Jul 27, 2017 - How Not to Fix NAFTA | Communications Workers of America

Jul 27, 2017 - How Not to Fix NAFTA

July 27, 2017

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Bargaining Update

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NABET-CWA

At KTTV, a FOX affiliate in Los Angeles, members of NABET-CWA Local 59053 ratified a successor three year contract after five years of tough bargaining.

At KETV in Omaha, Neb., a tentative contract covering members of NABET-CWA Local 54041 was reached. Improvements include wage increases of 2.5 to 3 percent in each contact year, a no-layoff provision, and other gains. The contract, if ratified, will be retroactive to March 12, 2017.

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AT&T Mobility

AT&T Mobility members in Districts 1, 2-13, 4, 7, and 9 are standing strong in the fight for a fair contract. Read the latest here.


Clockwise from top left: Locals 1101, 4900, 9408, 7019, and 13000.


Bank Workers Tell Congress about Harmful Practices at Santander

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A group of Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc. workers, assisted by CWA, met with Members of Congress from the House and Senate on Capitol Hill last week to share concerns that Santander encourages its workers to engage in practices that harm consumers and bank workers. The workers, members of CWA's Committee for Better Banks, participated in two congressional briefings for the House and Senate, met with officials from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and met with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Rep. Al Green (D-TX).

A new report authored by the AFL-CIO and the National Employment Law Project called Wheeling and Dealing Misfortune details how Santander workers are encouraged by management to extend and modify financially stretched consumers’ loans without explaining fully the costs or risks, among other harmful practices.

Bloomberg featured a piece about the workers' visits to Capitol Hill and the report on Santander:

"In an industry where products and services with the potential to cause consumer harm are widespread, Santander's metrics and incentive system compel collections employees to use the aggressive collections tactics that they've developed as skills in their trade and while working at Santander," the report says, alleging the auto lender's system of rules and ratings encourages employees to speed through calls and push changes to loans that can be harmful to borrowers. They say unionization would allow them to fight the practices without fear of retaliation.

The push for unionization at one of the biggest U.S. subprime auto lenders comes as bank sales practices are coming under intense scrutiny. Earlier this year Wells Fargo & Co. reached a deal to resolve a national class-action lawsuit over claims that employees may have opened more than 2 million deposit and credit-card accounts without customers' permission since 2011. In the wake of that scandal, Santander employees and the unions looking to organize them have found a sympathetic ear in Washington.

"The behavior outlined in this report is troubling and, if true, shows that predatory practices boost profits for banks and their executives while hurting customers and workers," Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, the ranking Democrat on the Senate's banking committee, said in an emailed statement after his office saw the report. "It's critical workers are empowered to speak out if their company is harming them or its customers, and I urge Santander to respect the rights of these workers to elect union representation that will give them those protections."

Read the full piece here.


Santander workers, members of CWA's Committee for Better Banks, testified at congressional briefings for the U.S. House and Senate, and met with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to share their stories.


CWA President Shelton: Trump's New NAFTA Plan is All Wrong. Here's How to Fix It.

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In an op-ed published on CNBC.com, CWA President Chris Shelton made the case for why Trump's new NAFTA plan is all wrong and laid out specific components of what a better NAFTA would look like:

The Trump administration's newly released objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are more of the same failed policies we've seen from decades of bad trade deals.

The new provisions look all too much like ones included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Trump criticized throughout the election season.

Instead of putting together a new NAFTA deal that puts workers, consumers, and communities first, these latest objectives largely replicate the problems from the old one, from encouraging off-shoring of jobs to maintaining Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that allows investors in other countries to challenge U.S. laws and bring claims against our government for following those laws.

And, rather than adopt strong labor and environmental provisions that would actually raise wages and standards for workers in all three countries, the plan includes the same failed labor and environmental provisions included in the TPP and previous deals. That means that labor violations – like wage theft, excessive forced overtime and even child labor violations - can't be addressed unless they are committed "in a manner affecting trade," an impossible standard to meet.

Trade deals like NAFTA have been nothing but a string of broken promises for working families. The 200,000 jobs NAFTA was supposed to create instead morphed into 700,000 jobs lost and stagnant wages for the jobs that remained.

Here's what a better NAFTA looks like.


Organizing Update

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Wayne Township, N.J.

Crossing guards showed their strong support for CWA Local 1032 representation and are now bargaining their first contract. The campaign is part of the local's ongoing plan to build membership and activism in Passaic County, N.J.

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Raw Story

The 10 editorial staff members at Raw Story, a digital publication, are now members of NewsGuild-CWA Local 32035, after management voluntarily recognized TNG-CWA.


CWAers Take on Wall Street

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District 1 activists from Locals 1101, 1106, 1109, 1171, and 1180 participated in the latest Runaway Inequality training in New York City. The sessions focus on how CWAers and allies can hold Wall Street accountable and get the 1 percent to pay its fair share. Trainers were John O'Malley, Local 1180; Victor Fuentes, Local 1109, and Elijah Zimmerman, Local 1109. More training workshops are being scheduled.

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In Minnesota, so far 50 CWA activists have completed Runaway Inequality training. Recently, 22 members and leaders from Locals 7200, 87140, 7304, and 7250 came together in Minneapolis to discuss the unfair economic system and how CWAers and allies can take on Wall Street.

Read more here.


Trump Administration Insults All Working People with Anti-LGBTQ Actions

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The following is a statement by CWA's Human Rights Committee, chaired by CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings:

Yesterday, President Trump insulted our nation and thousands who are and want to honorably participate in military service by declaring that he will ban transgender Americans from serving in the military.

Now, the Justice Department has taken this assault on Americans a step farther by claiming in an amicus brief that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act doesn’t protect working people from discrimination in the workplace based on their sexual orientation.

These two actions are not only shameful but also set a dangerous precedent that will endanger all working people. 

Candidate Trump claimed that he would be a steadfast ally to the LGBTQ community. Yet, here is another example of President Trump's failure to keep his campaign promises. William Attig, Executive Director of the Union Veterans Council, stated, "[In battle]...it doesn’t matter what the race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity is of the person next to you…It only matters if they can put a bullet down range and on target." It's too bad that the Commander-in-Chief doesn’t see it that way.

The Justice Department also tried to slap down the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – the federal agency that looks to stop workplace discrimination – stating, "The EEOC is not speaking for the United States." The EEOC has consistently stated over the years that Title VII bans anti-gay discrimination.

Union members know that solidarity means fighting for all working people. We know that the Trump Administration’s actions yesterday were an assault on all working people. We will fight against the Trump Administration's efforts to denigrate and marginalize Americans based on sexual orientation, and fight for equal protection under the law for all. 


Fair Election Reform Legislation Introduced in Senate

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The Fair Elections Now Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate yesterday by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and 23 cosponsors.

The legislation will reduce the influence of big-money donors and special interests by establishing a voluntary system of public financing for Senate candidates. This will strengthen the voice of small donors and ordinary Americans and end the stranglehold that big money has on our democracy.

CWA President Chris Shelton said, "Our current political process enables Wall Street and the 1 percent to dominate elections at every level and impose their policies on ordinary Americans. The Fair Elections Now Act is a good step toward restoring some faith in our political system by restoring the voice of small donors. We need congressional action now, to defend the voice and vote of all Americans."

CWA and allies are fighting for fair election financing and to safeguard and expand voting rights.