Don't miss tonight's CWA Verizon update call, where you'll hear all the latest bargaining and mobilization news.
If you're not registered for the call, which begins at 7 p.m., you can listen to it online by going to the Unity@Verizon page or clicking here.
CWA vice presidents will provide updates about bargaining and answer questions, and local activists will talk about the many ways they're getting the message out.
For instance, in western Pennsylvania, CWA members have been involved in leafleting, informational picketing and marches with allies, with at least one activity virtually every day.
"The bond, between our members, between our unions and between us and our community is stronger than I've ever seen before," says Local 13500 Executive Secretary-Treasurer Terri Senich. "People are realizing that if they don't stand up and act that there's not going to be a middle class left in America."
In Nashville, Tenn., CWA Local 3808 members joined the postal workers' march. Local Secretary-Treasurer Bob Cooper and President Rick Feinstein are pictured at left.
Below: Local 4108 members support postal workers in Saginaw, Mich. Locals 4008 and 4622 also were among Michigan CWA locals that rallied and marched to save the postal service.
CWA members were among thousands of union activists joining rallies for embattled postal workers at nearly 500 locations Tuesday that covered every U.S. congressional district in every state.
Seven-year-old Ryan Richards, son of Local 4252 Vice President Angel Minnick, marches Tuesday in Joliet, Ill., with CWA members and other unions supporting U.S. postal workers. Behind Ryan is Local 4252 President LaNell Piercy.
Once again using a budget crisis to attack union workers, some members of Congress want to slash 120,000 postal service jobs and close thousands of post offices, among other severe service cuts.
The national "Save America's Post Office" day of action urged lawmakers to save the USPS by supporting H.R. 1351. Introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass), the bill would help stabilize the postal service financially by reducing overpayments it is required by law to make to its pension fund.
While conventional wisdom and virtually all media coverage suggest that email and Internet services are mainly to blame for USPS financial woes, postal unions say it has more to do with over-funded pension and retiree health care plans. In 2006, the Republican-led Congress passed a bill giving the post office just 10 years to pre-fund retiree health care for the next 75 years.
No other government agency or private company is required to make such extreme overpayments, which cost USPS $5.5 billion annually. Without the forced payments, USPS could be running a $1.5 billion surplus.
Neither the pension nor health care funds were addressed by the bill Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) pushed through a House subcommittee last week, with all eight Republicans voting for the devastating postal service cuts and all five Democrats voting against them.
"This is a brazen attempt to dismantle the United States Postal Service and render it ripe for privatization," APWU President Cliff Guffey said.
A lively crowd including Missouri CWA members protested Tuesday as N.J. Gov. Chris Christie arrived in St. Louis for a fundraiser.
With signs supporting public workers and decrying corporate greed, a lively crowd of Missouri CWA members and allies gathered outside the St. Louis Ritz-Carlton on Tuesday as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie arrived for a $10,000-a-plate fundraiser.
"The rally was very energetic with shouts and spontaneous chants," said Richard von Glahn, organizing director for CWA Local 6355, the Missouri State Workers Union.
Noting that the crowd, about 75 strong, was about evenly split between public and private sector union members, von Glahn called it "an important show of solidarity that says we will not let working people be divided in the way that Scott Walker, John Kasich and Chris Christie are trying to do. People know union busting when they see it, whatever industry or sector it is happening in."
Christie stopped in St. Louis en route to California for his speech Tuesday night at the Reagan Library, where he took his scorn for public workers to a national stage. Just moments into his so-called "Real American Exceptionalism" speech, he hailed the late president for firing striking air traffic controllers in 1981.
Christie called it his "favorite Reagan story" and waxed poetic about Reagan's "courage to lead." He used that as a springboard to boast of his own "leadership and compromise" in New Jersey, where public workers, including 60,000 CWA members, are facing devastating cuts and changes in their health care and pension benefits.
Get updates on contract talks in New Jersey at www.cwanj.org.
First it was a bad case of sour grapes for Sprint when AT&T replaced the company as a potential merger partner with T-Mobile.
Now Sprint's real motives for its anti-AT&T campaign have become clear: after protesting loudly that a merger would hurt consumers and wireless competition, Sprint now says it wants to buy T-Mobile and thinks regulators will approve the deal.
Sprint's bad track record when it comes to jobs, workers' rights and customer service is the focus of Eye on Sprint, a CWA campaign that shines a light on Sprint's behavior.
Thanks to Sprint this week for highlighting its hypocrisy on its own.
Read the latest from Eye On Sprint at www.EyeOnSprint.org. Follow on Twitter and Facebook: @EyeOnSprint and www.facebook.com/EyeOnSprint.
A NABET-CWA poster highlights members' New York City march on Wednesday to NBC, ABC and a Verizon store.
New York City NABET-CWA members had a busy morning Wednesday as they hosted a "combined mobilization rally" that made appearances outside the Today Show and Good Morning America, with a stop in between at a midtown Verizon Wireless store.
CWA Local 1101 members joined NABET locals 51011, representing NBC workers, and 51016, representing ABC. Members are fighting for fair contracts at both networks, which conveniently tape their morning shows in street-level studios with big windows.
Pouring rain didn't dampen the enthusiasm, Local 51011 President Thomas Cappo said. "Yes, we got wet, but a good time was had by all."
Joint Letter Demands GOP Drop Anti-Worker Demands, Focus on Jobs, Safety
In a joint letter to Congress this week, CWA, AFA-CWA and a dozen other unions urged lawmakers to pass a clean, multi-year Federal Aviation Administration budget bill that brings stability to the critical agency without tying its funds to Republicans' anti-worker demands.
"Passage of an FAA bill is critical to air safety, will create more than 300,000 good jobs and will modernize our aging air traffic control system," the unions' letter stated. "Failure to complete an aviation safety bill due to issues that have nothing to do with the safety and expansion of our aviation system, will be a major setback for the 757 million annual air travelers who rightfully expect their elected leaders to be responsible stewards of our aviation system."
The FAA hasn't had a permanent budget since 2007, surviving only on temporary funding extensions. The latest extension passed last week and will expire Jan. 31, 2012. House Republicans' refusal to pass a previous extension led the agency to shut down for two weeks this summer, furloughing 4,000 employees and more than 70,000 construction workers on airport projects.
Pressured by Delta Airlines, House Republicans demanded the repeal of an unrelated new rule that finally ensures fair and democratic union elections for airline and railway workers. Until the National Mediation Board changed the rule last year, workers who didn't vote in union representation elections were counted as "no" votes. Now, like all American elections, only the votes cast are counted.
"Any attempt to repeal NMB union election rules for aviation and rail employees or to amend the Railway Labor Act does not belong in FAA reauthorization," the letter continued. "These efforts have absolutely nothing to do with aviation safety or job creation, and the new NMB election rules simply allow for a majority of those voting in a union election to decide the outcome."
Despite rhetoric claiming they want to pass a long-term FAA reauthorization bill, Republican leaders in Congress have so far failed to appoint conference committee members to reconcile House and Senate versions of the legislation.
CWA said it's time for House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, whose demands and inaction forced the FAA's summer shutdown, and other GOP leaders to show they're serious.
"We will know that Republican leadership is serious about delivering the jobs and economic growth afforded by the FAA reauthorization when and if they actually appoint conference committee members. Until then, they are complicit in Rep. Mica's willingness to place extreme ideology over vital upgrades and job growth."
The unions joining with CWA and AFA-CWA to sign the letter were AFSCME, Air Line Pilots, Machinists, Professional and Technical Engineers, Air Traffic Controllers, Laborers, OPEIU, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, TWU, the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department, Steelworkers, and the United Transportation Union.
Community activists joined CWA members to support Verizon and Verizon Wireless workers as part of a rally Sunday in White Plains, N.Y., to honor MLK, Jr.
At a rally Sunday, CWA Local 1103 members in White Plains, N.Y., honored Martin Luther King, Jr., while furthering their fight for good jobs at Verizon and Verizon Wireless.
The community's Martin Luther King Institute for Non-Violence hosted the rally for jobs and economic justice. About 100 people attended, many of whom joined CWA for a photograph afterwards holding signs in support of Verizon and Verizon Wireless workers.
In a speech that energized the crowd, Local 1103 Legislative-Political Coordinator Joe Mayhew said the summer strike and ongoing negotiations at Verizon, "are about three things: Jobs. Jobs. Jobs."
From jobs the union represents to jobs the company has sent overseas, "these jobs belong to the community," Mayhew said. "These jobs belong to the neighbors, friends and families of everyone here aspiring to be part of the middle class. As Dr. King understood, the labor movement and job security are essential, not only for reducing poverty, but for growing the middle class."
The White Plains rally, along with events at the new MLK memorial in Washington, D.C., were originally scheduled for late August. Hurricane Irene forced organizers to postpone.
New state income data illustrates how unionization improves the pay of all workers, whether they're in a union or not.
The U.S. Census Bureau numbers show that all middle-class households benefit from the presence of unions in their state, and that increasing the rate of unionization by just 10 percent would go a long way toward rebuilding America's economy.
"The states with the lowest percentage of workers in unions—North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas—all have relatively weak middle classes," the Campaign for American Progress says in its analysis of the data. "Without strong unions, the middle class has lost out to the wealthy."
Depending on which state they live in, middle-class families could expect their income to grow by roughly $1,100 to $2,000 if unions grew by 10 percent, according to a chart that follows the article on the CAP website.
Columnist Katrina vanden Heuvel writes in the Washington Post this week about the "American Dream Movement," which CWA and many other unions are supporting. "When teachers, students and firefighters joined with union members in Wisconsin this year to defend workers' rights and oppose the assault on public education, the mass demonstrations electrified progressives and captured national attention. When House Republicans passed a budget that would have ended Medicare as we know it while cutting taxes for the wealthy, angry citizens filled congressional town halls across the country. And in the aftermath of these battles, a collection of unions and progressive organizations have banded together to fight back in a coalition called the American Dream Movement," she writes.
Underscoring why American workers and middle-class families are in a fight for their survival, is this cartoon from Jeff Danziger about the Koch brothers.