Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

T-Mobile Connecticut Techs Form First U.S. T-Mobile Union

T-Mobile technicians in Connecticut became the company's first U.S. workers with union representation, voting this week to join CWA-TU.

Overcoming an intense campaign of management opposition, interference and delays, the 15 workers voted 8-7 for representation. There was one challenged ballot, that of a union supporter; the challenge should not affect the election's outcome.

"CWA is proud to work with these T-Mobile techs, and with T-Mobile workers in New York who want to organize and bargain for a voice on the job. They stood up for what's right," said CWA District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton.

CWA Local 1298 President Bill Henderson said, "This vote made history, with T-Mobile workers fighting back to beat the odds and organize the union voice they want. It showed the desire of people to have a union and an even playing field. Hopefully this will mean a new direction for all working people."

Bo Larsen, World President of UNI Telecom, representing 3 million workers, was on the ground in Connecticut to observe the election and show the global union movement's continuing support for the rights of T-Mobile USA workers. "No worker should be intimidated for wanting a union voice and bargaining rights," he said.

Last week, UNI Global Union joined the International Trade Union Confederation (representing 175 million workers); ver.di, the union for DT workers; and CWA in filing a complaint under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises against DT and T-Mobile for anti-worker activities in the United States. Click here to read the complaint.

View a video about the T-Mobile workers' historic victory at http://www.weworkbettertogether.org/ct-win.

Historic March for Jobs and Justice Set for Aug. 27 on National Mall

One Nation Rally-LC JumboTron

CWA will join in a major rally for jobs and justice Aug. 27 on the National Mall. Pictured, thousands of CWA members turned out on the Mall for last October's One Nation rally, where speakers included CWA President Larry Cohen.

A massive march for jobs and justice on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., will cap an action-filled August as CWA members and allies nationwide fight for workers at town hall meetings, rallies and festivals.

The Aug. 27 march, being called "From the Emancipator (Lincoln) to the Liberator (King)," takes place one day before the unveiling of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the National Mall.

In a resolution at the CWA convention last week, delegates endorsed the march and are urging members to take part. Fellow unions, civil rights groups, social justice networks, clergy and other progressive organizations are involved in the event, being coordinated by the National Action Network.

The weekend of the march also marks the 48th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech on the Mall. "For those who may be quick to forget the legacy of Dr. King, let us remember that he died while fighting for workers' rights and the basic human dignity of all," Rev. Al Sharpton said.

In connection with the march, the AFL-CIO will host a national symposium one day earlier on "The American Dream: Jobs and Justice," honoring King and the vital connection between workers' and civil rights. It will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 26.

The National Mall events will begin with a noon rally Saturday, Aug. 27, at Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, with a march to the new MLK memorial at 1:30 p.m.

Click here (PDF) or go to NAN's main website, www.nationalactionnetwork.net, for more information, as well as NAN's Facebook and Twitter pages.

CWA Leaders Milburn, Gurganus, Amber Retire

Andy Milburn

Andy Milburn

CWA Vice Presidents Andy Milburn, District 6, and Jimmy Gurganus, Telecommunications, retired at CWA's 73rd convention. Arnold Amber also will retire following the election of a new Canadian director.

CWA President Larry Cohen recognized Milburn and Gurganus, along with Amber, for the lifetime of service they gave to CWA and to improving the lives of working families. Cohen also commended Jeff Rechenbach, who retired as secretary-treasurer, for "his 40 years of work building CWA." Read more about Rechenbach in the July 14, 2011 newsletter.

Milburn served 11 years as vice president, having first been elected in 2000. Under his leadership, District 6 regularly led CWA in raising the most member contributions for political action. He established innovative programs, including a worker-to-worker organizing campaign that focused on connecting union and non-members to build membership.

Milburn began his career in 1974 as a lineman for Southwestern Bell in Austin, Texas, and also worked as a station installer and customer service technician. He became a CWA representative in Houston in 1990, and was named assistant to the District 6 vice president in 1999.

Jimmy Gurganus

Jimmy Gurganus

Gurganus, who retired as vice president for telecommunications on the merger of that sector with Communications and Technologies, was first elected vice president in 2002.

During his nine years in office, Gurganus worked through several mergers and spin-offs among the independent telephone companies. Most recently, he worked with District 7 Vice President Mary Taylor to ensure that CWA members' jobs and conditions were safeguarded in the Qwest-CenturyLink merger.

Gurganus served as president of CWA Local 3681 for 27 years before joining the CWA staff.

Arnold Amber

Arnold Amber

Amber has been Director of CWA|SCA Canada and its predecessor organization, TNG Canada/CWA, since 1995. He also served for six years as a member of the executive board of the International Federation of Journalists.

While working at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Amber was an award-winning producer and executive producer with the television news department. He also worked as a reporter, program editor and television host.

In 2007, CWA convention delegates voted to make the Canadian director a full position on the CWA Executive Board. Ballots in the election for a new director, delayed due to a postal strike, will be counted July 23.

San Francisco-Area Online Journalists Join The Newspaper Guild-CWA

Workers at a San Francisco Bay Area news website have voted to join TNG-CWA, illustrating how The Newspaper Guild is evolving to serve media workers in today's ever-changing industry.

The Bay Citizen, formed in 2010 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization with a staff of award-winning journalists, is one of the trailblazers in the movement to organize news websites. Truthout and The Daily Beast employees are also Guild-represented.

"We believe The Bay Citizen, as one of the pioneering exponents of new civic journalism, should also be a leading example in the area of workplace democracy," the website's 14-member editorial staff wrote in a letter to its company president prior to filing authorization cards with the National Labor Relations Board, which led to an election last month.

Bay Citizen Banner

Online journalists at The Bay Citizen in San Francisco have joined TNG-CWA.

TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer said the result is an historic advance for media workers, as traditional newsrooms shrink and the industry struggles to find new models to stay competitive in the online era.

"The future of quality journalism depends on reporters and editors shaping the vision of innovative new media organizations. By voting to be represented by the Guild, employees at The Bay Citizen have given themselves this voice," Lunzer said.

Journalists at The New York Times, represented by TNG-CWA, and KGO radio NABET-CWA members, supported the organizing drive. Both newsrooms have agreements to obtain local news content from The Bay Citizen.

"For more than a year, journalists from The Bay Citizen have provided important coverage for the pages and website of The New York Times, and these talented journalists are an asset to the Guild at an important time, " said the Times' Grant Glickson, a Guild unit chair.

L.A.-Area Members Help Send Pro-Worker Candidate to Congress

Hahn for Congress

Los Angeles-area CWA members joined in a major campaign push in the final days of Janice Hahn's campaign, helping send the pro-worker city councilwoman to Congress in a special election.

Making phone calls and going door to door, CWA Legislative Political Action Team activists in southern California helped seal last Tuesday's victory for Democrat Janice Hahn in a special election to fill an open seat in the U.S. House.

Hahn, a Los Angeles City Councilwoman, won the seat held until earlier this year by Democrat Jane Harman, who resigned to take a private sector job. Personal outreach from union members and other progressive supporters helped Hahn overcome an especially vicious opposition campaign.

CWAers, including activists from Locals 9586, 9505, 9510 and AFA-CWA 29012, turned out in force for Get Out the Vote activities. They called CWA families, knocked on doors, left door-hangers the final night reminding people to vote and went back to the neighborhoods throughout Election Day.

"We know we made a difference," said LPAT activist Taren Conforti of Local 9586. She encouraged other CWA members not to be shy about canvassing, saying people are generally friendly. "Some people are glad you stopped by. They'll say, 'Oh my God, is that today? I forgot' or they didn't know where their polling place was," she said.

On the L.A. City Council, Hahn had a strong pro-worker record, and has often rallied and marched with private and public-sector unions.

Wisconsin Voters Stand With Workers in Historic Recall Elections

The tireless efforts of union members and broad coalitions of allies in Wisconsin paid off for the second week in a row, as voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected the Republican attempt to recall Democratic state Sen. Dave Hansen.

Hansen's victory and Democratic wins in primaries last week have the potential to put the state Senate back in pro-worker hands, putting the brakes on the extreme budget-slashing, anti-worker, anti-union agenda of Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers.

Thank You to the Wisconsin14

Recall election victor Dave Hansen and Wisconsin's 13 other Democratic state senators signed a poster for CWA memorializing the 2011 battle for workers' rights. Wisconsin delegates presented the framed poster at last week's CWA convention.

"We're 7 for 7 so far," said CWA Legislative Political Action Team member Mark Frey of Local 4630, echoing other excited activists who've worked hard on all the campaigns. "We are on track to take back Wisconsin for the middle class, but there is still a lot of work ahead."

Hansen is one of the "Wisconsin 14," the courageous Democratic senators who left the state for four weeks in February to try to stop Republicans from ramming through a bill stripping collective bargaining rights from public workers.

Hansen's win follows primary victories last week by six Democrats, who will now compete Aug. 9 in recall elections against six anti-worker Republican senators. The primaries were required due to a well publicized dirty-tricks campaign, in which Republicans entered phony Democrats in the races.

On Aug. 16, two more members of the Wisconsin 14, Democratic Sens. Robert and Jim Holperin, face recall attempts.

The August elections mean CWA members and countless other volunteers from all walks of life will spend another four weeks calling voters, knocking on doors and reaching out to coworkers.

"Since the attacks on Wisconsin's middle class working families began in February, ordinary citizens all across the state have come together to make their voices heard and take back their government from the autocratic, one-party extremism being thrust upon them in Madison," CWA District 4 Vice President Seth Rosen said. "The victories this Tuesday and last merely strengthen our resolve as we look forward to finishing the job in the critical elections next month."

Town Halls: 'It's Essential to Tell Them How Their Decisions Affect Us'

Minnesota CWAers Speak Up for Workers, Families During State Shutdown

As CWA members across the country gear up for town hall meetings when federal lawmakers head home in August, Minnesota activists are getting good practice at holding legislators accountable.

During the state government's three-week shutdown, union members and allies turned out for town hall events to question legislators about their budget priorities and concerns for working families.

The shutdown, forced by Republicans who refused to raise taxes on millionaires, ended Wednesday with a budget deal that involves more borrowing but no new tax revenue.

"We need services now more than ever, and all the Republicans keep saying is that 'We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem,'" said Cheryl Gella, Legislative Political Action Team coordinator for CWA Local 7250, recalling some of the issues she, fellow CWA members and 50 other concerned citizens raised at a town hall meeting last week in Blaine, near Minneapolis.

Seat for Pam Wolf - MN

Local 7250 LPAT coordinator Cheryl Gella and other Minneapolis-area union members turned out last week for a town hall meeting to hold lawmakers accountable for the state's government shutdown. Gella stands near the empty chair of Republican state Sen. Pam Wolf, who failed to show.

The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation hosted the meeting and invited State. Rep. Tim Sanders and Sen. Pam Wolf, both Republicans, to attend. Only Sanders showed up. Even though he listened, Gella said no one seemed to be able to get through to him as he parroted the "spending, not revenues" line.

"Someone from the Transit Workers came up and said he'd be laid off if they cut transit funding, which they are doing, there were teachers who talked about what's happening to education, a single woman who is a realtor and has no health care," Gella said, listing just a few of the speakers.

With 21-year-old twins in college, she raised the dual issues of soaring tuition and dire funding cuts for state universities. "I'm concerned about education, I'm concerned about our roads and bridges, I'm concerned about the accountability that the state should have for their citizens," Gella said. But when she asked Sanders why he wouldn't budge on taxes, he simply repeated his talking points.

Still, Gella refuses to be discouraged. She's planning to attend more town hall meetings, speak out whenever possible and continue her practice of writing emails and making phone calls to elected leaders. She encourages all CWA members to join her.

"It's absolutely essential that we take advantage of every opportunity to speak directly to our legislators and members of Congress, to tell them how their decisions affect us personally," Gella said.

Officials Certify Triple the Signatures Needed for Ohio Referendum

Voters to Decide Fate of Anti-Collective Bargaining Law on Nov. 8

It's official: The Ohio petition drive to let voters decide the fate of the state's new anti-union law gathered 915,456 valid signatures — more than three times the number required.

Hundreds of CWAers were among thousands of volunteers, union and non-union, who began energetically circulating petitions in April. A day before the June 30 deadline, they delivered a historic 1.3 million signatures to state officials.

The campaign needed just over 231,000 valid signatures in order to place a referendum on November's ballot to overturn Senate Bill 5, the law the Republican-controlled Legislature passed earlier this year stripping collective bargaining rights from public workers. The law would have taken effect July 1, but is on hold pending the outcome of the Nov. 8 election.

Polls show that a majority of Ohioans oppose the law, and even businesspeople and self-described Republicans have joined the fight against it. In Dayton, some of them stood up this week against their city's Chamber of Commerce, as it voted to endorse the union-busting law.

"As a Chamber member, I am disappointed," said James Arnett, owner of an industrial contracting service. "This legislation pits our community against one another and attacks police officers, firefighters, teachers; those that provide vital public services."

Fewer than 30 Dayton Chamber members voted on the endorsement, while 70 Dayton-area businesses have joined Proud Ohio Workers, comprising businesses that support public and private workers and recognize that their wages are essential to the local economy.

Among many campaign events leading to the Nov. 8 vote, the CWA-founded Stand Up for Ohio coalition will be holding a festival from noon to dusk Aug. 20 at the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus. Family and children's activities will be held all day, along with speakers addressing SB 5, growing Ohio's middle class, revitalizing jobs, protecting the environment, excellence in education, voter rights and other critical issues.

Stand Up for Ohio has created a special website for the festival, www.BringAwesomeBack.org. Also check out the coalition's Facebook page.

CWA Convention Photos Online: Find Yourself on Flickr.com

Convention Photos

Scores of photos of CWA members at the 2010 Convention are on Flickr.com. Click here for CWA's page.

Convention Photos

Hundreds of photographs from the 2011 CWA Convention, held last week in Las Vegas, have been uploaded to CWA's page on Flickr.com.

Convention Photos

Among photographs of speakers and swearings-in and other official business, you'll find lots of pictures of members cheering, voting, addressing delegates from the podiums and much more.

Feel free to download and print pictures for your own enjoyment, or to use in your local's publications. At the same Flickr link, you'll also find an array of photographs from CWA organizing and bargaining campaigns and other events nationwide.

CWA Announces 15 First-Year Winners for 2011 Joe Beirne Scholarhips

CWA has announced the 2011 Joe Beirne Foundation scholarship winners, 15 students who will receive $3,000 per year for two years for any post-high school education.

Winners are spread among CWA districts based on a per capita formula. They are chosen by random drawing, but all applicants must submit a short essay describing what the union has meant to them and their career goals. CWA members and their families are eligible; about 1,500 people applied this year.

The winners are: Kevin Poretti, son of Victor Poretti, Local 1036; Alisha Harron, daughter of William Harron, Local 1031; Patricia Apple, daughter of Dwayne Apple, Local 1170; Keith Dolan, son of George Dolan, Local 1120; Christopher Lightly, Jr., son of Tiffany Gladden, Local 2108; Javier Jesus Castro, son of Roberto Castro, Local 3121; Tegan George, daughter of Nicholas George, Local 3611; Leah Espinoza, daughter of Michelle Espinoza, Local 4108; Brendan O'Malley, son of Michael O'Malley, TNG-CWA Local 34001; Heather Karlin, daughter of Gary Karlin, Local 6407; Colleen Bonner, member, Local 6186; Travis Beck, son of Randy Beck, IUE-CWA Local 87140; Monica Alvarado, daughter of Jose Alvarado, Local 9509; Isabella Ross, daughter of Andrew Ross, TNG-CWA Local 39521; and Jessica James, daughter of John James, Local 13301.

The Beirne awards honor CWA's founding president. Click here to learn more about the scholarships and how to apply next year.

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

"Corporate America's Chokehold on Wages," is the latest from Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson, one of the media's strongest voices for unions and workers' rights. "If you're wondering why American consumers are still flat on their backs... the answer is both fundamental and simple: It's not just that so many of them are unemployed. The ones who are employed are also underpaid," Meyerson writes. Click here for the full column.

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