Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Town Hall Call: Thursday, Nov. 15

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Join CWAers from around the country on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 pm, ET. We will hear from activists about the upcoming election at American Airlines and discuss how we will continue the fight for economic justice and democracy in the lame-duck Congress.

Register here: http://cwa-union.org/cwacall.

Obama Wins Four More Years, Democrats Hold Senate

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CWA Local 2222 steward and Next Generation member Brandon Dillard assembles a GOTV mailer for the presidential election, as well as key races in Maryland and Virginia.

Below: CWAers campaign for Democrat Joe Donnelly, who secured a surprising victory in Indiana’s Senate race.

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Working men and women across the country have returned President Obama to the White House and kept the Senate in Democratic hands.

"Throughout this very long political campaign, at CWA, we've been clear that elections are about choices," said CWA President Larry Cohen. "Americans who want to ensure a place for working families in our economy made a clear choice in re-electing President Obama. Tens of thousands of our members, activists and volunteers, stepped up and did amazing work, not only in returning President Obama to office but in electing representatives who will stand with working Americans and not look for ways to cut programs that working families count on and more tax breaks for the wealthiest in our nation."

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Atlanta RMC activists made more than 2,300 calls to active and retired CWA members.

Below: Missouri State Coordinator Kara Hutchason and CWA activists campaign for Sen. Claire McCaskill.

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Obama will now enter his second term with 53 Democratic seats in the Senate, plus Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucuses with Democrats. In addition, newly-elected Independent former Gov. Angus King of Maine may also caucus with the party next year. Democratic candidates toppled Republicans in Indiana and Massachusetts, and won reelection in Missouri, North Dakota and Montana where they were expected to lose.

In total, more than 15,000 CWA volunteers worked to support Obama, these key races and many critical ballot initiatives. CWA's state coordinators were fanned out in 38 states with exceptionally active members in Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Large memberships in California, Texas, New York and New Jersey also flexed their political muscles. In Connecticut, members of CWA Local 1298 and other CWAers did tremendous work in electing Chris Murphy to the U.S. Senate.

"This election goes to show that while money spent by corporations was a major threat to working people in this country, our commitment, our unity and our organization were able to overcome that by talking to members and engaging them in this fight," said Rafael Navar, CWA's national political director.

CWA had one of its strongest member-to-member outreach campaigns in Indiana, helping Democrat Rep. Joe Donnelly clinch a Senate seat once regarded as safe for Republicans. Activists were strategically placed throughout the state, hitting worksites with leaflets twice a week. And volunteers made a dogged effort to get members registered to vote and to the polls early.

"It was a nail biter for a while, but once they called it for Joe it was just an eruption downtown," said state coordinator Angie Schritter, who alone assembled more than 2,000 information packets for the get-out-the-vote effort. "We wanted it so bad. So many people worked so hard to get Joe into the Senate — door knocks, phone calls. It was pretty incredible. It was deafening. Joe has been a longtime friend of CWA, labor and the working class."

In Ohio, thousands of CWA activists, working with the Stand Up for Ohio coalition, started more than a year ago by getting 1.3 million signatures to block the Republican plan to destroy public workers' collective bargaining rights. This year, they kept that momentum going to reelect Obama and Sen. Sherrod Brown, a champion of working people and CWA's call center legislation. CWA Local 1122 even sent a busload of New Yorkers to Cleveland the weekend before the election to lend the swing state extra manpower. Read about that here.

In Virginia, volunteers leafleted hundreds of worksites across the states, knocked on thousands of doors in labor walks and made thousands of phone calls to support Obama and Tim Kaine for Senate. For weeks members of CWA Local 2204 and IUE-CWA Local 82162 had been hitting the pavement in support of the now senator elect.

CWA Helps Turn Red House Seats Blue

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More than 50 IUE-CWA Local 201 members punched out or came in early at shift change to support Massachusetts Rep. John Tierney outside their plant.

Republicans will remain the majority in the House of Representatives, but CWA, working with progressive partners and allies, played a big role in turning some red House seats to blue and in re-electing House members who support working families.

CWA District 1 members made a big push to re-elect Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY-1) and to elect Sean Maloney to replace Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY-18). Bishop is the House sponsor of H.R. 3596, the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, and a longtime supporter of CWA.

CWAers from several locals, including Locals 1108 and 1104 went door-to-door campaigning for Bishop, while members from Locals 1120, 1101 and 1103 went door-knocking for Maloney, who defeated Tea Party favorite Hayworth. Maloney has walked picket lines, attended CWA meetings and has pledged to help working people get good contracts.

In Massachusetts, members of IUE-CWA Local 81201 were a big part of the campaign to keep Rep. John Tierney (D-06) in office. IUE-CWA members and union activists knocked on more than 45,000 doors and talked one-on-one at worksites, helping to counter a huge flood of outside money targeting Tierney. He won re-election by about 1 percent of the vote. The Boston Globe reported that union support helped him "eke out" a win and that "as the election neared, Tierney's union edge widened to 5 to 1." Read the rest of the story here.

CWA volunteers and resources also elected Texas representative Pete Gallego to the House in TX-23, defeating Rep. Francisco Canseco. Watch CWA's ad here.

In Maryland, CWAers helped elect John Delaney (D-MD-6), turning out a Republican member of Congress who had held office for some 20 years. Delaney met with Verizon CWA members at the Chesapeake complex last month.

As the CWA newsletter went to press today, CWA-supported Democrat Krysten Sinema is leading Vernon Parker in AZ-07 and Democrat Ami Bera is leading incumbent Dan Lungren in CA-09. CWA-supported television ads were especially effective in spotlighting the opposition of candidates to legislation to bring back good jobs to the U.S. Watch the ads here.

CWA Celebrates Ballot Measure Victories

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California state coordinator Judy Perez campaigns for No on Prop. 32.

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UPTE activists hold signs that members have used throughout the University of California system to promote Yes on Prop. 30.

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Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison drops by a TakeAction Minnesota phone bank and meets state coordinator Mona Meyer.

CWA banded together with a broad coalition of progressive groups to fight for key initiatives on the November ballot.

In California, CWA activists joined labor, social justice, environment and consumer groups to press for a "No vote" on Prop. 32, which would have made it illegal for workers to voluntarily make political contributions through payroll deduction. Voters overwhelming rejected the initiative, agreeing that it was a thinly-disguised right-wing attack on union workers' political voice.

CWA volunteers also worked hard to win a "Yes vote" on Prop. 30, a measure calling for new funding for education and public safety. UPTE-CWA Local 9119 and CWAers across the state battled big corporate dollars to win public support for this initiative and avoid major cuts to education around the state.

In Minnesota, CWAers worked with TakeAction Minnesota to help it become the first state to vote down a voter ID referendum, dealing a crushing blow to the voter suppression tactic.

Voters said yes to marriage equality measures for the first time in Maine, Washington State and Maryland.

Marylanders also approved a state version of the DREAM Act, granting in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants. To qualify, students must attend a Maryland high school for at least three years, and their parents must show they filed state income taxes during that period.

And by big margins, voters in Colorado and Montana approved measures that challenge the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision, which has allowed an obscene flow of corporate and secret dollars into our elections.

 

CWA Activists Help Build Democratic Majorities in State Legislatures

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TESU members present State House candidate Joe Moody with a COPE check before going on a block walk in El Paso. Moody won back his seat in House District 78 after his very narrow loss in 2010.

CWA activists helped switch a number of state legislatures from Republican control to Democratic majorities in Election 2012, or reduced the super-majority that Republicans had held in some states. This means more breathing room for activists to ward off attacks on workers' bargaining rights and the opportunity to make some real progress on issues that help working families.

About 200 more Democratic state legislators were elected this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Colorado House moved from red to blue, and both House and Senate now have Democratic majorities. Maine and Minnesota also have legislatures in which both bodies have Democratic majorities now, following a takeover by the GOP in 2010. In New Hampshire, the House moved to a Democratic majority.

CWAers were a big part of a huge change in New York. The Senate, which had been in Republican control for most of the past 75 years, now has a Democratic majority. It's a big breakthrough in terms of passing key legislation in the state.

Despite a scare in New Mexico, Democrats held on to the majority in the Senate and have an eight seat majority in the House, a critical gain for CWA public sector members in the state.

In Arizona, CWA activists were able to eliminate the Republican super-majority in the House and Senate, moderating the ability of Republicans to move forward with attacks on workers.

In California, CWAers and union allies defended the Democratic super-majorities in both state bodies. This will stymie attacks on workers' political voices and other issues. And Illinois voters put Democratic super-majorities in place in the legislature in that state.

In Texas, the state Senate now is filibuster-proof and several new representatives were elected to the state House.

Democratic gains in House and Senate seats also were made in Pennsylvania and Iowa, where a Democratic majority in the Senate stays in place.

Nov. 8 Day of Action for Congressional Lame Duck Session

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Members of CWA Local 13000 rally in Philadelphia to protect Social Security and Medicare.

Just two days after CWA activists celebrated an Election Day that saw big returns to elected officials who support working families, CWAers already were meeting with some of those members of the House and Senate and joining actions to keep elected officials accountable.

The "lame duck" session starts next Tuesday, Nov. 13. Today, in Missouri, about 80 members of CWA, Jobs with Justice, the Alliance for Retired Americans, the AFL-CIO and other allies were at the office of Senator Claire McCaskill (D), to congratulate the senator on her re-election and to make sure she knows what working families are looking for in the lame duck and next session of Congress.

In Virginia, a group of 30 CWAers were meeting with Senator Mark Warner's staff, as part of a progressive campaign to hold elected officials accountable.

Many more CWA activists and our allies are participating in similar actions across the country.

In the lame duck session, Congress will take up issues that directly affect working families as part of the effort to reach a spending agreement by the end of the year.

Some politicians and Wall Street executives want a "grand bargain" that could cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, all to give tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

Starting today, and through the end of the year, workers and allies will continue to tell members of Congress that we expect:

No tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans, and

No benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

For more information, go to www.americawantstowork.org.

End Washington Gridlock Through Senate Rules Reform

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It's going to be a new day in the Senate.

Seven Democratic senators elect — Tammy Baldwin (WI), Martin Heinrich (NM), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Mazie Hirono (HI), Tim Kaine (VA), Chris Murphy (CT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) — have all committed to "fix the broken Senate by reforming the filibuster."

Independent Angus King, who replaces Maine's moderate Republican Olympia Snowe, ran on a platform of reforming the filibuster. Washington's Maria Cantwell pledged to work to change filibuster rules in her third term.

In his first post-election press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) pledged to crack down on the rules facilitating the obstruction of legislative business. "I think the rules have been abused, and we are going to work to change them," he said. "We will not do away with the filibuster, but we will make the senate a more meaningful place. We are going to make it so we can get things done."

Majority Whip Dick Durbin (IL) agreed.

"Consider in the last six years, we have had 380 Republican filibusters," he said on MSNBC on election night. "When LBJ was leader, there was one filibuster. They abused it to the point where the Senate is a shell of its former self. We need reform that makes a filibuster count. Stick around. Don't go out to dinner and tell us you'll be back in 30 hours."

Durbin added, "The tea party dominance in the House — marching back and forth between government closures and closing down the economy. They threatened to default on America's debt for the first time in our history. Responsible Republicans should have stood up with the business community and said this is totally irresponsible. But they didn't. They were collared into believing this was a strategy to defeat Barack Obama. They were going to do it at any cost. Tonight I hope they will get their message back that it didn't work."

When the new senators are sworn in next January, there will be a small window of opportunity for a simple majority of senators to vote to overhaul the Senate rules. Will there finally be more compromise and less filibuster?

"The American people want their elected officials to debate and address the major issues of our time and to move past obstruction for obstruction's sake," said Shane Larson, CWA's legislative director. "Momentum is squarely on the side of substantial reforms, as seen in Senate Majority Leader Reid's remarks and the continued leadership of rules reform champions like Senators Harkin, Merkley, and Udall. Now with newly elected senators pledging to overhaul the chamber's filibuster rules, it's time to act."

Stay informed and get involved at FixTheSenateNow.org.

American Airlines Agents Get Ready to Vote

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American Airlines passenger service agents are in the home stretch of their 15-year struggle for a union voice.

On Tuesday, the company delivered mailing labels for the 9,600 employees to the National Mediation Board. Passenger service agents are the largest workgroup without a union voice at the airline.

Next week agents will come to Washington to meet with senators and their staff about the upcoming vote and American Airlines' continuing campaign to block agents from exercising their democratic right to vote. US Airways passenger service agents will also be supporting the get-out-the-vote efforts.

Here's the NMB timetable: Voting instructions will be mailed on Dec. 4. The election will be conducted by telephone electronic voting and Internet voting, with the voting period in effect from Dec. 4 through Jan. 15, 2013. The tally will take place at the NMB offices in Washington, D.C., at 2 pm, EST, on Jan. 15, 2013.

Meanwhile, American Airlines continues to tell employees that the vote might not go forward. The corporation intends on appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, in its last-ditch attempt to deny workers their right to vote. That threat is nothing new, considering that American Airlines has spent the past year trying every delay tactic possible to stop passenger service agents from exercising their democratic right to vote.

District 6 VP Honored by Houston NAACP

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CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings was one of three recipients of the NAACP Presidential Award. Cummings was honored at the 2012 Freedom Fund Gala, an event sponsored by the Houston chapter of the NAACP.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee was honored with the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award. Leland, an advocate against poverty and hunger, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. He was serving in that position in 1989 when he died in a plane crash in Ethiopia during a humanitarian mission.

Along with Cummings, the NAACP Presidential Award winners were Richard Carpenter, Chancellor, Lone Star College System; and Mary Ramos, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

We Expect Better Campaign Heating Up in Germany

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Leaders and members of ver.di, the union representing German workers at Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile, are gearing up the campaign to support T-Mobile USA workers in the face of a proposed sale of that company to Metro PCS, a U.S. firm that outsources the majority of its jobs.

CWA President Larry Cohen is in Frankfurt now, meeting with ver.di officers and leaders of the global labor movement, including the International Trade Union Confederation, to talk about the campaign's next steps.

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Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom trainees throughout Germany are showing their support for the "We Expect Better" campaign. This group (shown at right), in the Southern region of Nürnberg, produced a banner and signed it at their trainee meeting this week.

Detroit Guild Celebrates Organizing Win

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Janitorial workers at the Detroit News and Free Press voted for TNG-CWA representation in a National Labor Relations Board election.

Workers voted 18-1 for representation by CWA-TNG Local 34022. TNG-CWA had represented these workers until the work was subcontracted to American Building Maintenance.

"We had a great election yesterday, now this win," reported Lou Mleczko, president of CWA-TNG Local 34022. "Special thanks should go to Duane Ice, the Detroit Guild's general counsel, who quarterbacked this organizing effort."

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