CWA e-Newsletter: Apr. 30, 2015 | Communications Workers of America

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CWA e-Newsletter: Apr. 30, 2015

CWA e-Newsletter

Want to be in next week's CWA Newsletter? Send your stories and photos to blog@cwa-union.org or @CWANews. Follow the latest developments at www.resistancegrowing.org.

New York City Joins Growing Numbers of Cities Opposing the Trade Deal

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On the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio criticizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a "raw deal" and "huge mistake," the New York City Council passed a resolution declaring the city a "TPP-free zone" and urging Congress to reject Fast Track legislation for the trade deal.

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CWAers gather outside City Hall before heading in to watch the New York City Council pass a resolution opposing Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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"New York City, a global city, is standing up to stop the TPP, which would destroy jobs, threaten food safety and the environment, raise prescription drug prices, and gut consumer protections from Wall Street banks, " said Chris Shelton, vice president of CWA District 1. "We are all united to derail Fast Track."

A day before the vote, leaders from New York City's labor, environmental, social justice and faith communities rallied and testified in support of the resolution, which was sponsored by City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal. They spoke out about the dangers of the trade deal and called on members of Congress, particularly Rep. Gregory Meeks, who is one of just two Democrats co-leading the "pro-TPP caucus," to listen to their constituents.


Texas Democratic Party Declares Opposition to the TPP and Fast Track

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The Texas Democratic Party came out strong in opposing the TPP and the current Fast Track authorization that would block legislators from amending even a single provision of a trade agreement until 2021.

In a resolution adopted this week, "Texas Democrats Stand with Texas Workers and Their Families," Democratic Party officials across the state declared that the Fast Track process "undermines democracy in the name of shipping our jobs overseas and granting special rights to multinational corporations." The resolution demanded that the text of the TPP "be made available to the public, and that the United States Trade Representative seek meaningful, binding input from civil society, including organized labor, environmental groups, family farmers, public health, and consumer protection organizations."

Read the resolution here.

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said, "Texas families know all too well the potential dangers of sweetheart trade deals for corporations and special interests and how they can drive down wages, shrink the middle class, and create income inequality. It is in the best interest of Texas families that every word of the TPP is vetted and that the agreement's many provisions put their future first."


More Local Governments Declare Their Communities to be 'TPP Free Zones'

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Great work by CWA Local 4501 President Kevin Kee and President Dave McCune of 4502, District 4 staff and coalition partners in convincing the City of Columbus, Ohio, to pass a resolution expressing opposition to Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to call for "fair trade practices that protect residents, workers, businesses and the environment." Columbus is the largest city in Ohio.

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Ohio CWAers celebrate Columbus City Council action opposing Fast Track and the TPP.

Ohio CWAers and partners also succeeded in having the Trumbull County, Ohio, Board of County Commissioners adopt a resolution calling on the Ohio congressional delegation to vote no on Fast Track trade promotion authority.

The Trumbull County commissioners stressed the connection between bad trade deals and lost manufacturing facilities and jobs, and voted to "support all efforts to keep jobs in Ohio and especially Trumbull County."

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The growing list of communities pushing back against Fast Track and the TPP includes:

Pittsburgh, PA
St. Paul, MN
Tompkins County, NY
Fort Bragg, CA
San Francisco, CA
Seattle, WA
Bellingham, WA
Richmond, CA
Hollywood, CA
Oak Park Township, IL
Madison, WI
Berkeley, CA
Dane County, WI


Senators Tell White House: Release the Text of the TPP Before Any Vote

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In a strong letter to President Obama, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown took on the Administration's charge that critics of the TPP are "dishonest" by claiming that TPP is a secret deal and called on the White House to release the text of the TPP publicly "before asking Congress to vote on Fast Track authority to facilitate the TPP's ratification."

They wrote:

"It is currently illegal for the press, experts, advocates, or the general public to review the text of this agreement. And while you noted that Members of Congress may 'walk over...and read the text of the agreement' – as we have done – you neglected to mention that we are prohibited by law from discussing the specifics of that text in public.

"While experts, the public and the press are not allowed to review the latest draft of the TPP, executives of the country's biggest corporations and their lobbyists already have had significant opportunities not only to read it, but to shape its terms. The Administration's 28 trade advisory committees on different aspects of the TPP have a combined 566 members, and 480 of those members, or 85 percent, are senior corporate executives or industry lobbyists.

"The American people should be allowed to weigh in on the facts of the TPP before Members of Congress are asked to voluntarily reduce our ability to amend, shape or block any trade deal."

Read their full letter here.


'Free Trade' Means a Sellout of Working Families

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Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL 9th District) is standing with working families and communities who already have suffered through 20 years of bad trade deals and now face the threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership further destroying jobs and communities.

Check out this video as Congressman Grayson makes the point that "free trade is really fake trade."


TPP Roundup – You Won't Believe What's Playing at the Movies

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Syracuse

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Nick Mazzeo, vice president of CWA Local 1152, had a pretty smart idea to generate even more handwritten letters to Rep. John Katko (R-24). CWA Local 1152 and 1123, plus partners Sierra Club, Syracuse Peace Council, Greenpeace and Alliance for a Green Economy held a letter writing party at a Syracuse movie theater. Groups set up tables and even were able to project a sample letter on the big screen. Participants handwrote 384 letters to Rep. Katko that night alone. The letters were delivered to the congressman's office and Rep. Katko told the group he was voting against Fast Track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"I'm happy that we can go back to our members who contributed to this cause and let them know they made a difference," Mazzeo said.

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San Antonio

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More than 95 activists rallied outside the office of Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-20) in San Antonio, calling on Castro to listen to his constituents and reject Fast Track authority for the flawed TPP.

Participating were members of CWA, Move San Antonio, Sierra Club, the Esperanza Center, Teamsters, TOP (Texas Organizing Project), Amalgamated Transit Union, San Antonio Central Labor Council, AFSCME, the Texas AFL-CIO and others.

A delegation delivered more than 300 petitions that were collected from constituents throughout Castro's district.

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Louisville

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CWAers and partners rally against the TPP outside the Louisville office of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell. The rally was organized by Larry Gardner, CWA Local 3310, and Josh Swiney, Local 3321, with participants from CWA, IUE-CWA, UAW, UFCW, Teamsters, Kentucky Teachers Association, and Sierra Club.

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Queens, NY

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About 200 CWAers and allies rally outside the Queens, N.Y., office of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-5). Meeks is one of just two Democrats co-leading the "pro-TPP" caucus.

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Florida

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In Tallahassee, activists from CWA, AFSCME, the Postal Workers, Letter Carriers, Office and Professional Employees, Longshoremen and the Federation of Public Employees met at the office of Rep. Gwen Graham (D-02), calling on her to oppose Fast Track authority for the TPP.

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Lynn, Massachusetts

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IUE-CWA Local 81201 activists and partners are keeping the heat on Rep. Seth Moulton (D-06). About 30 activists rallied outside Moulten's Lynn office, then delivered petitions to his staff from workers, Lynn business leaders and community activists calling on the Congressman to oppose Fast Track and the TPP.

When Moulton toured the General Electric plant in Lynn recently, he was greeted by the overwhelming majority of workers wearing "No Fast Track" stickers. Local President Pete Capano says Moulton has been "defensive" and says he's still undecided.

Moulton should listen to his Lynn constituents who increasingly are coming out in opposition to Fast Track and the TPP. This week, the Lynn, Mass., city council passed a resolution opposing the TPP. And the Democratic City Committee in Lynn, the largest city in Moulton's district voted unanimously to oppose Fast Track and the TPP and plan to send a letter to Moulton and generate phone calls.

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Virginia

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CWA and Legislative-Political activists from CWA Local 2201, IUE-CWA Local 82162, plus members from a broad coalition of unions and allies held a "very intense" meeting with Senator Tim Kaine (D) and his staff. When asked whether he would vote against the bill if it didn't address workers' concerns, Kaine said "yes." The delegation left scores of handwritten letters from constituents for Kaine to read.

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Los Angeles

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More than 50 community leaders protested against the TPP, calling on Congress to oppose the massive trade deal and on the Obama administration to release the text of the deal so the public can see what is being discussed. The group included the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Presente.org, Council of Mexican Federations (COFEM), CWA, East Yard Community for a Better Environment, and other labor and local organizations.

Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presente.org, said the TPP "would be a disaster for Latinos across America," in the U.S., and in many Latin American countries where free trade agreements have destroyed the economies and livelihoods of ordinary people.

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Cleveland

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A town hall meeting in Cleveland, organized by Local 4340, District 4 and allies including the Steelworkers, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee, faith groups, Green City Blue Lake Institute, and others, was attended by about 80 people. Participants turned in 59 handwritten letters and 42 commitments to step up the fight to stop Fast Track authority for the TPP. Local media interviewed several participants, including Local 4340 President Gary Kundrat. Among the speakers was CWA District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton.


Workers Rally Against Wells Fargo Corporate Greed

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The Committee for Better Banks, CWA Local 6300, Jobs with Justice, Home Defenders League, bank workers and allies protested at Wells Fargo's annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday to raise awareness about corporate greed.

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CWA activists and allies protest outside the Wells Fargo annual meeting in St. Louis.

Gathered in Clayton, Mo., they called on Wells Fargo to reform its unreasonable sales goals and quotas. Both consumers and employees suffer under the pressure to push predatory products like high-interest credit cards, activists said, outside and inside the meeting.

Their message broke through. CEO John Stumpf publically addressed their concerns that the bank cares more about profits than people, saying, "We never want to put our team members in a position where they need to make incentive goals to make the rent payment."

We'll be holding him to that.

Bank workers expect better. Wells Fargo has raked in hundreds of billions in profit and pays Stumpf a staggering $23 million a year. But tens of thousands of frontline Wells Fargo employees do not share in that success. Half of all bank tellers are paid $12.25 per hour or less, and 31 percent of tellers rely on taxpayer-funded programs like food stamps to support their families, according to a new report by the Center for Popular Democracy.

The same report reveals that Wells Fargo and the nation's biggest banks are all forcing tellers, customer service representatives and loan interviewers to hawk unneeded and unnecessary products.

Earlier this month, rank-and-file workers stormed Wells Fargo's offices in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., and attempted to deliver an 11,000-signature petition calling for an end to these destructive sales goals. Soon after, the bank finally admitted it needed to look into its policies, telling Reuters, "We take that deadly seriously."

It's more proof that these bank workers have Wells Fargo's attention.


Union Petitions German Parliament to Enforce Workers' Rights at T-Mobile

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This week, Germany's biggest union submitted a petition to the Bundestag (Parliament), urging lawmakers to use the government's shareholder power to pressure Deutsche Telekom into enforcing international labor standards at its U.S. subsidiary, T-Mobile US.

Frank Bsirske, chairman of the 2-million-member union ver.di, submitted the petition which demands respect for workers' rights at all Deutsche Telekom sites outside Germany, including the U.S. The German government owns about 32 percent of Deutsche Telekom.

The petition follows a March 19 decision by a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge that found T-Mobile US guilty of nationwide labor law violations that were directed from the U.S. subsidiary's headquarters in Bellevue, Wash. The unprecedented decision means that Deutsche Telekom no long can claim that its T-Mobile US subsidiary follows U.S. law.

CWA President Larry Cohen addressed the congress of ver.di and thanked ver.di activists and leaders for their solidarity in supporting T-Mobile US workers in their fight for union representation.

The petition committee of the Bundestag will review the petition then post it online, triggering a public hearing over the German government's responsibility for ensuring the responsible actions of corporations like Deutsche Telekom.

The campaign has the support of the German Trade Union federation, Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB), along with numerous German unions, politicians, political foundations and NGOs, all of whom have pledged to help collect signatures.

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T-Mobile US workers thank ver.di activists who "have our backs" in the fight for a CWA voice at T-Mobile.


Workers Memorial Day: Mourn the Dead, Fight Like Hell for the Living

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Workers Memorial Day 2015 brought tears and determination to make workplaces safer at events across the country.

The AFL-CIO's annual report noted that in 2013, 4,585 workers were killed on the job in the U.S., and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. That means about 150 workers die every day from hazardous working conditions.

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This Workers Memorial Day, CWA Locals paid special tribute to three members tragically killed on the job last year: Britney Byford, 19, CWA Local 6215, Dallas; Bill Morton, 66, CWA Local 6300, St. Louis; and Craig Mathis, 55, CWA Local 3519, Gulfport, Miss.

Cwaers participated in many events to "mourn for the dead and fight like hell for the living."

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  • Members of IUE-CWA Local 81359 and CWA Local 1118 joined AFL-CIO, union and health and safety activists for this year's Workers Memorial Day service in Albany, N.Y., remembering the 32 workers who were killed on the job in the Albany area. Gathering at the NYS Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial, they heard from faith and other community leaders.
  • In West Virginia, CWA Locals and the State AFL-CIO honored 17 workers who died on the job last year. The Workers Memorial Day ceremony was held at the state Capitol in Charleston, and more than 150 activists participated.
  • In New York City, members of CWA Locals 1101, 1103, 1109, 1104 and 1180, and District 1, joined events organized by the NYC central labor council and Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) activists.
  • CWA Locals 1133 and 1168 joined activities organized by Western New York COSH and the Buffalo AFL-CIO.
  • CWA Locals 9119, 9410, 9415, 9421, 9423, 9003, 9119, 9400 and 9588, and District 9, participated in events in San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose and Los Angeles.
  • In Houston, CWA Local 6222 played a leading role in the day's events. A coalition of CWA, the Harris County AFL-CIO, Fe y Justicia (a faith based worker center in Houston), International Chemical Workers Union Council, United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (a national organization focused upon providing support to family members of fallen workers), Steelworkers and LIUNA released the 2015 Workers Memorial Day report that included the names, photos, and background on 62 workers who were killed on the job last year in Houston and information on how activists are working for safer workplaces. The report was released at a vigil and news conference.
  • In Ohio, activists from CWA District 4, CWA Local 4340 and the Cleveland AFL-CIO were joined by Rep.Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Dr. David Michaels, head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Organizing Update

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More Nevada Cricket Employees Join CWA

With a majority of Cricket retail employees in Nevada indicating they wanted union representation, the workers are joining CWA Local 9413.

CWA Local 9413 President Mayette Ari helped the effort in Las Vegas, while AT&T Mobility member Gerry Valasquez and AT&T Prem Techs David Ziegler and Diego Medina, fresh from organizing training, helped sign up Cricket employees in Reno. Organizers Pia Basudev and Louie Rocha also worked on the campaign.

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Saint Mary-Corwin Workers Vote to Keep Their Union

Workers at Saint Mary-Corwin Hospital in Pueblo, Co., have beaten a decertification drive .

In an NLRB election, employees voted 161-82 to remain represented by CWA. This group has been represented by CWA since the 1970s.

The election was delayed by nearly a year while the hospital appealed a 2012 NLRB ruling that found the hospital guilty of unfair labor practices. Management aggressively and repeatedly tried to convince workers that they would be better off without a union, but workers weren't fooled.


CWA Applauds Williams-Yulee Decision

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CWA applauds the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar upholding the Florida Bar Association's ban on direct solicitation of political contributions by judges in judicial elections.

Public confidence quickly erodes when judges seeking election are permitted to directly solicit the very individuals likely to appear before them in court. And our judicial branch can only be effective if the public has faith in the integrity of its decisions. Chief Justice John Roberts was correct in observing that the people question "a judge's ability to administer justice without fear or favor if he comes to office by asking for favors."

But we should hold all elected officials to this standard. Just as judges must be fair and impartial – not for sale and auctioned off to the highest bidder – so should our presidents, members of Congress, governors and state legislators.

The obscene amount of money that now controls our political system at every level is a direct result of the Supreme Court's Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions. We can't allow pay-to-play politics to destroy our democratic electoral process and the principle that every vote counts.

Read more:

ThinkProgress: The Supreme Court Reveals Everything That's Wrong With Citizens United In Four Ridiculous Sentences