Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Activists Rally Against VeriGreedy Verizon



Huntsville-Verizon Rally

Hundreds of CWA activists and allies make the trip to Huntsville, Alabama for Verizon's annual meeting.

Ron Collins - Verizon Rally

CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins talks with demonstrators following the shareholder meeting, inside, he called on Verizon to end its practice of excessive executive compensation.

Occupied Huntsville

Students and activists tell Verizon: Huntsville is "Occupied."




Hundreds of CWA members, activists and allies descended on Verizon's annual shareholders meeting on Thursday, protesting the company's excessive corporate greed and war against the middle class.

Protesters from the 99 Percent Spring Coalition came from as far away as New Orleans and New York City to rally in front the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Ala.

A group of college students from the University of Central Florida made the 11-hour bus trip from Orlando to join the fight, while UCW-CWA members from the University of Tennessee made the trek from Nashville. Jobs with Justice, the AFL-CIO and the Greater Birmingham Ministries also lent their support, helping post VeriGreedy signs all along Interstate 565.

"They thought they could escape the voices of working people by taking their meeting to Alabama," said Alabama AFL-CIO President Al Henley. "Well, it looks like they misjudged our sense of solidarity here in the South."

The rally marked the kickoff of an even bigger campaign for new Verizon and Verizon Wireless contracts. More than 45,000 employees went on strike nearly a year ago, but today workers still don't have new contracts, as the company continues to demand that employees accept cuts to their pensions and other benefits, totaling $1 billion a year.

"Enough of the attacks on middle-class jobs while paying executives obscene salaries and dodging taxes," said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins. "Enough of outsourcing good jobs to low wage workers here and overseas. Enough of deepening the digital divide in communities most in need of a reliable and fast Internet connection that comes with FiOS. Together with activists who have raised their voices at dozens of shareholders' meetings and other events during this 99 Percent Spring, we are building a movement. A movement of people who are fed up and ready to stand united against corporate greed and impunity."

Jennifer Travis, a Verizon maintenance administrator in Pittsburgh, talked about being fired on "outrageous and false allegations" after never once being disciplined or written up in her 15 years at the company.

"Several of my brothers and sisters were fired or disciplined last August for similarly trumped up charges," she told protesters outside the meeting. "What many of us have in common is our highly visible status as union leaders and activists. It makes me wonder if the company retaliated against us in an effort to intimidate other members who would consider standing up for their union in the future. If that's true, it's flat out bullying and it's disgusting."

Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs with Justice, said the public will no longer tolerate Verizon's membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.

"ALEC is a tool of the radical right wing in this country that is determined to cut government services, take away workers' bargaining rights, and limit or kill important regulations, among other things," she said. "It brings into stark relief the insidious relationship between politics and corporations, and the influence that corporations and the rich wield in our political process. We are here to send a message to Verizon today: You cannot hide your relationship with ALEC and its radical right wing assault on our democracy."

Other speakers included Jazmine Salas, vice president of the Student Labor Action Project, University of Central Florida; Patrick Welsh, president of the Retired Members' Council Board, CWA District 1; and Scott Douglas, executive director of the Greater Birmingham Ministries.

Outside, CWA members chanted a twist on the familiar chant: "You can't run! You can't hide! This time we'll be right inside!"

Inside the meeting, Collins urged shareholders to support a proposal requiring Verizon to issue a full disclosure of its various lobbying activities, and lashed out against the company's membership in ALEC. Representing workers, Collins also spoke out against lavish executive compensation packages that are "beyond what is reasonable and appropriate" in the current economic climate.

Read CWA's alternative annual report here. And check out this blog post from Campaign for America's Future.

Visit or follow @VeriGreedy on Twitter for the latest news.

Shareholder Spring Coalition Takes on Verizon



Washington DC Verizon Rally

D.C. Activists protest corporate greed.




While hundreds of CWAers and supporters were rallying outside and speaking inside Verizon's shareholder meeting in Huntsville, Ala., members of the 99 Percent Spring Coalition were standing up and fighting back against VeriGreedy at rallies and actions across the country.

The Verizon events were part of Shareholder Spring, a campaign of actions at corporate annual meetings organized by the 99 Percent Spring Coalition.

Shareholder Spring actions have been focusing on corporate greed, and specifically, how wealthy U.S. companies pay little or no taxes. Shareholder actions last week took on Wells Fargo and GE; Verizon, which paid no federal income tax from 2008 to 2010 and in fact, got a tax rebate was among this week's targets.

Some 45,000 Verizon and Verizon Wireless workers still are fighting for fair contracts, while the very profitable company continues to demand $1 billion a year in concessions from workers, while getting another $1 billion a year from consumers in new phone upgrade fees.

Jobs with Justice, National People's Action, student groups, and other 99 Percent Spring Coalition members led actions and rallies from Portland, Ore., to Chicago to Philadelphia.

And there were other opportunities to send a message to Verizon. By calling 877-851-3674, activists across the 99 Percent Spring Coalition could record a message to be sent directly to Verizon executives about the company's corporate greed.


American Airlines Tries an End Run Around the Law

CWA President Larry Cohen issued this statement on the continued effort by American Airlines to stop workers' from having a fair vote on union representation:

Just when working people thought they'd seen it all, American Airlines makes an even more outrageous play. The latest outrage is a lawsuit the company filed May 2, in which AMR seeks to rewrite aviation legislation and substitute its own agenda for that of Congress, so it can stop nearly 10,000 passenger service agents from having a union voice.

The airline may have filed for bankruptcy protection, but there's no doubt that AMR is a leading member of the 1 percent.

Here's what agents themselves say about their company's tactics:

"When I read that American was not going to hand over the voter list and was suing to prevent our right to vote on representation, I did not believe it. I had to re-read the article 3 times before it sunk in that American was going to blatantly violate federal law to stop our election. I am still in shock. I can't believe it," said Cherie Isik, a Sacramento-based agent.

"It is terrible. This is so important to the employees. Having a union is our only way of getting a fair shake, and all American wants to do is block it," said Jonathan Knights, based in Las Vegas.

American Airlines is doing everything it can think of, legal and not, to stop nearly 10,000 agents from exercising their legal right to a union representation vote. Working people have a right to stand together, but not in American Airlines' world.

It's already refused to turn over the list of agents who are eligible to vote, violating a direct order from the National Mediation Board.

Can anyone be surprised that the 99 percent, who are fighting back against corporate greed at shareholder meetings this spring, are disgusted by the actions of American Airlines? The 1 percent only wants to attack workers' rights, cut wages and benefits and eliminate jobs.

The jobs of executives or union-busting lawyers aren't at risk, however. Even in bankruptcy, American Airlines is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for the sole purpose of stopping workers who want union representation.

CWA is calling on the Department of Justice to require American Airlines to obey the law by turning over the list of eligible agents so that the lawful representation election can go forward.

At Shareholders' Meeting, AT&T Gets the CWA Message



AT&T_American Dream

CWAers fight for the American dream at AT&T's shareholder meeting.

CWA at ATT Newspaper Ad

A CWA newspaper ad.

District 9 AT&T

CWA Local 9431 rallies for good jobs at AT&T on May Day.




At the AT&T annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, shareholders heard a loud and clear message from CWA leaders and members: AT&T should be helping to "lead our economic recovery by continuing to provide good, middle class jobs. We are the network. We deserve a fair contract."

CWA Vice President Ralph Maly, telecommunications and technologies, spoke on behalf of CWA members negotiating new contracts at four AT&T operations. He told AT&T executives, management and shareholders that CWA members are greatly concerned that despite AT&T's position as the nation's biggest telecommunications company and its top 10 ranking among U.S. companies overall, workers are being told they must sacrifice more.

"We all want AT&T to succeed. CWA members and retirees certainly have a financial investment in AT&T's success. We also have the investment of our livelihoods, our families' well-being and our communities' continued growth. These aren't small things. These are the essence of what will sustain our country's economic recovery.

"Our economy won't recover through 'dollar store' jobs. Without good jobs, consumers won't be able to buy the quality services that AT&T offers.

"That speaks to the necessity of AT&T developing strategies to meet today's competitive and technological challenges head on. And it speaks to the necessity of AT&T management sustaining a real partnership with CWA and with the union workforce that has made it successful and that will continue to be the basis of its success," Maly said.

On the ground in Salt Lake City, members and retirees from CWA Local 7704 and other union supporters joined a rally before the meeting and handed out flyers, all wearing "We are the 99 percent" and "Where's The Fairness?" stickers.

Newspaper ads ran in several major AT&T markets, including Salt Lake City, calling on AT&T to negotiate a fair contract.

Bargaining and mobilizing continues at AT&T East, AT&T Midwest, AT&T Legacy and AT&T West. Bargaining will begin this summer for a new contract covering CWA District 3 members at AT&T Southeast.

TNG-CWA Looks at Creative Strategies to Grow, Thrive




TNG-CWA leaders from across the country talk about the future of the Guild.





About 100 local TNG-CWA leaders from across the country met in Cleveland for three busy days focused on building an increasingly effective, efficient union that can survive and thrive as the media industry continues to evolve.

Discussion covered traditional and non-traditional organizing opportunities, as well as an extensive report on collective bargaining that looked at creative strategies for negotiations. The report was developed over the last year by local officers and staff.

Through local reports, participants shared other creative ideas for bargaining, organizing and mobilizing members, including activities that journalists can feel comfortable participating in without conflict of interest. For instance, Buffalo Guild President Henry Davis reported that the same weekend as the conference, his members were taking part in a community litter cleanup along the Buffalo River.

CWA District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen opened the conference, stressing the critical need to keep building a movement that fights for the 99 percent. He said Guild members are uniquely qualified to help in an important way: "You have an ability to communicate with people, that's what you do for a living, and that's what a lot of people struggle with. You can bring incredible strength to a growing movement."

TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer, noting that some Guild members have taken part in 99 Percent Spring training events in their communities, said the growing movement isn't about politics, but about fairness, equality and, with attacks on unions and protests, the freedom of association. "That is a First Amendment issue, and that's something we've always been concerned with in the Guild," Lunzer said.

The meeting was also an opportunity to recognize outstanding efforts by locals and members. The New York Guild, Philadelphia Guild and United Media Guild (St. Louis) won organizing awards, and the union's top honor, the Guild Service Award, went to Greg Kesich of the Portland (Maine) Guild. Kesich, one of three union members who sit on the company's board, played a key role in saving jobs, the Guild's contract and the Portland newspapers.

CWA Activists Join May Day Protests



May Day CWA Local 1103

CWA Local 1103 members and retirees rally in Westchester, NY, on May 1.

NABET w-Corporate Pig

NABET-CWA Local 16 workers protest outside ABC News in New York City.

NABET May Day Flyer

NABET-CWA's May Day flyer.




CWA activists joined the Occupy Movement's big return to the national stage on Tuesday, bringing May Day's annual celebration of international workers' rights home with protests in more than 100 U.S. cities.

Across the country, members, many of whom recently completed 99 Percent Spring training, raised awareness about income inequality, corporate greed, immigrant rights and voter suppression. They marched with thousands in Los Angeles, Seattle and New York. Activists picketed businesses and disrupted traffic in major cities.

It was an opportunity for both active and retired CWA members to stand shoulder-to-shoulder.

CWA District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton spoke out about Verizon's plan to cut good middle class jobs at a rally in White Plains, NY.

CWA members joined Jobs with Justice, SEIU and Occupy St. Louis protesters to speak out against Peabody Energy, a local coal company that was holding its annual shareholders meeting at an opera house in downtown St. Louis.

NABET-CWA Local 51016, whose members continue to work without a contract, formed one of the many picket lines throughout Manhattan, protesting Disney ABC.

And in Arizona, members celebrated the opening of Somos Un Pueblo Unido's Workers' Center, the first workers' center in Santa Fe. Miles Conway, who heads CWA's NM legislative-political action team, told the Santa Fe New Mexican, "A rising tide lifts all boats. If that worker can walk out of that center more empowered, that is just one tiny step up for all workers in New Mexico."

Workers Memorial Day Honors Those Injured, Killed on the Job



Workers' Memorial Day

A memorial for fallen workers on April 28, led by Randy Rodriguez, CWA Local 6222.




Thousands of CWA members, safety and health activists and other union members joined in vigils, rallied at state capitols for stronger workplace protections and held other events to mark Workers' Memorial Day on April 28.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis issued a statement on behalf of the Obama administration: "It is our duty to ensure that all workers come home safely at the end of each workday, and we stand behind our firm conviction that workplace injuries and fatalities are entirely preventable.

"I urge all Americans to raise their voices in support of workers' right to a safe and healthful workplace. In the 41 years since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted, we have made tremendous progress, but our steadfast mission to make every job in America a safe job must continue. One workplace death is too many."

Houston, Texas, union members, including members of CWA Local 6222, marked Workers' Memorial Day by reading the names of Houston area workers who had been killed on the job over the past year. Randy Rodriguez, who chairs the local's Occupational Safety and Health Committee, led the commemoration, and was joined by Harris County AFL-CIO leaders and other activists. The ceremony included a presentation by Katherine Rodriguez whose father died in 2004 after suffering severe injuries and burns while working at the BP Texas City refinery.

"He and two co-workers were on a scaffold, working on a water pump. Between the three of them, they had more than 70 years of experience on the job," she said.

Read her op-ed published by the Houston Chronicle here.

Apply Now for Morton Bahr Online Scholarship at Empire State College

New York's Empire State College is accepting applications for Morton Bahr Online Learning Scholarships for the 2012-2013 academic year. The deadline to apply is May 15 and winners will be announced by the end of June for the fall semester.

The scholarship honors CWA President Emeritus Morton Bahr and his life-long commitment to expanding education and opportunity for working people. The program enables students to study online through Empire State's Center for Distance Learning and earn an associate's or bachelor's degree.

Union members, their families and domestic partners are eligible to apply for the scholarships, which include undergraduate tuition and fees.

Visit this site for more information and to download the "Bahr application book," which includes the application and other information.

Standing Together for Global Workers' Rights



Larry Cohen at LR Forum

CWA President Larry Cohen speaks on a Labor Rights Forum panel on May Day.




CWA President Larry Cohen opened a D.C. session of the International Labor Rights Forum. The one-day forum brought together activists, academics, and labor leaders from the U.S. and around the globe who discussed the global attack on collective bargaining rights and new strategies to protect vulnerable workers who face extreme danger for their organizing efforts. Learn more at

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