Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Don't Miss CWA National Town Hall Meeting Tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Tonight's national phone call begins at 7:30 p.m., Eastern time, and will feature updates on Verizon bargaining, the fight to stop another FAA shutdown, the campaign to defeat the anti-collective bargaining law in Ohio and other issues. CWA members from New York, Ohio and Seattle will be among the speakers.

If you haven't already registered to connect to the call by phone, you can listen online by clicking this link: http://www.cwa-union.org/cwacall. The call will last about 30 minutes.

House Passes FAA Funding, but Senate's Coburn Threatens to Block Bill

NMB Fitzpatrick

Fighting for jobs and the FAA funding bill, members from Local 13500 and the coalition Penn Action protest outside U.S. Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick's office near Philadelphia. The group peacefully went inside and spoke with staff. Click here for a video.

Below: CWA members leaflet at the Sacramento Airport, one of many events nationwide alerting the public that another FAA shutdown was looming unless Congress passed funding for the agency.

Sacramento Airport FAA Leafleting

Pressured by CWA's exhaustive leafleting and lobbying, U.S. House Republicans passed temporary funding to keep the FAA open, but now it's a senator who's decided to play politics with the agency.

In an uproar over money for bicycle paths, the Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn is threatening to block the FAA bill, as well as the critical bill funding highway and transit programs. The highway bill requires that states use 3 percent of federal road funds for bike lanes and other traffic enhancements.

"Senator Coburn's concern about bike paths has absolutely nothing to do with the FAA and he knows it," CWA said in a statement Thursday. "Once again, America's first class aviation system is being held hostage by a political party that talks about creating jobs, but when given opportunity only wants to shut them down. Worse still, thousands of dedicated FAA employees and tens of thousands more construction workers are once again pawns in a Washington insiders game."

For two weeks this summer, the failure of Congress to pass FAA funding led the agency to shut down and furlough 4,000 employees and nearly 100,000 constructions workers on airport projects nationwide.

House Republicans held up the bill to try to force federal officials to repeal a new rule allowing for fair, democratic union elections for airline workers. In the past, workers who didn't vote were counted as "no" votes. The National Mediation Board changed the rule in 2010 so that only the votes cast would be counted, the standard that applies to all other American elections.

For weeks, CWA and AFA-CWA members have held news conferences, protested outside lawmakers' home district offices and leafleted at the U.S. Capitol and at airports around the country, helping the public understand what's at stake.

Although AFA-CWA and other aviation unions are pushing Congress to pass a real FAA budget, instead of what is now the 22nd temporary extension of funds, the House action was preferable to another shutdown. The bill will provide funding through January 31, 2012.

"The House passage of a four-month, clean extension for funding the FAA is a step in the right direction," AFA-CWA leaders said. "AFA remains resolute in our advocacy for long-term funding of the FAA."

CWA Members Join Hyatt Picket Lines as Workers in Four Cities Strike

NABET Pickets Hyatt Chicago

In Chicago, NABET-CWA (above) and Local 4202 members were among CWAers who joined Hyatt hotel workers striking for better working conditions.

Local 4202 Pickets Hyatt Chicago

In a big show of support for Hyatt hotel workers fighting for better working conditions, CWA members enthusiastically joined picket lines as UNITE HERE staged a weeklong strike in four cities.

The strike in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu began last Thursday and ended today. It was UNITE HERE's first multi-day strike against Hyatt after a series of one-day pickets in various cities to put pressure on the company to bargain a fair contract. The last contract expired in August 2009.

"Hundreds of UNITE HERE members have stood side by side with us in our fight at Verizon. Now it is our turn to stand with them," CWA President Larry Cohen said.

CWA, TNG-CWA and NABET-CWA members were among scores of union members, as well as elected officials and community activists, who walked picket lines. "The local's offices, as well as ABC, NBC, and FOX locations where our members work, are only a couple of blocks from the Chicago hotel, so we were there as much as possible," NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce said.

The fight isn't about wages, but rather subcontracting and health and safety issues for housekeepers, many of whom have suffered injuries lifting mattresses and rushing to meet the demanding room-cleaning schedule. Many housekeepers are on pain medications and some have been permanently disabled.

Hyatt California Picket

Many CWA locals in California rallied and marched Wednesday with Hyatt workers in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In San Francisco, pictured, activists marched through the financial district from one Hyatt to another.

The injury rate is even higher at Hyatt hotels where workers have no voice. "Not far from my hotel in West Hollywood, at the Hyatt in Long Beach, workers have no union," housekeeper Cathy Youngblood says. "Conditions there are even worse. My sisters are required to clean twice as many rooms in one eight-hour shift, leaving them just 15 minutes for each room. That's 15 minutes to change bedding, scrub the bathroom, dust, vacuum, empty the trash, and change linens, among other things. It's no surprise that women are getting hurt."

Youngblood and other Hyatt workers are featured on the UNITE HERE website, www.unitehere.org, which also includes a list of Hyatt hotels where workers have called for boycotts.

Cohen Statement:

Obama's Support for Collective Bargaining 'Very Important' to Jobs Plan

Addressing Congress last Thursday, President Obama laid out a comprehensive bill for job creation and stressed his support for collective bargaining. "I reject the idea that we have to strip away collective bargaining rights to compete in a global economy," Obama said. CWA President Larry Cohen released the following statement about the speech and also discussed it with Ed Schultz on MSNBC. Click here to watch the segment.

President Obama is right. It's time to get serious about good jobs. There's an employment crisis facing some 25 million Americans and we need serious action from our elected leaders now.

It's very important that the president tonight acknowledged the need for real collective bargaining rights for workers. We'll never move forward to economic recovery if we don't increase demand, and that only happens when workers have bargaining rights to improve their wages and working conditions. If we're looking for a real, long-term fix for our economy, this is it.

We need good jobs and we need real investment in our country to create these jobs. We need high speed broadband to bring the benefits of our 21st century economy to all Americans, especially small businesses and families in the heartland, in rural areas who right now don't have access to all the tools of the Internet Age. President Obama recognized this tonight as well. Extending high speed broadband to the 24 million Americans who now have no access and to millions more in underserved communities is critical if the U.S. is going to catch up to the rest of the world.

Most important, it is time for members of Congress to step up and put our country ahead of ideology and politics. That's what the American people want.

98 Percent of PSA Flight Attendants Vote to Authorize Strike

Following stalled negotiations and unacceptable management demands, an overwhelming 98 percent of AFA-CWA flight attendants at PSA Airlines have voted to authorize a strike if the company continues to refuse to bargain a fair contract.

"PSA flight attendants are ready to do whatever it takes to ensure that a new, improved contract recognizes our meaningful role as first responders," said L.C. Acor, AFA PSA vice president.

Key issues are compensation, retirement, insurance, and related issues. Bargaining is currently in mediation. However, if PSA continues to make concessionary demands, AFA can request that the National Mediation Board release both parties into a 30-day "cooling off" period, leading to a strike deadline.

PSA, owned by US Airways Group, operates as a US Airways Express carrier out of Charlotte, N.C., Dayton, Ohio, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Dayton Guild: A Quarter-Century of Solidarity Against All Odds

Dayton Newspaper Guild

Dayton Newspaper Guild members, pictured earlier this year at an MLK Day parade, have been fighting for a new contract for more than two decades.

Despite one of the longest contract battles in union history, members of the Dayton Newspaper Guild-CWA at the Dayton Daily News remain tenacious and determined. On Monday, they marked the 25th anniversary of becoming part of TNG-CWA, the same day they ratified their last contract. Even their industry's monumental changes and layoffs, including a new round just announced by the newspaper, haven't broken their spirit. In an email excerpted here, Local President Lou Grieco explained to his members why they're heroes in the union movement.

I know some might consider the company's stonewalling a success, but it isn't. We have persevered against amazing odds, against one of the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the country, during a time when union strength nationwide has ebbed.

Anyone could build a union after FDR signed the Wagner Act. Try building one after Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. Well, we did. I can tell you without reservation: we are considered heroes in The Newspaper Guild, the Communications Workers of America and the AFL-CIO.

Along the way, we have helped countless people — including free-riders, who benefit despite never paying dues. We have made sure...that there are basic rules governing our working conditions that the company can't change at a whim. We haven't won everything, but no one does. Our members have come out ahead of the non-union employees time and time again.

And we are still strong: more than 70 percent of the people we represent support this union. I can't tell you how grateful I am for that. Wear black on Monday. Send a message, the bigger the better.

Find Out What Sprint's Hiding

EyeOnSprint.org is a new CWA website and project that documents Sprint's record on jobs and workers' rights.

New this week: Sprint's record of cutting jobs and sending work offshore. Sprint has shut down 30 U.S. call centers, and as much as 70 percent of Sprint's customer service work has been sent to India, the Philippines and Mexico.

And while you're online, look for CWA's online campaign that exposes Sprint's attacks on the AT&T/T-Mobile merger — what the Wall Street Journal called the company's "sour grapes."

Read more at www.EyeOnSprint.org and follow on Twitter and Facebook at @EyeOnSprint and www.facebook.com/EyeOnSprint.

'Unions and America fit together like...Legos'

In an L.A. Times op-ed, author Anne Lamott has written a love letter to America's unions, telling readers how Legos and figurines have helped her 2-year-old grandson understand why it's so important "to love and support the working men and women of this country."

"I love unions. I love them in the same way I love libraries and redwood groves," Lamott writes. "They are like churches: sacred. They are what make this country great."

Almost every day she takes her grandson, Jax, to the park, where a box of Lego and plastic figures turn into an imagined rally with garment workers, longshoremen, zookeepers, sailors and others, like Sidney:

"Everyone loves Sydney," Lamott writes. "He is one of those exquisitely decent, old-fashioned working-class guys who made this country great. Jax and I often build him a low platform and podium of Lego blocks from which he talks to other workers about the fight for workers' rights, telling them to never give up, and reminding them that the pendulum always swings back toward fairness and equality."

Lamott decries the attacks on workers and writes, "I guess it is a plank of the Christian right to be anti-union now. But remember, there are still a lot of us in the Christian left, and we don't feel that way." She says she and Jax, "just about went crazy" cheering the Wisconsin protests earlier this year.

"The whole world will be bombarding my grandson with messages about individual and personal success aimed at teaching him to love the almighty buck, but I want my grandchild to grow up in a family that loves labor, as I did," she writes. "And I want him to know that when workers' rights or libraries or redwood groves are threatened, it's incumbent on us to show up with our kazoos and bongos.

"Otherwise, I tell him, this country is doomed. And then I add, 'But not on our watch, right, dude?' and he claps and cheers."

Click here for Lamott's full op-ed online at the L.A. Times.

Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, CLC. All Rights Reserved.
501 Third Street, NW Washington, DC 20001Facebook Twitter