Why Thousands of Union Members Took Over the West Virginia Capitol

Jan 14, 2016 - Why Thousands of Union Members Took Over the West Virginia Capitol

January 14, 2016

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Don't Miss it! Plan to Join CWA's Delegation to the National Jobs with Justice Conference

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Activists from Jobs with Justice, the national organization of unions, community groups, environmental activists, faith organizations, students, and more, will meet for two days of workshops, training and collaboration in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 12-13.

CWA has been a partner with Jobs with Justice from the beginning, and CWA members can get a special reduced registration rate, saving $50 off the $250 cost. To get this reduced rate, email amy@masciola.com by January 22.

The conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. To reserve a room at the Hyatt with the Jobs with Justice reduced rate, click here.

Read more about Jobs with Justice and the conference here.


CWA Human Rights Activists Join King Celebration

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CWA members and leaders from the National Civil Rights and Equity Committee, Ad Hoc Committee and National Women's Committee met at CWA headquarters, then joined in the program honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., sponsored by the AFL-CIO. Events include workshops, speaker sessions and the Parade and Peace Walk on Jan. 18, the day set aside by the federal government to honor Dr. King.

District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings, who leads CWA's human rights work, also participated in the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists executive board meeting. The group discussed strategies to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the implications of the Supreme Court's pending Friedrichs decision for workers' rights and communities.


President Chris Shelton meets with human rights activists at CWA HQ.


Organizing Update

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CenturyLink Techs Win Bargaining Power

In an NLRB election, nine CenturyLink technicians in southwest Minnesota, voted unanimously for representation by CWA Local 7203 and inclusion in the Qwest bargaining unit, CWA District 7 Administrative Director Al Kogler reports. Local 7203 President Eric Battle and Local officer Mike Goltz worked on the campaign.

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Element Mobile Workers Join CWA

Five Element Mobile employees in Wisconsin are celebrating the New Year as new members of CWA Local 4603, District 4 Organizing Coordinator Joy Roberts reported. The workers chose CWA representation under the majority signup provisions CWA has negotiated with AT&T; AT&T bought Cricket Wireless in late 2014 and Five Element Mobile in 2015.

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Cricket Wireless Workers in D.C. Join CWA

Cricket wireless workers at two Washington, D.C., stores are the newest members of CWA Local 2336, said District 2-13 Organizing Coordinator Jim Cosgrove. The 12 retail workers were able to join CWA under the majority signup agreement CWA negotiated with AT&T. CWA has organized 1,256 Cricket workers at 165 retail stores nationwide since late 2014.


Bargaining Update

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Verizon Workers Continue Mobilizing for Fair Contracts

Northeast and Mid-Atlantic CWA members and supporters are rallying and mobilizing, making it clear that Verizon and Verizon Wireless won't break their spirit or solidarity.

Verizon is demanding concessions and givebacks at the bargaining table from 39,000 CWA and IBEW members, despite earning profits of more than $1 billion a month.


CWA Local 1107 members at Verizon Wireless in Rockland County, NY, let the company know they won't stop fighting until they have fair contracts.

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Members of CWA District 2-13 locals throughout the Mid-Atlantic are fighting back for fair contracts. Here, members of Local 13500 in Lehigh Valley hold an informational picket.


Reuters: Deutsche Telekom Under Scrutiny Over Working Conditions at T-Mobile US

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Two major investors in Deutsche Telekom, the German parent company of T-Mobile US, have expressed grave concerns about the mistreatment of the telecommunication giant's American workforce, Reuters reports.

The investors are the latest to join a growing group of U.S. lawmakers, union workers, consumers and community activists in pressuring the company to end its anti-union campaign of harassment and bullying. In two separate cases, the National Labor Relations Board found that T-Mobile has engaged in illegal work practices, and CWA has compiled a long list of instances where the company has flouted employees' rights. Yet the T-Mobile continues to ignore U.S. labor law.

One of the concerned investors, APG, had previously removed Wal-Mart from its portfolio, "citing working conditions and insufficient willingness to allow staff to unionize."

"Human capital management is very important to us," APG sustainability specialist Anna Pot told Reuters. "It is an important indicator of the quality of management."

Two of Germany's biggest daily newspapers, Die Tageszeitung and Süddeutsche, also picked up the story. They highlight that the threatened divestment of two investors is a good sign that the fight for better working conditions is gaining momentum.

Read the full story here.


Standing Strong for Public Worker Bargaining RIghts

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This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, and CWAers joined hundreds of activists in a rally outside the court.


Union activists rally for workers' rights outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Friedrichs case is an assault on public sector workers that is being financed by anti-worker organizations and corporate interests. These groups have been working for years to stifle the voices of teachers and other public workers and strip them of collective bargaining rights.

Labor law requires that a union must represent all workers in the bargaining unit, not just members. That's why the "fair share" system makes sense. Workers who choose not to be members of the union that was voted by a majority to represent the workers still benefit from union representation. Under fair share, they pay a fee that reflects the costs of that representation. Eliminating the fair share system would encourage "free riders" and enable those individuals to get all the benefits of representation without sharing in the cost.

A decision is expected by June 2016.

Read more analysis here.


Workers Mobilize for West Virginia 'Right to Work for Less' Fight

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In West Virginia, Republican lawmakers wasted no time in attacking workers' rights, making a right-to-work-for-less bill the first measure introduced in the Senate as the state legislature opened on Jan. 13.


Union members from across the state greet West Virginia Governor Earl Tomblin (D) and state legislators making their way through the Capitol for the governor's "State of the State" address. Activists chanted "not in my state" and "right to work is wrong."

CWA activists joined thousands of union members from across the state, packing the state Capitol, with signs that read "Right to Work is Wrong for West Virginia" and "Stop the War on Working Families."

At a news conference, workers from Virginia and Oklahoma pointed out the truth about so-called "right to work" laws. Oklahoma, for example, passed a "right to work" law in 2001, and data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the number of manufacturing jobs in the state has fallen by a third. The number of new companies moving into the state has also has dropped by a third.

West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue said the anti-worker bill was "being pushed by out-of-state interests that have a complete disregard for our local economy, our rights, and the health and safety of the average West Virginian."

Read more here.

Watch some video of that demonstration here.


NJ Gov. Christie Vetoes Leah's Law, Endangering Workers

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed "Leah's Law" on Monday, imperiling the safety of thousands of child welfare workers engaged in some of the most dangerous work in the state.

The bipartisan legislation was named for CWA Local 1038 member Leah Coleman who was stabbed more than 20 times by a deranged client in November 2014. The brutal attack, which nearly cost Leah her life, occurred just days after the Christie administration made the cost-cutting decision to pull all police officers out of New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) offices. Without security or metal detectors, the client walked into the building with a nine-inch kitchen knife in broad daylight. Thankfully, two CWA caseworkers were able to tackle and subdue the assailant, while three HPAE nurses treated Leah's wounds until the ambulance arrived.

Leah's Law would have required more police officers to be assigned to Human Services and stationed at offices. Police would accompany workers on potentially hazardous home visits and panic buttons would be installed in meeting rooms.

The Senate approved the measure last month by a vote of 33-0. It had passed the Assembly 52-17.

But Christie balked, claiming that it was "tremendously costly" and that the state had already taken adequate steps to ensure the safety of caseworkers.

Yet, NJ.com pointed out that two caseworkers were attacked and injured by a client in July. And in October, eight state child welfare offices received calls "threatening to shoot up the site or kill everyone in the building."

CWA's New Jersey Director Hetty Rosenstein said that since the assault on Leah, "there have been more than a dozen threats of bombings and shootings of DCF workers and workers have been threatened, held hostage and physically attacked in the field. The governor has shown a shocking disregard for the safety of these New Jersey heroes, who, every day, risk their lives rescuing abused and neglected children and saving families from violence."

She added, "After Leah's Law was passed by both houses, CWA requested a meeting with Governor Christie to try to discuss with him why he should support this desperately needed and responsible legislation. He never responded, just as he has not once responded to any request from CWA to meet in the last six years. It is astonishing that the governor has time to meet with tens of thousands of people in diners in New Hampshire but can't spare a few minutes to make a call or send a card to one of his own employees injured in the line of duty, or to take a meeting to discuss their safety."

CWA is now planning the next steps for this important, much-needed legislation.

"CWA will never stand down when it comes to the safety of our members," said Rosenstein.


Four Reasons Why Wall Street Should Be Fearing The Bern

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CWA President Chris Shelton asks: Are big bankers quaking in their Ferragamo loafers?

In Bernie Sanders, we at last have a presidential candidate who is fed up with an economy that has been manipulated by Wall Street to benefit the very wealthiest Americans at the expense of working families. Sanders has a bold plan to overhaul the status quo, and it's resonating with the American people.

CWA will be working to make that vision a reality, in the streets and at the polls. Last month, our members endorsed Sanders for president, and one of the key reasons he got our members' support is his plan to tackle income equality – starting with reining in Wall Street. Sanders's latest "greed is no good" speech was further proof that CWA backed the right candidate.

Shelton points out that his Wall Street reforms closely align with CWA's own program to create an economy that works for all – not just the 1 percent – on four issues.

Find out what those issues are in Shelton's latest Medium post. Read it here.


TPP Update

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CWA, Members of Congress, Allies Call for Rejection of TPP

Just before the State of the Union address, CWA President Chris Shelton joined members of Congress and environmental, labor and faith leaders at a Capitol Hill news conference. Their message: "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is too dangerous for us simply to stand aside and let it pass."

"We'll lose hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs to the TPP; we can't let that happen," said President Shelton. "We can't compete with countries where near slavery is allowed."

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who is leading the congressional fight against the TPP, said, "After seven years of secrecy we can finally see the details of this deal in the light of day," and it's clear that no one has listened to the concerns of working people. "When the jobs and wages of working families are jeopardized by a bad trade agreement, we risk engaging in a global 'race to the bottom' that our country cannot afford, and that our middle class does not deserve," she said. Read more here.


CWA President Chris Shelton addresses Congressional allies, including Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and coalition partners in the Rayburn House Office Building Gold Room about CWA's continued opposition to the TPP.

Under the provisions of "fast track" authority, which passed by just a handful of votes, Congress will have 90 days to vote on the TPP once the President asks for legislative approval.

In another action, more than 1,500 organizations – members of the Citizens Trade Campaign Coalition – signed a letter to members of Congress calling on them to reject the TPP. The letter outlined Americans' concerns about the trade deal, including the offshoring of U.S. jobs, undermining environmental protections, putting food safety at risk, increasing pharmaceutical costs, and placing corporate profits over human rights and democracy.

"TPP's labor standards are grossly inadequate to the task of protecting human rights abroad and jobs here at home," they wrote. Read the letter here.

"All these organizations are made up of working people, people who could lose their jobs because of the TPP," Shelton said. "We need to make sure that members of Congress who support the TPP lose their jobs."

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TPP Protest in Texas

With signs saying "TPP=Disaster," "End the Siege on U.S. Self-Rule" and "Don't Ship Our Jobs Overseas," dozens of activists, including many CWAers, protested against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in Dallas, TX, and called on their representatives in Congress to reject it. Allies attending the TPP Rally and Protest in front of the Earle Cabell Federal Building and Courthouse on Tuesday included Texas Association for Retired Persons, Code Pink, MoveOn.org, Dallas AFL-CIO, Texas Organizing Project, and Jobs with Justice.

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Activists Protest TPP during President's Visit to Nebraska

Members of and retirees from CWA Locals 7400 and 7470, with activists from the Nebraska AFL-CIO, Nebraska Farmers Union and Bold Nebraska, all part of a coalition of labor, farm and clean energy groups, rallied outside the University of Nebraska's Baxter Arena as President Obama followed his State of the Union speech with a visit to Omaha. The crowd of 8,000 people waiting to get into the stadium all filed past CWAers and allies who had the "Stop the TPP" message visible to all.

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TPP Town Hall Call

Last night, CWA President Chris Shelton, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who is leading the fight on Capitol Hill against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, joined thousands of CWA and Sierra Club activists on a telephone town hall call, outlining strategy to stop the TPP.

Listen here.