Labor Leaders – Honduras Near “Failed State” Status Due to Trade Agreements

Honduras Near ‘Failed State’ Status Due to Free Trade Agreement, Says Labor and Latino Leaders

By Michael Oleaga. Latin Post.

honduras-immigrants-immigration

Representatives from national Latino and labor organizations described the situation one of the Central American countries as “unbearable,” and natives continue to migrate north into Mexico and the United States.

Communication Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre and National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) Executive Director Pablo Alvarado were among a group of individuals visiting Honduras Oct. 12-15 to meet with Honduras on how the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) benefited the country. Alvarado, Cohen and Gebre agreed Honduras has not seen improvements from the agreement, which was implemented 10 years ago.

The CAFTA-DR agreement has been regarded as the first free trade agreement between the U.S. and the smaller developing economies of Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the agreement would create “new economic opportunities by eliminating tariffs, opening markets, reducing barriers to services, and promoting transparency.” Continue reading

Labor dispute may push shuttle drivers’ pay below poverty line

by Dave Anderson

SuperShuttle drivers

SuperShuttle drivers

If you’ve had an early morning flight from DIA, you might have gotten a ride to the airport with SuperShuttle. Everything seemed normal. The driver came to your door and was helpful and friendly. What you didn’t know is that, for five years, the drivers have been in a fierce fight against a humiliating system of indentured servitude.

In 2009, 94 drivers began organizing for a union after Denver SuperShuttle brought on many new employees, a move that reduced the take-home pay across the unit. Drivers had to work 60-hour weeks and six to seven days each week to compensate. They joined Communication Workers of America (CWA). Al Kogler, the CWA organizing coordinator, notes that it took two years before the workers could vote. In the meantime, he says the company fired union leaders without cause, instituted harsh disciplinary actions, manipulated the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) procedures, made unilateral changes to the conditions of employment and tripled driver fees.

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CWA Members Join Fight Against Fast Track Trade Promotion

CWA Local 1103 Members Lobby Against Fast Track during work break

CWA Local 1103 Members Lobby Against Fast Track during work break

Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) are joining other citizens’ group in opposing
fast track authorizing legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, introduced on 9th January by Senator Max Baucus (Dem) and Representative Dave Camp (Rep).

CWA members are responding to this statement by CWA President Larry Cohen:

“Fast track is the wrong track when it comes to a trade deal like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will affect our laws, our jobs, our food and our environment. Fast track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority, forces Congress to give up its Constitutional right to amend and improve this trade deal, which now is reportedly more than 1,000 pages long. Continue reading

Telecoms Take Hard Line on Union Contract Talks

By Seth Sandronsky

Communications Workers of America

Communications Workers of America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forty three thousand AT&T wireline employees, members of  Communications Workers of America, could be striking this summer if AT&T holds to its position that certain workers must take pay cuts and decreased health and retirement benefits.

The workers’ four CWA-AT&T contracts in the East, Midwest and West expired on April 7. Bargaining continues.

The economic gap is wide and speaks to the gulf between the 99% and top 1%. AT&T seeks changes to wages, costs for health care and pensions and workplace rules, according to Sara Steffens, a CWA staffer with District 9. Leaving one to conclude that lower-paid workers will likely bear the brunt of cuts, AT&T spokesperson Marty Richter said, “We’re committed to working together with the union to bargain a contract that will allow us to continue to provide and protect high quality middle-class careers for our employees.”

The company is not proposing to cut the wages of call center representatives or network technicians, according to Richter. While declining to state the specifics of AT&T’s wage proposals, it appears that the company is seeking pay cuts for other CWA workers under new, lower-cost contracts. AT&T also seeks to change the benefits of employees covered under current CWA contracts. One benefit of no small matter is health care insurance. According to Richter, AT&T employees under CWA contracts have health-care costs “in the lowest one percent of surveyed companies.” Continue reading

A Lesson for Labor From Occupy Wall Street

 by Steve Early

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has given our timorous, unimaginative, and  politically ambivalent unions a much-needed ideological dope slap. Some might describe this, more diplomatically, as a second injection of “outside-the-box” thinking and new organizational blood.

Top AFL-CIO officials first sought an infusion of those scarce commodities in labor when they jetted into Wisconsin last winter.  Without their planning or direction, the spontaneous community-labor uprising in Wisconsin was in the process of recasting the debate about public sector bargaining throughout the U.S. So they were eager to join the protest even though it was launched from the bottom up, rather than in response to union headquarters directives from Washington, D.C.

This fall, OWS has become the new Lourdes for the old, lame, and blind of American labor. Union leaders have been making regular visits to Zuccotti Park and other high-profile encampments around the country. According to NYC retail store union leader Stuart Applebaum, “the Occupy movement has changed unions”—both in the area of membership mobilization and ”messaging.”

It would be a miraculous transformation indeed if organized labor suddenly embraced greater direct action, democratic decision-making, and rank-and-file militancy.  Since that’s unlikely to occur in the absence of internal upheavals, unions might want to focus instead on casting aside the crutch of their own flawed messaging. That means adopting the Occupation movement’s brilliant popular “framing” of the class divide and ditching labor’s own muddled conception of class in America.

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Two More Takes on Verizon

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 08:  Verizon Communicati...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

In addition to Steve Early’s article on the challenges facing Verizon workers, we would like to recommend articles by two Talking Union contributors, Josh Eidelson and Mike Elk.

Josh Eidelson writes on the American Prospect website.

The strike was an impressive show of large-scale solidarity. At best, it may have tempered the company’s ambitions to undo 50 years of contract improvements in these negotiations, but it didn’t take the largest worker concessions—including increased health-care costs—off the table. The limits of this strike are a painful reminder that, even if workers can protect their current contracts, Verizon has been winning its 16-year war to reduce their relevance….

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CWA and IBEW to Resume Talks with Verizon

Following is a statement by the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers:

For release 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011

Washington, D.C. – Members of CWA and IBEW at Verizon Communications will return to work on Tuesday, Aug. 23, at which time the contract will be back in force for an indefinite period.

We have reached agreement with Verizon on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured. The major issues remain to be discussed, but overall, issues now are focused and narrowed.

We appreciate the unity of our members and the support of so many in the greater community. Now we will focus on bargaining fairly and moving forward.

CWA and IBEW represent 45,000 workers at Verizon covered by this contract from Virginia to New England.

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Thousands protest new NYC DOE contract with Verizon

by Michael Landau

Dealing a disappointing – although not altogether unsurprising – blow to 45,000 workers on strike at Verizon,  New York City’s Panel for Educational Policy, dominated by mayoral appointees, voted on August 17 to approve a $120 million contract between the Department of Education and the profitable telecom giant.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew received a lion’s welcome from striking workers who chanted “UFT, UFT!” as he took the stage at a pre-meeting rally organized by their union, the Communication Workers of America, in opposition to the deal.

“That panel inside that building has no choice but to say no to Verizon until they clean up their act and treat their workers right,” Mulgrew said to the cheering crowd of thousands of strikers and supporters, pledging the UFT’s support for the strike.

“What you’re doing is what should be happening all across the country – fighting to protect the middle class so this country can once again be great,” he told the strikers to thunderous applause.

Across the northeast, Verizon workers in the company’s landline division walked off the job on August 7 in response to harsh concession demands that union officials say will shave $20,000 from each worker’s compensation, taking a total of $1 billion from workers at a company that grossed $19 billion in profits in the last four years and paid a special $10 billion dividend to shareholders in July.

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45,000 workers on strike at Verizon

Communications Workers of America

Image via Wikipedia

COMPANY REFUSES TO BARGAIN SERIOUSLY, VERIZON PROPOSALS WOULD TAKE WORKERS BACK DECADES
Washington, D.C. — More than 45,000 workers are on strike today at Verizon Communications. Bargaining continues. Since bargaining began on June 22, Verizon has refused to move from a long list of concession demands. As the contract expired, nearly 100 concessionary company proposals remained on the table.

As a result, CWA and IBEW have decided to take the unprecedented step of striking until Verizon stops its Wisconsin-style tactics and starts bargaining seriously.

Even at the 11th hour, as contracts were set to expire, Verizon continued to seek to strip away 50 years of collective bargaining gains for middle class workers and their families.

CWA and IBEW members are prepared to return to work when management demonstrates the willingness to begin bargaining seriously for a fair agreement. If not, CWA and IBEW members and allies will continue the fight. Continue reading