Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Stand Up for Workers on Nationwide Day of Action April 4

We Are One

Gearing up for the biggest nationwide mobilization of workers in decades, CWA, the union movement and a growing list of allies are planning activities and events for April 4, the day in 1968 that Martin Luther King was murdered while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis.

From wearing stickers that say, "Stand Up for Workers' Rights" to leafleting, community outreach, rallies, candlelight vigils and more, CWA locals, sectors and districts will be working hard to meet President Larry Cohen's goal to have dramatic events in every workplace across the United States.

April 4

Allies joining the effort include the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, the National Urban League, American Association of People with Disabilities, Center for American Progress, Common Cause, the Sierra Club and many more.

This week, they issued a call to action asking Americans to remember King's stand for workers' rights and to honor him and all workers still fighting for those rights today.

"On April 4 this year, the anniversary of Dr. King's death, we will stand together across this country for those same human rights and human dignity for working men and women," the call to action states. "We will remember the courage and determination of those 1,300 workers who endured assault and arrest as they walked a picket line for two months, as we stand with public workers whose bargaining rights are under attack, with private workers who can't get bargaining rights, and against those politicians and their allies who want to silence our political voice."

Go to www.cwaaction.org to read the full statement and check out other April 4 materials. Or click on the picture to the right to view the whole flyer.

CWA Local 2201 activists, including retirees, discuss their multi-pronged plan for workers' rights actions on April 4.

Local 2201 in Richmond, Va., is close to finalizing details for major actions on several fronts on April 4. They include handbills helping private sector members understand why they need to be concerned and involved in the attacks on public sector bargaining; using members' pick-up trucks to display large plywood signs with messages honoring King and workers; a truck with a digital reader board calling attention to the organizing fight at T-Mobile; and a lunchtime tailgate cookout.

TNG-CWA is asking locals to take a few minutes at 3 p.m., local time, on April 4, and have all members in newsrooms and other worksites stand, either for a moment of silence or a brief presentation. Locals are already ordering thousands of CWA's "Stand Up for Worker' Rights" stickers.

Meanwhile, District 13 activists are getting a very positive response as they contact tenants in their 20-story Center City Philadelphia building asking them to rally outside with union members and supporters at noon April 4. "Think of what a visual it would be if everyone came out of the building together and spent the lunch hour talking to each other about these issues," CWA District 13 Vice President Ed Mooney said.

CWA Districts 1, 2 and 13 will also use April 4 to kick off mobilization efforts for Verizon bargaining. Many locals will also call attention to the fight for a union at T-Mobile call centers and retail stores.

Cohen: 'They Have Broken All Trust With the People of Wisconsin'

GOP Senate Kills Public Sector Collective Bargaining; Recalls Underway

Wisconsin Senate Republicans used a "nuclear option" Wednesday night to destroy their state workers' bargaining rights, violating the state's open meetings law and defying the vast majority of voters who polls show support collective bargaining for public employees. The state Assembly passed the bill Thursday.

Wisconsin union members and allies, who have been demonstrating inside and outside the capitol for weeks, angrily returned to the building by the thousands last night as word of the surprise vote spread. Legal recourse was expected to begin immediately, and petitions are being circulated to recall eight of the Republican senators.

"What happened in the Wisconsin Senate last night is a shameful act, and one that will not stand," CWA President Larry Cohen said in a statement Thursday. "The governor and some senators chose to trample democracy to follow an extremist agenda. They've broken all trust with the people of Wisconsin, and especially the working men and women who keep communities clean and safe, who help the less fortunate live in dignity and who make our communities better places to live and raise our families."

Republicans killed collective bargaining by taking the language out of a broader budget bill and making it stand-alone legislation. They claimed that doing so made it a non-fiscal matter, allowing them to vote without a quorum and the Senate's Democrats.

The Senate's 14 Democrats left the state three weeks ago in order to prevent a quorum and the immediate vote that Gov. Scott Walker was demanding. They were attempting to negotiate with Walker and their GOP colleagues when the Republicans pulled their sneak attack Wednesday night. Many legal and parliamentary experts say the vote was illegal on multiple grounds.

Walker and Republican lawmakers had falsely claimed that the bill was needed to reduce the state's budget deficit. But Wednesday's action clearly shows their true intent to end collective bargaining and unions.

Further proving the claim a lie, Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald slipped up and admitted to Fox News that busting unions is about Republican power and the 2012 elections. "If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you're going to find is President Obama is going to have a much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin," he said.

ALERT:

Keep this in mind when you're at any demonstration, or if a media outlet you've never heard of is trying to interview you. Right-wing tea partiers and groups like FreedomWorks often show up at union events trying to stir up trouble. They might try to provoke an aggressive response, or get you to say something in anger or off message. Don't fall for it. Don't give them what they want.

At a rally, just walk away. If being pushed to respond by an unfamilar reporter who could be a front for some right-wing group, you won't gain anything by being interviewed. Repeat our message: we're standing up for democracy and workers' rights. That's all they need to hear.

Ohio House Prepares to Gut Public Workers' Bargaining Rights

'Good Jobs, Strong Communities' Coalition Planning Rallies Statewide Tuesday

Stand Up for Ohio

CWA Local 4340 EVP Keith Estes and Secretary-Treasurer Anita Blackwell rally against Ohio's union-busting legislation. Younger demonstrators included Johnia Martin, daughter of Ebony Martin, Local 4320. Many more rallies are planned statewide Tuesday, March 15.

CWA and its allies in Ohio will rally throughout the state on Tuesday, as the Ohio House prepares to vote on the bill the Senate passed last week that strips public workers of their bargaining rights and other job protections.

Thousands of CWA members have already spent weeks demonstrating at the capitol and in cities across Ohio. On Tuesday, March 15, a coalition that CWA helped launch, Stand Up for Ohio: Good Jobs and Strong Communities, will be holding a major series of events statewide.

See the chart below to find the event nearest to you. Also check the coalition's Facebook page.

City Location Time Contact
Oberlin Corner of N. Main Street and W. Lorain Street 5:00 p.m. Neal
732-646-1664
Akron Tri County CLC — 720 Wolf Ledges 4:30 p.m. Kathleen
330-612-5573
Vandalia Corner of Maple Street and E. National Road 5:00 p.m. Marcia 
937-461-9983
Maumee 601 Conant Street 5:30 p.m. Shannon
202-577-4424
Strongsville Pearl Road and Route 82 5:30 p.m. Debbie
440-333-7007
Portsmouth Shawnee State — Flohr Lecture Hall 5:00 p.m. Deb
740-357-1202
Westerville Westerville Library — 126 South State Street 6:00 p.m. Deb
614-323-1703
Cincinnati Fountain Square — 5th and Vine 5:00 p.m. Julie
513-961-2272
Salem St. Paul Church — 935 E. State Street 5:00 p.m. Kirk
330-743-1196
Ashtabula East Jefferson Street & South Market 5:00 p.m. Diane
440-415-2925
Steubenville 227S. 3rd Street 5:00 p.m. Gary
330-794-7570
Mansfield Main Street Town Square 5:00 p.m. Travis
419-468-9836
Cambridge TBA 5:00 p.m. TBA

Tough Bargaining Starts This Week in New Jersey

Tough bargaining gets underway March 11 covering 40,000 CWA state workers in New Jersey. Teachers and other public workers also will be bargaining new contracts.

CWA and other union members throughout New Jersey have been fighting back against Gov. Chris Christie's attack on public workers' bargaining rights, pensions and health care. A support rally for Wisconsin and New Jersey workers two weeks ago brought 10,000 activists to Trenton in the pouring rain to take a stand for workers' rights.

Lobby Days set for March 14 and March 21 will again bring thousands of supporters to the state capitol to tell legislators and the governor: Hands off our bargaining rights.

Christie and some state politicians are pushing legislation to remove health care from collective bargaining. Christie wants to do the same with pension demands that include a 25 percent cut in benefits with a 60 percent increase in worker contributions.

In a town hall meeting this weekend, when asked if he wanted to reform or abolish the civil service, Christie said, "Abolish it."

Christie claims he's willing to bargain, but his demands and legislative scheming would make it impossible to negotiate over health care and pensions. When it comes to wages, Christie is demanding a cap that would virtually eliminate workers' ability to bargain over pay.

New Jersey state workers already contribute to their pensions and health care. In fact, CWA members have made regular contributions to the plan over the past 15 years, never missing a contribution. The state government has not made any contributions in 13 of the past 17 years, a big factor in the pension plan shortfall.

CWA state workers are willing to do their fair share. That means shared sacrifice and keeping the fundamental right to bargain collectively.

Show Us Your Favorite Rally Signs

Wisconsin rally sign
Local 9400 rally sign

Ohio rally sign

From statehouse rallies and demonstrations in cities nationwide, there's been no shortage of creative hand-made signs as CWA and its allies fight the wave of attacks on workers' rights.

We'd like to see some of your favorite signs, and will feature some of them in CWA's weekly newsletter and possibly in the CWA News. Remember to have your camera handy at your next rally.

Please e-mail photos to news@cwa-union.org and include your name, your CWA local and contact information. High-resolution pictures are best, and are essential for using the photographs in the CWA News and other printed material.

AFA-CWA: GOP Trying to Turn Airline Workers' Victory into Defeat

Embattled state workers aren't the only ones fighting for their rights today, AFA-CWA says airline workers are at risk, too, as U.S. House Republicans try to kill the National Mediation Board's new, fair and democratic rules for union elections.

A majority of Republicans support a provision in the FAA reauthorization bill that would return the airline workers' elections to the prior system, which strongly favored management by counting any worker who didn't cast a ballot as a "no" vote. By suppressing the vote through fear and intimidation, airline management made it extremely difficult for unions to prevail.

The bill is awaiting action by the full House after an effort to strip the provision failed in the Transportation Committee by one vote, 30-29. Several Republicans joined Democrats in fighting for the airline workers and trying to save the NMB rules. They were Reps. Candice Miller of Michigan, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey and Tim Johnson of Illinois.

"There is no excuse to treat an election as anything other than an election," said former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, who joined AFA-CWA President Veda Shook on a media conference call Tuesday. In her role ensuring fair elections in Ohio, Brunner said, "We would never have certified the results of an election operated in such a manner."

The new, democratic rules, "are consistent with how every other election is conducted in America," said former NLRB attorney Anne Lofaso, who spent 10 years arguing workers' cases before the United States Courts of Appeal.

Shook said she is hopeful that public support will persuade Congress "to stop these efforts to shred worker democracy in the airlines. It's not time to turn back the clock to a system that favored management efforts to suppress voter turnout."

Prior to the call, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, told union leaders that he would "vigorously oppose any effort to include these dangerous provisions in the FAA Reauthorization Act conference report." But he warned that the anti-union bill "is only the beginning" of what is certain to be a prolonged attack on unions and working families.

"I think we'll see a lot of amendments this year, probably on every bill we consider, that will chip away at the basic rights and protections that help middle-class working families get by," Harkin said.

CWA's Rosen at Cleveland City Club:

History Proves Link Between Good, Union Jobs and Strong Communities

CWA District 4 VP Seth Rosen speaks to the Cleveland City Club.

In a powerful speech to the Cleveland City Club last Friday, CWA District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen drew on America's history to illustrate how workers' rights are fundamentally linked to good jobs and strong communities.

"For most of its 200-year history, Ohio and America grew together," Rosen told 150 people at the City Club and thousands more listening via TV, radio and the Internet. "Ohio was a place that people would move to in order to find good jobs and strong communities. A strong middle class with good union jobs supported the kinds of services that make a strong community — fire, police, schools, hospitals, libraries, parks, and more. In turn, these strong communities provided the market places where people bought the goods and services that led to good jobs."

Rosen recalled his two immigrant grandfathers telling him how their garment industry unions "lifted them out of poverty, created a safer work environment, and provided them with dignity and a voice at work."

A century later, Ohio Gov. John Kasich wants to bar public workers from bargaining over anything, even life-and-death issues. "For example, police will be banned from asking for bulletproof vests to protect themselves," Rosen said of the bill, passed by the Ohio Senate last week. "Bus drivers will not be allowed to speak out for the need to replace worn tires, frayed windshield wipers, or squeaky brakes."

Rosen urged people to join the coalition that he and CWA helped launch recently, Stand Up for Ohio: Good Jobs and Strong Communities. Bringing together unions, civil rights and faith groups, community organizations and other allies, the coalition is fighting for workers' rights, against deep budget cuts and for many other issues "that affect our jobs, communities, schools, health, and happiness," he said. "We can't look at these issues separately and expect everyone to work together." Find the coalition on Facebook.

Click here to watch Rosen's speech on YouTube. You can also read it here.

CWAers, Global Union Movement Encourages T-Mobile Women
On International Women's Day

AFA-CWA Honors Flight Attendants for Advancing Women's Issues

CWA members attending the Telecommunications and Technologies Leadership Conference show their support March 8 for all T-Mobile’s workers.

Marking the 100th annual International Women's Day on Tuesday, CWA members and union supporters around the world offered encouraging words to more than 10,000 women who work at T-Mobile USA, which is fighting its workers every step of the way as they fight to organize a union.

"Women at T-Mobile are subject to daily fear, stress, and insecurity about their jobs," CWA Executive Vice President Annie Hill said. "Their performance targets are constantly changing, they can be fired at any time, their pay increases are minimal and any organizing efforts are quickly put down by management."

The e-mail campaign asked people to send online messages to T-Mobile women. Posts at Lowering the Bar for Us, the T-Mobile organizing website, included:

  • "It is hard to form a union but it will be the best thing you ever did for yourselves. Hang tough," from Oregon.
  • "I've been a T-Mobile customer for almost ten years. If T-Mobile does not bring a union to its workplace, I will change my carrier. I had no idea of T-Mobile's anti-union stance in their workplace," from New York.
  • "Don't allow their fear tactics to break your spirit and resolve," from Ohio.

UNI Global Union is a big part of the international campaign to end the double standard at Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile, and support for T-Mobile USA women came from around the world. A T-Mobile USA worker posted this on the TU forum: "Who supports us in our fight to win what's right? The world does!"

The one-day campaign brought in several hundred new likes for the "lowering the bar" Facebook page.

One post read, "As a T-Mobile customer, I am disappointed. To not allow the women, many who have established the reputation T-Mobile has for great customer service, to provide a better future for themselves and their families is disturbing. I can't continue to support a company that participates in union-busting. I hope T-Mobile comes to their senses soon!"

AFA-CWA also celebrated International Women's Day, honoring its flight attendants and the strides made by all women in the last century.

"The Association of Flight Attendants has been on the forefront of advancing women's issues since our inception over 65 years ago," President Veda Shook said. "By challenging discriminatory policies based on gender, race, age, weight, pregnancy and marital status, AFA raised the bar for all flight attendants across the country. AFA was also the leader behind the repeals of the marriage and pregnancy bans, giving female flight attendants the opportunity for a career instead of losing their job when they started a family."

Fight for Public Broadcasting at Capitol Hill Rally on Tuesday

CWA and allies that include AFTRA, the Writers Guild of America East, MoveOn and Free Press are staging a major Capitol Hill rally Tuesday, March 15, in the urgent battle to stop Congress from defunding public broadcasting.

The rally begins at 1 p.m. at Upper Senate Park near the Russell Senate Building. Move On and Free Press will be delivering petitions to Congress with 1.2 million signatures representing some of the 170 million Americans who watch and listen to public broadcasting every day.

CWA, NABET-CWA and TNG-CWA together represent about 2,000 workers at PBS, NPR and local public broadcasting stations around the country. Although donations make up a large portion of their budgets, the federal subsidy is essential to their survival.

The immediate battle is on the budget bill that Congress must pass by March 18 in order to avoid a government shutdown, but another fight is certain when debate begins on the 2012 budget.

In addition to the allies helping stage the rally, numerous other organizations and social networking sites are fighting to save public broadcasting. To join CWA's campaign, click here.

Pride@Work, Allies Take Strong Stand for Workers’ Rights

At least 45 organizations so far have joined Pride@Work in signing a solidarity statement supporting workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and more than 30 other states where Republican lawmakers are trying to pass union-busting legislation.

"Politicians' radical attacks on workers' fundamental rights would be devastating for LGBT families, for all workers and for all people committed to progressive change in this country," the statement says. "Whether as LGBT workers or community allies of labor, the moment demands we stand up and stand together."

The full statement is online at www.prideatwork.org. Organizations that want to add their names to the list of signatures can find more information online or call (202) 637-3988.

Apply Now for 2011-12 Morton Bahr Distance Learning Scholarships

New York's Empire State College is accepting applications for Morton Bahr Online Learning Scholarships for the 2011-12 academic year. The deadline to apply is May 15 and winners will be announced by the end of June for the fall semester.

The scholarship, honoring CWA President Emeritus Morton Bahr and his lifelong commitment to education for all, allows students to attend college through Empire State's Center for Distance Learning.

Union members, their families and domestic partners are eligible to apply for the scholarships, which include undergraduate tuition and fees. Since it was launched in 2001, the scholarship has helped 35 students pursue a college education.

Applications can be downloaded and submitted by going to www.esc.edu/bahr. To have a application mailed, contact the college by e-mail at special.programs@esc.edu or call (800) 847-3000, ext. 2492.

Companies Not Sharing in the 'Recovery' with Workers

Who's holding back the economic recovery? Corporate America itself, which is sitting on nearly $2 trillion in unspent money, according to a sobering report from the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal studied the first 18 months of every economic recovery since World War II and found that companies today, unlike earlier decades, are barely sharing any of the profits they've pocketed through workers' productivity gains.

In the economic recoveries stretching back to 1949, the Journal found that companies shared an average of 58 percent of the profits that they gained through increased productivity.

Today, even though productivity jumped more than 5 percent from mid-2009 to the end of 2010, companies are sharing almost none of it with workers. In return for workers' productivity gains for that period, companies gave workers a three-tenths of a percent wage increase (0.3%). In earlier recoveries, that productivity gain would have netted workers a 3 percent wage boost.

Companies aren't spending much of their money on hiring, but are giving it to shareholders, buying back their stock, and simply letting it sit.

"Why the difference between this recovery and its predecessors?" asked Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson. "It's happening at a time when the entire private sector workforce is non-union — 93.1 percent. Absent unions, workers are dependent entirely on management’s willingness to share their increased revenue with employees...and apparently, no such willingness exists."

Union Plus, AT&T Offering $50 Credit for New Wireless Customers

Support union workers and get a $50 credit on AT&T cell phone plans, in addition to the 15 percent discount already offered through AT&T's partnership with Union Plus.

The credit is being offered to new customers who sign up online for a voice plan of $34.99 a month or more by April 29. All plans except iPhone and iPad activations are eligible for credit.

Visit www.UnionPlus.org/ATT to learn more and sign up. The wireless discounts are among hundreds of cost-saving Union Plus benefits, from scholarships to emergency financial aid to discount movie tickets, that have been helping working families nationwide for 25 years. Click here for more details.

Buy a Book; Help an Unemployed Union Member

Powell's Books, the famous Portland, Ore. bookstore and the nation's only unionized online bookseller, is working with its union and customers to help 31 workers who are being laid off due to declining sales.

For each transaction made via the union's website, Powell's will donate 7.5 percent of the purchase price to an assistance fund for the displaced workers. Click here or go to www.ilwulocal5.com, the website for International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 5.

Front and center on the website’s homepage is a link to Powell's. Click there to shop and you'll help fellow union members get back on their feet.

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