Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Big Victory for American Airlines Agents

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American agents make the front page of The Dallas Morning News.




A few of the headlines American Airline workers woke up to across the country:

Appeals court says judge erred in blocking union election at American Airlines
Dallas Morning News

American Airlines Loses Effort to Stop Union Election

American Airlines loses ruling on union election
Boston Globe

After fighting 15 years for a union voice, American passenger service agents will at last get to vote.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled Wednesday that a lower court had unjustly denied nearly 10,000 workers a union election and "erred in exercising jurisdiction." Now, the National Mediation Board (NMB) can go forward with the long delayed election process.

"This was a big step towards being able to negotiate instead of having them dictate terms to us," said Janet Elston, a veteran of 28 years as an American Airlines gate agent based at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. "It's been grueling, it's not easy, but it will be worth it once we have an election."

Ted Tezino, who has worked for 11 years at American Airlines' Southern Reservation Office, noted the bankruptcy has made their situation as employees clear. "The company is not on our side, and it's time to stand up for ourselves," Tezino said.

Earlier in the week, during the oral arguments, the judges sharply questioned why American unjustly blocked agents' vote to unionize. "You are basically moving the goal posts in the middle of the game," Judge Catharina Haynes told American's lawyer, according to Businessweek.

It's been a 10-month battle to get to an election this time.

Last December, CWA filed a request with the NMB for an election, which was supported by more than 35 percent of American workers, which was what the law required at the time. But as the NMB worked to set an election date, Congress changed the law to require election requests to be supported by 50 percent of workers. The new law went into effect in February, two months after the agents filed, and lawmakers made it clear that the new 50 percent rule would not be applied retroactively.

American has since used every tactic possible to stop workers from voting. After the NMB declared that the 35 percent rule — not 50 percent — would hold in April, the airline refused to provide the names and addresses of employees so they could receive their ballots. So CWA made its own labels.

But then American filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth to block the election, and Judge Terry Means sided with American, saying the 50 percent standard applied. That's when the NMB and CWA appealed.

The appeals court struck down all provisions of Means' decision.

Down to the Wire at CenturyLink

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CWA members at CenturyLink overwhelmingly authorized union leaders to call a strike if a fair contract can't be reached.

More than 88 percent of voting members authorized the strike. The contract covering about 11,000 workers at CenturyLink operations in 13 District 7 states expires Saturday, Oct. 6.

Critical issues for CWA members include the offshoring and contracting out of work, health care and retirement security.

Fired Workers Picket Howard Convocation

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NABET-CWA members picket the university during opening convocation.

Below: Workers tell Howard University’s trustees that we expect better.





Fired WHUT Channel 32 workers welcomed Howard University's incoming freshman with shouts of "Union busting is disgusting!" and "Howard University — we expect better!"

Picketing the university's opening convocation last Friday, workers and their supporters leafleted trustees, alumni and students on their way to hear keynote speaker UN Ambassador Susan Rice. Over the summer, the unit rejected Howard's contract offer, and in retaliation, the station called in the NABET-CWA members, one by one, firing 4 of the 6 employees. Workers have been conducting informational picketing every week and pressing their claims at the NLRB ever since.

"When it comes down to business, these people are cold," fired worker Olise Nwachukwu of NABET-CWA Local 31 told Union City. "That's why you need union representation — to protect our rights and ensure that we are treated with respect and dignity."

Nwachukwu added, "Public actions like this are very embarrassing to the station and the university, which has historically prided itself on promoting the principles of justice and equality."

They say: "Let Market Forces take care of wages!" We say: "WHUT: We Expect Better!"

Click here to send a message to WHUT General Manager Jefferi Lee demanding that the workers be reinstated.

Progressive Coalition Fights for Fair Election Financing in NYS

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CWA is working with a coalition of progressive groups to urge New York State to establish public financing of state election campaigns.

CWA President Larry Cohen, NAACP President Ben Jealous, Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford, and other leaders of unions and progressive organizations met with Working Families Party officials in New York City today to push the New York Fair Elections effort forward.

Currently, New York City has a public system for financing elections, but in New York State, there are almost no restrictions on spending. Working Families and the coalition would like to make New York a model for expanding public financing on the national level. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made the public financing of elections a key issue in his administration.

Cohen said in order to achieve true progressive change we need to engage in campaigns to tackle our fundamental democracy issues, which include the corrupting influence of money in politics, the systemic manipulation and suppression of voters in the electorate, and the undemocratic rules governing the Senate.

"It will be impossible to make progress on the core issues that progressive organizations fight for, like health care, retirement security, collective bargaining and organizing rights and good jobs, until we end the stranglehold that corporate money and the archaic senate rules have on our democracy," he said.

Cohen added, "We aren't under any illusions, these changes will be hard, but it's a fight worth fighting."

Tough Bargaining Continues

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Across every CWA sector, union bargaining committees are facing tough fights.


  • NABET-CWA members are in tough negotiations with Walt Disney Co.-owned ABC, and now are bargaining with federal mediator Timothy Germany, a commissioner with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The previous contract expired in early 2011, and NABET-CWA members have voted to authorize a strike if a fair contract isn't reached. NABET-CWA represents about 1,500 workers at ABC.
  • US Airways Flight Attendants voted against a tentative agreement to combine the contracts of pre-merger America West and US Airways. "For too long, Flight Attendants have subsidized the cost of the merger and management has failed to adequately address these concerns," said Deborah Volpe, AFA pre-merger America West President and Roger Holmin, AFA pre-merger US Airways President.
  • CWA members at AT&T Southeast voted down a three-year contract covering more than 22,000 workers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Meanwhile, separate negotiations covering 18,000 CWAers at AT&T West and 3,200 CWA members at AT&T East in Connecticut are continuing.
  • CWA Local 31003, the Newspaper Guild of New York, is in tough talks with the New York Times, fighting back against management demands on health care, wages and retirement security. The bargaining covers about 1,000 TNG-CWA members and another 30 members of the Printing, Publishing and Media Workers Sector.

What makes bargaining so tough? A big factor is that employers in every sector can and do send jobs offshore, plus less than 7 percent of private sector workers have bargaining rights and public sector rights are increasingly under attack. CWA members continue to stand up and fight back, but are also focused on building a broad political and social movement that can win real change, not just for union workers, but for working families everywhere.


CWAers Out in Front for Election 2012

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CWAers join a labor walk for Rep. Tim Bishop.


District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton and CWA Local 4900 Vice President Jane Phillips leaflet.


CWAers tell voters that Sean Patrick Maloney will stand up for the middle class.




CWA District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton joined members of CWA Local 4900 and Legislative-Political Action Team activists in leafleting in downtown Indianapolis outside AT&T Internet, consumer and network employees' call centers.

Activists handed out 200 packets that included voter registration materials and details about early voting that starts October 9, along with important information about the presidential race and many state races, including the Senate contest between Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) and state treasurer Richard Mourdock (R). District 4 has leafleted so far a total of 141 worksites, talking to co-workers about candidates and the elections. CWA has placed a special emphasis on worksite member-to-member electoral communications this year. Recent AFL-CIO polls clearly show that this kind of contact is the most effective. CWA activists nationwide have been at 415 worksites with many more planned.

In New York, about 47 CWAers went door-to-door to campaign for Rep. Tim Bishop (D). Members from CWA Locals 1108 and 1104 joined other activists on a labor walk last weekend to support Bishop, who is running against outsourcer Randy Altschuler, and 14 CWA members from Locals 1120, 1101 and 1103 went door-knocking for Sean Patrick Maloney, who is running against tea party favorite Rep. Nan Hayworth. Maloney, an attorney, has walked picket lines, attended CWA meetings and has pledged to help working people get good contracts.

So far 4,064 CWA members have volunteered to talk to co-workers and neighbors about the candidate choices in this election with more coming forward every week.

T-Mobile-MetroPCS Merger Means More Jobs Loss, Decline for Workers

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CWA has expressed serious concern about the merger agreement between T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS.

First, jobs are at risk. Since the collapse of the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, the T-Mobile workforce has experienced continued job loss and decline. Seven call centers were closed, laying off 3,300 employees. Much of the work is performed offshore, costing jobs in critical communities at a critical time.

And the situation isn't better at MetroPCS. The company has "outsourced all of its customer contact center services to maintain low operating expenses" through a partnership with Telvista, a call center outsourcer. Good American jobs are now going to Mexico, Antigua, Panama, and the Philippines, according to the MetroPCS's 10-K filing.

Second, the operating systems of the two companies are based on different technologies and are incompatible, despite the prospect of LTE over time. GigaOm writes, "Merging a regional CDMA operator with a national GSM carrier would be a disaster on the highest order and T-Mobile would gain little from the transaction — certainly not enough to offset the enormous hell it would have to endure to try to integrate the two operators' completely incompatible network technologies. You thought Sprint-Nextel was a mistake? T-Mobile-MetroPCS would make that deal look like the royal wedding."

Third, there are significant spectrum concentrations issues as well and overlapping markets including Atlanta, San Francisco and others, suggesting serious regulatory hurdles.

Lastly, at Deutsche Telekom, employees have full participation in every aspect of the firm's German operations. The contrast between this worker participation and management strategies of T-Mobile and MetroPCS could not be more stark, or severe. Sixteen T-Mobile technicians in Connecticut recently ratified their first-ever contract, and organizing drives are gearing up at call centers in Charleston and Nashville.

MetroPCS only employs 3,700 workers for a whopping 9.3 million customers. No wonder MetroPCS contracts out most of its work. This is clearly not a company that wants to grow its workforce, nor is it a company that cares about workers' rights on the job.

If this deal progresses, once again the rights of U.S. employees will be last in line.

PA Judge Stops Restrictive Voter ID Law for November Election

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Pennsylvania Commonwealth Judge Robert Simpson on Tuesday temporarily suspended Pennsylvania's controversial voter ID law. That means that all citizens, whether or not they have an official photo ID, will be able to exercise their right to vote without being forced to cast a provisional ballot.

CWA commends the court for acting to ensure that at least in the November elections, all Pennsylvanians will be able to exercise their right to vote. Voting is a cornerstone of our democracy, and the campaign in Pennsylvania to disenfranchise at least 750,000 citizens was a display of partisan politics at its most shameful.

CWA activists have been working with the Pennsylvania NAACP, Transport Workers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union to register 25,000 new voters in the Keystone State and to make sure that voters knew exactly what they needed to make their votes count.

Judge Simpson acknowledged the difficulties faced by ordinary Pennsylvanians in meeting these new requirements when he wrote, "I expected more photo IDs to have been issued by this time. For this reason, I accept Petitioners' argument that in the remaining five weeks before the general election, the gap between the photo IDs issued and the estimated need will not be closed."

But the law — among the toughest voter suppression measures in the country — still could go into full effect next year under Simpson's ruling. CWA will be there with our partners to fight against these efforts that make it difficult for students, minorities, seniors, low-income workers and the disabled to exercise their rights to participate in the democratic election process.

Ay No: CWA Says Canseco Is Wrong For TX-23

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CWA is airing a Spanish-language ad blasting Texas Rep. Quico Canseco, who is locked in a tight reelection race against Democrat Pete Gallego.

The spot, featuring CWA members in San Antonio, is running for 14 days on all Spanish-language broadcasts in the San Antonio market.

The narrator opens the ad, saying, "When we vote, it should be for someone who understands our values." The spot then goes on to illustrate how Canseco has voted for "tax cuts for millionaires" and "to make it harder for our children to go to college" and "end Medicare."

Watch it here

CWA Votes

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Elections are about choices. In 2012, the choice is clear for American workers. Do we want more tax breaks for the wealthy? Do we want to gut the Medicare and Social Security safety net for millions of Americans? Or do we want an economic recovery in which we participate? Check out for facts about the presidential candidates and candidates in other key races.

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