Jan 12, 2017 - Breaking! CWA Wins Protections for Airline Agents | Communications Workers of America

Jan 12, 2017 - Breaking! CWA Wins Protections for Airline Agents

January 12, 2017

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Fighting Back – and Winning – against the Corporate Cabinet

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CWAers have launched a major campaign to fight back against a corporate cabinet that puts the worst of Wall Street insiders in charge of our government – and the campaign is already making progress!

The hearings of four nominees, including two that CWAers are focusing on blocking, have been delayed while they continue to be scrutinized by the Office of Government Ethics. Secretary of Labor pick Andrew Puzder – CEO of fast-food conglomerate CKE Restaurants, who opposes minimum wages and overtime, and Secretary of Treasury pick Steve Mnuchin – a former Goldman Sachs banker who tried to foreclose on the home of a 90-year-old woman for a 27-cent payment mistake, have both had their hearings pushed back.

But delaying these hearings isn't enough. We must ramp up our mobilization efforts now to block this corporate cabinet. Over the next several weeks, and for as long as it takes, CWA locals are leafleting worksites at least one day a week about these nominees. CWA members are calling their Senators, telling them to oppose these crony capitalists.

This week, our focus is Commerce Secretary pick Wilbur Ross, a billionaire known as the "king of bankruptcy," who devastated communities by buying up companies and shipping jobs overseas.

Call your Senators now at 1-888-701-7165. Tell them to block the corporate takeover of our government by opposing the nomination of Wilbur Ross for Secretary of Commerce.

Last week, thousands of CWAers joined CWA President Chris Shelton and U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on a town hall call to discuss CWA's strategy to defeat the corporate cabinet.

President Shelton said, "We have started out this year with a big fight in front of us. These cabinet picks represent the worst of the worst – big banks and corporate titans. They’re filling the swamp with the nastiest creatures we've ever seen. These are the same people who have been trying to destroy collective bargaining to drive up their own profits."

Senator Merkley called the nominations "a parade of horrible," and said, "We need to use the opportunity of the Senate hearings to get information about these nominees into the homes of Americans."

Learn more at http://blockthecorporatecabinet.org.


Bargaining Update

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GE Appliance Park

IUE-CWA has reached a new tentative agreement with Haier Group covering 4,000 workers at Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky.

An earlier proposal was rejected by members of IUE-CWA Local 83761. The new tentative contract provides for additional wage increases, a ratification bonus, and other improvements.

The member ratification vote is set for this week.

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Momentive

Negotiations resumed this week between IUE-CWA and Momentive Performance Materials in Waterford, N.Y. About 700 members of CWA Locals 81359 and 81380 have been on strike since Nov. 2.

Tomorrow in New York City, CWAers and allies will rally in front of Apollo Global, which owns 40 percent of Momentive, to protest Wall Street greed and the economic assault on the workers in Waterford and their community.

Keep up with the latest here.

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AT&T Mobility

AT&T Mobility workers are all in for a fair contract and are ready for bargaining that gets underway in January. The Orange Mobility contract covers 22,000 workers in Districts 1, 2-13, 4, 7, and 9. CWA members at Mobility have a clear message for AT&T: "We want good jobs in our communities and in this country. We want jobs at AT&T."

Mobility members are ready to do whatever it takes, and are participating in training sessions in advance of bargaining for power in several districts.


CWA Mobility members in Davenport, Iowa, and Chicago, Ill., are working together to build power in bargaining.


Breaking! Justice Department Confirms that Airline Agents Are Covered by Federal Assault Law

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The U.S. Department of Justice has just confirmed that passenger service agents are, in fact, covered by legislation adopted in 2002 that set significant penalties and jail time for anyone who "interferes with airport and airline personnel who have security duties."

CWA has been fighting hard, pressing both the DOJ and the Department of Transportation to recognize that these safeguards – with effective penalties – were intended to cover passenger service agents. While the original intent of the statute supported by CWA had been to cover airport employees with security duties, the law had been re-interpreted as covering only TSA agents and law enforcement personnel.

Read more here.  

This has been a big issue for passenger service agents, who too often face assault, both verbal and physical, from passengers. "We're getting bags thrown at us. Passengers are getting upset because we're trying to charge for the bags, and they throw things at us and curse at us," said Ingrid Peredes, an Envoy agent in Miami.

"This is a victory for the employees of the airlines and our customers and their families, that no one will have to be exposed to violence in our nation's airports," said Tom Robertson, an Envoy agent in Joplin, Mo.

"I feel so proud that telling our stories in D.C. and in meetings here in Texas moved this. Now we need to make sure that management backs us up and enforces this," said Chris Kress, an American agent at Dallas-Fort Worth.

The airlines offer no training on dealing with violent passengers. Sometimes the airport police get involved, but in most cases, passengers face no consequences and are simply escorted to their flight by airline supervisors. Now, airline agents know they have federal protections against this assault and abuse and will be working on implementation and enforcement.


Cummings: MLK Day is a Call to Stand Together against Injustice and Hatred

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CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings, who heads CWA's Human Rights Program, issued this statement as part of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

Today, across our country, workers and civil rights activists, people of faith, human rights activists, and many others are standing together and standing strong, ready to defend the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King and so many others.

We won't allow the decades of progress that enabled working people of every color, nationality, and creed to be overturned. We won't allow the voting rights of citizens to be diminished or worse, taken away. We won't stand by as discrimination against LGBTQ persons is sanctioned. We won't permit our country to be tarnished in this way.

Across the country, Americans are observing the birthday of Dr. King, at religious services, teach-ins, parades, and by spending the day in public service. We must honor Dr. King's words, that "our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," by committing to the fight against injustice, discrimination, hatred and ignorance, for as long as it takes.

Like Dr. King, "we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." I know that all of us working together can achieve this dream.

Here are some MLK observances scheduled for this weekend:

  • In Houston, CWA, the Transport Workers, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and the Houston Black Heritage Society have a weekend of events planned, including community service at the Houston Food Bank and beautifying the MLK memorial; religious services, and the 39th annual parade honoring Dr. King.
  • In Washington, D.C., CWA activists will join a weekend of events and action honoring Dr. King and the fight for civil rights and justice. Events include a prayer service on Jan. 15 and a day of service on Jan. 16, joining efforts to help homeless people and work on building maintenance and improvement projects as part of Sasha Bruce Youthwork. For more information, click here.
  • Local AFL-CIO councils in many other locations are coordinating union community service projects for the Martin Luther King weekend, including in Harrisburg, Pa.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Green Bay, Wisc.; and more. Check with your local union or your local United Way.


CWA President Chris Shelton’s Statement on the Nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General

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The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held its hearing on the nomination of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be U.S. Attorney General this week. The following is a statement from CWA President Chris Shelton:

CWA has pledged to hold President-elect Donald Trump accountable for the big promises he made to the American people during the campaign.

That starts with the nomination of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Sessions has spoken out against the Voting Rights Act, calling it "intrusive." As a U.S. attorney in Alabama, he pushed charges of voter fraud against African American activists that quickly were dismissed by a jury. He has criticized the National Council of Churches and the NAACP for being involved in activities "that people consider to be un-American."

He was rejected by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 when he was nominated for a federal judgeship because of troubling racist statements.

Supporting, protecting, and enforcing civil rights laws is the basic requirement for the nation’s top law enforcement officer, along with the strongest commitment to safeguarding voting rights. Sessions fails this test.


Join the Women’s March on Washington

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So far, more than 500 CWAers are participating in the Women's March on Washington, a mega-rally and march, the day after the presidential inauguration, with more expected to join.

Nine buses of CWAers are coming from Christiansburg, Va.; Charlotte, NC; Newark and Trenton, NJ, and New York City. Activists are driving, flying, and taking trains to get there, too.

CWA is a leading sponsor of the action, which encourages women and supporters to stand together for "the protection of our rights, our safety and our vibrant and diverse communities."

Organizers expect a massive crowd at the rally and march. The rally begins at the intersection of Independence Ave and Third St, SW, near the U.S. Capitol, at 10:00 am. Click here for more information.


Scholarship Opportunities for CWAers and Families

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Apply for Beirne Foundation Scholarship for 2017-2018

The CWA Joe Beirne Foundation will award 15 partial college scholarships of $3,000 each for two years for academic year 2017-2018. Eligible for the scholarships are CWA members, their spouses, children and grandchildren, including the dependents of retired, laid-off, or deceased members. Applications will be available only online at the Foundation's website.

The Beirne scholarship program is made possible by funding from CWA locals. Read more about the program here.

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Union Plus Scholarship Applications Due January 31

Since 1991, the Union Plus Scholarship Program has awarded more than $4 million to students of working families who want to begin or continue their post-secondary education. Over 2,700 families have benefited from our commitment to higher education. The Union Plus Scholarship Program is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation, supported in part by contributions from the provider of the Union Plus Credit Card. (You do not need to be a Union Plus Credit Card holder to apply for this scholarship.)

Complete applications must be received on or before 12:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on January 31, 2017. Applications received after this deadline will not be considered.

Learn more and apply here.


Check Out the New CWA Store

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Starting now, CWAers can get a big discount on select items at the new CWA Store.

Go to http://cwastore.org and check out the bargains and the newest merchandise – all union-made.


Workers Win Victory against Staples

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In a victory for workers, the U.S. Postal Service announced in a letter to the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) that the deal between the U.S. Postal Service and Staples has ended. Staples will be removing all signage and will discontinue postal services at the national retailer's roughly 500 U.S. locations that handle postal services by the first week of March 2017.

This is a big win for the public, as well as the 200,000 members of APWU and the union's allies including CWA who waged a national campaign, Stop Staples, against the office-supply chain and a battle against the USPS over the Postal Service's partnership with the national office supply retailer.

Three years ago, the union challenged the USPS' scheme of privatizing postal retail operations and shifting postal services from neighborhood post offices to Staples locations. The union contended that this privatization effort undermined the public's right to good quality and secure postal services, and represented a shift of good living wage positions to low-wage jobs, thereby hurting the well-being of the communities where the union's members lived.

Read more here.