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CWA e-Newsletter: Jan. 30, 2014

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.

Nationwide Bipartisan Survey Finds Strong Opposition to 'Fast Track'

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Americans are telling Congress to slow down.

A nationwide, bipartisan survey found than 62% of voters say they oppose "fast track" legislation that would speed approval of trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. After hearing an equal number of arguments that have been made by organizations supporting and opposing fast track, voter opposition grew to 65%, including 45% indicating that they are "strongly opposed."

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Demographically, opposition is very broad, with no more than one-third of voters in any region of the country or in any age cohort favoring fast track. Sixty percent of voters with household incomes under $50,000 oppose fast track, as do 65% of those with incomes over $100,000.

Republicans overwhelmingly oppose fast-track authority (8% in favor, 87% opposed), as do independents (20%-66%), while a narrow majority (52%) of Democrats are in favor (35% opposed).

Hart Research Associates, a Democratic pollster, and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, a Republican polling firm, conducted the survey Jan. 14-18. It was jointly sponsored by CWA, Sierra Club and the U.S. Business and Industry Council. Read the full results and listen to the audio of the press call here

Voters are deeply troubled by the fast track process.

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So much so that poll also found that members of Congress who vote to approve fast track -- especially Republicans -- are taking a political risk.

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To many Americans, fast track will result in a TPP that will lower wages and cost the United States jobs.

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They worry that the TPP will undermine important environmental protections and put consumer safety at risk.

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And voters believe the TPP will be a good deal for big corporations at the expense of America's small businesses.

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The Washington Post reported:

Opponents of the trade agreements -- and of the fast track legislation needed to clear the way for their approval in Congress -- have been organizing steadily around the issue, and in recent weeks have intensified their argument that past trade agreements have hurt U.S. workers more than they have helped.

In a conference call on Wednesday, labor and environmental groups said that a recent poll they commissioned showed deep skepticism about trade agreements, and strong sentiment against fast track legislation because it gives the president "too much power."

Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America and vocal opponent of the trade legislation, said that between the labor, environmental and other groups that are active on the issue, "voters will be energized. . .It is small business. It is everybody. Americans are saying what kind of future do we want? We don't want a trillion-dollar trade deficit."

Reuters wrote:

Opposition to free trade deals, and by extension fast-track power, comes partly from consumer groups, environmentalists and unions, a power base for Obama's Democrats, many of whom worry about lost jobs and weaker labor and environmental standards.

More than 550 lobby groups have written to lawmakers urging them to vote against a TPA bill introduced in the House and Senate and opponents released a poll of 816 voters showing 62 percent were opposed to fast-track power for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

"Trade agreements are no longer just about tariffs and quotas. They are about the food we eat, the air we breathe, the jobs we hold. We cannot abdicate this process to non-elected representatives," said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, which co-sponsored the poll.


Reid Opposes 'Fast Track' Renewal

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Wednesday that he opposes renewing "fast track" authority, even though President Obama called for it in his State of the Union address.

"I'm against fast track," Reid told reporters, speaking about legislation that give trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership an up-or-down vote with no amendments.

He added, "Everyone would be well-advised just to not push this right now."

The Wall Street Journal reported:

Unions opposing the trade deals cheered the move. "For those of us who want to have a progressive trade agenda, it means that we're encouraged," said Larry Cohen, head of the Communications Workers of America, one of the most vocal unions criticizing the current trade negotiations. Celeste Drake, a trade-policy specialist with the AFL-CIO, a union confederation, said Mr. Reid's comments offered "a great opportunity to get off the fast track to bad trade deals and open the policy window to a better deal for workers."


Rallying for Jobs, Transparency and Fair Trade

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Around the country, CWA activists have joined with Sierra Club, Green Peace, Food and Water Watch, Common Cause and other allies to pressure Congress to vote NO on "fast track" authorization for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Last week, we gave you some of the highlights.

Here are more highlights of our events:

California

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CWA Local 9408 members joined community activists, the Sierra Club and labor council members in Fresno to call on the Rep. Jim Costa (D) to oppose fast track legislation.

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Connecticut

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D) joined labor union and community leaders in the fight against the TPP. Bill Henderson of CWA Local 1298 cited trade agreements like the TPP as the reason for outsourcing and the closing of manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

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Colorado

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CWA Colorado Political Director Dave Felice was a guest speaker at the rally conducted by Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center at the office of Rep. Jared Polis (D) in Boulder. About 30 peace and justice advocates, environmentalists, and religious participated in the rally, while eight of the activists went inside and had sit-down meeting with Polis' district director. Courtesy of chrisgoodwin/desrowVISUALS.

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Illinois

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Local activists organized a press conference with Rep. Jan Schakowsky in Chicago, warning against the corporate attack on worker rights, U.S. sovereignty, collective bargaining and government transparency. Watch the press conference, which also features CWA District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton, here.

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CWA District 4 Representative Ron Honse meets with Rep. Bill Foster (D) about TPP and fast track.

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Indiana

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CWAers rally in Indiana against fast tack.

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Minnesota

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CWA Minnesota State Council President Mona Meyer and a group of CWA members meeting with the office of Rep. Erik Paulsen (R).

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New York

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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney joined local businesses and community leaders to speak out against the Tran Pacific Partnership, focusing on the economic and consumer safety impact on the Hudson Valley. Watch the event here.

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Rep. Tim Bishop joined local labor and environmental leaders to highlight the impact of the agreement on the middle class, and warned against the outsourcing and widespread job losses that would result. Check out CWA Local 1108 Executive Vice President Michael Gendron's speech here

CWA Locals 1111 and 1170 organized a press conference with the labor community, elected officials, and community activists to call on Congress to reject fast track trade.

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Rep. Dan Maffei (D) met with labor, environmental, progressive and consumer group leaders in Syracuse to oppose TPP saying it "threatens to ship jobs overseas and weaken critical protections for workers and consumers."

CWA Local 1111 members and congressional candidate Martha Robertson braved frigid temperatures to protest Republican Rep. Tom Reed's support for fast track legislation.

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Ohio

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CWAers meet with the staff of Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R), asking that the congressman put a letter together stating that he is not in favor of the fast tracking of the TPP.

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CWAers meet with the staff of Rep. Joyce Beatty (D), and presenting a thank you card to the congresswoman \ for supporting labor and writing a letter stating that we need to stock fast track and make the TPP more transparent.

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CWAers make a thank you visit to Sen. Sherrod Brown's office in Cleveland.

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Texas

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CWA leaders in Texas joined members of Locals 6143, 6137, the Sierra Club and Citizens Trade Campaign activists in carrying the "no TPP" message in the city's Martin Luther King march. Some 120,000 participants were on hand. This is the biggest event in the state honoring Dr. King.


Hey Macklemore & Lewis: John Legere's Union Busting Is Uncool

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Students crash T-Mobile's concert.

Below: USAS and CWAers send a message to T-Mobile US CEO John Legere.

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CWA members from Local 9003, along with activists from United Students Against Sweatshops and other groups, greeted T-Mobile US CEO John Legere as he arrived at the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert in Los Angeles. Legere, who crashed an AT&T event in Las Vegas featuring Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, decided that T-Mobile US would sponsor some of the rappers' appearances.

So USAS and CWA activists made sure that that they were ready with banners and leaflets.

T-Mobile US workers face harassment, unfair discipline and even firing for speaking out for union representation.


Immigration Reform Lives

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It's been a big week for the immigration reform movement.

During his State of the Union address, President Obama urged Congress to "fix our broken immigration system."

"Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades," he said. "And for good reason: When people come here to fulfill their dreams -- to study, invent and contribute to our culture -- they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone."

Just across the room, Cristian Avila, a Dreamer who participated in a nearly 22-day "Fast for Families," was listening to the president from the first lady's box during the speech. CWA President Larry Cohen had joined Avila and other immigration activists in fasting on the National Mall last year to pressure House Speaker John Boehner to call a vote on immigration legislation.

Today, House Republicans are expected to unveil their "statement of principles" on immigration reform. Only when GOP lawmakers introduce real legislative solutions will we know they are serious about reform.

Meanwhile we're raising our voices. Fast for Families announced on Monday that it would be launching a bus tour to visit 50 congressional districts across the country. They'll be giving speeches, visiting the district offices of members of Congress and engaging more communities.

And when "La Santa Cecilia," an alternative rock group who performed during October's historic immigration rally on the Mall, took home a Grammy for "Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album," they dedicated their win to the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. (Listen to their song song "El Hielo," referring to I.C.E. here.)

CWA activists will continue to partner with our allies across the country to raise awareness about the need for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. A few weeks ago, activists greeted Boehner and Rep. Joe Heck as they made their way to a Las Vegas fundraiser. Not long afterward, the United Farm Workers, Kern County Coalition and other allies showed up at Boehner's press conference in Bakersfield, Calif., to remind him that we are not going away.


Union Plus Scholarship Deadline TOMORROW

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The deadline to apply for a Union Plus scholarship is quickly approaching. There is just ONE DAY left for CWA members, retirees or family members to submit an application for a Union Plus scholarship. The scholarship awards range from $500 to $4,000. Union Plus provides $150,000 in scholarships annually.

Applications, including essays and a reference letter, must be submitted by Friday, January 31, 2014 at 12 p.m. EST.

For more information about eligibility and how to apply, or to learn more about the Union Plus Scholarship, click here.


Keeping the Heat on Fast Track

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On MSNBC's "The Ed Show," CWA President Larry Cohen talks about the broad coalition that's fighting against fast track authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership. Watch it here.


Three CWA Human Rights Committees Meet

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CWA Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hill and committee members meet.

Members of CWA's National Civil Rights and Equity Committee and the National Women's Committee met in Washington D.C. this week. On the agenda was writing the annual reports that summarize the committee's work and priorities for members, as called for by the CWA Constitution. Report topics include payday lending, voter suppression, and the FAMILY Act.

The newly expanded committees include representatives from all CWA sectors.

Committee members also began planning for the biennial conferences that will be held concurrently in June in Las Vegas. Joint plenary sessions will be held, with specific workshops that will focus on helping participants develop skills to expand CWA's human right initiatives.

CWA's Ad Hoc Committee also met this week and reviewed the Human Rights department activities for 2013 and work planned for 2014.

"It was a very productive three days for all three committees with much discussion on how to build the movement through Human Rights," said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hill.


Good Jobs, Green Jobs

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Join us next month for the 2014 Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference in Washington, DC.

This year's conference is focused on repairing the systems Americans rely on every day, whether getting us back and forth to work, supplying our power, keeping us safe from storms and floods, communicating with police and fire during emergencies, or ensuring the institutions where our children learn are safe and healthy. It's time to repair these systems today to create quality, family-sustaining jobs, to address the threat of climate change, and to ensure the health and safety of our workplaces and our communities.

Participants will spend Feb. 10-11 networking with business, civic, non-profit, union and environmental leaders and informative and interactive workshops focused on every part of the clean economy. This year's speakers include CWA President Larry Cohen, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Sen. Jeff Merkely, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, Rep. Donna Edwards, Rep. Keith Ellison, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and more.

Register today!


Labor Dept Cites Increase in Private Sector Union Membership

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The number of union members grew by 162,000 in 2013 and the overall percentage of workers who were union members remained steady at 11.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The growth came from an increase of 281,000 private sector members; nationally, public service membership dropped due to continuing, aggressive attacks on the bargaining rights of public workers in a number of states. That assault by right-wing legislatures and governors started in Wisconsin in 2010 and moved on to Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey and other states.

Fifteen states passed laws restricting public employees' collective bargaining rights or ability to collect "fair share" dues through payroll deductions in 2011-2012.

In Wisconsin, however, workers proved that they want union representation. Another 24,000 Wisconsin workers joined unions in 2013, and the percentage of workers who belong to unions rose by more than 1 percent, to 12.34 percent. That's the seventh largest gain in the nation. In 2012, Wisconsin had the third biggest drop in the percentage of workers who are union members, and because of the assault on public worker bargaining rights, union coverage in the public sector fell from 53.4 percent in 2011 to just 37.6 percent in 2013.

The Economic Policy Institute noted that union membership also increased "in some states that may be unexpected," including Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee.