Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

CWA Virtual Town Hall with Pelosi to Kick Off Action-Filled August

Sign Up Now for Aug. 4 Call; Help Us Fight for Medicare, Workers' Rights

Nancy Pelosi

CWA's Virtual Town Hall meeting Aug. 4 will feature House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Standing with CWA and other union members at the U.S. Capitol this week, Pelosi denounced the GOP's anti-worker, anti-job legislation.

Kicking off an action-packed month in the battles to protect workers and retirees, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will join CWA by phone for a virtual town hall meeting next Thursday, Aug. 4.

Click here to RSVP now to join the call, which begins at 8 p.m. EDT.

The call launches "August Accountability Month," when thousands of CWA members, fellow union members and allies will speak out at congressional town hall meetings, visit legislative offices and mobilize at house parties to save Medicare and fight for bargaining rights.

Several CWA activists leading mobilization efforts will be on the call to describe what they've got planned in their communities, while Pelosi will "update us on how we can help block the disastrous right-wing proposals Congress is considering that put corporate profits and luxury tax breaks ahead of working people," CWA President Larry Cohen said.

A steadfast voice for workers, Pelosi surrounded herself with union members at a news conference this week to denounce the escalating assaults on workers' rights, the economic attacks on working families and the threats to Medicare and Social Security benefits.

"We will not stand idly by while workers' rights are violated and the middle class is under attack," Pelosi said, standing in the U.S. Capitol with CWA members, Wisconsin Fire Fighters, Letter Carriers, Laborers and other workers. (Read more about the news conference in separate story in this newsletter.)

CWA Members Get Ready for Final Week of Verizon Bargaining

Local 1106 Verizon

An informational picket by members of Local 1106 in Queens, N.Y. is one of scores of mobilization activities by CWA members fighting for a fair contract at Verizon.

CWA members throughout Verizon East territory will get on the bus this Saturday for the mega-mobilization rally in New York City just outside Verizon headquarters.

With a week to go before contract expiration, CWAers and members of the IBEW are ready to rally to defend middle class jobs and to keep the American Dream alive for working families.

Verizon has demanded hundreds of give-backs, despite posting $19.5 billion in profits and paying out $258 million to its top five executives over the past four years. Current CEO Ivan Seidenberg, who will remain chairman of the board after Lowell McAdam takes over as CEO on Aug. 1, earns $55,000 A DAY.

Verizon's greed resulted in an overwhelming vote by CWA members at Verizon to authorize leaders to call a strike if a fair contract can't be reached. Ninety-one percent of voting members approved the strike authorization.

On an activist call last night, more than 5,000 Verizon members heard from local, district and national leaders about what's at stake. They also heard reports about mobilization building throughout Districts 1 and 2-13, with members being pretty creative in making sure managers know that CWAers are serious about a fair contract.

"These negotiations are all about good jobs," said CWA District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton. "Companies like Verizon should be investing in rebuilding the American economy, not contributing to the destruction of good, middle-class jobs."

CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney said the strong strike vote shows that "CWA members are determined to fight back against Verizon's corporate greed and bargain a fair contract, one that reflects workers' contributions to Verizon's success."

For more information and updates, and to send a message to new CEO Lowell McAdam, go to www.cwa-union.org/verizon. Make sure you sign up for Unity@Verizon updates. You also can text "mobilize" to 69866 to get updates on your mobile phone. And check out and like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UnityatVerizon2011.

Tell Congress to Restore the FAA

GOP's Union Hatred Puts 100,000 People Out of Work

Veda on the Ed Show

AFA-CWA President Veda Shook talks with MSNBC's Ed Schultz about the GOP's refusal to fund the FAA unless airline workers lose democratic voting rights for union election.

In an outrageous attack on workers' rights that has furloughed 100,000 workers, House Republicans are refusing to reauthorize funding for the FAA unless the bill is stripped of provisions for fair and democratic union elections at airlines.

"The House Republican leadership has been holding the negotiations over this critical funding bill hostage in their single-minded crusade against workers' right to join a union and bargain for a contract," AFA-CWA President Veda Shook said, asking CWA members to help send a message to Congress.

Until a National Mediation Board rule change earlier this year, airline workers who did not vote in union representation elections were counted as "no" votes. Now, like any other election, only votes cast are counted. But Republicans won't stand for it, even though the new rules are simply the same democratic standards that apply to all elections.

In a powerful statement on the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) blasted Delta Airlines, the biggest corporate opponent of the fair election language.

"I wish I understood why the policy objections of one company — Delta Air Lines — mattered more than the livelihoods of thousands of people," Rockefeller said. "Last year, the CEO of Delta made $9 million. Delta paid its top executives almost $20 million. Yet, it is fighting to make sure its employees cannot organize for fear that they may secure a few extra dollars in their paychecks."

Rockefeller further denounced House and Senate Republicans whose inaction on the FAA bill has "thrown nearly 4,000 FAA employees out of work, stopped critical airport safety projects, hurt hundreds of small businesses, and gutted the Aviation Trust Fund, all so that Delta Air Lines doesn't have to allow its employees to organize in a fair and timely manner."

Shook said by demanding that non-votes be counted as "no" votes, "Republicans are disregarding the democratic principle that majority rules...Not one member of Congress would be in office today if they were held to the same standard in their elections."

In addition to the 4,000 FAA employees who have been out of work since last Saturday's funding deadline, more than 90,000 construction workers have been sent home from airport projects nationwide. Air traffic controllers remain on the job.

Shook, who appeared on Tuesday night's "The Ed Show" on MSNBC and earlier on his radio program, said while flights are operating now, "long-term aviation operations will suffer." The ripple effect could lead to less air travel and more job loss, she said.

Click here to tell Congress to stop playing politics with Americans' lives and jobs. The page includes a draft email, but remember that the most powerful messages are in your own words.

To read Rockefeller's full statement on the FAA shutdown, click here.

House Democrats Blast Bill Barring NLRB Action

Companies Would Face No Penalties for Moving Work to Avoid Unions

Rosa DeLauro

At a U.S. capitol news conference Tuesday, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) decries the GOP's war on workers. Behind her is Wisconsin IAFF President Mahlon Mitchell and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

Below: CWAers were among about two dozen union members at the news conference.

News Conference Union Members

Calling it an "outsourcers' bill of rights," U.S. House Democrats are condemning the Republican's newest attack on workers, a bill that would bar the National Labor Relations Board from penalizing companies that close plants and move work to avoid unions.

Republicans pushed H.R. 2587 through committee without a hearing and the full House may vote as soon as today. The bill was designed to punish the NLRB for its case against Boeing, charging that the company broke the law by moving work from Washington state when employees there exercised their legal right to strike.

H.R. 2587 comes as Republicans mark 200 days of House leadership — 200 days without a single jobs creation bill, despite what their campaign rhetoric promised last fall, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said.

Standing with CWA and other union members at a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday, Pelosi, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) blasted the state and federal attacks on workers' rights and their economic security.

"Two hundred days without any serious attempt to create jobs," DeLauro said. "Instead, they put forward a bill this week that tries to eviscerate unions and accelerate the race to the bottom."

The room full of unionized workers included IAFF firefighters from Wisconsin. Their state president, Mahlon Mitchell, described how his members didn't just say "No" but "Hell, No" when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told them they'd be spared from his attacks on the bargaining rights and benefits of other public employees.

"We all know the truth, which is that eliminating collective bargaining has nothing to do with balancing budgets," Mitchell said. "It's about shifting the balance of power and silencing workers."

Mitchell urged workers, union and non-union, "to reclaim our moral outrage" and see the collective assaults for what they are: "An attack on our way of life."

Click here to see the full news conference on C-Span.

CWA Canada Members Elect Martin O'Hanlon as New Director

Martin O'Hanlon

Martin O'Hanlon, now deputy director of CWA Canada, has been elected to succeed retiring Director Arnold Amber.

Martin O'Hanlon, a newspaper editor in Ottawa and deputy director of CWA Canada for seven years, has been elected to take over for retiring Director Arnold Amber.

"I promise to do my best to build CWA|SCA Canada into the most dynamic and progressive union in Canada," O'Hanlon said. "And I will always put the interests of the members above all else."

This was the first time that members in Canada directly voted for the Canadian region's director, who sits on the CWA Executive Board. Previously, the director and deputy were elected by delegates to the union's National Representative Council meeting.

Some locals arranged for in-plant voting while others opted for vote-by-mail. Because of a postal strike in Canada, the voting period was extended twice.

Amber, who has served as director since 1995, will remain at the helm until O'Hanlon can assume office sometime in the next few weeks. O'Hanlon, 44, will be arranging for a leave of absence from his position as parliamentary editor for The Canadian Press in Ottawa.

NY Retirees Protest Congresswoman's Medicare, Social Security Votes

Jeanette Spoor

Fighting to save Medicare and Social Security, Jeanette Spoor, president of Local 1103's Retired Member Council, helps lead a July 21 protest against Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.).

Somers NY Rally

Several CWA retirees got a jump start on August Accountability Month, joining a coalition of activists last week at the office of a New York congresswoman who voted for the Paul Ryan budget and its attacks on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Some of the activists arrived at Rep. Nan Hayworth's office in Somers in a caravan of vehicles that was making the rounds of seven members of Congress who voted for the devastating cuts.

"No greater threat faces us today than cuts to these essential programs," Jeanette Spoor, president of the CWA Local 1103 Retired Members' Council, told the crowd. "Cuts to Social Security benefits could deny us the money we may need to pay for essentials such as groceries, utilities, and prescription drugs. We could be devastated by cuts to Medicare that could force us to pay higher insurance premiums and co-pays, and threaten our choice of doctors and hospitals."

Decrying the use of the word "entitlements" for the hard-earned benefits, Spoor recalled how every paycheck during her 30 years at Verizon included deductions for Social Security and Medicare. "They make it sound like those who depend on these programs are taking something for nothing at the expense of other Americans," she said.

Like thousands of CWA members and retirees nationwide, Spoor is gearing up to do even more battle in August, as members of Congress return to their home districts for several weeks.

Check the CWA website regularly to keep up on the scores of events that CWA will be involved in nationwide, and be sure you're signed up for email alerts. Simply enter your email address in the box near the upper-right corner at www.cwa-union.org.

Local 6450's Chaney Honored as Union Advocate of the Year

C.B. Chaney

Chere Chaney, executive board member and past president of Local 6450, receives the Seth Slocum Union Advocate of the Year Award.

Chere Chaney, an executive board member and former president of CWA Local 6450, has been honored as the Seth Slocum Union Advocate of the Year by the Labor Education Political Club Independent in Kansas City, Mo.

In a message of congratulations, CWA President Larry Cohen praised Cheney as a longtime activist and advocate for the labor movement. "CWA is very proud to have such a strong labor leader and activist fighting every day for the rights of working people and for social justice. Chere, keep them fired up and ready to go."

Cohen also commended the work of the LEPCI as critical in legislative and political efforts to win social change and defend the rights of working women and men.

Local 6450 President Colleen Downing expressed the local's pride in Chaney's accomplishments and said 10 members were on hand, along with state and local elected officials, as Chaney received the award last Friday.

Among her many achievements, Chaney worked for 44 years on behalf of CWA and working families, dedicating her efforts to her local, the labor community and building an effective political process. She has served Local 6450 as president and executive vice president and currently serves as legislative chair of the local and the state AFL-CIO.

Chaney also has been a leader in the Missouri Coalition of Labor Union Women, Greater Kansas City Coalition of Labor Union Women and Women's Political Caucus, among other organizations.

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