May 18, 2017 - Fair Contract or Strike on Friday | Communications Workers of America

May 18, 2017 - Fair Contract or Strike on Friday

May 18, 2017

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Bargaining Update

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CenturyLink

Breaking News! CWA's District 7 bargaining team reached a tentative three-year agreement with CenturyLink covering about 13,000 CWAers. Read more here.

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AT&T

CWA members at AT&T Mobility put the company on notice to come up with serious proposals at the bargaining table or face a strike starting sometime on Friday.

If AT&T officials refuse to negotiate fairly, AT&T wireless workers in Districts 1, 2-13, 4, 7, and 9 will walk off the job in a three-day strike. In addition, wireline workers in California, Nevada, and Connecticut, and DIRECTV workers in California, may take job action as they continue to bargain.

"The clock is ticking for AT&T to make good on its promise to preserve family-supporting jobs. We have made every effort to bargain in good faith with AT&T but have been met with delays and excuses. Our message is clear: fair contract or strike. It's up to AT&T now," said CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor.

AT&T brings in about $1 billion in profits every month but continues to outsource and offshore good jobs.

Workers have been mobilizing all week, with informational picketing outside call centers and wireless stores, preparing for the strike.

Keep up with the latest here and show your support by signing up to join a picket line here.


CWAers at AT&T Mobility are ready to strike if the company doesn't get serious at the bargaining table.

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Above: Members of the Local 7777 Denver Public Schools custodial bargaining committee, from left: Anna Guerrero, Marlene Jimenez, Linda Harris, Janelle Martinez.
Below: CWAers mobilize for a fair contract at the Denver public schools.

 

Denver Public Schools

Public school custodians in Denver, members of CWA Local 7777, are mobilizing for respect and fair compensation as negotiations with the Denver school district continue.

Some 400 CWAers are wearing pins and demanding respect for their "work and worth." The school district has demanded cuts in compensation for the custodians who work on snow days and when managers are on leave.

Marlene Jimenez, Vice President, CWA Local 7777, said, "We are proud of our work for Denver Public Schools. We are fighting against attacks on the compensation we currently receive for all that we do to keep schools clean, safe, and ready for our students."


AT&T Outsourcing A Problem for Workers, Customers

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Carissa Moore, an AT&T call center worker, wrote a piece for the Herald (Everett, Wa.) about how AT&T's outsourcing to third-party stores is harming workers and customers:

I'm a call center auditor at AT&T in Bothell, and every day I review thousands of customer interactions all over the country. I've been with the company for almost four years and love my job, but the truth is that my co-workers and I, and the customers we serve, are being taken advantage of.

AT&T has moved more than 60 percent of its wireless retail jobs to third-party dealers that create profit for the company but cause major headaches for workers and customers alike. Workers at these stores are often paid minimum wage or slightly above. And in order to earn commissions they face intense pressure to meet sales goals that incentivize unethical practices and can also cause mistakes.

The issues caused by these third-party stores are so prevalent that the number of complaints became unmanageable for my department at one point last year and everyone had to work four hours of mandatory overtime per week. Many of my coworkers had to scramble to find child care for their kids.

In the last few years, AT&T has grown its fleet of third-party dealers to the tune of 3,360 stores, and while it's taken some steps to improve oversight, it’s not gone far enough.

From my vantage point, reviewing countless customer accounts every day, the picture is clear: AT&T’s third-party dealers are misleading and misinforming people of all ages and backgrounds in Seattle and across the country. I've seen customers get pushed to add products and services they don't need, under the guise of being free, and receive unexpected charges and activation fees that weren't disclosed that increase in their monthly bills. My department provides AT&T with evidence of these problems caused by third-party dealers, but they continue to go unchecked.

AT&T has not just outsourced retail jobs – it's also cut more than 12,000 call center jobs, offshoring thousands of jobs to Mexico, the Philippines, India and other countries, and moving others to parts of the U.S. that pay lower wages.

When I started working at AT&T, there were 300 representatives on my floor. But four years later, I've seen AT&T purge more than half of the staff. Now there are only 120 representatives left. On another floor, AT&T has cut the number of workers that provide tech support in half.

How can AT&T show such a lack of accountability to customers and workers, and allow these stores to hide behind its logo with no fear of repercussions? These problems have gone on far too long.

Thousands of AT&T workers like me — including retail and call center workers and technicians — are tired of the company obstructing our ability to provide customers with the quality service they deserve, cutting our pay and health care benefits and outsourcing the jobs we need to support our families.

Read the full piece here.


The Workers Who Answer Your Customer-Service Calls

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The Nation featured an article about how AT&T's offshoring practices force workers and customers pay the price for the company's race to the bottom:

The call center seems like the workplace of the future, the cubicled office job that brings modern development to anywhere with a phone connection, from Boston to Bangalore. But throughout AT&T’s network of call centers in the Global South, cries of frustration over low wages, long hours and union busting are ringing out.

A new report by the union Communications Workers of America (CWA) outlines how AT&T's outsourcing of jobs to overseas third-party contractors is turning once-stable, U.S.-based union jobs into exploitative low-paid gig work in Asia and Latin America. The profits netted from outsourcing exacts a heavy price, they argue, both for underpaid workers and for poorly served consumers worldwide.

The report affirms rising unrest among AT&T's CWA members in AT&T's U.S. divisions, who have threatened to strike in the coming weeks as contract talks for call centers workers stagnate amid what they call a global "race to the bottom for the lowest wages." After raging for years about the loss of jobs through offshoring, AT&T workers have made it a major flashpoint in long-running contract talks which also touch on similar grievances among wireless, retail and cable employees about declining job quality.

With at least 29 call centers shut down nationwide, about 12,000 jobs have vanished since 2011—many of them from low-income rural and urban communities who had relied on call centers to support stable service and technical careers. Meanwhile, the telecom giant’s subcontracted overseas workforce has mushroomed in poorer countries like India, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador.


CWA: NAFTA Negotiations Must be Transparent and Create Good U.S. Jobs

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Following is a statement by CWA President Chris Shelton on today's announcement of the Trump administration’s intent to renegotiate NAFTA:

Washington, D.C. – Millions of working families are watching to see if President Trump keeps his promise and truly fixes the North American Free Trade Agreement, what he called "the worst trade deal in the history of the world."

It's important that this renegotiated trade deal benefits working families and communities and doesn’t become another giveaway to Wall Street and investors. Unfortunately, we're hearing too many Trump officials praise the worst elements of trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would send more jobs overseas and allow multinational corporations to attack U.S. laws and regulations they don't like.

We will not tolerate bad trade deals negotiated in back rooms and behind closed doors by multinational corporations, with no transparency and no public input. That's a big reason why millions of Americans mobilized to defeat the TPP. Workers and communities must have a voice and a seat at the table now, at the start of this process.

To truly fix NAFTA, this deal must create good jobs here in the U.S., strengthen protections for workers and the environment, eliminate incentives that corporations now have to send jobs offshore and end the private justice system set up for multinational corporations and foreign investors, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement process (ISDS).

For U.S. working families, trade deals like NAFTA have been a string of one broken promise after another. We're watching to make sure the Trump administration gets it right.


CWA, Allies Urge Court to Declare Trump Order 'Unlawful'

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CWA, Public Citizen, and the Natural Resources Defense Council stepped up action against the Trump administration's unlawful Executive Order that directs federal agencies to repeal two federal regulations for every new one they issue.

In a new filing this week, the groups asked the federal district court to declare that the Executive Order is unlawful and must be set aside. The court must act, they argued, because this order would cause direct harm to citizens.  

"This Executive Order would block or force the repeal of regulations needed to protect health, safety, the environment, consumer safeguards, and more, while ignoring the positive benefits of these regulations to working families and communities," they said.

"Why is the Trump administration demanding that working people give up one set of job health and safety protections in order to get protection from another equally dangerous condition?" questioned CWA President Chris Shelton. "Do we have to scrap the chemical hazards workplace standard in order to adopt new safeguards for health care workers from infectious diseases? This order violates federal and state legislation, and it violates common sense."


CFPB Has Recovered $12 Billion for Consumers – Share Your Story

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In its five, short years of existence, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has established itself as a crucial watchdog agency to hold big banks and financial institutions accountable. These protections now are at risk from the Trump administration and congressional Republicans who have been trying for years to stop the work of this consumer agency.

The CFPB was created as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 to take on these banks and lenders and take them to court when they harm consumers. The CFPB has already recovered an astonishing $12 billion on behalf of almost 30 million consumers.

Do you have a personal story on how the CFPB has helped you? Please share it with us at news@cwa-union.org.

Read more about the CFPB here.


'This is my job. This is what I’m supposed to do.'

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The NewsGuild-CWA has condemned the arrest of radio reporter Dan Heyman on May 9.

NewsGuild President Bernie Lunzer said, "This is a chilling attack on the right to report. Every journalist across the country should take notice. In situations like this, the NewsGuild-CWA stands ready to assist."

The arrest is part of a pattern of escalating attacks on the media since the Trump administration took office, Lunzer said, which the union is determined to fight.

Heyman's crime? The reporter for Public News Service persisted in asking Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price about the Republican health care bill as Price walked through the West Virginia state capital.

Heyman repeatedly asked Price whether domestic violence would be considered a pre-existing condition under the health care bill, which passed the House on May 4. "In some cases, before the Affordable Care Act, it was a pre-existing condition," he said, and women who suffered domestic violence were denied coverage.

"This is my job. This is what I'm supposed to do," Heyman said immediately after his release on $5,000 bail. "I'm supposed to find out if someone is going to be affected by this healthcare law…I think it's a question that deserves to be answered. I think it’s my job to ask questions and I think it’s my job to try to get answers."

The NewsGuild is sending letters of protest to the West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, the West Virginia Capitol Police, and the Secret Service. Read more here.


IUE-CWA members Head to Ohio State House for Lobby Day

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IUE-CWA and CWA members joined together for a lobby day on April 26th at the Ohio state capital in Columbus. Their mission: to educate their legislators on why "right to work" is wrong for Ohio, and to promote a state-level call center job protection bill.

The members attended a lobby training where they got up to speed on how to talk with their legislators on these important issues. For about half of the group, it was their first time doing a lobby visit.

IUE-CWA Local 84707 member Bev Brause from Sycamore, Ohio, said, "At first it can seem kind of intimidating going to talk to your legislator, but then we talked in our training about how these legislators work for us, the people. Although my Rep did not agree with my position on opposing 'right to work,' he was friendly and respectful. I also gave him a bunch of post cards that members had signed from his district, so I think he will consider that."

The group delivered about 700 "right to work is wrong" post cards to legislators, showing that many constituents are very concerned about this issue. Members also asked the legislators to support the Ohio Call Center bill, which will help keep call center jobs in the state.


IUE-CWA and CWA activists join forces for a joint lobby day at the Ohio State House in Columbus. After a training session on lobbying, activists met with representatives and staff, talking about the need for a state call center job protection bill and why the so-called right to work bill is wrong for Ohio.


T-Mobile Update

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Following up on CWA President Shelton's meetings with members of the German Parliament and other leaders on T-Mobile workers and their fight for workers' rights, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Reiner Hoffman, Chairman of the German union federation, raised the issue in a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Trumka was in Germany to attend the meeting of global labor leaders and officials from the G20 nations. Trumka and Hoffman handed the letter to Merkel during the meeting, and asked for her help to ensure that human and workers' rights are respected at T-Mobile US.

"Deutsche Telekom has not taken the actions necessary to stop T-Mobile's continuing workers' rights violations. The German government's large ownership stake in Deutsche Telekom makes the government complicit in the labor violations of Deutsche Telekom's controlled U.S. subsidiary. These violations and the unwillingness of Deutsche Telekom to end them are clearly contrary to the principled positions you have declared in previous G20 meetings," they wrote.

"Germany needs to assume a leadership role in lifting global labor standards, including the Freedom of Association. In our view, this includes that German companies abroad, as well as their subsidiary and associated companies, adhere to the social dialogue practiced in Germany beyond national borders."

Last month, Shelton met with Hoffman, leaders from CWA's partner union ver.di, and members of the German Parliament on the fight for workers' rights by T-Mobile US workers.