Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Public Workers, All Unions Under Fierce Attack from New GOP State Leaders

CWA, the labor movement and its allies are preparing for battle as states across the country declare a renewed war on unions, with special attacks on the rights, wages and pensions of public employees.

Republican lawmakers in at least 10 states have or plan to introduce anti-union, so-called "right to work" legislation and other bills aimed at stripping workers of their rights to organize, to strike and to negotiate fair wages and benefits to support their families. In Minnesota, lawmakers are even pursuing a "right to work" constitutional amendment to make it harder for workers to form and join unions.

Among new governors, Ohio's John Kasich is "planning the most comprehensive assault against unions," the New York Times said. He wants to take away the right to unionize from 14,000 state-paid child care and home care workers, ban teacher strikes and kill rules requiring that contractors on public projects pay union-scale wages.

In Ohio and "throughout the battleground Midwest, there is a serious attack on our jobs and communities," CWA District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen said, explaining that district activists are already working to build coalitions to show lawmakers and the general public that it's not just unions that care about workers' rights.

"These attacks affect all of us, public and private sector workers, both at work and in our communities," Rosen said. "By uniting labor, community, civil rights and environmental groups, we can wage a powerful fight for good jobs and strong communities."

Ohio's Kasich appears to be competing with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to be the country's most anti-union, anti-public worker governor. Christie has become infamous over the last year for his loud, mean-spirited assaults on his state's employees, despite the fact that 60,000 CWA members and other unionized public workers have made a half-billion dollars in wage and benefit concessions over the last three years. CWA New Jersey continues to aggressively lobby, mobilize and rally to oppose Christie’s extreme agenda.

Learn more about the assaults on and myths about public workers at these links:

  • Click HERE or go to www.YouTube.com for a brief film by Robert Greenwald, "Wall Street Fat-Cats Flip Public Service Workers the Bird."
  • Click HERE (Acrobat PDF) or go to www.epinet.org, for a Rutgers University study debunking the myth that public workers are paid more than private-sector employees.
  • Click HERE for "The Shameful Attack on Public Employees," a column by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. "It's far more convenient to go after people who are doing the public's work—sanitation workers, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, social workers, federal employees—to call them "faceless bureaucrats" and portray them as hooligans who are making off with your money and crippling federal and state budgets. The story fits better with the Republicans' Big Lie that our problems are due to a government that's too big," Reich says.

Virginia CWA, Sierra Club Activists Get Fired Up at Joint Training

CWA and Sierra Club members in Virginia

CWA and Sierra Club members in Virginia met in early January to discuss shared goals and projects they can undertake together.

Strengthening a partnership that began a year ago, enthusiastic CWA and Sierra Club members in Virginia met last week for joint training to discuss their shared goals and how to work together to accomplish them. CWA led half of the sessions and Sierra led half, allowing both organizations to learn about each other's priorities.

"We were all struck by the similarities that we face," said CWA Local 2201 Executive Vice President Richard Hatch, who is coordinating the partnership in Virginia. "Our people formed great relationships with the Sierra Club folks and now the challenge will be to build upon this."

CWA and the Sierra Club already are working together on a Speed Matters campaign to bring high-speed broadband to Charles City County, a sprawling rural area that lags behind Virginia's big cities in Internet access. Following the success of the two-day workshop, leaders of both groups say they’re optimistic about future collaboration.

"We started with 30 wary but willing participants and ended with 30 CWA-SC ambassadors eager to take our experiences back to our respective organizations," said Allison Chin, a national board member for the Sierra Club. Like Hatch, she said similarities in "our organizations, our motivations, our allies, our opponents, and the issues we care about" far outweighed differences.

Praising Hatch and the activists who attended, CWA President Larry Cohen said, "This is a great example of the deeper coalition-building we will need to do to build majority support on the key economic justice issues facing our members."

NABET-CWA Tentative Contract

Local's Solidarity Forces Management's Hand at Twin Cities Public TV

NABET-CWA Local 57411 members

As one of many mobilization activities during a year of bargaining, NABET-CWA Local 57411 members held an informational picket Dec. 5 outside a Christmas concert being recorded to air on Twin Cities Public Television. Pictured are members Tim Crowe, left, and William Nelson.

After a year of bargaining and hard work by an active membership that turned out to leaflet and picket in summer heat and winter snow, NABET-CWA members at Twin Cities Public Television have a tentative contract with raises totaling more than 6 percent over three years, plus a signing bonus.

The eight fulltime members of Local 57411 at KTCA/KTCI will each get a $4,000 bonus, with prorated amounts for the 45 part-time members.

Members made sure management knew they were serious with activities that ranged from wearing red solidarity shirts every Friday to staffing a booth at the state fair that drew support from politicians and viewers. The union collected thousands of cards from people pledging to stop watching and end their financial support for the public TV station if management continued to refuse to bargain in good faith.

Management originally launched an all-out attack on contract provisions for the unit of technicians, graphic designers and camera operators, attempting to effectively eliminate the union's jurisdiction over their jobs. The union was steadfast, forcing the station to back off its worst demands and protecting fulltime workers from layoffs during the term of the contract.

The bargaining team is recommending the contract's ratification. Members will receive copies of the agreement this week and will vote Jan. 24.

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