Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Vote in Instant Election Poll During Tonight's CWA National Call

Don't Miss Important Updates from Members, Officers, Congressman

Be sure to join thousands of other CWA members across the country at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time today (the 15th) for the latest national call, featuring bargaining and mobilizing updates and exciting news about organizing campaigns and legislation.

If you've signed up to listen to the call by phone, you'll also be able to participate in an instant survey about the 2012 presidential election. If you're not signed up, you can listen to the call online at www.cwa-union.org/cwacall, and you can go to www.cwavotes.org to take the poll.

The instant survey will ask members to press buttons on their telephone keypad to indicate whether they support President Obama or a Republican, or are undecided. The web poll is slightly more detailed and the site includes a wealth of information about candidates' stands on job creation, bargaining rights, retirement security and health care.

In addition to CWA national officers, tonight's speakers will include a worker who has helped launch an impressive organizing campaign at a GE plant in Texas and a fired Verizon worker wrongly accused of misconduct during the August strike.

Another CWA activist will talk about the return of US Airways call center jobs to the United States, and Congressman Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) will discuss a new bill to put pressure on more companies to restore and save American call center jobs.

NLRB Decision Huge Victory for Puerto Rico TNG-CWA Members

Paper Ordered to Rehire Workers; 'Cease and Desist' Violating Rights

Puerto Rico TNG

UPAGRA members in Puerto Rico protesting in 2009 after 107 circulation workers at El Vocero were fired. The NLRB has ordered the workers rehired.

In a sweeping victory for UPAGRA/TNG-CWA members at Puerto Rico's El Vocero newspaper, the National Labor Relations Board is ordering the company to rehire 107 illegally fired circulation workers and "cease and desist" from a long list of other anti-union violations.

The unanimous NLRB decision Dec. 8, by two Democrats and one Republican, upheld a 2010 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Michael Rosas. Trying the case over three months in early 2010, Rosas found the company lacked credibility by claiming that shutting down the circulation department was a financial necessity.

The Board agreed, finding as Rosas did that El Vocero created an "alter ego," News Distributor, "for the purpose of evading collective bargaining obligations." The circulation jobs were subcontracted to the new, non-union shell company.

The Board noted that El Vocero "implicitly excepted" to Rosas' findings regarding the company's truthfulness, but said, "We have carefully examined the record and find no basis for reversing the findings."

TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer said the ruling is a "tremendous victory" for the embattled El Vocero workers, and a blow against union-busting. "This is a big win, and it should give El Vocero and all employers who pull these stunts the kind of angst they richly deserve," he said.

Nestor Soto-Lopez, UPAGRA executive secretary and at-large diversity member of the CWA Executive Board, said the workers are "very happy" with the decision.

"It is a triumph for them and for UPAGRA and was made possible with support from CWA and the Guild," Soto-Lopez said. "We will be working to ensure that the decision is enforced and all the brothers and sisters in this struggle are vindicated."

As El Vocero continues its expected fight against the ruling, Soto-Lopez said the union will seek a 10(e) injunction in federal court. That would force the company to follow the NLRB's order while the case proceeds.

Specifically, the ruling orders El Vocero to rehire the 107 workers and "make them whole" for their loss of earnings and benefits as a result of the circulation department's elimination.

The ruling also orders the company to cease and desist from behavior that includes:

  • "Failing and refusing to bargain with and recognize UPAGRA as the workers' exclusive collective-bargaining representative."
  • "Failing and refusing to adhere to the terms" of a 2008 agreement regarding the pension plan and other benefits.
  • Unilaterally changing unit employees' pay dates, medical insurance, vacation, severance and bumping rights.
  • Permitting supervisors to perform bargaining unit work.
  • Undermining the union by telling employees that El Vocero wants to bargain with them directly rather than with UPAGRA.

61 Wrongly Fired CWAers Back to Work at Verizon; Fight Continues

Verizon Rally Denver

CWA District 7 Vice President Mary Taylor leads a rally in Denver.

CWA has won back the jobs of 61 members wrongly fired for alleged misconduct during the Verizon strike in August, and is continuing to fight for the other 25 members who were terminated.

"If the parties can't agree on the 25 remaining cases, we strongly believe they should go before a neutral third party arbitrator," CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins said. In addition to the 86 fired CWA members, Verizon fired 39 IBEW members. Of those, 25 workers are back on the job.

One of the fired CWA members who is still fighting for his job will be featured on tonight's national CWA phone call at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time. If you aren't signed up for the call, listen online at www.cwa-union.org/cwacall.

Recent news stories about Verizon have reported on the firings, but failed to say that most of the workers have won their jobs back.

Leafleting at Verizon Wireless stores and Verizon buildings is continuing across the country, with a special holiday emphasis. On Thursday, CWA members in Washington, D.C., visited the office of Verizon Board Member Rodney Slater, delivering candy coal and singing carols with distinctive union lyrics.

Check out one of them, as sung to a familiar tune, below.

'The 12 Days of Verizon'

Verizon Caroling

CWAers, members of other unions, and activists from Jobs with Justice and the Occupy movement sang carols about corporate greed outside the office of Verizon board member Rodney Slater. Slater, who made $219,000 last year as a Verizon board director, helped the company's top five executives get $258 million over the last four years.

For your local's holiday parties, here's a special CWA carol:

On the First Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

A few million for the CEO!

On the Second Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

A cut in starting pay, and a few million for the CEO!

On the Third Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

Dishonest bargaining, a cut in starting pay, and a few million for the CEO!

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

Unfairly fired workers, dishonest bargaining, a cut in starting pay, and a few million for the CEO!

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

OUT-SOURCING JOBS, unfairly fired workers, dishonest bargaining, a cut in starting pay, and a few million for the CEO!

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

Billions in profits, OUT-SOURCING JOBS, unfairly fired workers, dishonest bargaining, a cut in starting pay, and a few million for the CEO!

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

Cutting our pensions, billions in profits, OUT-SOURCING JOBS, unfairly fired workers, dishonest bargaining, a cut in starting pay, and a few million for the CEO!

On the Eighth Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

Dividends for stockholders, cutting our pensions, billions in profits, OUT-SOURCING JOBS, unfairly fired workers, dishonest bargaining, a cut in starting pay, and a few million for the CEO!

On the Ninth Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

Less health insurance, dividends for stockholders, cutting our pensions, billions in profits, OUT-SOURCING JOBS, unfairly fired workers, dis-honest bargaining, a cut in starting pay, and a few million for the CEO!

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

More corporate greed, less health insurance, dividends for stockholders, cutting our pensions, billions in profits, OUT-SOURCING JOBS, unfairly fired workers, dishonest bargaining, a cut in starting pay, and a few million for the CEO!

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

Less respect for workers, more corporate greed, less health insurance, dividends for stockholders, cutting our pensions, billions in profits, OUT-SOURCING JOBS, unfairly fired workers, dishonest bargaining, a cut in starting pay, and a few million for the CEO!

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, Verizon gave to me:

Profits over people, less respect for workers, more corporate greed, less health insurance, dividends for stockholders, cutting our pensions, billions in profits, OUT-SOURCING JOBS, unfairly fired workers, dishonest bargaining, a cut in starting pay, and a few million for the CEO!

Strong NLRB Nominees Face Big Obstacles from Senate Republicans

President Obama has nominated two candidates with strong workers' rights backgrounds to fill vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board, but Senate Republicans remain a giant hurdle to their approval.

Sharon Block, whose career includes working for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) on the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, is currently deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Richard Griffin is general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) and serves on the board of directors for the AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee.

Filling at least one seat is urgent in order to maintain a quorum on the five-seat NLRB. Currently only three seats are filled, and member Craig Becker's term expires at the end of this month.

If the Senate fails to approve at least one of the nominees by Dec. 31, the board's remaining two members won't have the legal authority to proceed with what is already a large backlog of workers' rights cases.

CWA and other unions are urging the Senate to confirm the nominees swiftly, but are bracing for Senate Republicans to continue their campaign of obstruction. Because the Senate must have 60 votes rather than a simple majority to accomplish anything, Republicans were able to block an earlier NLRB nominee and have stalled scores of other critical Obama appointments.

Click Here: A Workers' Roundup of the Web's Best

Watch an inspiring video and learn about an important conference next year in Madison, Wis., that will mark the 15th anniversary of the student movement known as USAS. The video highlights the work of hundreds of students from 64 colleges and universities who organized four regional "Fight Back!" events focusing on issues that include undocumented students' rights, fighting tuition hikes and demanding justice for workers and their unions. Click here to see it.

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