CWA: Movement's Peaceful Protests 'An Appropriate Expression of Anger'
CWA members march in Occupy Wall Street demonstrations this week in New York City (above and left) and San Francisco (below). Protesters have also joined with CWA to leaflet at Verizon and Verizon Wireless stores and buildings.
Fighting for economic justice and good jobs to rebuild America's middle class, CWA members and thousands of other union members joined Occupy Wall Street demonstrators for a march in New York's financial district on Wednesday. CWA also participated in San Francisco and other cities as similar rallies and protests spread nationwide.
The New York City crowd swelled to an estimated 20,000 demonstrators Wednesday. "Being able to be here and walk in protest with my union is amazing," said Local 1180 member Marissa Colon-Margolies. "My dad, who believed in the American dream, got laid off four years ago. He was an engineer and designed some of the first computers and now he can't get a job. The Wall Street people and politicians are demonizing union workers for having too much. It's what everyone should have."
The CWA Executive Board endorsed the Occupy Wall Street movement this week, saying it is "an appropriate expression of anger for all Americans, but especially for those who have been left behind by Wall Street. We support the activists' non-violent efforts to seek a more equitable and democratic society based on citizenship, not corporate greed."
Toward that end, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have shown their support for Verizon and Verizon Wireless workers by joining CWA to leaflet at VZW stores and for rallies and marches outside Verizon buildings.
The OWS activities have brought together people of all ages with diverse opinions but shared general goals. As described by the AFL-CIO, working Americans are calling for:
- Wall Street and corporate America to invest in America: big corporations should invest some of the $2 trillion in cash they have on hand, and use it to create good jobs. Banks should be making credit more accessible to small businesses, instead of parking almost $1 trillion at the Federal Reserve.
- An end to foreclosures by rewriting loans to stop the downward spiral of the housing market and inject more than $70 billion into the U.S. economy.
- A tiny tax on financial transactions to raise hundreds of billions in revenue that could fund education and create jobs rebuilding our country. Such a tax also would discourage speculation and encourage long-term investment.
As the protests continue and grow, the AFL-CIO said unions nationwide "will open our union halls and community centers as well as our arms and our hearts to those with the courage to stand up and demand a better America."
As part of Customer Service Professionals Month this October, CWA has launched a new blog open to all customer service workers to share their accomplishments, frustrations and solutions.
It's one of the ways CWA is putting the spotlight on the difficult and important work that customers service representatives do in call centers and other worksites.
Other activities getting underway this month include:
- A focus on legislative initiatives to support customer service and call center workers, including consumer right-to-know legislation.
- Actions at CWA-represented call centers and support for customer service workers who want a union, including those at T-Mobile USA and American Airlines.
- Participation Friday, Oct. 7, in the global labor movement's World Day for Decent Work. CWA members will be encouraging people to join the global campaign to stop union-busting at T-Mobile. Click here to sign the international petition. Learn more at www.wddw.org.
"Customer service professionals face many stress factors on the job, from monitoring to quotas to difficulties in balancing work and family responsibilities," CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins said. "Employers who take the high road in labor relations, providing training and fair working conditions, know that a quality workforce is the key to the quality service that customers want."
CWA represents about 150,000 customer service workers in telecommunications, media, airlines, public service and other sectors. If your local is doing a customer service activity this month that you'd like to see featured in the CWA Newsletter, send details and a few of your best high-resolution photographs to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for the blog or go to http://cwacustomerservice.ning.com.
CWA members will join fellow activists for workers' rights and social justice in a march to the new Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial on the National Mall on Saturday, Oct. 15, an event postponed in August due to Hurricane Irene.
Billed as "The Emancipator to the Liberator" rally and march, it starts near the Lincoln Memorial and ends at the new MLK memorial.
CWA President Larry Cohen joined National Action Network organizers for a press conference to announce the event and emphasize its importance to workers and to the growing movement to rebuild America's middle class.
"Dr. King would remind us that our rally and march isn't about a monument, it's about a movement," Cohen said, reminding Americans that about 30 percent of all U.S. private-sector workers had collective bargaining rights during King's era. Today, it is 7 percent.
"Facing this reality, the fight for jobs with justice is more critical than ever," Cohen said. "As President Obama said in his jobs speech, we need a race to the top for jobs and social justice, not a race to the bottom."
Cohen is encouraging all area CWA members and their families to participate. CWAers will meet at headquarters at 9:30 a.m., and water, box lunches and Metro cards will be distributed. Click here for more details.
CWA is urging Congress to reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, saying the badly flawed deal effectively endorses an economic and legal system that is designed to block workers' collective bargaining rights and workplace protections.
The House could vote on the agreement as soon as next week. Click here to add your voice to growing list of concerned citizens telling Congress to reject the deal.
Although the Obama administration developed a "labor action plan" to address unions' concerns about Columbia's horrific track record on workers' rights, CWA and other opponents of the deal say the plan lacks accountability and any means of enforcement.
As a result, corporations in Colombia continue to ignore and abuse workers' rights with impunity. Violence against union activists in Colombia has become a way of life, with nearly 3,000 union activists murdered in the past 25 years. In 2010, 51 trade unionists were murdered and the killings have continued this year, despite Colombia's signing of the Labor Action Plan in April.
Colombian labor laws prevent over 80 percent of the nation's workers from organizing into unions. About 15 million of the country's 18 million workers are classified as "cooperativos" and contractors, which makes them ineligible for workplace protections and the right to bargain and denies them government-backed health care or retirement benefits.
Click here for more information about the battle for workers' rights in Colombia and how you can help stop the trade deal.
Twenty-eight members of the White Pine County (Nevada) Deputy Sheriffs Association joined with CWA last week. They will be represented by the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers/CWA Local 9110.
CWA's National Coalition of Public Safety Officers is growing steadily, and now represents more than 16,000 employees in a wide variety of public safety jobs. They include municipal police officers, deputy sheriffs, state police, county and state correctional officers, EMS workers, communications dispatchers, probation officers, parole officers, and TSA supervisors, managers and professionals.
Federal programs protecting workers' safety and health on the job, as well as their right to organize, are targeted for cuts or elimination altogether in a 2012 budget proposal from House Republicans.
Introduced by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, the budget proposals would seriously diminish the regulatory authority of the Labor Department, OSHA, and the NLRB.
In the area of workplace safety, for instance, the proposal would bar development of a rule requiring employers to record workers' job-related musculoskeletal disorders. It would also block OSHA from moving forward with a prevention program that requires employers to develop plans to address workplace hazards and reduce worker injuries.
The NLRB, meanwhile, would be barred from enforcing much of the National Labor Relations Act. Specifically, the budget would kill a proposed rule to expedite union representation elections; it would bar any rule allowing electronic voting in union representation elections; it would repeal a new rule requiring employers to post notices informing workers of their right to join unions; and it would reverse other rule changes that have attempted to level the playing field for workers seeking union representation.
The GOP proposal also seeks to prevent the NLRB from having any authority over the majority of working Americans, about 56 million people who are employed at "small" businesses. The Small Business Administration defines small businesses as having as many as 499 employees.
Click here to check out the bridge situation in your state.
How many bridges in your state are structurally deficient? You might be shocked to find out that the numbers are in the thousands. In fact, 69,223 bridges nationwide are in need of repair. The AFL-CIO has compiled an interactive map, allowing you to click on your state and find out how your bridges are faring. Then follow the links and tell Congress to put Americans back to work by employing them to fix our country's broken and dangerous infrastructure. Click here for the map.