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CWA e-Newsletter: Jan. 22, 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.

CWA Speaks Out Against Obama's SOTU Trade Agenda

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During his State of the Union address, President Obama spoke with confidence about where America is headed. In many areas, he laid out an encouraging vision for our nation – expanding education opportunities for working and middle class families, improving the ability to better balance work and family responsibilities, tax fairness, and more.

CWA has supported the president in these and similar initiatives throughout his presidency. However, we cannot stand with the president in his alliance with Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable to send more U.S. jobs offshore, undermine U.S. communities and weaken U.S. sovereignty. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has much more to do with protecting the investment of multinational corporations and maneuvering around China than lowering trade barriers.

Public opposition to "fast track" authority and the TPP is strong, and growing more vocal every day. Consumer groups, workers, environmentalists, people of faith, students and more have united to stop this attack on U.S. jobs and communities. Conservatives, who do not believe that nations should relinquish their sovereign power to secret tribunals, also are on board.

Over the past 20 years, millions of U.S. jobs have been lost. The jobs U.S. workers had been promised over those years, of course, never materialized. In fact, just two trade deals – NAFTA and the Korea Free Trade Agreement – have resulted in the loss of nearly 800,000 jobs. The promoters of the TPP are again promising job gains through growth in U.S. exports. But we can do the math. Any new jobs will be dwarfed by the flood of jobs that go offshore.

We believe in trade, but U.S. communities and working families deserve fair trade that gives workers' rights, environmental standards, consumer rights and other issues the same standing as corporate profits. Twenty-first century fair trade will balance our imports and exports, lead to job growth and protect all our rights, not just those of the 1 percent.

Instead, through the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process, the TPP gives multinational corporations special guarantees and the right to challenge a country's laws and regulations that could affect future profits in a secret tribunal. Corporations don't have to wait for six years, like workers in Guatemala did, for the U.S. to raise trade complaints over the abuse of workers in that country. Corporations don't have to accept the judgment of the Australian Supreme Court that the government has every right to regulate cigarette packaging. The secret tribunals and ISDS process would handle corporate complaints quickly.

The TPP has been negotiated in secret, but it's no secret that we're taking this fight to the Obama administration and to Congress, where activists and organizations across the political spectrum are pushing members of the House and Senate to stand up for jobs, fairness and our communities. Congress must reject "fast track" authority and give trade deals like the TPP the full review that the American people deserve.


Guild Creates 'Larry Cohen Movement-Building Award'

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The NewsGuild-CWA, at its Biennial meeting in Orlando, FL, last week, surprised President Larry Cohen with the creation of a movement building award in his name as he met with Guild activists. The award will be presented to a Guild member or local staffer every other year at The NewsGuild-CWA conference.

Cohen has been organizing progressive allies to join together in a movement of 50 million to take back political power from billionaires and multinational corporations and fight for economic justice and democracy.

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CWA President Larry Cohen addresses TNG-CWA Biennial in Orlando, FL.

"We wanted to honor Larry for the enormous amount of time, energy and passion he has put into this pursuit," Guild President Bernie Lunzer said. "We also want to encourage our members and locals to expand their movement-building efforts."

The "Larry Cohen Movement-Building Award" will recognize Guild members or local staff members who do the most to build coalitions of activists.

For journalists in the Guild whose jobs demand strict objectivity, reaching out to community leaders and activist groups can be tricky. But not all Guild members are under those pressures.

"Some of our members need to refrain from direct political action because of a conflict of interest, real or perceived," Lunzer said. "But to different degrees, we believe everyone in the Guild can play a role in strengthening the pursuit of justice. Let's never forget that freedom of association is enshrined in the First Amendment, just like free speech and a free press."

In his speech, Cohen made the connection between movement-building and journalism.

"It is our turn," he said. "We need to build a democracy movement. We need to connect it to inequality. Good journalism. Good information. This is so important as we try to show our communities what a fair-economy looks like. Journalism helps us connect the dots."


Activists Mark the Fifth Anniversary of Citizens United with Rallies across the Nation

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The U.S. Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United decision five years ago turned our political system upside down, elevating money from corporations and the wealthiest individuals above the voices of ordinary citizens.

Those ordinary citizens marked the anniversary of the ruling with rallies, marches and movie showings across the nation.

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Sandy Rusher, CWA's Organizing Director, says, "Big money in politics attacks collective bargaining."

Below: Activists in good cheer despite the snowfall as they demonstrate in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building in Washington, D.C. to mark the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United decision.

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In the nation's capital, hundreds of activists ignored wet and thick welts of snow as they gathered outside of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest donor in the 2014 midterm elections, to raise awareness about the corrupting influence of big money in our politics. That election saw one of the lowest turnouts in history but the $4 billion spent broke records for non-presidential elections. And that is on top of $7 billion spent in the 2012 elections, another record. Watch the video here.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) said he had been asking people around the country what they see as the most important issue facing the nation. Some said climate change. A few thought wage stagnation. Others wanted the right to organize and collectively bargain while pay equality for women stood out for still others.

"But if we cannot let our voices shine through our democratic institutions because they are taken over by these big money corporations, then none of these very important issues will be able to come through, which, in my mind, makes reclaiming democracy the issue," Ellison said.

CWA Organizing Director Sandy Rusher informed the people at the rally that ordinary citizens, CWA members, were doing their part by making calls to their members of Congress to get them to pass legislation overturning the ruling.

"We want money out, voters in!" she said as the crowd thundered with her in chants.

"Corporations, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, now are able to buy our elections and aggressively lobby Congress and drown out the voices of ordinary working people," Rusher continued. "When members of Congress spend their time talking to the wealthy elites, they push an agenda that only speaks to billionaires. Their issues are different than mine and yours. All the things that we care about – economic justice, the right to form a union and collectively bargain, which is what built the middle class in the United States – are under relentless attack."

And check out more photos here and on the CWA app. 


TNG-CWA Delegates Vote for Historic Name Change, Elect Officers at Biennial Conference

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TNG-CWA President Bernie Lunzer was re-elected to a third term last week, but he won't be known as president of The Newspaper Guild-CWA.

To go with the historic name change, TNG-CWA has a new logo.

He's now the president of The NewsGuild-CWA, a name that conference delegates agreed was better suited for the changing news industry and the diversity of Guild units. The new name isn't exactly a 21st-century innovation. Lunzer purchased the domain name in 1995 – when only 14 percent of Americans had internet access – and expected Guild members would approve it then.

In a column published in The Guild Reporter several weeks before the Orlando meeting Jan. 15-18, Lunzer explained:

"I was convinced that local Guild leaders would vote to drop 'paper' from our name. I was wrong. Delegates had strong and passionate feelings about 'newspapers' almost as if bracing against the tidal wave of change headed toward their industry and careers. Twenty years later, it is past time. It is inevitable. We are media. We are content producers. Ink may be in our blood but it is no longer essential to our survival."

In his remarks, CWA President Larry Cohen talked about the importance of journalism and the dangers of the pending TPP trade deal.

Cohen received standing ovations at the beginning and end of his Jan. 15 remarks, in which he praised the Guild for being a vital part of CWA and for fighting for First Amendment principles that matter to all Americans.

"This notion of democracy, a key part of it is journalism – the ability to investigate and write stories," Cohen said. "What happens to journalism and to everyone in this room matters to our democracies and to our communities."

TNG-CWA Acting Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens said she knows some Guild members have to be mindful of an ethical line but asked journalists to, without compromising their ethics or risking discipline from their employers, reevaluate what might be possible.

"We very literally need to be in the streets, standing with fellow CWA members, and alongside all workers fighting for justice. I carry a bullhorn and a cache of CWA activist signs in the trunk of my car, and I hope I'm not the only one...Not all of us can do all these things, but all of us can do something," Steffens said.


Poll: Americans Demand Fair Trade

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A new survey of likely 2016 voters found that Americans want open-door trade talks that advance stronger protections for our economy and environment.

The poll, conducted by GBA Strategies on behalf of the Progressive Change Institute, said 75 percent of respondents agreed with the proposal to "replace free trade deals that cost American jobs with fair trade agreements that force our trade partners to respect American protections for workers and the environment, which will protect jobs and promote higher wages in America." Only 11 percent were opposed.

In addition, 66 percent of respondents wanted "greater public transparency in the writing of trade agreements to prevent deals that are written in secret by corporate lobbyists and ship American jobs overseas." Twenty-three percent opposed the proposed requirement.


CBTU Resolution Supports President Cohen, Rebuts Anonymous White House Smear

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The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) is rejecting criticism of CWA President Larry Cohen leveled by an unnamed "U.S. trade official."

Two weeks ago, Cohen, not for the first time, forcefully criticized the drive to grant the White House fast track approval for job-killing trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. TPP would destroy U.S. jobs, threaten environmental standards and give multinational corporations special rights to challenge the laws of the U.S. and other partner governments.

"America will never see a raise for American working families if we continue to make trade deals like we have in 20 years since NAFTA," Cohen said at that Jan. 8 news conference attended by Democratic caucus members in the U.S. House of Representatives and allies in the fight to stop fast track. "80% of Americans have had no raise in 30 years...We have to stop trade deals that only move in one direction."

Cohen's statement on the impact of past trade deals in cities like Detroit, St. Louis and Ferguson, Mo., got under the skin of the unnamed White House official.

In an e-mail to Inside U.S. Trade, the official tried to deflect the criticism by taking umbrage.

"Connecting this President's trade agenda to Ferguson shows a stunning level of desperation and a total disregard for the truth," the official said. "We all understand that trade is an issue that many on the far left feel deeply passionate about but there has to be some level of responsibility in the rhetoric that is being used."

CBTU members heard about the criticism during their meeting in Atlanta, GA, last week, and unanimously passed a resolution supporting Cohen:

"The members of the Executive Council of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, representing Unions throughout the United States and Canada, strongly support President Cohen and the remarks he made to the committee on Capitol Hill addressing the adverse effect for workers in this country if the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bill is passed by Congress. The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists clearly understands that there have been job losses due to the passage of other trade bills and we are of the opinion there will be further job loss with the passage of the TPP.

Related:

ON CAPITOL HILL: 'BIG TENT' NEWS CONFERENCE SHOWS BIG OPPOSITION TO FAST TRACK, TPP


Spreading the Word on Fast Track and TPP

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CWA President Larry Cohen and Rep. Marc Pocan (D-Wis.), a House leader in the fight against Fast Track authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, talked with MSNBC host Ed Schultz following the President's State of the Union address.

Watch here.

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Steve Abbott, president of Local CWA 7108 and the CWA Iowa State Council, and Hugh Espy, executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, wrote this opinion piece that was published in the Des Moines Register. 

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Victoria Fisher, an activist with CWA Local 1037 and a Next Generation leader, was featured in this AFL-CIO video, "What Workers Want to Hear from President Obama's State of the Union Address." Fisher called on the President to talk about trade and "how the Trans-Pacific Partnership will take away hundreds of thousands of jobs."


How We're Winning the Fast Track Fight

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CWA and coalition members are fighting back against Fast Track authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In congressional districts in New York, North Carolina, Texas, California and other states, CWAers and activists from a broad range of groups have begun meeting with members of Congress and their staff. Partners in these visits included Food & Water Watch, Center for Responsible Lending, Common Cause, NOW, NAACP, Citizens Fair Trade, National Council of La Raza, faith groups and many many more.

This is how we'll stop Fast Track.

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Members of CWA, IBEW, Unite Here, Citizens Trade, and Coalition for a Prosperous America meet with Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA). Peters has come out against fast track and the TPP.

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Constituents joined activists from CWA, Unite HERE and Food & Water Watch at a meeting with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA). Lieu opposes fast tracking the TPP.

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CWA, IBEW, Unite HERE, Citizens Trade, NOW, GMO Labeling and Coalition for a Prosperous America activists meet with Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA). Davis declined to pledge to vote "no" on fast track or make a decision on the issue.

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Are you listening Sen. John McCain? With members of CWA Local 7702, three busloads of delegates attending the Telecommunications/Technologies conference rally outside the senator's Phoenix office.

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In Fort Worth, Texas, CWA Local 6201 took advantage of the MLK Parade's big crowds to educate people about the TPP. Watch a video of their demonstration here

 


Keeping the Dream Alive!

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Sen. Bernie Sanders spent part of Martin Luther King Day with striking FairPoint Communications workers. He thanked the workers for their courage and for standing up to corporate greed.

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CWA Local 9509 members joined more than 1,500 people at Alliance San Diego's celebration of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here, Cassie Beach, Orlando Gonzales, L&P chair Salomon Espinoza and political organizer Adrian Acosta.

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United Campus Workers members put the final touches on their banner for the MLK Memorial Parade in Knoxville, Tenn. Watch a video of their march to raise the wage here.


Walter Andrews, Retired CWA Local 3204 President, Honored for Lifetime of Labor Work

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The AFL-CIO honored retired Local 3204 President Walter Andrews with its Eyes on the Prize award for his labor work at its 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, last week.

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Below, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre presents retired Local 3204 President Walter Andrews (also pictured above) with the Eyes on the Prize award for his lifetime of work on labor issues.

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In a message to Andrews, read by AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, CWA President Larry Cohen said:

"Vice President Judy Dennis and I are so proud that your lifetime of CWA and movement building work is being recognized by our movement. Over the decades we have worked together, you have been leading at every moment – Selma to Montgomery, Jobs with Justice, Occupy, MLK Day, CWA organizing and mobilization on every issue. Your leadership of the CWA Minority Caucus has helped transform our union, and as we struggled to achieve meaningful diversity on our executive board you always helped lead.

"But above all, your spirit and tireless energy have inspired us to do more and aim higher. You never give up and you always stand up for our members, the community and those struggling for their rights...Solidarity Forever! Larry"

Local 3204, under Walter's leadership, has always taken the lead in organizing the annual MLK Day march.


You Really Don't Want to Miss CWA's Monthly Town Hall Calls

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Senator Elizabeth Warren, Sister Simone Campbell from Nuns on the Bus, Sierra Club's Michael Brune, Rev. William Barber.

What do they have in common? They are just some of the allies and leaders who have joined CWA's monthly town hall calls to talk about our work together in the fight for economic justice and democracy.

On the third Thursday of every month, at 7:30 pm ET, thousands of CWAers are on the line, and that number is growing every month.

Make sure you're a part of the program. Sign up at www.cwa-union.org/cwacall.