Communications Workers of America | E-Activist Newsletter

Battle for Fair Contract at Verizon Unites Local, Global Union Members

AFSCME President: 'All Of Us Are Proud to Stand With CWA'

Verizon March 9-7-11

More than 500 CWA members, allies from AFSCME and around the globe and a "pig" representing Verizon's greed, marched to a VZW store in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to demand a fair contract for Verizon workers.

Below: CWA President Larry Cohen help leads chants and cheers in front of the Verizon Wireless store. Photos by Jay Mallin.

Larry Marching 9-7-11

Showing Verizon and downtown Washington, D.C., what solidarity looks like, 500 CWA, AFSCME and UNI Global Union members marched and rallied Wednesday in support of Verizon workers fighting for a fair contract.

"All of us are proud to stand with CWA," AFSCME President Gerald McEntee told the cheering, chanting crowd on a day of torrential rains. "Are we going to help them win this fight? You bet we are."

The courageous two-week strike by 35,000 CWA and 10,000 IBEW members on the East Coast in August forced Verizon and Verizon Wireless to extend the workers' current contracts and resume bargaining. Despite billions in profit, the company is demanding draconian benefit cuts, wage freezes and language changes that would roll back a half-century of negotiations that created good, middle-class jobs at Verizon.

Thanking local and global allies for standing with CWA, President Larry Cohen introduced McEntee and AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, then led the crowd in chanting, "Workers, united, will never be defeated!"

The march began at 5 p.m. a few blocks from the White House and headed to a Verizon Wireless store. Scores of green-shirted AFSCME members joined the parade as marchers passed the union's headquarters.

Gerald McEntee - Verizon Rally 9/7/11

The march wrapped up with a rally outside AFL-CIO headquarters, where speakers included AFSCME President Gerald McEntee (Photo by Jay Mallin) and UNI President Philip Jennings (below).

Philip Jennings at VZ March

Passersby honked in support as the crowd stretched over a block, chanting for a fair contract and demanding an end to Verizon's union-busting. Later, the march continued, passing the White House and ending at the AFL-CIO.

UNI President Philip Jennings told the crowd that his members were eager to join with CWA for the march and rally, and that fighting for workers' rights around the world, "is what we do at UNI," and that ultimately workers will prevail against corporate greed and political attacks.

"What we're seeing is not sustainable. It is not fair. But this is a struggle that we can win. If anyone can change the world, it's the trade union movement," Jennings said.

Speakers made it clear that attacks on one group of workers is an attack on all, be they public and private sector. "AFSCME members work hard, and we want Verizon's management to know what we do," McEntee said. "We pick up their trash. We repair their roads. We drive their kids' schools buses and we answer their 911 emergency calls. And we stand with the hardworking members of CWA, who are calling for honest negotiations and fair treatment."

View more photos from Wednesday's march and keep up to date on Verizon mobilization and negotiations at CWA's Unity@Verizon website.

Good Jobs, Job Security Big Issues in Bargaining This Week

Join Tonight's Call for All the Latest

Verizon bargaining is continuing, with CWA and IBEW pressing the unions' job security proposals while reviewing management proposals on jobs and other key issues.

Join tonight's Verizon call at 6:30 p.m. EDT for the latest on bargaining. The call will also feature reports on a terrific support campaign in Los Angeles, where the city's AFL-CIO organized leafleting at 40 Verizon Wireless stores in one day, and on UNI's global support. On Wednesday, UNI members marched in solidarity with CWA to a VZW store in Washington, D.C.

To join the call, dial 1-888-886-6603, ext. 17148, then press #. And keep up with the latest at www.unityatverizon.com.

FAA Shutdown Looms as House GOP's Anti-Union Demands Persist

Tell Congress to Beat Sept. 16 Deadline; Pass Clean FAA Funding Bill

Veda_FAA Press Conference

AFA-CWA President Veda Shook and leaders of other aviation unions are asking the public to help them push Congress to approve FAA funding by Sept. 16 to avoid another shutdown.

Below: A TV news crew interviews AFA-CWA Vice President Sara Nelson after Wednesday's news conference at National Airport.

Sara_FAA Press Conference

With next week's deadline looming to pass an FAA funding bill or risk having the agency shut down again over Republicans' anti-union demands, AFA-CWA flight attendants gathered with pilots and air traffic controllers Wednesday to pressure Congress to act before midnight Sept. 16.

"We cannot allow political brinkmanship to again trump the safety of the flying public or the jobs of hard-working Americans," AFA-CWA President Veda Shook said.

The news conference at Washington's National Airport joins a long list of leafleting events and other actions around the country to help people understand the manufactured crisis at the Federal Aviation Administration and urge them to contact their members of Congress. Click here to send a letter to your representative.

In July, U.S. House Republicans refused to pass the agency's funding reauthorization bill unless airline workers were stripped of their newly won right to fair and democratic union representation elections.

For two weeks, 4,000 FAA employees and more than 70,000 private-sector airport construction workers were furloughed. Expansion and safety projects at airports around the country came to a halt, and the country lost $400 million due to uncollected airline ticket taxes. Ultimately, Congress approved temporary funds — the 21st funding extension since the agency's last long-term budget was passed in 2007.

Capt. Lee Moak, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, condemned the temporary extensions, saying one or two delays might be defensible, but 21 are unacceptable.

"It's time for everyone who works within the United States aviation system to be very vocal and ensure that Congress can hear us loud and clear — we cannot continue to function with this Band-Aid type approach to funding," Moak said. "These delay tactics just cover up the symptoms and do nothing to mitigate the problems."

The campaign to now tie FAA funding to workers' rights has been engineered by Delta Airlines and led in Congress by House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.).

They are demanding that the National Mediation Board reverse the 2010 rule change that simply ensures that only votes cast in union representation elections are counted — the standard in all U.S. elections. Previously, airline workers who didn't cast ballots were counted as "no" votes.

Don't forget to contact your member of Congress. Click here to send a letter and keep checking the CWA website for updates.

CWA Remembers Our Heroes on the Tenth Anniversary of September 11

A new CWA video remembers the CWA heroes of September 11, 2001, those who perished in the terrorist attacks and those who stood up and stood together to get America working again.

Ten years later, we remember those CWA, NABET-CWA and AFA-CWA members who lost their lives, on the job at the Pentagon, at the Port Authority in New York, on top of the twin towers manning TV transmitters and in the skies.

We also take pride in remembering that ordinary people, including thousands of CWA members, stood together and became real heroes.

CWA operators took calls from workers in the twin towers and passengers on the doomed planes and relayed those messages to loved ones. CWA nurses and other volunteers cared for injured victims of the attacks in hospitals and makeshift centers. CWA Verizon and other telecom members worked around the clock to get New York and Wall Street connected again to the world, and in just one week, built a telecommunications system from the ground up for 3,000 Pentagon workers relocated after the attack.

Today, many of those heroes are suffering serious health problems from that work, especially workers at Ground Zero in New York.

Joe Hanley, featured in a New York Times ad, is one of those heroes. A Verizon worker and member of CWA Local 1102, Joe has needed multiple surgeries and ongoing radiation treatment for his illness. About 800 Verizon workers are being monitored for aftereffects from exposure to Ground Zero, with hundreds suffering from serious respiratory and other illnesses.

Verizon, in current contract negotiations, is looking to eliminate sick days for workers hurt on the job and force workers to pay thousands per year in health care costs. Our message to Verizon: heroes like Joe and thousands of others deserve better.

AFA-CWA Online Memorial Honors Flight Attendants Killed on 9/11

AFA-CWA has launched an online memorial to the 25 flight attendants who died on September 11th, heroes who fought to the very end to save lives.

"Our 25 flight attendant heroes on those four fateful flights acted as first responders," AFA-CWA International President Veda Shook said. "They relayed the first intelligence of the day that served to alert our country and our fellow crewmembers on Flight 93, who in turn acted without reservation against evil, sacrificing their own lives to protect the lives of countless others."

The AFA-CWA memorial, Never Forget, can be viewed at www.afacwa.org/neverforget/. As part of the tribute, visitors to the site can share thoughts and memories.

AFA-CWA leaders say 9/11 forever changed their profession. "Every day since September 11th, flight attendants go to work with an even greater sense of responsibility," Shook said. "We know that not only are we first responders to emergencies affecting the health and safety of our passengers and other crewmembers, we are also the last line of defense in aviation security."

Obama: Collective Bargaining is the Right of Every American Worker

Obama in Detroit

A dozen CWA members were in the crowd behind President Obama in Detroit on Labor Day as he delivered a strong pro-union speech.

Below: CWA members and their families got into the spirit at the Detroit event. Pictured are the son and grandson of Greg Wynn, president of Local 4100 and a CWA Executive Board member.

The Wynn Family

Detroit-area CWA members cheered along with thousands of their union brothers and sisters Monday as an impassioned President Obama gave a strong pro-labor, pro-worker address.

The rousing Labor Day speech in General Motors' parking lot celebrated collective bargaining and the unions that made good, family-wage jobs with benefits and retirement security a reality — for union and non-union workers.

"If you want to know who helped lay these cornerstones of an American middle class you just have to look for the union label," Obama said, vowing that he will continue to fight attacks on workers' rights.

"When I hear some of these folks trying to take collective bargaining rights away, trying to pass so-called "right to work" laws for private sector workers that really mean the right to work for less and less and less — when I hear some of this talk I know this is not about economics. This is about politics," Obama said. "And I want everybody here to know, as long as I'm in the White House, I'm going to stand up for collective bargaining."

The crowd, including a dozen CWA members on stage behind the president, chanted, "Four more years!"

Obama told them, "Having a voice on the job and a chance to organize and a chance to negotiate for a fair day's pay after a hard day's work, that is the right of every man and woman in America — not just the CEO in the corner office, but also the janitor who cleans that office after the CEO goes home."

CWA Local 4100 President Greg Wynn, also a member of the CWA Executive Board, said members were "energized and fired up" by the speech. "He's someone they believe truly, genuinely cares about workers, and that's a real good feeling. With the governor we have, we needed to know that we have help, and we want President Obama to know that he can count on our help, too," Wynn said.

In addition to Wynn, CWAers on stage included Belinda Hill, Yvette Austin, Tonia Jenkins, Raina Jones, Carnethia Goldsby and Jacqueline McQueen all of Local 4100; Aarick McCloud, Local 4004; Janet Kandt-Harris, Local 4008; Dave Skotarczyk, Jerry Sokoloski and Troy Smith, Local 4050; Sue Mure, Local 4123; and Alicia Dennis, a steward for the Utility Workers and wife of CWA Local 4100 Secretary/Treasurer James Dennis.

A full transcript and video of Obama's speech is posted on the White House website.

American Airlines Campaign

Organizers Looking for CWA Members Among Airline's Home-Based Agents

CWA organizers who are helping American Airlines airport and reservations agents campaign for a voice at work are looking for all current, former and retired CWA members who are among the airline's 850 home-based reservation agents.

Many of the home-based agents have call center experience, and some have enjoyed CWA representation at AT&T, Qwest and other companies. Some are still employed in telecom and are active CWA members who earn a second income through the home-based jobs at American.

For instance, CWA member Roscivia Jones-Smith puts in a full day's work at AT&T in Dallas before her evening shift as a American Airlines home-based agent. She wants she and her airline colleagues to have the same voice at work she does in her day job. "The union will back you up," she says. "Here, if we get a bad score, even if it's unfair, American can fire you and there's nothing you can do about. If they tried that at AT&T, CWA would step in and fight for me."

The home-based agents are employed in four regions of the country, and must live with 50 miles of offices in Tucson, Ariz., Dallas-Fort Worth, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and the neighboring New England cities of Hartford, Conn., and Springfield, Mass.

If you're one of the home-based agents or know someone who is, please contact the organizing campaign by email at cwa4aa@sbcglobal.net or by telephone at (817) 868-9933. Learn more about the campaign online at www.american-agents.org.

High-Tech CWA/NETT Training Makes for Smooth Transition at Univision

Training at Univision

For 18 NABET-CWA members at Univision's affiliate in Los Angeles, CWA/NETT training meant they didn't have to sweat the transition when the latest equipment in the ever-changing world of video technology arrived at their station.

Video editors and photographers, now tasked with editing duties in remote trucks, got three days of free, top-quality, hands-on instruction through the CWA/NETT Academy in April. Univision, recognizing the huge benefit CWA was offering, let workers take the course on company time and provided space for the mobile Final Cut Pro lab.

"They were very happy to see that we were taking a pro-active approach to a situation that they created by deciding to switch equipment," said Salvador Solorio, a career video editor and unit chair for NABET-CWA Local 59053. "The company recognized that this was a gift and instead of them having to pay for training, they agreed to pay employees for eight-hour shifts for three days."

The 18 Univision employees are among hundreds of NABET-CWA and TNG-CWA members who have taken advantage of CWA/NETT's video training from coast to coast. Made possible by CWA's Strategic Industry Fund, the training helps members stay a step ahead of new technology, boosting their job security and making them good candidates for promotion.

Solorio said his coworkers had high praise for the training and instructor Jim Tallulo. "The overall experience was great," he said. "All the attendees were very, very happy and impressed with Jim's knowledge and teaching ability. In fact, some of people in non-union jobs at the station could see what a success it was, and they were asking how they could sign up."

Electronic Warfare Techs Celebrate Labor Day by Joining IUE-CWA

Just in time for Labor Day, 35 electronic warfare technicians working at U.S. Navy and Marine Corps military bases in Arizona and California organized with IUE-CWA.

The technicians work for government contractors at the El Centro Naval Air Facility and Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in California, and the Yuma Marine Corps Air Station in Arizona. They were assisted in the organizing drive by Local 89118 in Fallon, Nev., and Local 7032 in Yuma, Ariz., which will represent the new members.

In other victories, 27 technicians at ADT in Detroit won representation this week with CWA Local 4070. The vote was 22-2. Last week in Ohio, 13 ADT technicians won representation with Local 4484 in Cleveland and Local 4400 in West Chester. A neutrality agreement that CWA District 4 negotiated with ADT paved the way for the workers' victories.

Solis: American Unions and Middle Class Go Hand in Hand

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is speaking out about the link between declining union membership and the erosion of America's middle class.

As unions grew, so did the number of workers and their families in middle-class America, Solis recently told Christian Science Monitor reporters. Now, she said, families like hers growing up don't have the same opportunity to join unions and bargain collectively, putting them at an economic disadvantage.

"I am a product of that, coming from a family, a working class family that was able to have those benefits, (such as) health care," Solis said. "I see my parents now living on retirement and know how important it is to level the playing field" so that all working Americans can have access to medical care and look forward to a secure retirement.

Solis's mother, a native of Nicaragua, worked on an assembly line and her father, a Mexican immigrant, was a Teamsters' shop steward.

Solis said despite declining membership, unions are fighting as hard as ever for their members and all American workers. "To me, that's kind of been a part of our American makeup...and unfortunately some people will disagree with me on that," she said.

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