Aug 4, 2016 - Judge Rules Against Verizon

August 4, 2016

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Bargaining Update

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AT&T Mobility

CWA's Mobility National Benefits Bargaining Committee reached a new tentative agreement with AT&T Mobility covering health care and other benefits for 42,000 workers.

CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor said CWA "accomplished our main goal, which was to put health care benefits bargaining back in the regional bargaining agreement process and to make health care affordable for all Mobility workers."

An earlier agreement was voted down last month, and continued negotiations resulted in the tentative proposal that is being provided to the membership for a ratification vote.

Among the highlights of the new proposed agreement:

  • Reduced premium costs for 20,000 employees hired after 2014.
  • Employees with dependent children and no covered spouse will pay lower rates under a new 4-tier contribution structure.
  • Employees in Puerto Rico will be able to take advantage of popular HMO plans with much lower contribution rates.
  • A new "Option 2" plan will be introduced with lower premium costs.

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Verizon

An NLRB administrative law judge has ordered Verizon to reinstate Wireless leader Bianca Cunningham, declaring that she was fired for engaging in union activity.

Judge John T. Giannopoulos confirmed what CWAers have known all along: Verizon fired Cunningham because she was a leader and headed organizing among wireless workers at six Brooklyn stores. Those workers joined CWA Local 1109. Cunningham was fired in September 2015.

CWA called on Verizon to end its attacks on workers' rights to organize and respect the rights of Wireless workers who want to join the union.


Bianca Cunningham and CWA District 1 VP Dennis Trainor at a CWA rally outside a Times Square Verizon Wireless store in October, 2015.

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Mercy Hospital

CWA Local 1133, representing Mercy Hospital workers in Buffalo, NY, held an informational picket and rally on Tuesday to call on Catholic Health to deliver a fair contract.

The Mercy Hospital contract expired on June 4, 2016. Members are fighting against inadequate staffing levels, deplorable working conditions, and disrespectful management. They are putting the pressure on Catholic Health to prioritize patient and worker safety over executive bonuses and to stop breaking the laws that protect union members.

In July, Local 1133 members working at Mercy Hospital overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike.

"There is an agreement here to be reached, and we are committed to doing that, but our members have absolutely spoken and if we have resistance in getting that agreement, then they are willing to walk the line," said CWA Upstate NY Area Director Debora Hayes.


CWA Local 1133, representing Mercy Hospital workers in Buffalo, NY, held an informational picket and rally on Tuesday to call on Catholic Health to deliver a fair contract.


Major Voting Rights Victories in July

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CWAers stand up for the right to vote at the Democracy Awakening in Washington, DC.

Judges handed out major victories in six states for the protection and expansion of voting rights in July. Courts in Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan and North Dakota struck down restrictions related to voter ID, early voting, pre-registration, and provisional voting:

  • In Wisconsin, a judge ruled that a voter ID law disenfranchised voters, and that voters unable to obtain ID with reasonable effort must be provided an affidavit at the polls that they can sign to allow them to vote. A different federal judge struck down other Wisconsin voting restrictions, saying that legislators tailored some of the law "to suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee's African-Americans."
     
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that Texas' voter ID act violates the Voting Rights Act because of its discriminatory impact on minorities and the poor. The ruling means that the ID law cannot be enforced in the 2016 election.
     
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down North Carolina's new restrictive voting law for violating the Voting Rights Act. The court also ruled that the law was passed with discriminatory intent by Republican legislators to disenfranchise African-American voters, violating the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
     
  • A U.S. District Court judge ruled that a Republican-backed law in Michigan to ban straight ticket voting violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, as African-American voters are more likely to cast straight ticket Democratic ballots.
     
  • In Kansas, a judge ruled that 17,500 voters could have their votes counted in federal, state, and local elections, contrary to a state board rule passed earlier in the month to only allow certain voters registered at the DMV to have their vote counted in federal elections. In his bench ruling, the judge called losing a vote "irreparable harm."
     
  • A U.S. District Judge blocked North Dakota's 2013 voter ID law, stating that it violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause by placing "substantial and disproportionate burdens" on Native American voters.


New Jersey CWAers Rally to Protect Pensions

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This week, CWA members, retirees, staff, and leaders were joined by other public sector union members at the New Jersey Statehouse to demand that the Constitutional Amendment to ensure pension payments be put up for a vote and passed in the Senate.  

Despite these efforts, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney has not put the Constitutional Amendment up for a final vote on the Senate floor. Sweeney has stated that he will not post the bill for a vote until he has the votes to override a veto by Governor Christie on Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) legislation.

The State Senate can take up the measure on Thursday, August 4 or on Monday, August 8. The deadline under the NJ Constitution for the ballot question to pass through the State Legislature is August 9. If the Constitutional Amendment is not put up for a final vote by Senate President Sweeney on Monday and passed by the majority of the Senate, it will not appear on the ballot for voter approval in November.

This would go back on every commitment made by Senate and Assembly leadership. CWAers are holding every legislator responsible for whether the resolution gets put up for a vote and passed.

"It's been over two decades since any administration – Republican or Democrat – made a full pension payment," said CWA NJ State Director Hetty Rosenstein. "The fact that Senate President Sweeney – at the eleventh hour – will not post it for a vote is the exact reason we're demanding a constitutional amendment. There is no reason the pension should be a casualty of the legislature's inability to secure votes for the Transportation Trust Fund. But every time there is some other political or economic issue, the pension plan is traded for it."

CWAers are keeping up the pressure, and calling their state senators, urging them to put the Constitutional Amendment on the November ballot.


CWA members, retirees, staff, and leaders were joined by other public sector union members at the New Jersey Statehouse to rally to pass a bill to protect NJ pensions.


Register Now: CWA Health, Safety and Environment Conference

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The 2016 CWA Health, Safety and Environment Conference will be held September 12-16 at the Westin Convention Center and Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pa. The conference, held with the Steelworkers Union, brings local union occupational health and safety activists together to develop strategies to improve member working conditions, and increase knowledge and skills. Workshops will cover a Union Approach to Health and Safety Committees, Industrial Hygiene, Ergonomics, Heat Stress, Lead, and Labor and the Environment, and other topics.

Get more information and register here.


T-Mobile Update

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On newsstands this week: T-Mobile Workers United challenge to the company's illegal employee handbook rules makes the front page of the Albuquerque Journal.


Retiree Update

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CWA retirees turned out for movement building training at Local 7200 in Minneapolis in a session put together by the CWA Minnesota State Council. Minnesota CWAers are also participating in Runaway Inequality training as part of the Take on Wall Street fight, and are gearing up for the November elections.


CWA retirees participate in movement building training in Minneapolis.


Next Up for Rock Against the TPP: Seattle and Portland

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Get the details and lineup for the Rock Against the TPP concert and protest set for Seattle on Aug. 19 at the Showbox SoDo, 1700 1st Ave S, and in Portland on Aug. 20 at Director Park, 815 SW Park Ave.