Elizabeth Warren Headlines CWA Legislative-Political Conference in D.C.
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CWA activists from across the country met this week in Washington, D.C. for the union's Legislative-Political Conference. The two-day conference focused on CWA's effort to reclaim the economy and democracy for working families, including the "Take on Wall Street" campaign and holding elected officials accountable.
CWA President Chris Shelton kicked off the conference with a rousing speech, stressing that "these are movement times, times when the fight for fundamental change in our system is on, and all of us must join." He commended CWA members for their victory at Verizon: "They showed the entire labor movement and all of America that when workers stick together and fight, 'there is no greater power anywhere beneath the sun!'" He also spoke about the presidential race and labor's fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Senator Elizabeth Warren and CWA President Chris Shelton fired up the CWA crowd on the first day of the conference.
On Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren fired up the crowd with an impassioned speech highlighting the Take On Wall Street campaign, Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) spoke powerfully about stopping the TPP, and activists participated in a panel on fighting for a fair economy.
"The banks caused the worst financial crisis in three generations," Senator Warren said. "They cost jobs, they cost homes, they cost pensions. But they're doubling down on lawyers and lobbyists and trying to open more loopholes. The good news is, as we showed with Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, millions of activists can stand up to Wall Street and win.
On Wednesday, United States Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who worked tirelessly to mediate negotiations between CWA and Verizon, started the day off with a great speech about strengthening the middle class and organized labor. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) talked about restoring and expanding voting rights and reclaiming our economy.
"Because of your sacrifice, there are now 13 million more Americans who can punch their ticket to the middle class," Secretary Perez said to CWA activists who walked the picket lines and stood in solidarity with Verizon workers during the strike. "Collective bargaining is the most important pillar of working families, and this is a great contract!"
Senator Brown commended CWAers for their hard work on stopping the TPP and spoke about the importance of labor unions: "When you hold up your union card, that's why you have a safe workplace."
Rep. John Lewis said: "I know you just won a major victory at Verizon, but we have more victories to win! We've come too far. We've made too much progress to stop now. We must continue to go forward."
A panel on the Black Lives Matter Movement looked at how the movement is leading the fight for civil rights in our nation. Panelists talked about the roots of racial and economic inequality, and how as a nation, the lives of black persons and people of color are undervalued.
Top: Day 1 focused on CWA's campaign to take on Wall Street. Clockwise from top left: First row: CWA President Shelton; Vice President Lisa Bolton (T&T) and panelists Rachel Lyons, National Partnership for Women and Families; Wendy Weiner, Fight for $15; Mona Meyer, CWA Minnesota State Council. Second row: District 7 VP Brenda Roberts; activists Anthony Braden, Dennis Dunn, Cassaundra Plummer and Tom Laab discuss the impact of financialization on their lives. Third row: Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) with the District 4 escort committee; Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). Fourth row: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), District 1 VP Dennis Trainor.
Bottom: Day 2 focused on restoring our democracy. Clockwise from top left: First row: Public Workers VP Brooks Sunkett and Black Lives Matter Movement panelists Heather McGhee, Demos; Zachary Norris, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; and George Jackson, President CWA Local 1084; District 6 VP Claude Cummings. Second row: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.); Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) with District 4 escort committee. Third row top left: AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson and democracy building panelists Jamal Watkins, AFL-CIO; Marilyn Carpinteyero, Common Cause; and Susan Mottet, Every Voice. Third row bottom left: Secretary of Labor Tom Perez Third row right: Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). Bottom row: CWA boot camp activists Sarah Buckley, Local 1168; Nancy Barrios, 6215; Yolanda Bejarano, 7019; Darrin Thompson, 9003; Rob England, 9416, and Political Director Rafael Navar.
Bank Workers and Former Bank Workers Testify on Harmful Big Bank Practices
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Bank workers and former bank workers from the nation's biggest banks testified at a congressional briefing on Friday in Washington, D.C. about the aggressive and unreasonable sales goals that are forcing bank workers to push unnecessary products on their customers. Members of Congress including Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fl.), Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), and Frederica Wilson (D-Fl.) attended the briefing, along with about 40 bank workers.
The bank workers, members of the Committee for Better Banks, testified that aggressive and predatory sales metrics hurt customers as well as employees.
"Eight years after our nation's financial meltdown, the big banks continue to mislead their customers," said former bank worker Oscar Garza. "I know because I was on the frontlines of this predatory practice. As a JP Morgan Chase personal banker in Dallas, my mandate was to sell, sell, sell. From the moment a customer entered the branch, my job was to find ways to upgrade an existing account to a bigger account -- one that often came with a higher monthly recurring charge. I'd refer them to financial analysts and convince customers to get new loans, whether they could afford it or not."
"At the San Diego branch where I work, we have to meet sales quotas every day -- or risk discipline or even losing our jobs," said Wells Fargo bank worker Khalid Taha. "On a daily basis, I'm expected to sell about 10 to 15 personal accounts, two to three new accounts, two to three credit cards and/or loans, and a daily referral to an insurance or mortgage. This kind of pressure means bank employees must prioritize selling products, rather than just focusing on what best matches people's needs. This is hurting our customers. I constantly have customers coming into my branch saying that they cannot afford the monthly maintenance fees for their checking accounts because they are on fixed incomes."
On the day of the briefing, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) released a detailed report on damaging bank practices based on interviews with about 75 bank workers.
Bank workers are demanding increased oversight and regulatory reform while enhancing full transparency on the products being pushed by banks. That's why they're joining the Committee for Better Banks, a coalition of bank workers, community and consumer advocacy groups, and labor organizations coming together to improve conditions in the bank industry. They work for just wages, career paths and job security for front-line bank workers.
Bank workers and former bank workers testified at a congressional briefing in Washington, DC.
New York State Assembly Passes Life-Saving Safe Staffing Bill
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Thanks to the hard work of CWAers from Locals 1168 and 1133 and allies making calls, lobbying, and door-knocking, the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act passed the New York State Assembly on Wednesday. The bill now goes to the State Senate.
With hospitals forcing nurses to take on as many as 12 patients at once, patient care is suffering. A patient's chances of death increases 7% for each additional patient a nurse must care for at one time. The life-saving safe staffing bill sets limits for how many patients a nurse can care for at once.
After the Assembly vote, nurses delivered more than 30,000 petition signatures to the State Senate to urge them to pass the safe staffing bill before the end of their legislative session on June 16.
CWAers from Locals 1168 and 1133 and allies delivered more than 30,000 petition signatures to the New York State Senate, urging the, to pass the safe staffing bill.
CWA mourns the victims of the massacre in Orlando. There is no room in our country for such hatred, yet such tragedies are occurring far too often.
The investigation into this tragedy is ongoing. However, it's clear that LGBTQ people were targeted by the gunman. We call on this country to replace hate with love.
Shamefully, some elements already are using this horrific tragedy to push their political agenda and are condemning President Obama for his call to our nation to respect all people and all faiths.
We stand with the president who has called this massacre an act of terror, in this case directed at LGBTQ Americans, and join all Americans who are sickened by the continuing carnage and loss of innocent life in our nation. We agree with the president that thoughts and prayers are not enough. We join in the demand for changes that will restore responsible gun ownership to communities across the nation.
President Shelton on ‘The Communicators’
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President Shelton talked about Verizon, broadband build-out and other telecommunications issues on "The Communicators" last week. The show, broadcast on C-SPAN, looks at the latest developments in telecommunications.
Staff at The Leaguers, Inc., who work in Essex and Union counties in New Jersey voted overwhelmingly to join CWA Local 1037. The 225 early childhood education workers faced down an aggressive anti- campaign by management. More than 400 early childhood educators have joined CWA in New Jersey since January 2016. Earlier this year, 175 workers at Unified Vailsburg Services Organization and La Casa de Don Pedro in Newark joined CWA Local 1037.
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Last week, President Shelton testified before the Democratic National Committee's platform committee hearing, outlining critical and specific actions on workers' bargaining rights, democracy issues and fair trade that must be included in the Democratic Party platform.
CWA President Chris Shelton calls on appeals committee, left. Committee members: Debra Brown, President, Local 3706; Todd Leyda, President, 4302; Mary Ann Hopkins, President, 6502; Michael Frost, President, 7603; Greg Schafer, President, IUE-CWA Local 86116; and Pat Telesco, Area Director, District 1.
Following the Presidents' meeting, CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens provided a financial overview.
Rock Against the TPP!
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Fight for the Future, a digital rights organization, and legendary guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave are teaming up to organize a nationwide road show to raise awareness about the dangers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
CWA is sponsoring the roadshow along with Citizens Trade Campaign, Demand Progress, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club and others. Through a series of concert events, protests, and teach-ins, this diverse coalition will reach huge numbers of people who have never heard of the TPP before.
"We are excited about building even more opposition to the TPP, with the support of all these new voices," said CWA District 7 Vice President Brenda Roberts.
The TPP trade deal has been negotiated in total secrecy with hundreds of corporate lobbyists helping draft the text. It poses a grave threat to good paying jobs, the environment, Internet freedom, food safety, and our democratic process.
NewsGuild Calls for National Legislation to End Non-Compete Agreements for Junior Employees
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Following an investigation by the New York attorney general's office into whether companies like Law360 that require junior-level employees to sign non-compete agreements violate labor laws, Bernie Lunzer, president of The NewsGuild-CWA made the following statement:
"A non-compete clause is an outrageous demand that adds insult to injury for poorly paid employees, limiting their right and ability to better themselves by seeking new challenges and higher pay. Usually we're not talking about people with long and specialized careers, but young and less experienced workers who are trying to climb the career ladder and fully join America's middle class. These clauses can literally derail their future success. We applaud the New York attorney general's office for recognizing this, but we believe that changing employers' practices will require more action. The NewsGuild-CWA is discussing a push for national legislation to put an end to these senseless clauses and the unjust limits they put on journalists and other workers."