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CWA e-Newsletter: Feb. 13, 2014

CWA e-Newsletter

Feb. 13, 2014

Send tips to blog@cwa-union.org or @CWANews. Follow the latest developments at www.resistancegrowing.org.

Next CWA Telephone Town Hall is Feb. 20

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Don't miss this month's town hall call, on Thursday, Feb. 20, starting at 7:30 pm ET. The call will last half an hour. This month, we're talking about the flood of big money in politics and what we can do to restore our democratic elections. With CWA President Cohen will be Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md), who unveiled the "Government by the People" bill with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

Register here.

University of Akron Staff Employees Ratify First Contract

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CWA Local 4302 members at University of Akron attend a contract explanation meeting.

Administrative staff workers at the University of Akron have ratified their first contract.

"A couple of years ago they came to us because the public sector in Ohio was under attack by the legislature, and they felt like they needed a voice at the table," said CWA Local 4302 President Todd Leyda. "Their motto was, 'We need a voice for respect, opportunity and security.' We tried to follow that all the way through and it paid off."

The university workers voted for the agreement on Jan. 10, and the University of Akron Board of Trustees approved it on Feb. 5. The contract includes language on a streamlined grievance procedure, seniority protections and career advancement opportunities.

The administrative staff is the "backbone of the university," said Leyda. These 350 workers run all of the internal operations of the university, from the president's office down to payroll.

In the following months the local will be working to build a strong, effective stewards organization.

CWA also represents another 270 workers in food service and trades at the University of Akron.

Union Activists Walk San Diego Neighborhoods for Mayor's Race

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On a labor walk to support David Alvarez for San Diego mayor, the CWA crew talks with CWA Local 9509 member Gloria Tangarife. From left: CWA D9 Vice President Laura Reynolds, Tangarife, Local 9509 President Bourunda and Political Director Sal Espinosa and CWA Pres. Larry Cohen.

This past weekend, CWAers and other union activists joined members of environmental and community groups in walking San Diego neighborhoods to support the campaign of city council member David Alvarez for mayor. CWA President Larry Cohen was among the nearly 1,000 activists who knocked on doors and talked to voters.

Alvarez is a young, progressive breakthrough candidate who wants to help build "a city that works for everyone." Alvarez and council members have been moving forward on programs to improve the lives of all city residents.

His loss in the mayoral race Tuesday night was a setback, but the coalition of unions and environmental activists partnering for progressive change will only get stronger.

Tell Congress to Stop Fast Track!

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CWA activists aren't stopping their campaign to stop "fast track" authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They're continuing to rally outside their lawmakers' district offices, write letters to the editor and call Congress to express their opposition.

Meanwhile, talks continue. Singapore will host the next meeting of TPP chief negotiators from Feb. 17 to 21. That'll be followed by a ministerial meeting of the 12 countries involved in the TPP from Feb. 22 to 25. The TPP is expected to be finalized during these upcoming meetings.

Last week, a big crowd urged Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) to stand with the residents of Queens -- not Wall Street -- by opposing fast track (also known as Trade Promotion Authority) for the TPP. On Monday, he announced, "I have had concerns about aspects of Trade Promotion Authority legislation in the past. I respect the efforts to improve TPA and believe the changes being sought are important, but I still have concerns and will oppose the Camp legislation if it comes before the House for a vote."

CWA Minnesota State Council President Mona Meyer speaks at a demonstration outside Sen. Amy Klobuchar's offices in Minneapolis. She said, "We are not against trade, we are against free trade. Under the TPP more American jobs would be offshored. Internet freedom would be a joke. Developing countries would lose access to life-saving medicines. Unsafe foods and products would pour into our country. And that's just the tip of the iceberg." Read more about the rally at the St. Paul Union Advocate.

About 25 protesters rallied outside Maryland Democrat Rep. John Delaney's Gaithersburg office on Friday to urge him to vote against reauthorizing fast track. Read more at The Gazette.

Moral March in North Carolina Draws Thousands

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Nearly 100,000 North Carolinians protest in Raleigh against the right wing actions of the governor and legislature.

Last weekend, 100,000 people turned out for the Moral March in Raleigh, North Carolina. The event marked a year of "Moral Monday" protests, organized by the "Move Forward Together Movement," a coalition of 150 groups put together by the North Carolina NAACP and including CWA and other unions and progressive voices.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory, elected in 2012, and his allies in the state legislature have taken an extreme right turn, with the financial help of wealthy right wing donor Art Pope. Legislators and the governor mounted a harsh attack on voting rights, voting to restrict early voting, limit registration and eliminate many polling places, especially on college campuses with a large African-American population.

In fact, 945 persons have been arrested over the past year for trying to register voters.

The legislature also has eliminated the Earned Income Tax Credit for for 900,000 poor working families while giving the wealthiest taxpayers a tax break, and cut unemployment benefits, among other attacks on working families.

Over the past year, the Moral Monday protests have been growing, despite the governor's attack on them as "unacceptable" and "unlawful demonstrations." It's not surprising that the weekend protest drew such a huge crowd, up from a 15,000 person event a year ago. McCrory's approval rating is just 37 percent and voters dislike the General Assembly even more, giving legislators a 32 percent approval rating, according to a new poll by High Point University.

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber heads the North Carolina NAACP and has been the driving force behind the Moral Monday movement. Barber makes it clear that this is no partisan political fight, but a "moral versus immoral battle."

Endeavor Techs Join CWA

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Digital Life AT&T techs in New Jersey vote for CWA Local 1101 representation.

In a 17-1 vote, Endeavor Communications technicians who install Digital Life for AT&T in North New Jersey voted for representation by join CWA Local 1101.

The overwhelming vote was a direct result of a great organizing committee that took over the captive audience meetings forcing the union buster, who claimed to be an ex-CWA member, to pack up and leave his presentation. The unit has 21 techs, and CWA filed an unfair labor practice charge on behalf of five techs who were laid off in the middle of the campaign.

This is the second group of AT&T Digital Life workers in District 1 to vote for CWA representation.

Bargaining Update

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NJ Home Child Care Providers Ratify New Contract

Home child care workers in New Jersey.

Home child care providers in New Jersey, represented by the Child Care Workers Union, a partnership between CWA local 1037 and AFSCME, ratified a new contract this week, following tough negotiations.

Home child care providers escalated their grassroots power to win a cost of living increase, and successfully negotiated gains in other areas. Driven in large part by the Child Care Provider Bill of Rights developed by providers, the new contract compensates providers for mandatory trainings, defines an eight-hour day as a legal day's work and provides additional pay for providers caring for children with special needs. The contract covers more than 2,000 workers.

"We worked hard at the negotiating table to make sure providers caring for children with special needs were properly compensated for the important work they do," said Ken McNamara, president of CWA Local 1037. "We're most proud that now providers can use their union contract and the dispute resolution procedure to advocate for the children in their care. The contract broadly defines special needs to include factors such as poverty."

CWA Local 1037 partnered with NJ Communities United to work with child care providers to increase the grassroots organizing work needed to negotiate a strong second contract.

Shanita Hargrove, a child care provider in Newark, said, "We knocked on doors in counties across the state. We engaged the working parents we provide services for. We circulated a petition of support that generated more than 500 signatures. We packed buses filled with supporters to attend rallies in Trenton. We built a real movement. But this is just the beginning of what we can accomplish together moving forward."

AFA-CWA Mitigates Involuntary Furloughs at United Airlines

AFA-CWA announced an agreement with United Airlines management on Friday that averts involuntary furloughs at the world's leading airline through improved voluntary options. The mutual agreement between AFA-CWA and management also provides employment for Flight Attendants originally slated to lose their jobs by offering an enhanced crossover agreement to pre-merger Continental Airlines.

"Through collaborative efforts, AFA-CWA was able to engage management in meaningful discussions on how to ensure that no Flight Attendant is forced out on the street without a paycheck. By focusing on feasible, timely solutions, AFA-CWA was able to negotiate continued options for all Flight Attendants while recognizing the value and seniority of those affected," said Veda Shook, AFA-CWA International President.

AFA-CWA represents more than 25,000 Flight Attendants at United.

Fed Up and Pumped Up: Rallying For Fairness in Manchester

TNG-CWA Local 31167 President Norm Welsh leads about 60 TNG members and supporters in fair contract demonstration.

Manchester Newspaper Guild members and allies turned out in force Sunday morning to show Union Leader Publisher Joe McQuaid that his callous contract "final offer" is beneath contempt.

Picketers protest outside the newspaper's annual sports banquet at the Radisson Center.

About 60 picketers, 40 of them Guild members, marched and leafleted outside the newspaper's annual sports banquet at the Radisson Center of New Hampshire in downtown Manchester.

"It was awesome," said Norm Welsh, president of the local. "I'm not sure we've ever had a better turnout, even when we had twice the membership. We know we got the publisher's attention because he detoured on his way to the event to come over to our group. He talked to several members and their families. My guess is he was trying to see if the group was members or 'outsiders.' I think he was shocked at the number of our people and who they were. Lots of folks whom I doubt he expected to ever see on a picket line."

He said members were grateful to be joined by so many allies, including Mark MacKenzie, president of the state AFL-CIO, state Rep. Tim Smith (D-Manchester), and supporters from the IBEW, AFT and the Postal Workers.

The Manchester Guild has called the Union Leader's final offer "the worst contract proposal ever seen." In addition to steep benefit cuts, getting rid of job security language and changes that would badly weaken the union, the publisher wants an 18 percent retroactive pay cut.

The local is in the middle of a 10-day byline strike by reporters and photographers to help draw the public's attention to the company's ruthless demands.

Volkswagen Workers in Chattanooga Voting for UAW Representation

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From Feb. 12- 14, workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., will be voting on union representation by the UAW in a National Labor Relations Board election.

It will be an historic election, one that brings the opportunity of "works councils" and joint decisionmaking to the U.S. for the first time.

The UAW, the German union I.G Metall, which represents 2.2 million German workers at Volkswagen and other employers, and Volkswagen have been working together to create a "works council" at the Chattanooga plant.

That's exactly what members of the German union ver.di have at T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom in Germany, and that's why they're supporting their T-Mobile US counterparts who also want union representation and a voice in their workplace.

Works councils are elected by the plant employees and make key decisions about how the operation is run. Volkswagen says that workers' input is critical for boosting innovation, productivity and quality and call works councils "competitive advantage," especially in the global economy. That's why Volkswagen has these elected works council at all its plants, except for Chattanooga and two in China. Volkswagen leads all major automakers in raising shareholder value over the past three years.

But just as T-Mobile US workers who want a union have faced illegal management attacks, Volkswagen workers have been the focus of a relentless anti-union campaign, with right wing forces inside and outside the state weighing in.

Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn) and Republican Governor Bill Haslam have mounted intense criticism of Volkswagen and have tried to block the election. These right wingers have been supported by outsiders like the National Right to Work Committee and the so-called Center for Worker Freedom. When Volkswagen's CEO told the outside agitators to back off, they ignored him.

In this video, Volkswagen workers say the decision is their alone, and that the management interference needs to stop now.

Union, Green Activists Unite in 'No Fast Track' Fight

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IUE-CWA President Jim Clark with CWA and IUE-CWA participants at Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference.

At the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference, union and green activists focused on how to beat "fast track" authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an IUE-CWA program to help manufacturing plants save energy and become more efficient, and how sustainable planning in the aviation industry can help improve communities.

AFA-CWA International President Veda Shook, right, with FAA's Lourdes Maurice moderate discussion on sustainable planning and the aviation industry.

AFA-CWA International President Veda Shook and Lourdes Maurice, Executive Director for the Federal Aviation Administration's Energy and Environment Office, moderated a discussion that addressed the airline industry and global greenhouse gases, climate change and ways to improve the aviation industry with a focus on smart planning.

IUE-CWA President Jim Clark and members highlighted the sector's partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund that works with management and workers to identify and implement energy saving opportunities at manufacturing facilities.

Also spotlighted was IUE-CWA's Lean/High Performance Manufacturing program, which looks at organizing production to lower costs, eliminate waste, improve quality and keep good jobs.

CWA Senior Director George Kohl, with the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council, outlined the critical fight to stop fast track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership. About 30 CWA and IUE-CWA activists participated.

Union Discount on Valentine's Day Flowers

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Looking to order some flowers for your sweetie? Union Plus is offering members 25% off on all flowers and gifts at Teleflora.

Click here to get your discount!