May 25, 2017 - On Strike from Coast to Coast | Communications Workers of America

May 25, 2017 - On Strike from Coast to Coast

May 25, 2017

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Bargaining Update

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AT&T

In an historic weekend, CWA members at AT&T wireless, wireline (CA, CT, and NV), and DIRECTV technicians (CA and NV) walked off the job from coast to coast. From Philadelphia to Oregon, many elected officials – including Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR), Rep. Tim Ryan (OH), Reps. Dwight Evans and Bob Brady (PA), Congressman Ro Khanna (CA), Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, California Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and others – supported AT&T strikers' fight for a fair contract.

In their first strike, AT&T wireless workers walked off the job in unprecedented numbers – marking likely the largest national retail strike in U.S. history. Hundreds of stores closed across the country, while many others closed early during the strike.

Sarrah Nasser, an AT&T wireless call center representative from Paramus, NJ, said, "CWA is looking forward to returning to the bargaining table with the expectation we see genuine proposals that protect good jobs and quality service from AT&T. We are organized – with the support of our families, neighbors, elected leaders, and customers – and if AT&T doesn't do what’s right, we’ll keep doing what we need to win. AT&T: it's your move."

The strike, picket lines, and rallies caught the attention of major media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Associated Press, Fortune, CBS MoneyWatch, Buzzfeed, VICE, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, LA Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and many others.

Check out all the action here, here, and here.


Across the country, CWAers at AT&T stood together for fair contracts. Clockwise, from top left: Members of CWA Local 4603, Milwaukee; Local 9415, Hawaii; Local 1298, Connecticut, and Local 9412, Reno, Nevada.

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CenturyLink

District 7 CWAers at CenturyLink (legacy Qwest) joined a tele-town hall call this week about the tentative contract. Locals will share the contract explanation materials with members and conduct a ratification vote. The vote must be reported to the D7 office by noon MDT, June 16.

The tentative agreement extends the current contract for three more years and provides for substantial wage increases, among other changes. It has been unanimously recommended by the bargaining committee.

Read more here.


CWA members at CenturyLink stand together for a fair contract. Above, members of Local 7803 in Renton, Wash. Below, CWAers from Local 7101 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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CenturyLink Florida

CenturyLink workers approved authorization for a strike.

The local has launched a website CenturyLinkDoesNotCare.com, which explains the workers' issues and brings attention to the 12 NLRB charges and 1 UC Petition filed against the company. The local also continues to hold weekly pickets through the central Florida area.

All updated information can be found by going to www.cwa3176.org.

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State of New Jersey

CWA is challenging Gov. Chris Christie's illegal action denying public workers the pay increments due after contract expiration. Christie did this to bully CWA members into accepting inadequate pay increases.

"CWA will not be bullied," the bargaining committee said. The state also is demanding extreme concessions that CWA has rejected in the areas of arbitration rights, discipline, layoff and recall rights, and more. "Although we will pursue negotiations with the administration, we reject the demands to gut our contract of respect and dignity language, due process protections, overtime and leave rights, layoff and job security rights, and other issues," the committee said.

CWA public worker members in New Jersey will be joining a telephone town hall call on Wednesday, May 31, at 7 p.m. ET, for an update on the latest in contract bargaining.

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Members of Local 1040 put the school district on notice that workers will fight for job security.

Camden City School District

Camden City, N.J., School District custodian and maintenance workers, members of CWA Local 1040, are mobilizing for job security as part of contract negotiations. More than 40 workers delivered a petition to Superintendent Rouhanifard calling for job security. Members are receiving strong support from CWA locals and other unions, as well as clergy and local activists.


Any New NAFTA Deal Must Benefit Working People, Not Corporations

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For U.S. working families, trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have been a string of one broken promise after another. The 200,000 jobs NAFTA was supposed to create instead morphed into 700,000 jobs lost and stagnant wages for the jobs that remained. The better deal for consumers didn’t materialize. Country-of-origin and food labeling laws were challenged and environmental standards were ignored.

Now that the Trump administration says it will renegotiate NAFTA, CWA has laid out a roadmap for what this deal should look like when it comes to meeting the concerns of working families.

We are working with allies and pushing for a trade deal that creates good jobs in the U.S., maintains worker and environmental safeguards – and enforces them – and eliminates the private justice system that multinational corporations now use to challenge local, state, and federal laws not in a country’s court system but before a private panel of corporate lawyers.

And we want a fully transparent bargaining process – no back room or closed door deals.

Make sure your voice is heard. Start by signing this petition to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and let him know that it's time to replace NAFTA with a deal that actually benefits working people in all three countries – not just multinational corporations and investors.


IUE-CWA Local 84901 is CWA Strong

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Indiana has been a "right to work for less" state since 2012, but IUE-CWA members of Local 84901 in Ft. Wayne, In., are refusing to let that get in the way of their mobilization efforts.

Members of the local work at BAE Systems, an electronics and aerospace corporation. Out of 531 employees, only 6 are non-members – an incredible 99% signup rate. The local also has a 100% signup rate for new members coming in during the past couple of years.

As more and more states have been hijacked by the "right to work" corporate strategy to try to weaken collective bargaining rights, workers at BAE Systems are standing up to these tactics through grassroots organizing.

To achieve their success, Local 84901's mobilization team has held one-on-one meetings with coworkers and educated the entire membership on how "right to work" would affect them. Local officers, stewards, and other mobilization team members keep a constant presence on the floor to communicate with membership. Members promote a family atmosphere within the local with social events like picnics and holiday parties.

Local President Brent Eastom said, "One of the most important things we do is try to show our members that we care about them and their families and that we are all in this together. While 'right to work for less' is a challenge that many of our locals have faced over the past decade, the reality is we can defeat this corporate attack by organizing our members within."


IUE-CWA Local 84901 members are CWA Strong.


CWA-Endorsed Candidate Wins in New York

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On Tuesday, CWA-endorsed candidate Christine Pellegrino won her New York State Assembly race with a 58% to 42% margin, becoming the first labor candidate elected to the New York legislature. Christine is a teacher and a union activist.

Read more about the victory here.


CWA Condemns Budget Handout to the Top 1%

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CWA President Chris Shelton issued this statement on the Trump administration's budget released this week:

President Trump's budget is a slap in the face to millions of people who voted for him based on the promises he made on the campaign trail. During the election, Trump visited struggling communities and vowed to preserve and strengthen Medicare and Social Security. His first budget proposal shows that the promise was an outright lie.

The Trump budget takes a hatchet to Medicaid, Social Security disability benefits, food assistance for older Americans, food stamps, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), cutting these and other programs by more than $1.7 trillion in order to give an enormous tax cut to the wealthiest.

This budget is shameful. Millions of Americans would face draconian cuts to programs that help them with basic needs while billionaires pad their bank accounts with new tax breaks.

President Trump, contrary to his campaign promises, has put the concerns and interests of working families dead last. We're putting Members of Congress on notice: working people will fight back against this vicious budget that targets average Americans in order to give a big handout to the top 1%.


Customer Service Update

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Ohio Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Revitalize Ohio Call Centers

Lawmakers from the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives joined with CWA members and local leaders for a press conference to highlight new state legislation that would stand up against the offshoring of call center jobs from Ohio.

Introduced in both houses of the state legislature, Senate Bill 156 would help revitalize the Ohio call center and customer service industry. The legislation would create a list of Ohio companies that offshore call center and customer service jobs to overseas locations and would deny these companies access to taxpayer dollars in any form. The bill also would require that all customer service and call center work done on behalf of the state of Ohio is done within the state.

Read more here.

Watch the press conference here.


Local 4322 call center worker Marvin Thompson speaks about the importance of job security.

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CWAers Fight for Call Center Jobs

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured an article on CWA workers' fight to protect call center jobs:

In 2013, AT&T shuttered facilities in Downtown and the Strip District that once employed more than 1,000 people. At the time, 225 people were laid off — many of them employees like Mary Lou Schaffer, who had put in 30 years at AT&T's Pittsburgh call centers.

Ms. Schaffer noticed call centers beginning to disappear in the 1990s. Jobs lost as centers closed were not replaced. And offices in other countries began popping up, she said.

"You started to piece it together," said Ms. Schaffer, who spent the last 10 years of her career as president of CWA Local 13550, which represented AT&T call center workers. "It's been my experience that they were slowly moving work overseas. Because today, that's what they do. That’s been their strategy all along."

The union also contends that competition with cheaper overseas labor has eroded the ability of workers to bargain for wages. Call center employees last year earned an average of $34,980 a year, or about $16.82 an hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ms. Schaffer said call center jobs in the 1980s and 1990s paid as much as $30.65 an hour, or about $62,390 a year.

"The loss of these good-paying jobs with benefits certainly hurt the Pittsburgh area," said Ms. Schaffer, who now serves as executive secretary and treasurer for CWA Local 13500, which represents Verizon workers.

Read the full piece here.


Organizing Update

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Bo Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center

CWA Local 1040 won an NLRB-supervised election for 21 lead workers at the Bo Robinson Assessment and Treatment Center in Trenton, NJ. The shift supervisors and unit supervisors will join the local's currently-represented operations counselors for a total of 86 CWA-represented workers at the center.

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Spectrum

Workers at a Spectrum (Time Warner/ Charter Cable) store in Culver City, Ca. voted for CWA representation for their seven workers.


Court Interpreters' Lobby Day

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With assistance from CWA, interpreters Ismail Charania of Norcross, Ga., and Clariselle Ocasio of Connecticut, (second left and right), visited lawmakers on Capitol Hill to advocate for better working conditions for all immigration court interpreters. The government is currently providing interpretation services through a low-road contractor, SOS International ("SOSi"). SOSi's employment practices have led to a shortage of qualified interpreters, which has increased the burden on immigration judges and ultimately costs the courts more money. Charania and Ocasio spoke with staff members of Sen. Murphy (CT), Rep. Keith Ellison (MN), and John Lewis (GA).