Dec 8, 2016 - Like Low Wages? You Will Love the New Labor Secretary

December 8, 2016

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CWA Statement on Likely Nomination of Andy Puzder as Secretary of Labor

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The Trump transition team today indicated that Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, would likely be nominated as Secretary of Labor.

Here is CWA President Chris Shelton's media statement:

Andy Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, would be a fine choice to head a government agency responsible for looking out for millionaires.

But Puzder has a record of public statements and action that demonstrates why he is a poor choice to head the agency responsible for promoting "the welfare of wage earners, job seekers and retirees." The Department of Labor is supposed to be on the side of working people when it comes to keeping jobs safe, stopping employer abuse and safeguarding workers' rights on the job. That's what working people need.  

Instead, Puzder opposes many of the policies and programs he would administer. He opposes the Department of Labor’s overtime rule and actually claimed that what workers "lose in overtime pay they gain in stature and sense of accomplishment."

He objects to efforts to increase the minimum wage. He thinks government support programs for low-wage workers – like those who work at his own restaurant franchises – are a disincentive to work, despite the fact that many fast food and retail workers' wages are so low that they qualify for food stamps, public housing assistance and Medicaid. He fails to realize that it is low-wage employers – like him – who are the cause of workers living in poverty.

Puzder's record provides a troubling roadmap as to what he would attempt – or choose to ignore – as Secretary of Labor.

My union and the entire labor movement are more committed than ever to fight employer wage theft, make sure workers can be safe on their jobs, stand up against poverty-level wages and challenge employer abuse. We will be the advocates that working people need because, sadly, it's clear that help won't be coming from the Department of Labor.


Bargaining Update

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DIRECTV

The CWA DIRECTV Call Center bargaining team began negotiations with AT&T last week, focusing on gaining a fair transition agreement for CWA members at the five DIRECTV call centers.

The committee stressed the need for some immediate financial relief for all call center workers and also raised several questions with management concerning benefits, pensions and savings plan.

CWA’s DIRECTV Call Center Bargainers are Eli Martin II, Local 2009, Huntington, WV; Cindy Brown, Local 3905, Huntsville, AL; Lloyd Colvin, Local 6327, Tulsa, OK; David Hails, Local 7750, Denver; Phillip Withrow, Local 7250, Eden Prairie, MN; Kelvin Banks, D3 Staff, and Pat Telesco, D1 Staff.

Stay informed on Facebook and by texting 'DTV' to 69866.

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AT&T West

CWA's AT&T West bargaining committee has called on the company to respond to outstanding Requests for Information on several issues and also presented company bargainers with draft MOAs (Memoranda of Agreement) on overtime procedures. Discussions this week are covering force allocation, wage tables and medical plans and leveraged title issues.

Keep up with the latest here

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Buffalo News

Members of the Buffalo Newspaper Guild, CWA Local 31026, marched through the newsroom, calling on the company to drop its demand to slash employee health care on top of seven years without pay raises. Watch it here.


Workers Holding Trump Accountable for "Good Jobs" Promises

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CWAers joined hundreds of federal contract workers, union activists, Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressive leaders at a rally in Washington, D.C., calling for fair wages, benefits and workers' rights for millions of federal contract workers.  

Former CWA President Larry Cohen was the rally emcee. Cohen is the Board Chair of Our Revolution, the grassroots organization that has grown out of the Sanders for President campaign. 

CWA is working with federal contract workers to make sure they are fairly compensated for their work and that abuses like wage theft and violation of their right to organize a union are stopped, and several workers from CWA campaigns spoke to participants.

LaShawn Craddock and LaToya Williams are customer service representatives who work for private companies doing work for the federal government.

Williams, who works for the Federal Emergency and Management Assistance call center in Hyattsville, MD, told the rally, "I'm proud to be able to help people who are temporarily homeless get out of gyms and shelters. But here's the irony: I was homeless for two years because the federal contractor I work for stole thousands of dollars from my paycheck. Not only was I homeless, I have thousands of dollars of medical debt and I rely on food banks to feed myself."

Craddock said, "I work full time at a call center helping senior citizens who don’t get pension checks on time (for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation). Even though I help our retirees, I don’t ever think I’ll ever be able to retire. I'll have to work until I die. My wages are so low, that I can't save a penny. My pay doesn't cover rent, my car payment, or allow me to help my daughter pay for college."

Read more about CWA's work on stopping wage theft here.

Also joining the rally from CWA were Charles Gray, Jo Ann Gutierrez Bejar and Carmelina Cadena, contract workers who provide language interpreter services for the Department of Justice Immigration Court.

Senator Bernie Sanders, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and other elected leaders joined the action.

Every speaker called on President-elect Trump to keep his promise to create better jobs with better wages for working people and to demand that Trump stop federal contractors from stealing the pay of workers who serve America. The rally was organized by Good Jobs Nation, a coalition of low-wage federal contract workers and organizations that support living wages, job benefits and workers' rights for millions of federal contract workers.


Contract workers and activists call for an end to the exploitation of federal contract workers.


Call Your Senator to Keep Good Jobs in the U.S.

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Urgent: 300,000 good U.S. aviation jobs are at risk.

Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation cleared the way for Norwegian Air International (NAI) to begin operating in the U.S. From the name, you would think that NAI was based in Norway. But in fact, it is "flagged" in Ireland and is structured so that it can hire crews from countries with the lowest labor and safety standards, such as Malaysia or Thailand.

Call today to ask your Senator to reverse this decision and stop NAI from lowering wages and standards for flight crews. Call 855-980-2232 or click here to connect to your Senator’s office.

Calling Senate offices is easy and makes a real difference. Here's what you can say when you are connected:

Hello, my name is _________ and I am a constituent. I'm calling to urge my Senator to take action to STOP Norwegian Air International from flying to the U.S. under a completely new set of rules which mean fewer U.S. jobs and lower safety standards.

The person answering the phone may ask you for your name and address to confirm that you are a constituent. And that's all you need to do!

If NAI is successful with this "flag of convenience" scheme, other airlines will follow. Already this tactic has had a devastating impact on U.S. shipping jobs.

AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson urged Congress and the Obama administration to immediately withdraw this harmful decision and stand up for working people.

"It is a betrayal to hundreds of thousands of aviation workers," she said. "The DOT decision overrides carefully negotiated worker rights and designs a new playbook that rolls out the red carpet for foreign corporations by trampling workers' rights. This decision puts a rubber stamp of approval on the 'flag of convenience model' that destroyed over a hundred thousand U.S. shipping jobs. The U.S.-EU Open Skies agreement contains the only labor provision in all 120 Open Skies agreements. Labor provisions in trade agreements apparently mean nothing to this administration."

Nelson added, "Aviation was born in the U.S. and built faithfully by the workers who make our airlines fly. Flight Attendants, Pilots, Mechanics, Ramp Service, Agents and thousands of workers who support aviation have fought hard for good U.S. jobs, the highest standards of aviation safety and security, the critical service to each of our small communities and the networks that allow the United States direct connection to the rest of the world. We have sacrificed and our families have been hurt to keep our airlines flying and our nation in business. These are the people the administration is double-crossing."


Local 6222 Activist Wins Safety/Health Award

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Randy Rodriguez, Local 6222, was honored by NCOSH for his work in safety and health training. Right is Dave LeGrande, CWA Occupational Safety and Health Director.

CWA Local 6222's Randy Rodriguez received the Educator and Family Activist Award this week from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.

NCOSH honored Rodriguez for his work on the CWA District 6/AT&T Occupational Safety and Health Committee and his role in leading CWA safety and health training. Rodriguez also serves as the occupational safety and health chair and as steward for Local 6222.

NCOSH is a federation of local and statewide groups of unions, health and technical professionals and others working to promote worker health and safety.


CWA Retirees: ‘The Price is Not Right’

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The Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) is rolling out a grassroots, national campaign to block proposed cuts and changes to Medicare that Republicans plan to pursue.

CWA retirees and other ARA members are pushing back against proposals by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who has been nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services and who supports privatization of the Medicare program that millions of seniors depend on.

Members of the CWA Retired Members Council are telling Congress to keep its hands off our Medicare. CWA-RMC President Ray Kramer said the message is clear: "no coupon schemes to shift Medicare costs to seniors, we don’t need coupon-care."

ARA, an organization of AFL-CIO with 3 million union retirees and members, joined a "Hands Off Medicare" news conference with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and others, vowing to fight the plan to privatize Medicare. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, (D-CA), said, "We are Americans, we do not insist that our seniors starve or live in pain."

So far, ARA and allies have delivered more than 1 million signature petitions against the privatization scheme to Senator Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, and will be lobbying representatives in Washington and in their home districts to expand Medicare, not cut it.

Take action! Sign the petition here.

Keep up with the latest from the Alliance for Retired Americans on Facebook, search "Alliance for Retired Americans."


Launching the New CWA E-Store

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Show your union colors by shopping at the new CWA e-store.

Check out t-shirts, sweatshirts, polos, tote bags and more at cwastore.org. All products are union-made in the USA, and new items will be added to the e-store regularly. Stay tuned!