Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Flight Attendants at New United Vote AFA-CWA

New United Flight Attendants Celebrate

AFA-CWA Flight Attendants at the new United Airlines celebrate with AFA's international officers after successful union election vote.

In the nation's largest union election in years, Flight Attendants at New United voted this week for representation with the AFA-CWA.

The National Mediation Board election covers nearly 25,000 air safety professionals at the merged airlines, joining 9,000 Continental and Continental Micronesia Flight Attendants formerly represented by the Machinists (IAM), and 16,000 AFA-CWA members from United.

AFA International President Veda Shook said the election allows the Flight Attendants to unite together under a single contract and become full participants in the benefits of the merger. "United Airlines' Flight Attendants built our profession starting with the first union contract 65 years ago and they will once again lead the industry," she said.

Greg Davidowitch, AFA MEC president at United Airlines, said the workers "will negotiate for the priorities set by today's Flight Attendants as we maximize our leverage to set the highest standards at the world's leading airline."

AFA International Vice President Sara Nelson said the election "showcased how Flight Attendants maintain and advance our profession through activism in our union. Together we are the strong voice for our profession."

CWA President Larry Cohen praised Flight Attendants and other CWA activists for making the campaign a success. "All of us in CWA are proud of the work done by thousands of Flight Attendant mobilizers and other CWA sisters and brothers who worked tirelessly to build unity at this difficult and critical time," he said. "Now we must focus on collective bargaining and helping Flight Attendants fight for a contract that moves toward restoring the living standards that were ripped away in bankruptcy. United is strong, and Flight Attendants and other workers need to share in that success."

With more than 88 percent of eligible Flight Attendants voting, AFA received 55.1 percent of the votes cast. The final tally was 11,943 votes for AFA and 9,745 for IAM.

Solidarity Forces Kaleida's Hand; Tentative Deal on Eve of Strike Vote

Two-Year Agreement Affects 4,400 CWA Members at Buffalo Hospitals

Kalieda March Crowd

A huge solidarity march in Buffalo on June 6 put a scare into Kaleida Health management, leading to a tentative contract reached just before members of CWA Local 1168 were set to take a strike vote.

Kalieda March

Proving that solidarity is the key to victory, 4,400 determined CWA members at Kaleida Health in Buffalo, N.Y., learned early Tuesday that instead of taking a scheduled strike vote, they'll soon be casting ballots for a new two-year contract.

The tentative agreement was finalized at 2:30 a.m., Tuesday, nearly four months after CWA Local 1168, SEIU and the Operating Engineers began joint bargaining with Kaleida for a total of 7,700 workers at five hospitals.

"Kaleida came after everything when negotiations started," Local 1168 President John Klein said. "But ultimately there were no takebacks."

On June 6, CWA members, other unions and their allies marched en masse in Buffalo, a demonstration 3,500-strong that showed management they weren't going to back down in the battle over wages, benefits and adequate staffing — an issue critical to quality patient care.

"I think Kaleida started to get worried that day," Klein said. "They'd underestimated our membership. Our members were ready, they were mobilized, they were engaged, and Kaleida knew that. There was a deal to be made."

Because of the many worksites and job titles, including nurses, pharmacists, other medical professionals and service workers, details of the agreements are complex. The negotiating team is preparing a highlight sheet for members, to be followed by a comprehensive package explaining the proposals. The date for a ratification vote hasn't been set, but is likely to be in late July, Klein said.

Diana Butsch, Local 1168's coordinator for organizing and mobilizing, said workers were motivated by their own families' economic needs and their desire to give patients the highest quality care. Knowing the fat salaries collected by Kaleida's CEO and 40 vice presidents fueled their resolve.

"The picket was amazing," she said, recalling the buses and crowds arriving from 6 a.m. on. "It was so much fun, so exciting to see people fired up. The message we sent was, 'We are the front line, not the bottom line.'"

Drum Roll, Please: Record 1.3 Million Signatures Collected in Ohio

Petition Drive's Success Will Let Voters Decide Fate of Anti-Union Law

Ohio Petition Parade

CWA members and thousands of other Ohio volunteers made history as they delivered nearly 1.3 million petition signatures Wednesday to put a repeal of the state's anti-collective bargaining law on November's ballot.

Million Signature March

They called it the "Million Signature March," but 1.3 million would be more accurate.

The final, stunning number of petition signatures that a lively parade of Ohioans delivered Wednesday to their secretary of state's office was, to be precise, 1,298,301.

Kasich sign

As bagpipes, drums, motorcycles and retired fire trucks escorted more than 6,000 marchers through Columbus, a 48-foot semi-truck hauled the petitions in 1,502 boxes.

Click here to see video of the huge march through Columbus.

The petition drive began in April, after Gov. John Kasich signed the now-infamous Senate Bill 5, a Republican-passed measure to strip collective bargaining rights from Ohio's public employees.

CWA members and thousands of other volunteers set a challenging goal: Collect 450,000 signatures to ensure they'd have 231,000 valid names, enough to put a repeal of SB 5 on November's ballot.

Because the petitions were filed on time — one day before the June 30 deadline — Senate Bill 5 cannot take effect on Friday, as scheduled. The next step is for the secretary of state's office to verify, by July 26, that there are 231,149 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters among the 1.3 million who signed. The referendum would then go to voters Nov. 8.

The demonstrators, the volunteers who collected signatures, and the million-plus Ohioans who signed represent a broad swath of the state, including many citizens who identified themselves as Republicans fed up with their party's anti-worker agenda.

"The unprecedented show of support to get this citizen veto on the ballot was the result of a massive non-partisan grassroots effort," CWA District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen said. "As proud as we are of this result, we have a lot of work to do to ensure that this attack on workers' rights is rejected by the voters on November 8th. I'm confident that we will do what needs to be done to keep building this movement in Ohio."

Rosen and CWA helped found one of the major coalitions that is fighting SB 5 and other attacks on working families," Stand Up for Ohio: Good Jobs and Strong Communities." The coalition is helping citizens understand the link between the attack on workers' rights, its effect on good jobs and the consequences to quality of life issues.

The phenomenal success of the petition drive suggests activists are getting their point across: The nearly 1.3 million signatures crushes the previous record in Ohio — nearly 813,000 signatures for a casino-related ballot measure in 2008.

Unions United for Next Steps in New Jersey

In the wake of last week's passage of New Jersey's anti-collective bargaining bill, CWA locals statewide and the entire union movement are united in plans to save workers' jobs and their standard of living, while protecting critical services in the state.

In a message to New Jersey public workers, the leaders of every CWA local, District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton and New Jersey Director Hetty Rosenstein said the united union movement will support members of the legislature who stood with workers and remember those who turned their backs.

All 120 members of both houses of the legislature are up for election in November. In the Assembly, 32 Democrats defied Democratic leaders and opposed the bill; in the Senate, 15 Democrats defied their leadership and opposed the bill.

Over many months, CWAers made more than 18,000 phone calls to legislators, joined meetings and events at legislative offices and held nearly a dozen rallies with Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and public and private-sector union members throughout the state. About 25 union leaders, including several CWA local union leaders, were arrested when they protested at a Senate budget committee hearing.

The CWA leaders said it was a "dark day" for workers last Thursday when the Assembly voted. "We knew that once this governor was elected that we would have a very tough road. But we are strong, we are united and we are not afraid," they said.

The contract covering 40,000 CWA public workers and other public workers expires today, June 30. CWA, AFSCME, the American Federation of Teachers and Professional and Technical Engineers have submitted a joint health care proposal and will work together toward a new contract. For updates, go to http://www.cwanj.org/news.

Virginia Locals Build Support for Corrections, Public Safety Officers

CWA local leaders and members in Virginia have put together a model grassroots campaign as part of the effort to win collective bargaining rights for public safety officers.

It's just one part of the CWA program to advance a state legislative agenda that supports corrections officers in Virginia. Don Baylor, a retired corrections officer, is working with CWA locals in Virginia to step up support for corrections and other public safety officers.

The campaign concentrated on generating personal contacts with Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb, to get their support for workers' bargaining rights.

CWA activists from Locals 2201 and 2204, which represent corrections officers, collected more than 500 letters and generated more than 1,000 telephone calls to the senators' offices. Thousands more were generated nationally to support CWA's 22,000 members in the National Coalition of Public Safety Officers.

Virginia NCPSO members and CWA Local 2201 leaders came to Washington for meetings with the senators and their staffs and to deliver the letters.

Despite having bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate, and with 55 Senators voting to have a full floor discussion and debate on the measure, the bill couldn't overcome the dysfunctional Senate rules that allow a minority to block action in the Senate. Senator Webb voted to move the bill forward, but Senator Warner voted against discussion.

Local 3010 Telecom Installers Ratify Strong Contracts in Puerto Rico

CWA Local 3010 members at two subcontractors for the Puerto Rico Telephone Company have ratified strong three-year contracts that include improved grievance and arbitration procedures, new bonuses and more leave time.

Members at Jaf Communications unanimously ratified their contract last Friday, covering 40 installers. On June 10, the contract for 57 installers at Telephone Technology Systems Inc. was ratified 48-1.

Both contracts offer a Christmas bonus and production bonus, more sick leave and new leaves of absence for Disability and Workers Compensation. Further, "the union achieved something very important, we didn't lose a single benefit or right," said Local 3010 Secretary-Treasurer Luis Benitez.

"We kept everything that had been won with the sacrifice and dedication of our members," he said. "This wasn't easy. We have a Republican government eager to destroy employees' rights but we fought hard."

Bargaining Committee members were Ernesto Ortiz Delgado, vice president of the Installers Unit; Francisco Aponte, steward; David López, alternate, and Local 3010 President Rafael Castro Torres.

NABET Members at Chicago TV Stations March for Fair Contracts

Solidarity Rally Takes Stand Against Media Giants' Attacks on Workers

NABET Rally Chicago

NABET-CWA Local 54041, fighting for fair contracts at competing Chicago TV news stations, rallied together last week, sending a strong message to their corporate media employers.

Putting aside any rivalries, NABET-CWA members working at competing broadcast TV news stations in Chicago marched in solidarity last week to demand fair contracts from three media giants.

The Local 54041 members — including news photographers, videotape editors, audio engineers, technicians, producers and writers — work at stations owned by Disney/ABC, NBC Universal and FOX.

NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce said workers are fighting for their futures as the stations and their corporate owners run "an orchestrated campaign of economic attacks on working families."

Determined not to let them get away with it, the NABET members were among some 300 activists from CWA, entertainment unions and allies who marched from one station to the next beginning at lunch time June 25.

"This strong showing of solidarity is greater than any statement or proposal that we can make at the bargaining table," Joyce said. "With ABC, NBC and FOX members standing united and marching together to each one of their three employers, they demonstrated that they will not tolerate unlawful behavior or corporate greed."

The longest fight of the three battles is at NBC5, where the NABET contract expired March 31, 2009. The NLRB has issued a complaint against the station alleging serious violations of the National Labor Relations Act.

Contracts at ABC7 and FOX32 expired March 31, 2011. Among key issues at ABC, members are fighting to protect one of the healthiest defined benefit pension plans in the country. "For years, members at ABC7 have written and covered news stories involving poorly funded private and public pensions," Joyce said. "They were shocked to learn that the company wants to dismantle their hard-earned and healthy pension plan."

At FOX, members are battling the company's attempts to bust the union by outsourcing jobs, changing work rules and compromising jurisdiction.

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