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CWA e-Newsletter: June 18, 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.

Breaking: House Leaders Pull Fast One on Fast Track

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Last week, members of the House rejected one gimmick to jam Fast Track through the House, but today, House leadership used another to resurrect Fast Track. The standalone Fast Track billed passed by a vote of 218-208, and the same 28 Democrats who said yes to the flawed Fast Track bill last week did it again today.

CWA's statement said:

Those members of the House of Representatives who voted for Fast Track trade authority today have seriously misjudged the voice and will of the American people.

The House leadership used a cheap trick to resurrect a bad deal that the House already had overwhelmingly rejected. Fast Track supporters rejected the voices of millions of Americans, part of a broad coalition of union members and environmentalists, consumer and community activists, seniors, students, people of faith and others who have been telling their representatives for many months that Fast Track is a betrayal of U.S. workers, communities and law.

This vote will be remembered. Americans know who's standing with working families and who's standing with big corporate interests that can't wait to move jobs to countries like Vietnam, where wages are less than $1 an hour.

"Our opponents will do anything to advance corporate trade deals. Fast Track faces more hurdles in the Senate and House, all opportunities for us to fight for fair trade and a global economy where worker and citizen rights matter," said former CWA President Larry Cohen, who is leading the coalition against Fast Track.

CWA President Chris Shelton said, "This vote won't stop us. CWA members, union members and activists from nearly every progressive group are fighting back against this sell-out by some Members of Congress. We expect our representatives to listen to their constituents, and we're taking that same message to the Senate."

CWAers and allies have been thanking those House members – both Democrats and Republicans – who are standing with working families, and are taking that message to senators who again will have the opportunity to show whether they're on the side of big corporations, or the millions of union activists, environmentalists, people of faith, consumer and community groups, students, seniors and so many more, who know that Fast Track is a disaster for U.S. jobs and communities.

Stayed tuned. The Fast Track fight continues.

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Greensboro workers marched into North Carolina Rep. Alma Adams' (D-12th District) office this week to thank her for voting to stop Fast Track. They chanted, "When I say people's, you say champ! People's! Champ! People's! Champ!" Watch the video here.

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In Ohio, activists thanked Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-3rd District) for supporting working families. From left: Jessica Vernon, AFL-CIO, and CWAers Samantha Trueblood, Diane Bailey, Ron McGuire (Beatty's Deputy District Director), Thomas Lee and Dave McCune.

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Back in North Carolina, CWAers and activists thanked Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-1st District) for listening to constitutents, and presented him with a pair of boxing gloves "because he's the people's champ."

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The AFL-CIO is running Facebook and print ads that thank Democrats who stood with working families.

AFA-CWA Activists Hold 'Bridge the Gap' Day of Action

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In actions at airports across the country, AFA-CWA Flight Attendants called for an end to the discriminatory wage policies that enable airline management to pay Regional Flight Attendants less for the same work.

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AFA-CWA Flight Attendants protest wage inequality at LaGuardia Airport.

Below: AFA-CWA Flight Attendants, CWA supporters and allies call for fair pay.

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The "Bridge the Gap" campaign is fighting to ensure equal pay for equal work for all Flight Attendants. Regional Flight Attendants earn 40 percent less than their colleagues at mainline airlines, even though they perform the same work and connect with the same passengers.

"The U.S. airline industry is crucial to the success of our economy, as are the Flight Attendants who are frontline employees and serve a crucial role in keeping passengers safe," said AFA International President Sara Nelson. "Flight Attendants are united for our careers and committed to lifting standards across the industry."

AFA-CWA Flight Attendants and CWA activists demonstrated at airports in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Dulles-Washington, D.C., New York's LaGuardia, Philadelphia and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

CWA: Verizon is Refusing to Repair Broken Copper Lines

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CWA is calling out Verizon Communications for refusing to repair broken copper lines and instead pushing customers instead to Voice Link, a wireless phone service that can't support Internet connections, home health monitors, or security systems.

CWA, which represents 35,000 Verizon employees in Districts 1 and 2-13, has filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for information regarding repair, maintenance, and installation of Verizon landline service, as well as service quality data and information regarding Voice Link substitution.

CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor pointed out that, "[as] a public utility, Verizon has a duty to maintain service for all customers. But we've seen how the company abandons users, particularly on legacy networks, and customers across the country have noticed their service quality is plummeting."

Ed Mooney, CWA Vice President District 2-13, said that Verizon has walked away from its responsibility to provide quality telecommunications services to customers. Our information requests "will shine a light on Verizon's failures and help the public hold Verizon accountable."

Bargaining Update

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General Electric Contract Expires June 21

At the GE bargaining table last week, IUE-CWA President Jim Clark put management on notice that workers made hard choices in the last round of negotiations for job security and the future of GE's U.S. facilities. "Shifting costs to our members is not the answer," he said, adding, "health care has to be fixed before we leave here."

IUE-CWA's contract negotiations with General Electric Co., got underway on June 1 in New York City. The negotiations cover 10,000 IUE-CWA workers and another 6,000 workers from other unions, including the IBEW, Auto Workers, Machinists and United Electrical Workers (UE). The contract expires June 21. Read more at www.geworkersunited.org.

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IUE-CWA members are mobilizing across the country as they count down to contract expiration. Here, members of IUE-CWA Local 83161 in Salem, Va., (top) and IUE-CWA Local 86004 in Arkansas City, Kansas, are standing strong for a fair contract.

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Verizon East Negotiations Start June 22

Bargaining begins next week for the Verizon East contract covering 29,000 CWAers and 14,000 IBEW members; the contract expires Aug. 1.

Since early June, union members throughout the Verizon East footprint – New York, New Jersey, New England and the mid-Atlantic states – have been holding informational pickets, telling the company that "we want good jobs at Verizon."

"Instead of creating good jobs, Verizon paid its top executives a quarter of a billion dollars over just five years. We need more good jobs, not executive pay," is the message. Keep up with the latest at http://standuptoverizon.com/.

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CWAers across the Verizon East footprint are fighting for a fair contract, and held informational pickets from the mid-Atlantic to New England. From top, members of Local 13500 in Philadelphia, members of Local 1395 in Littleton, Mass., and members of Local 1103 in Port Chester, N.Y.

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Contract at AT&T Southeast Expires August 8

CWA members in District 3 are ready to mobilize as contract negotiations open on June 23. The contract covers more than 27,000 CWA-represented workers.

Get the latest at www.cwaatatt.com.

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CWA President Chris Shelton, District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla- 18th district) with CWAers in South Florida at the "Get Ready for Bargaining with AT&T" rally.

Below: Hundreds of D3 CWAers turn out for the solidarity rally for AT&T bargaining.

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Workers Successfully Pressure T-Mobile To Adopt Fairer Work Scheduling

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In a significant policy change following weeks of public pressure, T-Mobile US said it will change the way it sets work schedules for thousands of call center workers nationwide.

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Candace Harrison, who works at the T-Mobile Albuquerque call center, speaks out for fairer scheduling.

"We are happy that the company is addressing the very issue that we have been raising about scheduling problems over the past weeks," said Ashley Charzuk, a T-Mobile retention representative and member of TU, the union of T-Mobile workers. "This is a huge success for workers, and it couldn't have been accomplished without us union activists speaking out against unfair scheduling policies."

Read more from the trade press here.

Up until the changes, each day T-Mobile allotted a certain number of "pre-approved time-off" (PRETO) hours per center that workers could use on a first-come, first-served basis. If a worker wakes up sick, she immediately would call in to claim those hours. But if second worker also needs to call in sick, there may be too few "pre-approved" hours and the second worker is penalized for being sick. These occurrences have negative consequences for workers' rank and end-of-the-year bonus.

In May, T-Mobile announced it would double the amount of PRETO hours available for workers to request time off. In early June, the company said it was considering separating vacation and sick time. And last week, T-Mobile announced that it would be dropping the retaliation against individual workers when the facilities "pre-approved" hours are exceeded.

The changes were made just as the city council in Albuquerque, N.M. – where T-Mobile has two call centers – prepares to introduce a proposal that would implement paid sick leave and scheduling improvements. It's the result of TU, CWA, The Center for Popular Democracy, Albuquerque community organization OLÈ and a growing coalition of activists partnering to restore a fair workweek for all workers in Albuquerque. Last week the coalition hosted a town hall meeting on irregular scheduling, where Albuquerque City Council members pledged to support their fight for a fair workweek including the right to take sick leave without retaliation.

'Journey for Justice' Spotlights Need for Action on Voting Rights

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The NAACP, along with a broad coalition of partners, announced America's Journey for Justice, an 860-mile March from Selma, Alabama, to Washington, DC, starting Aug. 1. The march marks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and will spotlight the need for action to restore and safeguard citizens' right to vote.

Partners include the Democracy Initiative, CWA, Common Cause, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, 1199 SEIU, The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Sierra Club, National Bar Association, Black Women's Roundtable and others.

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Rev. William Barber addresses activists at the Lincoln Memorial, part of the launch of the "Journey for Justice" for voting rights.

Leaders and activists announced the march at a news conference at the Lincoln Memorial. Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President and CEO, said the action will mobilize activists and advance a focused national policy agenda that protects the right of every American to uncorrupted access to the ballot box, a fair criminal justice system, sustainable jobs with a living wage and equitable public education.

Larry Cohen, chair of the Democracy Initiative, said, "We're going to march and organize across the South, and together, be a part of this fight for justice."

Activists will march under the banner that "Our Lives, Our Votes, Our Jobs, Our Schools Matter." The march coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and will feature rallies and teach-ins along the route, ending in a rally in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, June 25, hundreds of activists, including a busload of CWAers, will rally in Roanoke, Va., to mark the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's Shelby County v. Holder decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act and to call for action to defend the right to vote.

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said this action will focus on the failure of Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and represents the Roanoke area congressional district, to acknowledge widespread voting discrimination or allow a committee hearing. "Virginians currently live under racially gerrymandered districts and understand that protecting voting rights for all means holding Congress and Rep. Goodlatte accountable for ignoring the responsibility to act."

Organizing Update

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District 7 reported these new organizing wins:

  • Workers in the Hamilton County, Neb., Highway Department voted for representation by CWA Local 7401. The 20 employees are members of the bridge and road construction crew, gravel crew and also work as a maintainer operator, mechanic and part-time secretary. Local 7401 has represented workers in similar jobs in neighboring Hall County since the mid-1980s.
  • A majority of AT&T Mobility Network employees in North Dakota (former Altel) demonstrated that they wanted representation by CWA Local 7250.

Three CWA Families Win Union Plus Scholarships

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The children of three CWA members were awarded Union Plus scholarships for 2015.

Gabilis Castillo of Yonkers, N.Y., was awarded a $2,000 scholarship; she is in her second year of study at Fordham University. Her mother, Lisette Rodriguez-Castillo, is a member of CWA Local 1032.
Amber Garland of Barnhart, Mo., was awarded a $4,000 scholarship; she plans to study nursing. Her father, Mark Garland, is a member of CWA Local 6300.
Rupal Parikh of Somerset, N.J., was awarded a $1,000 scholarship; Rupal attends Robert Woods Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University. Her father, Sunil Parikh, is a member of CWA Local 1037.

For 2015, Union Plus awarded $150,000 in scholarships to 106 students representing 36 unions. Learn more about the Union Plus scholarship program, and obtain an application, at www.UnionPlus.org/Education.

Photos from the 75th Convention

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Delegates to the CWA 75th convention adopted policies, reports and actions to keep our union moving forward. See photos of all the action here.