Under the leadership of District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton and with the assistance of Ms. Micki Siegel de Hernandez, Director of the District's Occupational Safety and Health Program, the CWA Occupational Safety and Health Department conducted the CWA District 1 Occupational Safety and Health Retreat and Training Sessions, March 13-14, 2009. Forty-eight (48) local union safety and health activists representing 23 local unions and one CWA Staff Representative participated in the retreat and training sessions held at the Hilton Rye Town, Rye Brook, New York. Of significance, local union activists represented the telecommunications; public, health care, and education; manufacturing; and media and broadcasting sectors of the Union.
Immediately preceding the Retreat, i.e., March 13, the Department and the Center for Labor Education and Research, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama conducted a training session targeting Emergency Response/Hazardous Materials/and Natural Disasters. In addition, led by Dana McCarthy, Occupational Safety and Health Director, CWA Local 1168, a session targeting The CWA 1168/Kaleida Health Care System Safe Patient Handling Ergonomics Initiative was conducted. These sessions were extremely well received.
Organized and conducted under the direction of the Union's Occupational Safety and Health Department, the Occupational Safety and Health Retreat focused upon:
- The Employee Free Choice Act and Occupational Safety and Health and
- Three separate panels targeting:
"Industry/Sector Changes and Their Effects upon Member Occupational Safety and Health,"
"Workplace Violence," and
"The Blue/Green Alliance/Initiative."
During a spirited session, District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton highlighted the key elements of the Employee Free Choice Act. His excellent presentation supplemented the key issues with information from and the experience of CWA and, in general, the labor movement regarding the many attempts to organize workers only to be turned back by employers' illegal actions of firing, threatening, and intimidating involved workers.
Citing AT&T Mobility (formerly Cingular) as a primary example, Vice President Shelton discussed the importance of employer neutrality during the Union's organizing campaigns as well as the use of card-check procedures in recognizing the collective bargaining status of the Union. After his presentation, a question/answer session was conducted in which several participants joined in.
As noted, panels focused upon "Industry Sector Changes and Their Effects upon Member Occupational Safety and Health," "Workplace Violence," and "The Blue/Green Alliance/Initiative," Led by several District 1 local union leaders and occupational safety and health activists, the panels targeted a number of important district and local union safety and health concerns.
Topics discussed during the "Industry/Sector Changes and Their Effects upon Member Occupational Safety and Health" panel included:
- "Changes within the Telecommunications Industry and Their Effects Upon Technicians/Craft Workers," John Gentile, CWA Local 1103,
- "The Safety and Health Effects of Changes within the Telecommunications Industry upon Customer Service Representatives" Maggie Sporbert, CWA Local 1105, and
- "Changes in the Media Industry and Member Effects," Paul Vasquez, NABET-CWA Local 51016.
Subjects targeted during the "Workplace Violence Panel" included:
· "Workplace Violence among New Jersey Public Workers," Chris Young, CWA Local 1040,
· "Building a Safe Workplace: Preventing Workplace Violence," Evelyn Evans and Geena Cruz, IUE-CWA Local 81381, and
· "Workplace Violence among New York City Traffic Enforcement Agents," James Huntley, CWA Local 1182.
Topics covered in the "Blue/Green Alliance/Initiative" panel included:
· "Building Blue/Green Alliances," Steve Gauthier, IUE-CWA Local 81201, and
· "The Ultimate Take Away-Your Health: IBM Workers Health and Safety," Rick White, CWA Local 1701.
Overall, as a result of the excellent presentations as well as participant discussion and involvement, the Retreat was a tremendous success. On a final note, local union activists thanked District 1 and the Union's Occupational Safety and Health Department for conducting the Retreat and offered strong opinions regarding the need for CWA to continue the district retreat and national conference format, i.e., conducting the retreats and national conference on an alternative year schedule.
In the future, the Union's Occupational Safety and Health Department looks forward to working with CWA District 1 and other national and local officers, staff, and local union safety and health activists as the Department continues to organize and conduct District Occupational Safety and Health Retreats and other activities.
CWA District 1 Occupational Safety and Health Retreat List of Participants
CWA Local 1034-Keith Crowell
CWA Local 1040-Chris Young
CWA Local 1058-Patricia Wisbeski, President
CWA Local 1060-Ed Pielech, Lois Pielech
CWA Local 1085-Bill Atkinson, Secretary-Treasurer
CWA Local 1089-Rosalind Borodkin, President, Lillian Milanes
CWA Local 1103-Carol Finley, Monica Fonesca, John Gentile, Robert Sherlock, Thomas Stala, Eddy Williams, Mike Zambardino
CWA Local 1105-Roberto Perez, Treasurer, Maggie Sporbert, Phil Tobin
CWA Local 1108-Ron Muscarella
CWA Local 1109-Mike Gallo
CWA Local 1113-Francis Fields, Secretary-Treasurer, Mick Dellavalle
CWA Local 1133-Karen Enright, Vice President, Sandy Daley, Alan Stevens
CWA Local 1168-Mary Brogcinski, Dana McCarthy
CWA Local 1701-Rick White, Treasurer
CWA Local 1182-James Huntley, President
NABET/CWA Local 51016-Paul Vasquez, President, Henry Plimack
IUE-CWA 81102-Rohan Sohmnarain, President, Steve Pabon, Steven Perrino
IUE-CWA Local 81201-Chuck Cushman, Don Doucette, Steve Gauthier, Tim McCormack
IUE-CWA Local 81266-Carol Rosa Basile, Gabriel Noriega
IUE-CWA Local 81301-Bruce Hamelin
IUE-CWA Local 81359-Mike Leone, Secretary-Treasurer, Daryl Houshower
IUE-CWA Local 81381-Evelyn Evans, President, Geena Cruz
Chris Shelton, CWA District 1 Vice President
John Feaster, CWA Staff Representative
Micki Siegel de Hernandez, Director, CWA District 1 Occupational Safety and Health Program
David LeGrande, CWA Occupational Safety and Health Director
Roy Stover, Instructor, Center for Labor Education and Research, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama