Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWA National Call Dec. 15 Features Instant Poll on 2012 Election

Don't miss your chance to play an active role in next week's national CWA call, when members will be surveyed about their preference for president in the 2012 election.

By using your telephone keypad, you'll be able to indicate whether you support President Obama or a Republican, or are undecided. You can also take the poll online at a new website packed with information about the candidates' stands on job creation, bargaining rights, retirement security and health care. Go to www.cwavotes.org.

The input members provide via the telephone and e-polls will help the CWA Executive Board as officers weigh an endorsement of one of the presidential candidates.

The call begins at 7:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 15. To sign up, go to www.cwa-union.org/cwacall.

In addition to the instant poll, CWA leaders and members will discuss political issues, partnerships with allies to stop offshoring, money in politics, voter suppression, the broken Senate rules and more.

American Airlines Agents File Petition for CWA Representation Election

'We Have a Great Opportunity to Get a Voice and the Respect We Deserve'

American Airlines passenger service agents, who are fighting for a voice at work through CWA representation, filed a petition Dec. 7 asking the National Mediation Board to set an election date.

The 9,700 American Airlines airport and reservations agents comprise the only major employee group at the airline that doesn't have union representation.

Rosemary Capasso

Dallas-Fort Worth agent Rosemary Capasso.

"Now we have a great opportunity to get a voice and the respect we deserve," said Los Angeles-based agent Evelyn Eng.

Eng is among a determined group of agents who began working with CWA long before American Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection on Nov. 29. Now, agents say it's more important than ever to organize in order to ensure that workers have a voice in the bankruptcy proceedings.

"Getting a union is the only way that we, as unrepresented agents, can limit our losses during what will be a difficult period," Dallas-Fort Worth agent Rosemary Capasso said. "As American's only non-union workgroup, we are tired of being asked to provide 'input' and then have management alter or totally ignore our wishes and impose whatever changes it wants."

Those changes include deep cuts in compensation in 2003 and more recent rollbacks in health care coverage. Meanwhile, new employees are being hired for significantly lower pay, reduced benefits and fewer paid days off.

Despite having $4.1 billion in cash on hand, American Airlines management has indicated that wages, benefits and working conditions will be a major focus of its cost-reduction effort.

That's why a union now is essential, said AFA-CWA member Deb Sutor, pledging that she and fellow American Eagle flight attendants will be supporting the organizing campaign.

"Having a union and bargaining rights during bankruptcy is the strongest protection workers can have," Sutor said. "American Eagle management will have to sit down and bargain with us over any concessions that it wants. It can't just impose conditions as it sees fit."

Law Would Ban Federal Funds for Offshoring Call Center Jobs

Bipartisan Bill Also Provides for Important Consumer Protections

Mike Gendron

Local 1108's Mike Gendron, carrying an American flag as CWAers march in New York City in November, says 500 of his local's jobs have been lost to outsourcing.

Companies that send U.S. call center jobs overseas would suffer financial consequences and risk their customers' loyalty under the provisions of a bipartisan bill introduced this week in the House of Representatives.

The CWA-supported bill would ban federal grants and loan guarantees for companies that offshore call center jobs, and it would require call center workers to disclose their location to customers upon request.

Exporting call center jobs "is one of the scourges of our economy and one of the reasons we are struggling to knock down the unemployment rate," said Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), who introduced the bill with Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.).

"It's common sense that we should not be rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas while millions of qualified Americans are looking for work," Bishop said on a conference call with reporters Dec. 7. "Taxpayer dollars should only be used to incentivize good corporate citizens who create American jobs."

Vonda Hardy

In a local TV interview last month, CWA Local 3640 President Vonda Hardy discusses how CWA negotiations led US Airways to return 400 offshored jobs to the United States.

In addition to barring federal loans and grants for companies that send call center jobs overseas, the bill requires overseas workers to tell customers where their call center is located and, if requested, transfer customers back to a call center in the United States.

Ron Collins, CWA chief of staff, said corporate greed was driving the push to send more call center jobs offshore. "CWA members and activists will work hard for passage of this important legislation."

"This bill is exactly what we need now," said Mike Gendron, CWA Local 1108 executive vice president and political coordinator. He told reporters that his local has lost more than 500 jobs to offshoring.

"Our economy needs quality jobs, our community needs quality jobs, working families need quality jobs," Gendron said. "Too many companies like Verizon, which employs many of my local's members, offshore jobs and outsource work to the detriment of workers, consumers and communities."

When companies do the right thing and return jobs, workers, consumers and communities gain, CWA Local 3640 President Vonda Hardy said. Hardy said CWA's contract with US Airways required the return of offshored jobs to the U.S.; last month, another 400 jobs were returned from the Philippines.

"We know that customers are pleased, because they tell us so," Hardy said. "It's good for US Airways, good for quality customer service and good for quality jobs."

Click here to urge Congress to pass the bill and save and restore American call center jobs.

Cohen on 'Ed Show': War on Workers is Fueling 99 Percent Movement

Citing American Airlines, Verizon and other companies "looking to cut costs at all costs," CWA President Larry Cohen was featured on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" Dec. 2 as host Ed Schultz continued his reports about the war on America's middle class.

Cohen said corporate greed and virulent attacks from the right are building a strong bond among all workers, whether they are unionized or not. "Unions are a big part of the 99 percent," he said. "Those CEOs who are hoping they can isolate workers, isolate unions, are going to find there's a movement for democracy and economic justice sweeping America."

Larry on The Ed Show

CWA President Larry Cohen being interviewed on the Dec. 2 "Ed Show" on MSNBC. Click to watch.

Click here to watch Cohen's interview.

Cohen's appearance came one day after Schultz did a lengthy report on three labor situations — American Airlines' bankruptcy and lockouts at Cooper Tires in Ohio and Crystal Sugar in Minnesota.

Schultz was blunt: "People at the top are getting paid millions, and the workers are getting screwed."

"There is an industry probably in your hometown you can relate to," he said. "It might not be sugar. It might not be tires. It might not be the airlines. But all over this country, corporations are making record profits and laying off workers, shipping jobs overseas and rejecting union contracts.

"The greed will only stop when the American people make it stop," Schultz said. "That's why the 99 percent movement is so very much alive."

Click here for the full segment from Schultz's Dec. 1 show. "The Ed Show" runs on MSNBC Monday through Friday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern time.

CWAers Take Verizon/VZW Message to Holiday Shoppers, Football Fans

As holiday shoppers head to the malls, CWA members have been busy leafleting and displaying banners decrying the corporate greed at Verizon/Verizon Wireless.

And starting this weekend, football fans will be getting the message, too. Airplanes flying over East Coast NFL games will pull banners saying, "Support CWA Workers/StopVerizonGreed.com."

If you're attending games in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New York or Boston, be sure to look up and show your support for Verizon/Verizon Wireless workers.

Meanwhile, leafleting, marches and demonstrations continue. Last week in San Francisco, CWA members were among thousands of Occupy activists who marched through downtown, including a stop at a Verizon Wireless store.

"Our AT&T workers know that what you lose or gain can hurt or help them, and that same principle applies to all of us in the 99 percent," Local 9415 Contractual Vice President Coby Rhem told Verizon members on CWA's national phone call last week.

Caroline Dimezza, a chief steward for Verizon in Port Chester, N.Y., discussed how her members took full advantage of Black Friday to leaflet shoppers and are continuing during the holiday season. The positive response from shoppers and passersby who honk and wave is a big morale boost, she said.

"It's really rejuvenating when you've been standing out there for hours and you're getting that kind of support," she said. "You really feel like you're making a difference."

Former Alltel Workers at AT&T Mobility Join CWA

Seeking better pay, benefits and working conditions, 85 former Alltel workers at AT&T Mobility in New Mexico have joined CWA through majority sign-up.

The workers are part of the company's statewide retail sales group. "The workers know AT&T Mobility is a union company, and they want to get the same rights and voice on the job that are enjoyed by the 43,000 other CWAers at the company," District 7 Organizing Coordinator Al Kogler said.

Alltel workers became AT&T Mobility employees through a 2009 acquisition. In New Mexico, the organizing victory more than doubles the number of the company's retail workers and technicians who are represented by CWA.

New Guide Rates Restaurants on Employees' Wages, Benefits

Diners Guide

Ever wonder how your favorite restaurant is treating its servers, cooks and other employees? Find out by downloading a new guide (PDF) that rates 150 of America's most popular eateries on their wage, benefit and promotion practices.

Published by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, the National Diners' Guide 2012 "lists responsible restaurants where you can eat knowing that your server can afford to pay the rent and your cook isn't working while sick," ROC's website says.

The guide awards points to restaurants that offer workers paid sick days, promote from within and pay at least $5 an hour to workers who get tips and $9 an hour to those who don't.

A few local restaurants in cities that include New York, Los Angeles and Detroit got extremely high ratings. While most national chains are doing little for their workers, fast-food restaurants Five Guys and Chipolte got points for offering paid sick days. P.F. Changs's, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster were among restaurants getting straight "zeroes."

Follow the links above or go to www.rocunited.org to access the full guide.

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

In "The GOP's War on Labor Unions," the Washington Post's Harold Meyerson shows how Republicans are using attacks on the National Labor Relations Board as a vital part of their strategy to protect the 1 percent at the expense of everyone else. "The destruction of private-sector unions has redistributed income to the rich...Which is why the Republican war on unions — which is also the Republican war on the 99 percent — rolls on," Meyerson writes. Click here to read.

Who's the "the greediest, most cold-hearted company, CEO, or politician" of them all? Jobs with Justice wants your help nominating Scrooge of the Year candidates. An online election will follow, with the "winner" announced just before Christmas. Last year's Scrooge was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) for aggressively blocking any legislation to help working people. Click here to make nominations.

Add another American billionaire to the list of wealthy businesspeople who are publicly championing higher taxes on the rich, and decrying the right-wing's lame anti-tax rhetoric. In a powerful column for Bloomberg News, Nick Hanauer says, "We've had it backward for the last 30 years. Rich businesspeople like me don't create jobs. Middle-class consumers do, and when they thrive, U.S. businesses grow and profit. That's why taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all is a great deal for both the middle class and the rich...Let's remember that capitalists without customers are out of business." Click here to read it all.

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