Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

April 4 Website Up and Running

Tell CWA What You're Doing to Stand Up for Workers' Rights

Will your local be rallying April 4? Leafleting outside a union-busting business? Protesting at city hall or the state legislature? With just 2 1/2 weeks to go until the nationwide day of action, CWA is making it easy for you to plan, share and join events in your community.

http://www.cwaaction.org

Go to www.cwaaction.org or click the logo to the right to find out what other locals are doing and add your activities to an interactive map. The site is also the place to order "Stand Up for Workers' Rights" stickers, signs and flyers.

Dozens of allies, including other unions, the Sierra Club, NAACP, La Raza, the Urban League, faith groups, the National Association of People with Disabilities, Common Cause and more, are also planning events. To find out what they're doing in your area, the website lets you search for events using your zip code. If you don't find something immediately, check back. New events are being added all the time.

April 4

April 4 marks the 43rd anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was fatally shot in Memphis on a trip to support striking sanitation workers. CWA President Larry Cohen is urging locals to capture the spirit of King in planning events for the day.

"If Dr. King were alive today, he'd be in Madison or Columbus or Trenton or any or all of the other cities where workers are standing up and fighting for their rights," Cohen said. "He was murdered because he stood up for, and organized for, civil rights and workers' rights."

Some of the latest additions to CWA's map of events include Local 6215's plans to handbill throughout the day in front of T-Mobile in Frisco, Texas. In Kansas City, Mo., Local 6450 is asking members to wear red shirts and black armbands for events that include leafleting and a rally with other unions and Jobs with Justice.

In Arlington, Va., TNG-CWA Local 32035 members at BNA, which reports on government affairs, will leaflet, post materials on bulletin boards and hold a lunchtime rally. "The poor economy cannot be used as an excuse to trample on workers' rights, and we will stand strong to protect ours," the local said in posting its events on the website.

In Michigan, CWA locals are planning a variety of actions, Local 4008 President Mike Schulte said. Technicians will gather in groups in front of AT&T garages and walk in together. At call centers, members plan to stand collectively each hour.

Schulte said locals have suggested slogans for arm and wrist bands that include "Good Jobs, Strong Communities," "Save the Working Class" and "If You Don't Stand for Something, Then You Stand for Nothing." Locals are also planning evening rallies and candlelight vigils.

Click here to tell CWA what your local will be doing April 4. Also be sure to join CWA's third national town-hall phone call on March 29 to discuss plans (see story below).

Join the March 29 Virtual Town Hall

On Tuesday, March 29, CWAers will again join together for a virtual town hall meeting. CWA President Larry Cohen, Executive Vice President Annie Hill, executive board members and thousands of CWA activists will be on the phone in our third meeting since the fight for fairness in the states got underway.

Topping the agenda: the April 4 Day of Action. That's when union members and allies from the Sierra Club, NAACP, La Raza, the Urban League, religious communities, the National Association of People with Disabilities, Common Cause and many more will stand together for workers' rights.

We'll get reports from the front lines of our fight for worker's rights and human rights in the states, and during the call, you'll also have an opportunity to ask questions.

Click here to register.

Sign up for the virtual town hall today with your preferred phone number and we will call you on Tuesday, March. 29 to connect you to the meeting. If you plan to participate using your mobile phone, you can also register by texting CWACALL to 69866 (standard text messaging rates apply).

Ohioans Rally for Workers' Rights, Good Jobs and Strong Communities

Cincinnati Rally

CWA members helped plan rallies in Cincinnati and a dozen other cities and small towns across Ohio on Tuesday, drawing more than 10,000 demonstrators statewide.

Fighting for good jobs and strong communities, CWA members and thousands of allies turned out in pouring rain across Ohio on Tuesday to condemn attacks on public workers' collective bargaining rights and Gov. John Kasich's deep budget cuts targeting schools, cities and essential services.

More than 10,000 people demonstrated in 13 small towns and big cities, events that were coordinated by a new coalition that CWA helped create, "Stand Up for Ohio: Good Jobs and Strong Communities."

Strongsville, Ohio Rally

About 2,000 people, including youngsters, rallied in Strongsville.

Strongsville, Ohio Rally

The public's anger is further reflected in new poll numbers. Kasich was elected last November, but if the vote were held today, polls show that his opponent, Democrat and former Gov. Ted Strickland would win handily. Further, 54 percent of respondents say they’d vote to repeal the union-busting Senate Bill 5, with just 31 percent saying they'd vote to keep it.

Tuesday's events included 1,500 people marching to Kasich's home in Westerville, near the capital of Columbus. The crowd chanted and sang, although Kasich wasn't there to listen.

In rural Jefferson, Ohio, a speaker from the Ashtabula Farmers Union addressed a crowd of 300, describing a century of farmers supporting workers' collective bargaining rights. A local history teacher described historic strikes and protests that cost some workers their lives as they fought for rights that now are under assault again.

In the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville, 2,000 people heard a wide variety of speakers, sang songs of solidarity and waved signs at a major intersection.

"The fights faced by workers in Ohio and the Midwest can't be won by union members alone," CWA District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen said. "We need a broad alliance of unions, community organizations faith groups and other groups standing up for each other's fights. These events in Ohio are an exciting start to building a broad movement."

Walker, Wisconsin GOP Face Growing Backlash from Voters

Wisconsin rally

The backlash against Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP's anti-union agenda is coming from the right as well as the left.

The assault on workers' rights in Wisconsin is backfiring in more ways than one on Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers, between recalls, sinking poll numbers and small business owners siding with workers.

Up to 100,000 people, including farmers who drove their tractors to Madison, protested at the capitol Saturday after Walker signed the now-infamous bill stripping collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin's public employees.

Petition drives to recall eight Republican state senators have already gathered more than half the signatures needed for a vote. Other Republicans and Walker could face recalls in early 2012; under state law, officials must be in office for a year before a recall vote.

Meanwhile, polls continue to show that more than half of Wisconsin voters disapprove of Walker's anti-worker agenda and strongly support collective bargaining rights.

Madison rally

Farmers who drove their tractors to Madison were among 100,000 people demonstrating Saturday after Gov. Scott Walker signed his anti-union legislation.

Many small business owners are also backing workers, displaying both handwritten and pre-printed signs in their windows, such as "We Support Public Workers and Public Workers Support Us, Too."

Saturday's rally in Madison welcomed home as heroes the 14 Democratic senators who left Wisconsin to try to force compromise on Walker's union-busting bill. Eight of the 14 are facing a right-wing recall drive.

The heroes honored Saturday included Sen. Julie Lassa, six months pregnant and the mother of two.

"I am teaching my daughters, who are 6 and 3, that it is very important to do what you can to help your neighbors when people need help," Lassa told a reporter while she and her senate colleagues were at an undisclosed location in Illinois. "I have heard some media commentators refer to this as a 'vacation.' Believe me, it's anything but. I'm paying my expenses out of my own pocket and trying my best to cope with being away from my husband and children and my home."

The Three Best Signs of the Week

Best sign

Best sign

Best sign

Truth be told, it's almost impossible to narrow down the hundreds of clever, creative signs being used in the state battles to just two or three. But we're going to do it each week, and we want your help.

Send pictures of your favorite handmade signs to news@cwa-union.org. High-resolution photos are best, and might be used later in the CWA News and at the CWA convention.

For our first batch of best signs, we liked the union card sign from Ohio, the humorous Wisconsin sign about dining with Scott Walker and the all-too-truthful sign from Texas, where there's a budget crisis that can't be conveniently blamed on public workers: they have no collective bargaining rights.

State Roundup: Battle for Workers' Rights Sweeps Nation

It's not just Wisconsin and Ohio where workers are fighting to save collective bargaining rights, their voice at work and democracy itself. Here's what is happening in a few of the other embattled states:

Florida

The Florida Senate Labor and Education Committee passed a "paycheck deception" bill to prohibit payroll deduction for any union dues. The bill also severely restricts workers' ability to make payroll contributions for political activity. Remember, these are voluntary contributions that CWAers and other union members choose to make to support candidates who support working families.

Nashville rally

CWA members were among thousands of workers rallying Tuesday outside the Tennessee capitol in Nashville.

Michigan

Why does Michigan Governor Rick Snyder hate democracy? He's pushed for extreme legislation that would allow him to declare "financial martial law," just about anywhere in the state. The legislature passed a bill allowing Snyder to declare a financial emergency in any city or community and to appoint managers who would have broad power to remove local elected officials from office, terminate collective bargaining and force the consolidation of schools, townships, cities and counties. All of this would happen without authority or approval from voters or any other elected body. It's a shocking payback to corporate interests.

Working families, union and non-union, students and other activists are standing up today in Lansing to say "No!" to this anti-democratic power grab.

Missouri

Some good news from Jefferson City, for now at least. The Missouri Senate shelved a right-to-work (for less) bill without a vote. Stay tuned, it's unclear if the bill will come up after the Senate's spring break.

Tennessee

About 1,000 of activists, including many CWAers attending the District 3 conference, rallied in Nashville on March 15 against the legislature's broad attack on working families. Paycheck deception, right-to-work (for less) and attacks on teachers are making their way through the legislature.

TV Station's High-Paid Union-Busters Can't Break San Diego Local

10News Unfair

A lively rally in San Diego on Monday celebrated Local 59054's big victory over KGTV's attempt to decertify the union, which has been fighting for a new contract since 2006. Speakers included NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce, pictured below.

Jim Joyce

NABET-CWA members in San Diego have beaten back a decertification campaign waged by KGTV and two union-busting firms that tried to pit workers against each other and break their will.

Instead, workers voted 17-9 to keep their union, which has been fighting for a new contract since 2006. The victory was announced Monday afternoon at a rally that drew scores of CWA members and leaders attending the District 9 conference in San Diego. See a video here.

"A big cheer went up," Local 59054 President Dennis Csillag. "Basically they spent $10 million over the last five years trying to break our union. I figure they paid about $1 million for each vote to try to decertify."

KGTV's engineers, technicians, directors, photographers, editors and artists have been NABET members since the station went on the air in 1953. The station has been owned by McGraw-Hill since 1972, and Csillag said the union and management had a long history of working well together.

But in 2006, KGTV began a fierce campaign of threats, intimidation, retaliation, captive audience meetings and other tactics straight from the union-busting playbook, leading the NLRB to find the company guilty of two unfair labor practice charges.

Adding insult to injury, the union learned that McGraw-Hill had compiled profiles of workers focusing on weaknesses that managers could exploit to get them to abandon the union. For instance, telling people with health problems that they could lose their medical benefits, or making older workers fearful that they'd lose their jobs and be unable to find new ones.

"The way we won was that the company ran a scare campaign and we ran a fact-based campaign," Csillag said, explaining that the local's frequently updated website and a second site, www.10NewsUnfair.com, were essential for members, as well as for building public support.

Speakers at Monday's late afternoon rally included CWA Executive Vice President Annie Hill, District 9 Vice President Jim Weitkamp and NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce, who said, "The next 10News broadcast goes on the air at 5 p.m. and I've got the lead story for them: We're keeping the union right here and fighting for a fair contract."

No talks are scheduled yet, but KGTV employees haven't forgotten what General Manager Jeff Block said at a 2008 staff meeting: "It would be fruitless to negotiate a contract right now, but after the vote we can move on, regardless of the outcome." Csillag said the union and its many allies, "plan to hold him to his word."

CWA Extends Solidarity, Support to Japanese Workers

300 AFA-CWA United Airlines Flight Attendants Live in Japan

CWA has joined with union leaders around the world in extending solidarity and support to Japanese workers and their families in the wake of the cataclysmic events that have devastated northeastern Japan, leaving millions homeless, and claiming at least 6,000 lives, with thousands more still missing.

In e-mail correspondence with President Tomoyasu Kato of NWJ, Japan's largest telecom union, CWA President Cohen learned that NWJ and Japanese labor federation ITCJ established a disaster center to collect information for union members seeking information on missing family members and friends.

"People who lost their homes have gathered at schools, city buildings, with others who have survived and are thinking about their future," wrote Kato's assistant Fumiko Kimura. "Union officers and staff are fine, and we are trying to check the extent of our members' affected. We are also trying to regain telecommunications as communication is an important lifeline.”

NWJ has worked closely with CWA for many years on telecom issues, and has campaigned for strengthening workers' bargaining and organizing rights in the United States and in other countries.

While the devastation in Japan seems far removed from our shores, some 300 AFA-CWA flight attendants live in Japan.

AFA-CWA members at United have been dispatching urgently needed supplies to members in Japan via collection sites at DCA, ORD, LAX, SFO, SEA and HNL.

CWA members can make donations through the Red Cross, which operates 92 hospitals in Japan, and Doctors Without Borders, which is sending teams of doctors into the hardest hit areas of the country. AFA-CWA has also established a Disaster Relief Fund.

Sesame Street Stars Help CWA, Allies Fight to Save Public Broadcasting

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) champions public broadcasting at a Tuesday news conference on Capitol Hill.

Below: AFTRA-represented Sesame Street actors help deliver 1.2 million petition signatures to Congress in support of federal funding for public broadcasting.
Photo by Ursula Lawrence, Writers Guild of America East.

Several Stars of Sesame Street

Allies working with CWA to save public media delivered petitions signed by 1.2 million Americans to Congress on Tuesday, as Republicans continued to try to eliminate all federal funding for NPR, PBS and the nation's network of local public stations.

Four AFTRA-represented Sesame Street stars joined CWA, Writers Guild of America East members, Free Press, Move On and other allies for a news conference on Capitol Hill. Speakers included Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), one of the leading voices in Congress for public broadcasting.

"As traditional news outlets lay off reporters and offer less coverage of important topics, public broadcasting is filling the gap, bringing critical news and information to communities across the country," Blumenauer said. "What's more, public broadcasting stations are the only source of free programming that educates our children rather than the many commercial stations simply trying to sell them products."

Blumenauer noted a poll last week showing that Americans rank public broadcasting as one of the two best uses of taxpayer dollars, second only to funding the troops.

Sesame Street stars, who later helped deliver the petitions to lawmakers, described how the program has affected them and tens of millions of children. "It has changed all of us and has given us as artists a place to work with such pride," said Roscoe Orman, who plays Gordon. Bob McGrath, "Bob" on the show, said public broadcasting is a "necessity to our society, not a frill."

NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce said Republicans targeting public broadcasting are painting it as a "Washington" institution, when it is really a nationwide network of stations providing local jobs and diverse programming that 170 million Americans tune in to every day.

For many of those Americans in rural areas not served by cable, and families that can't afford anything but over-the-air TV, losing their local PBS station would be devastating, Joyce said. "Millions of people have no other source for local journalism, no other source for classical music, no other source for educational television for their children," he said.

CWA, NABET-CWA and TNG-CWA together represent about 2,000 workers at PBS, NPR and local public broadcasting stations. They include members of CWA Local 1300 who work on NOVA, Frontline, American Experience and other high-quality documentaries, all of which are at risk.

Click here to learn more and join CWA's campaign to save public broadcasting.

Week of Events Marks 100th Anniversary of Deadly Triangle Fire

The 100th anniversary of the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City will be commemorated next week with events in several cities. A full list can be found here.

On March 25, 1911, 146 people died when fire broke out in the 10-story factory employing young immigrant women, many of whom jumped to their death to try to escape. The owners had locked the factory's doors, believing workers would use the exits to steal fabric. An excellent history of the fire is presented here by Cornell University.

Events include a symposium in Washington, D.C., on Monday about the evolution of job safety and health over the last century. Numerous films, music and theater performances, archive and art exhibits are planned in New York City, where the labor community will gather at the site of the fire just east of Washington Square Park at 11 a.m. on March 25.

The Labor and Working-Class History Association is holding events in Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Iowa City. Click here for more information.

If your local holds an event or takes part in a community remembrance, please send information and photos to news@cwa-union.org.

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