filed for a union
representation election more than 10 months ago. CWA has been working
with the nearly 10,000 passenger agents to gain a union voice for 15
AMR, the parent corporation of American Airlines, has sought to block
workers' democratic right to vote and has thrown up numerous legal and
other roadblocks, but this month the three judge panel of the U.S. Court
of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, ruled unanimously that the lower court erred
in stopping the election and said the election should go forward.
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CWA President Larry Cohen joined Teamsters President James Hoffa
(left) on The Ed Show.
It was all about Ohio when CWA President Larry Cohen and Teamsters
President James Hoffa joined the Ed Show on MSNBC last night.
Cohen said workers, whether they're in telecommunications or
manufacturing, understand that difference between "going backwards into
fairy tale capitalism" and forward with the president.
"We will see Sherrod Brown, Barack Obama win on Election Day by
significant margins in Ohio because working Americans won't be fooled,
know the difference," he said. "Nobody's going to keep them from voting,
and those votes will count. Every vote will count. We need that
enthusiasm going into Election Day."
CWA and union activists have an incredible ground game that will make
certain President Obama wins the state, despite more dirty tactics by
Republicans trying to intimidate voters.
In case you missed it, here's the latest list of outrages:
- In Pennsylvania, a right-wing controlled newspaper just this week
is printing stories telling citizens that they must present a
government photo ID, when we know that measure was blocked by the
- Clear Channel finally is taking down billboards from low income
neighborhoods in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, and Milwaukee, Wis.,
that proclaim "Voter Fraud Is A Felony!" The signs said it was
punishable by up to 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Or how about this: A Republican election board in Ottawa County,
Ohio, sent out voting instructions to several precincts with the wrong
date for Election Day and the wrong polling place location. Just an
honest mistake, we hear.
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CWA is co-sponsoring the National COSH Worker Safety and Health
Conference, Dec. 6-7, at the Maritime Institute outside of Baltimore.
This two-day conference will bring together safety and health activists
from unions, COSH groups, worker centers and others to share
information, experiences and strategies on key safety and health issues
Speakers include CWA President Larry Cohen and OSHA Deputy Assistant
Secretary Jordan Barab.
Tell your fellow OSH activists to
register for the event here.