Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWA’s Boarman Retires to Become Nation’s Public Printer

Newly retired CWA Printing Sector President Bill Boarman signs documents after being sworn in this week as the nation's Public Printer.

Bill Boarman, longtime CWA vice president for the Printing, Publishing & Media Workers Sector, retired this week to head the Government Printing Office. He was sworn in Monday as Public Printer of the United States.

President Obama nominated Boarman for the post last year. After months of inaction by Senate Republicans who opposed Boarman’s union career, Obama gave him the job through a recess appointment in December.

At the GPO, Boarman will oversee an agency that publishes thousands of documents every year for Congress and federal agencies. Boarman worked as a journeyman printer at the GPO early in his career. He served as CWA’s Printing Sector president for 21 years.

“Bill has stood up for printers and their profession during his long union career with CWA and Local 101-12 of the Columbia Typographical Union,” CWA President Larry Cohen said. “Now he is returning to the GPO after 35 years. His is an amazing journey.”

New AFA-CWA Leaders Promote Flight Attendants’ Unique and Vital Role

AFA-CWA's new international leadership team, from left: Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Creighan, President Veda Shook and Vice President Sara Nelson.

Taking the helm at AFA-CWA this week, the leadership team of Veda Shook, Sara Nelson and Kevin Creighan is already building a campaign to help the public, lawmakers and airline management better understand the vital role of today’s flight attendants.

“This year we will be telling our important story, publicly promoting our work as first responders and highlighting the unique skills we possess that bring extraordinary value to our jobs,” said Shook, AFA-CWA’s new international president and an Alaska Airlines flight attendant for 20 years. “There are thousands of examples of heroic acts performed by Flight Attendants and millions of examples where, every day, a Flight Attendant is seen as someone's hero.”

Nelson, a United Airlines flight attendant since 1996, has moved into Shook’s previous job as international vice president. Creighan is beginning his second full term as international secretary-treasurer. All three were elected at the 2010 AFA-CWA convention.

The leaders are reaching out to members across the country, asking them to share their questions and concerns as well as stories and ideas for the promotional campaign. To view a video about the team’s goals, click here.

One important issue that is personal to the team is the work-family balance, with Shook and Nelson both working mothers. Shook worked successfully at Alaska Airlines to negotiate flexible work arrangements and family leave provisions. “The profession of flight attendant allows us the flexibility to be fulltime employees and dedicated parents or caretakers for loved ones,” Shook said. “We shouldn’t have to compromise one for the other. We can do both.”

Senate Rules Reform Moves Forward

A proposal to reform the U.S. Senate rules was introduced Jan. 5, the first day of the new Congress. CWA and more than 50 other organizations, including the League of Women Voters, have been working for months to improve the way the Senate works.

CWA and coalition members gathered nearly 200,000 petition signatures and made more than 25,000 phone calls to congressional offices, calling for changes to end partisan obstruction and bring about transparency and accountability in the Senate.

Democratic Senators Tom Harkin (IA), Tom Udall (NM) and Jeff Merkley (OR) introduced a package of rules reform that goes a long way to improving the way the Senate works, and Senator Mark Udall (CO) introduced a similar resolution. The package would:

  • Eliminate the Filibuster on Motions to Proceed, so there is a clear path to debate.
  • Eliminate Secret Holds, so that a single senator can’t abuse the rules to block the people’s business.
  • Require a Real, Talking Filibuster. That means senators opposed to proceeding to a final “yes or no” vote on a measure must stay on the Senate floor and defend their position.
  • Expedite Nominations by reducing the time allowed for debate to two hours after the Senate already has voted to move forward. Right now, debate can continue for 30 hours.
  • Allow consideration of germane amendments for both the majority and minority.

In his floor remarks, Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “no one can credibly claim problems don't exist. No one who has watched this body operate since the current minority took office can say it functions just fine. That wouldn't be true.”

On a news teleconference with Common Cause, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Alliance for Justice, CWA President Larry Cohen outlined why reform is critical: “The U.S. Senate operates in a way not like any other body in any democracy in the world. This change will make a huge difference in the democratic process and in the lives of working families.”

NLRB Regions Directed to Take Action Against Labor Law Violators

Signaling an aggressive new commitment to protect workers’ union rights, the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel is instructing the agency’s regional offices to take swift action against employers who interfere with workers during organizing campaigns.

In two toughly worded memos issued at the end of 2010, NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Soloman told regional offices to seek injunctions against employers who violate labor law, and to use aggressive legal remedies under the National Labor Relations Act to protect “employee free choice regarding unionization.” He cited the “chilling” effect of iIllegal tactics, such as firing union supporters, making threats or promises based on how workers vote in union elections, and surveillance of workers approached by union organizers.

“We must tailor remedies to recreate an atmosphere that allows employees to fully utilize their statutory right to exercise their free choice,” Solomon said. In addition to seeking article 10 (j) injunctions to reinstate illegally fired workers, he encouraged requests for broader remedies, including:

  • Requiring that legal notices and “cease and desist” orders not only be posted in the workplace but also be read to employees, either by a top manager or a NLRB agent, to dramatically reinforce the employer’s pledge to respect workers’ rights and obey the law.
  • Requiring employers to provide the union with access to community bulletin boards and increased opportunities to communicate with union organizers.
  • Requiring employers to provide workers’ names and addresses to the union so it can more effectively reach out to them in settings away from employer scrutiny. “In the absence of having a strong new labor law, swift and tough action by the NLRB is essential to enforcing workers’ freedom to choose union representation,” CWA President Larry Cohen said. “The Board’s commitment to aggressively protect workers’ rights is a step in the right direction.”

In related action, the NLRB is proposing a rule requiring employers to post notices informing workers of their legal right to form unions. Employers would have to distribute the notice electronically if that is how they typically communicate with workers. If the rule wins final approval following a 60-day public comment period, it would be the first time since 1935 that employers are required to tell workers that they have the right to a union.

Gap Between Richest and Typical Americans Soars to Record High

Find this chart and others at www.epinet.org.

Setting a record gap, the net worth of America’s wealthiest households in 2009 was 225 times greater than the median family net worth, according to federal data analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute.

Wealth, or net worth, is a measure of a family’s total assets, including real estate, bank account balances, stock holdings and retirement funds, minus all liabilities. Those include mortgages, student loans, and credit card debt.

EPI explains that economic inequality goes beyond income inequality, even though it’s often described that way in media reports. “While wages and income provide some indication of a family’s ability to afford essentials like housing, food, and health care, accumulated assets, or wealth, can make it easier for them to invest in education and training, start a business, fund a retirement, and otherwise invest in their future,” EPI says.

Because accumulated assets also provide a cushion against job loss and other financial emergencies, economists say the “growing wealth disparity shows why some households are more devastated by unemployment, illness and other factors that cause a temporary loss of income.”

The net worth gap figures will be part of EPI’s forthcoming “State of Working America” report. Read more snapshots from the report at www.epinet.org.

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