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Fifty years ago, more than 200,000 people gathered in the
nation's capital to demand civil liberty and economic
opportunity for all. The march was the largest demonstration
for jobs and freedom in the country's history, and it was
there that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his celebrated "I
Have a Dream" speech.
This Saturday, civil rights, labor and social justice
organizations will be rallying once again on the National Mall
to honor the historic demonstration. We will be gathering
together not as a commemoration, but as a continuation and a
call to action. Despite the progress America has made, we
still have a long way to go to fulfill the goals of the
Here's the lineup of events:
8 AM 12:30 PM: Rally Program at the Lincoln Memorial
12:30 PM 1 PM: March to the Martin Luther King, Jr.
1 PM 4 PM: Rally Program Continues
Join us and be sure to wear CWA red!
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North Carolina Home Care Workers Join CWA Local 3607
Workers at Reliable Home Health Care Services in
Greensboro, N.C., voted last week to join CWA Local 3607.
CWA Local 3607 President Chris Myrick negotiated card check
neutrality with the owner Portia Shipman and successfully
gained recognition for 37 certified nursing assistants and
home health care workers.
After two weeks, Marilyn Baird, an organizer with The North
Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Project, and Ravin St.
Julien-Brown, a local organizer, submitted authorization cards
with 68 percent of the employees voting to be represented by
CWA Local 3010 President Rafael Castro-Torres and
organizer Lizbenet Vazquez say, "Vote Yes!"
Below: Fired Open Mobile employees demonstrate outside of
the call center.
Workers Prepare for Union Election at Puerto Rico Call
After suffering years of their employer's unfair
disciplinary policies, workers at Puerto Rico's Open Mobile
are standing up and demanding a voice in their workplace.
They'll be voting on joining CWA on Sept. 4.
"We will continue to help bring justice and dignity to the
workplace with the only instrument available to the worker,
forming a union and reaching a collectively bargained
agreement" said CWA Local 3010 President Rafael Castro-Torres.
Open Mobile is a wireless carrier with a call center in San
Juan and 30 company-owned retail stores around the island.
After workers began organizing last June, the company
responded with a fierce anti-union campaign, hiring one of the
top union busting consultants in Puerto Rico. Among the 12
workers who were fired after being identified as activists,
four were members of the organizing committee.
On July 29, CWA Local 3010 organizer, Lizbenet Vázquez,
filed a petition for elections with the National Labor
Relations Board after achieving a majority in cards. Charges
have been presented, as well, to the NLRB for the illegal
"I stand with these workers that have never seen a wage
increase, are threatened with termination if they dare use
sick-days and are arbitrarily rotated and abused," said
On Aug. 8, all of the fired workers, along with union
members from AT&T Mobility, demonstrated in front of Open
Mobile's call center in support of the campaign. Next week, on
Aug. 30, local AFL-CIO unions, CWA Local 3010 members and the
fired activists and their families will be demonstrating for a
"yes" vote in the upcoming election.
"This is not the time to be afraid. We are all Open's
victims. We need to vote for CWA, we need to vote yes!" said
Sandra Guadalupe, one of the fired activists who worked 16
years for Open Mobile.
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Hundreds of protesters marched through downtown
Below: CWA President Larry Cohen addresses the crowd.
CWA joined hundreds of labor, fair trade, environmental and
community activists in an energetic march through downtown
Minneapolis Tuesday to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership,
a massive trade deal that could jeopardize American jobs,
wages, consumer safety, health care and environmental
"For all of us that are here from CWA, we're going to take
this spirit back to wherever we're from. Across the Plains,
across the Southwest, across to the Northwest and loud and
clear we have one message: No more Fast Track. We need Fair
Trade, not Fast Track," CWA President Larry Cohen told the
crowd, referencing a bill in Congress that would force an
up-or-down vote on the TPP without amendments.
CWA was holding its District 7 meeting in Minneapolis this
week, and the CWA attendees linked up with Minnesota Fair
Trade Coalition Director Josh Wise, TakeAction Minnesota
Executive Director Dan McGrath, CWA Minnesota State Council
President Mona Meyer and other coalition allies on the march.
The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries will
meet this week in Brunei to discuss what could be the largest
trade agreement in U.S. history. But the only people at the
TPP negotiating table are corporate lobbyists and government
officials not the groups fighting for workers, public
health, free speech, environmental regulations and consumer
protections. While the draft text of the agreement has never
been officially released to the public, leaked documents
reveal disconcerting proposals to grant new political powers
to multinational corporations, ration lifesaving medicines,
extend restrictive intellectual property laws and more.
CWA District 7 Vice President Mary Taylor addresses the
Below: Protesters point out Verizon's hypocrisy with
giant foam fingers.
On the way to the rally, protesters stopped outside of U.S.
Bank and Verizon one of the many corporate "trade advisors"
involved in the trade talks to raise awareness about their
support of the TPP. Marchers chanted, "Secrets, secrets are no
fun. TPP hurts everyone."
"Democracy does not function unless the people have a spot
at the table," said Wise. "The big corporations want to keep
this as secret as possible."
At the same time, a number of organizations, including CWA,
are calling for the suspension of trade discussions until
Vietnam ends its labor rights abuses, which have only worsened
since the country entered into the TPP talks. A new report,
released by the Worker Rights Consortium titled "Made in
Vietnam," examined the manufacturing sector and discovered
forced labor, child labor, pregnancy and gender-based
discrimination, health and safety hazards, excessive working
hours and inadequate wages. Additionally, the report says that
advocating for labor rights in Vietnam is more difficult than
in China because government policies restrict the
establishment of independent organizations.
"We have to say to the White House loud and clear: In 2008
and 2007, when you were in Iowa you told us no more NAFTA, you
told us no more bad deals, that we would have good deals.
We're still waiting," said Cohen at the rally. "When do we get
to have a say on these trade deals? When do we get to see
these trade deals? When do the people of this country get to
speak up on trade, not just the State Department?"
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With the full support of CWAers, New York Rep. Tim Bishop
unveils his call center bill.
Outside a Verizon call center, Long Island CWA members
joined New York Rep. Tim Bishop (D) in support of the
congressman's legislation to block corporations that send U.S.
call-center jobs overseas from obtaining federal grants and
Under Bishop's "U.S. Call Center and Consumer Protection
Act of 2013" (H.R. 2909), the Labor Department would track
firms that outsource call center jobs and the firms would then
be ineligible for any direct or indirect federal money for
three years. It would also require overseas call center
employees to disclose their location to U.S. customers and
give them the option to be transferred to a U.S.-based call
Bishop introduced the legislation earlier this month with
bipartisan support from cosponsors Dave McKinley (R-W.Va.),
Chris Gibson (R-NY), Gene Green (D-TX), Mike Grimm (R-NY) and
Mike Michaud (D-ME). Bishop introduced similar call center
legislation in 2011, but it was denied a floor vote by GOP
House leadership, despite attracting 135 bipartisan
"Outsourcing is a job killer that hampers our economic
recovery, and we must take strong measures to discourage it,"
said Bishop. "Only good corporate citizens who grow jobs in
America deserve taxpayer support."
Over the past five years, more than 500,000 U.S. call
center jobs have been moved to foreign countries. In 2012,
T-Mobile USA closed seven call centers in six states, while
sending an increasing number of service calls to facilities in
Central America and the Philippines. CWA Local 1108's Michael
Gendron said that five years ago, CWA represented 550 call
center operators in New York State, but today that number has
been more than halved.
"This call center right here in Patchogue used to have
twice the number of workers, and outsourcing of these jobs is
punishing the middle class on Long Island and across the
country," said Gendron. "Also, Americans should have the
choice to deal with American operators who must comply with
American laws and protect the security of their personal
information, so Congressman Bishop's bill is a win-win for
American consumers and workers."
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CWA Staff Representative Kara Hutchason calls on Missouri
Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt to close corporate tax
loopholes to avoid more deep cuts to vital benefits and
services. Grass Roots Organizing, a Missouri nonprofit
dedicated to winning economic justice and human rights for
all, partnered with community, labor and faith leaders to
organize the "Invest in Us!" rally.
At another "Invest in Us!" action, CWA Local 6314
President Ed Stevens protests a Verizon store. Learn more
about the campaign at
The striking Canadian Media Guild members at MBS Radio
march in the Saint John Pride parade. "We were honored to
represent the Guild at the pride parade, and it was an
awesome event," said Gary Stackhouse, Guild president at MBS.
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UMWA members who work at Patriot Coal operations in West
Virginia and Kentucky ratified a settlement with the company
that significantly improves the terms and conditions of
employment ordered by a federal bankruptcy judge last May.
The final vote was 85 percent in favor to 15 percent
"The membership has made it clear that they are willing to
do their part to keep Patriot operating, keep their jobs and
ensure that thousands of retirees continue getting the health
care they depend on and deserve," UMWA International President
Cecil E. Roberts said. "This has been a difficult and
uncertain year for our members. But I believe that in the end,
they understood that we had done a lot to improve what the
judge had ordered. They also understood all that was at stake
and resolved to move forward in a positive way. But as we work
to keep Patriot a viable company into the future, we have not
forgotten how we got here and who is responsible. With this
agreement, we have foiled the schemes of Peabody Energy and
Arch Coal by continuing to both provide health care for
retirees and maintain union jobs at these mines."
Roberts noted that the settlement with Patriot does not
provide enough resources to fulfill the promise of lifetime
health care benefits that Peabody and Arch agreed to provide
to thousands of retirees from those companies.
Peabody had created Patriot Coal in 2007 and gave that
company 11 percent of its assets, 43 percent of its retiree
liability and some underwater coal contracts, the UMWA said.
The overwhelming majority, some 90 percent, of retirees whose
retiree health care will be cut never worked for Patriot.
Then, in 2008, Patriot bought Arch-spinoff Magnum Coal, and
Arch saddled that company with 12 percent of its assets and 96
percent of its retiree health-care liabilities.
"We are now able to turn our full attention to securing the
lifetime health care benefits Peabody and Arch promised these
retirees," Roberts said. "If those companies thought our
public effort to highlight their poor corporate citizenship
was over, they will quickly find out otherwise."
CWA members have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their UMWA
brothers and sisters through this fight, joining rallies in
St. Louis, West Virginia and Kentucky to pressure Peabody
Energy and Arch Coal to meet their responsibilities to retired
miners and their families. CWA intends on continuing to hold
Peabody and Arch accountable.
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CWA launched an innovative new website,
www.TMobileWorkersUnited.org, run by workers for workers.
T-Mobile Workers United, or TU, is an alliance of hundreds of
call center representatives, retail associates and technicians
who are standing up to discuss the issues and challenges they
face at the new T-Mobile US, a merger of T-Mobile USA and
The website makes it easier for T-Mobile and MetroPCS
employees to connect to a network of their colleagues across
the country and gives them the social media tools to support
and raise awareness about TU.
Here's what workers are saying online:
- "With the recent
acquisition of MetroPCS (9 million no contract customers and
no customer service based in the USA) the winds of change
are blowing. T-Mobile USA stopped employees' raises and
stopped the phone incentive for employees. We feel if we
don't unite soon, more call centers may soon be on the
chopping blocks for downsizing." Roland Ellis (Nashville,
- "I joined TU because
I was tired of the unfair treatment. Sometimes I feel like
they think they can do whatever they want and there is
nobody governing them or there to tell them they are wrong.
And when you try to tell them they are wrong, it gets
disrespectful. It becomes the type of environment that
shouldn't be a work environment. This is not the streets.
You don't get in someone's face and tell them they are
wrong. You don't intimidate someone to not voice their
opinion or not stand up for themselves." Adrian Dominguez
(New York, NY)
- "I'm organizing
because, basically, I feel a calling for it. I do care about
what happens to young people, especially young workers. I'm
at the end of my working life so I'm not afraid. And I just
feel like people need to step up and make the American labor
movement understand what's going on. We're going downhill
fast and it really concerns me." Candace Harrison
In 2011, CWA, ver.di, the German union that represents
workers at T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom, and a
coalition of community and labor groups around the world
partnered on an international campaign to win workers a voice
and respect at T-Mobile. The company's anti-union campaign has
been brutal: Workers who even express interest in organizing
have faced harassment, intimidation and surveillance. The
National Labor Relations Board has repeatedly sent the
telecommunications giant warnings for its behavior.
This May, T-Mobile officially merged with MetroPCS,
combining T-Mobile's 30,000 employees and 33.2 million
customers with MetroPCS's 3,700 workers and 9.3 million
Workers want this new company to succeed, and they believe
that justice and respect in the workplace are essential for