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AFSCME President Lee Saunders will join CWA President Larry
Cohen on CWA's next Town Hall Call on Thursday, Nov. 21.
The two leaders will be candidly discussing the state of
workers and the future of the labor movement on 30-minute
call. And both AFSCME and CWA activists will be tuning in.
Don't miss it!
Reminder: When you sign up for the remaining CWA town hall
calls this year, you will be entered in a drawing for a
personalized iPad Mini! The winner will be announced in the
CWA News and e-newsletter.
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A message from CWA President Larry Cohen:
Once again we honor the tens of thousands of CWA veterans
among our active and retired members. We honor them not simply
on this day, but by ensuring they have the essential health
care and other services they need, whether they are working or
But, as Congress begins to take up the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP), we need to ask ourselves, "What does
patriotism mean in the 21st century? What is the nature of our
democracy, as we recall the sacrifices of so many?"
Vietnam is a major focus of the TPP. Vietnam has a
population of 90 million and a minimum wage of 25 cents per
hour. Yes, there are 11 other nations involved in the talks,
but a major focus of the National Security Council, State
Department and the U.S. Trade Representative is increasing
U.S. influence in Vietnam.
Manufacturing jobs are already moving from China to
Vietnam, as multinational corporations seek lower wages and
fewer environmental regulations. Since NAFTA, Presidents
Clinton, Bush and now Obama have all told us that exports
would grow, yet now we see services jobs, as well as
manufacturing jobs, devastated by these deals, as the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce and multinational corporations cheer on
new places to maximize profits.
Why should we expect better from the TPP and a process that
includes 600 multinational corporations and no labor,
environmental or elected representatives? We need economic
policy, not foreign policy that pretends to be economic
policy. Fair trade means workers' rights to organize and
bargain, not just investment rights. It's not just about the
loss of our jobs, it's about the effects on our standard of
living, as we are forced to choose between cutting pay or
exporting our jobs to lower wage nations.
Why have three presidents negotiated terms and conditions
that Americans would overwhelmingly reject if we had a voice?
Why do we see our veterans honored at an increasing number of
events, but not when it comes to their jobs and standard of
There are real answers to these questions, and they all
start with fighting back. We must say no to trade deals that
don't prioritize our rights, our communities, our living
standards and our environment. Investment should be based on
that platform, not a belief that the sum total of policies
benefitting multinational corporations and U.S. foreign policy
work out for the rest of us.
Most Democrats and many Republican members of Congress have
already told the president that they will oppose the TPP and
that democracy means transparency, openness and the real
inclusion of public interests. They have stated they will only
support a process with real debate, not fast tracking another
trade deal through the Congress without lawmakers' involvement
We won't forget the irony of the Vietnamese government
becoming a leading party to the TPP negotiations, 40 years
after the peace agreement and the sacrifice of so many. This
is not about the Vietnamese people, but a government that
thinks that workers' rights and environmental and safety
concerns are not issues. Let's make this Veterans Day a time
to recommit to our values, as we honor those who served and
those who work hard every day, whose jobs, living standards
and rights are on the line.
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CWAers had plenty to celebrate on Election Day.
In New York City, Bill de Blasio won the mayor's race,
making him the first Democrat to gain the seat in 20 years.
In New Jersey, Democrats in the state legislature survived
Republican Gov. Chris Christie's victory over Barbara Buono,
holding on to majorities in both the Senate and Assembly to
better fend off Christie's future attacks on working families.
CWA's 68,000 members in the state campaigned hard for a ballot
question that will raise the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour,
and voters responded with an overwhelmingly approval.
CWAers celebrate at Terry McAuliffe's victory party.
Below: CWA's GOTV troops get ready to hit the streets in
In Virginia, Terry McAuliffe became the state's next
governor and Democratic state Sen. Ralph Northam won the race
for lieutenant governor.
In Houston, mayoral candidate Ben Hall lost. But we sent a
message to the sitting Democratic mayor, who is term limited,
so CWA's candidate will have another shot.
And in Ohio, voters defeated Republican Gov. John Kasich-backed
candidates and took back the mayoral seats in Dayton, Toledo
and Cuyahoga Falls. In Cincinnati, CWA also helped defeat
Issue 4, a ballot initiative which would have overhauled the
city's pension system.
"In both Virginia and New Jersey, CWA was the No. 1 union
in the state with volunteer shifts, helping to not only get
our message out to other members, but moving our message of
worker rights and dignity to all voters," said CWA Political
Director Rafael Navar. "It is because of their commitment and
dedication, that we were able to achieve big victories this
November for all working people in those states. CWA is
building a volunteer army that will build a movement in this
country for workers' rights, dignity and justice."
Our volunteers were out in full force this election season.
CWA was a key early endorser of de Blasio's mayoral
candidacy. De Blasio was a vocal supporter of Cablevision
workers in Brooklyn, and now the newly elected mayor has
pledged his continued support to ensure these workers get
their first contract.
In New Jersey and Virginia, CWA got this work started early
with a new program, the Political Leadership Boot Camp.
Designed to strengthen activists' skills, it combined
leadership development with political action. The training's
topics included political economy, movement building and
member-to-member conversations. These workshops also focused
on the components of a campaign, recruiting volunteers and
signing up PAF donors.
Many of the volunteers were new members who hadn't done
political work at this level before. Now they're gearing up to
pivot to the legislative cycle, where activists will be
fighting back against Verizon's push for phone deregulation in
Virginia, fighting for rights for correctional officers and
lobbying for fair contracts for home child-care providers in
New Jersey and Cablevision technicians in New York.
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On Nov. 1, the NLRB Acting General Counsel, Lafe E.
Solomon, announced that the U.S. government would prosecute
T-Mobile US for violating U.S. labor law.
Josh Coleman, a wrongfully terminated T-Mobile US worker,
and CWA President Larry Cohen.
The government now intends to prove that T-Mobile US
illegally fired Joshua Coleman and disciplined Ellen Brackeen,
who both worked at a call center in Wichita, Kan., because of
their union activity.
"The General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board
has taken an important step in prosecuting T-Mobile US on the
discharge of Josh Coleman, as well as discipline against Ellen
Brackeen," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "The NLRB will also
reopen the charge related to destroying Josh's notebooks
documenting discrimination for union activity at the site.
This action by the General Counsel is rare and speaks to the
systematic abuse of workers' rights by T-Mobile US and the
hands off approach by Deutsche Telekom, a German corporation
that owns 75 percent of T-Mobile US. Earlier this year several
thousand Deutsche Telekom workers in Germany wore shirts to
work and other public events that said, 'We are all Josh.'
"All of us in CWA and the German union ver.di applaud the
action of the General Counsel, and we look forward to the day
when T-Mobile US is tolerant of those who organize, just as
its German owner Deutsche Telekom has been for generations."
A date for the hearing will be set by the NLRB.
The decision again exposes T-Mobile US management's
harassment of workers who only want a voice in their
workplace. German workers have bargaining rights and union
representation, and Deutsche Telekom publicly acknowledges the
value of its relationship with ver.di. But in the United
States, T-Mobile US management has stepped up a campaign of
fear, intimidation and harassment against U.S. workers who
want the same union voice.
Coleman worked for three and half years at a T-Mobile
customer call center, where he was a top performer, receiving
many promotions, performance awards and written commendations.
He also was selected to train newly hired employees. That all
changed as Coleman continued to voice his support for union
representation on the job. He said, "I was an active and vocal
supporter of having a union and getting a voice on the job for
my co-workers and myself. I was targeted and ultimately fired
for this activity, despite the fact that none of the
allegations made against me were true."
Coleman was fired in May 2013, and CWA immediately filed
unfair labor practice charges.
From the beginning, CWA has been clear that these two
workers – particularly Coleman – were singled out because of
their union activity. Coleman was fired "without adhering to
normal disciplinary procedures" and "pursuant to policies that
were unwritten, unannounced and unknown" to Coleman and other
T-Mobile US workers in Wichita. When Coleman returned to the
call center to retrieve his personal belongings, he learned
that pages containing notes about his union activities and
those of his co-workers had been removed from his notebook.
The call center's human resources director said she read the
notes, considered them to be confidential T-Mobile information
and confiscated them. This is direct and clear evidence of
T-Mobile US's harassment, intimidation and animus toward
workers who want union representation.
Ver.di has made clear that the reasons for the nationwide
protests by German workers are the continued attacks against
employees who actively support the union, and the anti-union
attitude from upper management of the U.S. subsidiary of
Deutsche Telekom. Employees who want independent
representation through a union face sanctions up to and
including dismissal. Ver.di leader Lothar Schröeder has
repeatedly called for Coleman's reinstatement.
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Frontier Airlines and Republic Airways
AFA-CWA International President Veda Shook reports that
cards were delivered on Wednesday to the National Mediation
Board requesting an election for the Flight Attendants at
Frontier Airlines and Republic Airways.
She said, "The Republic Flight Attendants did a great job
in garnering majority support of their group in under six
weeks! The group had a goal of 1,000 cards and today we
present the NMB with 1,008 AFA-CWA cards plus an additional
100+ RAH cards (their original independent union/AFA cards),
as well as our seniority list from Frontier."
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After ten months of bargaining, CWA has reached a tentative
agreement with Verizon West toward a new union contract
covering about 4,500 workers. A ratification vote is scheduled
Nov. 20 on the proposed deal, which raises wages over four
"Our bargaining team has unanimously recommended a 'yes'
vote on this contract, which returns jobs to our bargaining
unit and limits outsourcing of FiOS work," said Jim Weitkamp,
CWA Vice President for District 9. "As in the rest of the
country, we have had to agree to some difficult concessions in
the area of pensions and medical benefits, but we also
preserved many terms and benefits the company had sought to
CWA members at Verizon West had been working without a
contract since September, when slow progress caused the union
to cancel an earlier extension. The affected workers include
FiOS technicians, operators, call center representatives,
customer service representatives, cable splicers, field
technicians for business and residential service, buried
service wire employees and other job titles throughout
The Washington Post
After months of difficult bargaining, interrupted by The
Washington Post's sale to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos,
Newspaper Guild negotiators have reached a tentative one-year
agreement that includes raises for all Post employees, with an
extra pay hike for more than three dozen of the unit's
lowest-paid workers. "On the whole, the Guild's bargaining
committee believes this is a good contract and has voted
unanimously to endorse it," the committee said in a statement.
"We would like to express our gratitude to the Post's
management – and particularly its new owner, Jeff Bezos – for
reaching a fair agreement."
About 100 Denver SuperShuttle drivers are waiting to hear
back from management to see if they reach an agreement to end
a more than year-long conflict over wages. If a deal isn't
reached, we will be mobilizing throughout Denver International
Read more at Denver Westword.
South Slope Communications
Workers have voted down a contract offer from South Slope
Communications in Iowa. After the contract expired last week,
the company immediately locked out 55 employees.
Read more at KCRG.
Standard & Poor's
The New York Guild and Standard & Poor's have tentatively
agreed on a new contract that includes a wage increase, extra
credit in the pension plan and employment security. The new
three-year contract, which is subject to Guild members'
ratification, also provides safeguards for employees under a
new performance appraisal review system.
Read more here.
NABET-CWA Local 54048 members picket their television
NABET-CWA Local 54048 is fighting for a fair contract at
WNEM TV-5 in Saginaw, Mich. Members – photographers, editors,
directors, on-air talent and engineers – recently voted down
the latest contract offer from Meredith Corporation, a media
conglomerate that owns the television station. Since then,
they've been picketing in front of the studio, carrying signs
that read, "TV-5 Unfair to Families" and "TV-5 Local Liars."
"WNEM's latest contract proposal would severely jeopardize
workers' job security, retirement security, work jurisdiction
and reduce on-air employees to 'at will' employment status,"
said NABET-CWA Local 54048 President Zara Maldonado. "Based on
Meredith's economic success recently, our members deserve much
The contract expired on Nov. 3.
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In a Huffington Post blog post, CWA President Larry
Cohen laid out why the Senate minority's decision to block a
vote on the nomination of Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to lead the
Federal Housing Finance Agency was "a new low."
Cohen said Republicans' obstruction of Watt's nomination
and that of Patricia Millett, who was nominated to fill one of
three vacancies on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, clearly
shows why Majority Leader Harry Reid must move forward to fix
the broken Senate rules.
"It is past time for Democrats to take this small step so
that millions of American who voted for this Senate and this
president have at least this small bit of their voices heard,"
Read the full post here.
Never before has cloture been used to prevent a sitting
member of Congress from a presidential appointment. The
Senate's constitutional obligation is to advise and consent,
not obstruct. In our democracy, all of the president's
nominees deserve an up-or-down vote.
Earlier this year, Reid stood up to the obstructionists and
won confirmation votes for the president's nominees. To
counter this current round of obstruction, the majority leader
should use the procedural motion that's been used 17 times
since 1978 to move these nominees to a vote.
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Time is Now!
On Election Day, CWA and CASA de Maryland activists were
out in full force in Majority Whip Eric Cantor's home
district in Virginia. Their message: Virginia voters
overwhelmingly support comprehensive, common sense
We Work Better Together
This week, ver.di activists from T-Mobile Germany were in
South Carolina talking to T-Mobile employees at a Charleston
Mississippi Organizing Institute
The three-day training was organized by Liz Roberson,
assistant to the vice president for public, health care and
education workers; Brenda Scott, president of CWA Local 3570;
and Lisa Kermish, vice president of UPTE-CWA Local 9119.