Unions Celebrate Victory over TPP

TPP

by Paul Garver

The Teamsters (IBT) and the Communication Workers of America (CWA) informed their members that the long campaign against the Trans Pacific Partnership [TPP] has succeeded in blocking a ratification vote in the lame duck session of Congress.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) reported  this on the news that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal won’t be brought up for a vote this Congress.

The news that the TPP is officially dead for this Congress is welcome, overdue, and a lesson for the future. We’re glad to see that all observers finally recognize the reality that TPP will not and should not go through. For more than five years, CWA members, allies, and working families throughout the country mobilized to expose this corporate-friendly trade deal and the serious consequences for working families and communities if it did take effect. CWA members and allies long have been ahead of Washington on the issue of TPP and trade policy, and this work built a strong public base of voters who rejected what they clearly recognized as bad deal, no matter their political party.

As CWA has been stating throughout this past year, the votes in Congress simply aren’t there to pass TPP. But beyond the vote count, the very act of trying to advance the corporate-friendly TPP would have demonstrated that Washington was willfully ignoring the American public. After a 2016 election season in which anti-TPP sentiment was a rare area of bipartisan agreement and a major factor in shaping election results, trying to ram through the TPP in lame duck would have been an act in willful opposition to the American electorate’s stated wishes.

We will be ready to take on any attempt to revive the TPP in the next Congress or advance other corporate-friendly trade pacts based on the same failed and outdated model of trade.

http://www.cwa-union.org/news/releases/cwa-on-news-tpp-dead-for-congress-welcome-overdue-and-lesson-for-future

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TPP’s End is Near Thanks to Workers

After years of taking aim at the terrible Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Teamsters and their allies can finally see victory in their sights.

In the wake of last week’s election results, congressional leaders made it clear they would not press forward with considering the 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal. And U.S. trade officials acknowledged on Friday that efforts to pass this corporate boondoggle would not continue this year.

The good news is that view will not likely change anytime soon. President-elect Donald Trump was an outspoken critic of the TPP and his transition team has made it clear it will not move forward with consideration of the trade deal. In fact, it plans to drop out of it.

But this looming win is not about any one political leader. It is about the long-standing coalition of union, fair trade, environmental and health care advocates that have stood strong against efforts to craft a trade proposal that would have further fattened the wallets of the corporate elite at the expense of everyday Americans who continue to struggle to support their families.

Concerns about the TPP were first raised more than six years ago when allies gathered outside the first U.S.-based negotiation session to raise concerns that the TPP was a dramatic departure from previous trade deals that would only further the interests of big business. And it grew to become a bipartisan opposition bloc on Capitol Hill.

As Arthur Stamoulis of the Citizens Trade Campaign wrote, “Let’s make sure we’re not letting Trump steal credit for something he didn’t earn. And let’s especially make sure that the movement of movements is getting the credit it deserves. We’re heading into some very rough years ahead, and people need to be reminded of their power.”

The TPP is a scourge on society because not only would it have shipped American jobs overseas, it also would have depressed salaries at home as well. It promised to increase the amount of unsafe foods and products shipped to U.S. store shelves, worsen the global environment and drive up drug prices worldwide.

It also would have left member nations on the hook for any perceived efforts to curb the profits of multinational corporations through legislation or regulation. Pro-corporate tribunals would have heard complaints filed by companies, and taxpayers would have had to foot the bill.

That’s not right or just. But because Teamsters and others took a stand against TPP, now workers and all Americans will benefit. Thank you members for your work!

https://teamster.org/blog/2016/11/tpps-end-near-thanks-workers

300 CWA Members Join Democracy Awakening Protest in DC

Communication Workers of Americ
CWA Press Release

  • democracyawakens

    WASHINGTON, DC — More than 300 members and activists from the Communications Workers of America (CWA) are participating in Democracy Awakening, a mass mobilization of thousands of Americans calling for a democracy that works for all — not just the 1 percent. They rallied, marched, attended teach-ins, and lobbied, and today, are engaging in civil disobedience outside the U.S. Capitol.

    CWA President Chris Shelton is among the CWAers standing up for a democracy where every voice is heard and every vote counts. “We know that on our own, CWA cannot restore workers’ rights or win the financial reforms we need to put working families back on track. The same is true for the critical issues facing environmental groups, consumer advocates and social justice activists. We can’t go it alone. But when we join together, as we have in the past, we can move our democracy forward. We know this. When every organization makes restoring our democracy at least its second most important issue, we can succeed,” Shelton said.

    Shelton and nearly 80 CWA activists are engaging in civil disobedience, risking arrest to spotlight public attention on the call to restore our democracy.

    CWA joins more than 260 organizations in this landmark event coordinated by the Democracy Initiative and calling for strengthened voting rights, campaign finance reform, getting big money out of politics and filling the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. This is a broad coalition of organizations representing the labor, green, student, racial justice, civil rights and money-in-politics reform communities.

    PRESS CONTACT:
    Candice Johnson
    (202) 434-1168

Five Union Presidents Oppose TPP Treaty

by Paul Garver

TPP

Presidents of the IBT [Teamsters], USW [Steelworkers], UFCW [Food & Commercial Workers], IAM [Machinists] and CWA [Communication Workers] all issued statements today urging continued opposition to the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] treaty. Full statements follow.
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Local CWA Leaders Support Bernie in Union’s Membership Poll

by Paul Garver

cwa votes

While local union members and local leaders have to scramble to discourage their national leaderships from an early endorsement of Hillary Clinton without adequate consultation of their memberships, the Communication Workers of America {CWA) is trying a different method – MEMBER DEMOCRACY.

Could this become a model for the NEA, SEIU, AFSCME and other unions whose national leaderships would prefer to endorse Hillary now before the primaries even begin?

Four leaders of CWA locals have issued the following letter encouraging CWA members to vote for Bernie Sanders in an online presidential preference poll initiated by CWA national leadership.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We are writing to other CWA Labor for Bernie supporters to help turn out the vote in the online poll our union is now conducting on presidential candidates.

We are very proud that our union, unlike so many others, is giving all members the right to vote on presidential candidates and encouraging our activism regardless of candidate.

But we are also so proud to have a candidate that represents our values and beliefs as working Americans and not more business as usual.  As Bernie says, “Enough is enough of corporate and billionaire politics!”

  • Bernie will soon introduce the Workplace Democracy Act, which like the Employee Free Choice Act provides for union recognition when a majority joins, and provides a definite path to a first contract including arbitration.
  • Bernie has introduced Medicare for All as well as legislation to repeal the so-called excise or “cadillac” tax
  • Bernie has helped lead the fight against the Trans Pacific Partnership

The list goes on and on: $15 minimum wage, no tuition at public colleges, end super pacs, $1 trillion for infrastructure….(and so much more).  Learn more about Bernie Sanders and contribute to his campaign here.Most importantly, we now have a chance to make a real difference by voting online and encouraging our co-workers to do the same.  Just click here now to vote.  For more information, positions on issues, flyers to download, go to www.laborforbernie.org.  Join the CWA conversation building support for Bernie on Facebook by clicking here.

Please click here now to vote in CWA’s online poll and forward this message to other CWA members to encourage them to do the same!

Steve Abbott, President

CWA Local 7108

Waterloo, IA

Ken McNamara, President

CWA Local 1037

Newark, NJ

Anita Jwanouskos, President

AFA-CWA Local 22061

Baltimore, MD

Steve Flores, President

CWA Local 6222

Houston, TX

Organizations are listed solely for identification purposes not organizational endorsement

FLIGHT ATTENDANTS CALL FOR JULY 16TH CONTRACT DAY OF ACTION AT UNITED AIRLINES

Communication Workers of America

The Joint Negotiating Committee of AFA-CWA flight attendants has called for a National Day of Action Thursday, July 16, to highlight the difficulties that they are facing bargaining a contract with United Airlines.

“The bottom line problem is the company’s unwillingness to put the required economic resources into a Flight Attendant Contract,” AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson said. “That is unacceptable and we are going to stand up to make it clear to the company that we expect much more, especially now as United’s profits are soaring.”

United management must understand that Flight Attendants are united for a fair contract. They are preparing for a System-wide Day of Action on July 16th in all the airline’s 16 base locations, including at Washington Dulles, where they will be joined by CWA President Chris Shelton.

Other locations include London, Frankfurt, Boston, New York, Newark, NJ, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Guam. The workers have targeted July 23rd as the date for an agreement but it will take a very serious turn around at the bargaining table to get there. Flight Attendants will be joined at the National Day of Action by other CWA Locals as well as allies from other labor unions and progressive groups. Details for action are listed at ourcontract.org.

United has failed to reach a unified labor contract with its 24,000 flight attendants despite a boast by United Chief Executive Jeff Smisek following the airline’s October 2010 merger with Continental that he would complete joint contracts with all workers by the end of 2011. Meanwhile, United Airlines is making record profits and its 2015 income will be more than five times higher than in 2013; operating profit in 2015-2017 is expected to be $5 billion or more in each year; United has $7.0 Billion in cash on its balance sheet and its stock price has jumped 162% since negotiations began; Smisek’s pay is up 32% and other top executives and shareholders are also cashing in.

United showed it is tone deaf by announcing that it is investing $100 million in a Brazilian airline while refusing to invest in its own workers who spend more time with passengers than anyone else.

Flight Attendants, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, will demonstrate their solidarity for a joint Contract that recognizes and respects what each worker has brought to the airline since its United/Continental merger and the hard work all they do every day to make United Airlines fly safe.

Message from Iowa To Presidential Candidates: Which Side Are You On?

by Larry Cohen

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More than 500 active leaders from 56 organizations spent Saturday at Iowa State University in general sessions and workshops uniting around issues and strategies at the Working Families Summit. I had been to Iowa in previous presidential election years as presidential campaigns warmed up, but Saturday’s conference was not about a candidate or even a platform. It was broader than that. Recognizing that the leading candidates who are eventually the party nominees will raise and spend in excess of $2 billion, on Saturday, Iowans were energized by the longer road through the nominating process, the 2016 election and beyond. Big money in politics has changed our democracy, but on Saturday populism was alive and well, despite the hard path ahead.

We were labor and green, students and seniors, farmers and community organizers, urban and rural, immigrants and native-born, all realizing that more than ever, we have a common narrative based on democracy and economic justice that goes beyond our organizational silos, as important as those silos may be.

In years past, hosts of a meeting like this might have invited presidential candidates. But these 56 organizations with tens of thousands of Iowa members realize now that the path to real change on the national level is blocked by structural issues in our democracy and will likely continue to be blocked for years to come.

For a presidential candidate, the current debate on fast track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership is central to credibility on any claim to a populist agenda. The issue in Iowa is not trade or no trade, as some apologists for fast track try to argue. The issue is what kind of ground rules do we want so that we can evaluate trade deals after 20 years of corporate trade agreements that mostly are meant to protect the investment profits of multinational corporations.

For example, why is the U.S. the only nation of the 12 current TPP partners considering fast track? Under fast track, Congress all but signs off on adoption of trade deals for the next six years with no authority to amend, and agrees to quick up or down votes. This goes well beyond the TPP and President Obama, since fast track would likely last for six years. Eight of the 12 TPP nations are democracies and their parliament or congress will read the full document before taking any action. With 90 percent of the TPP already negotiated, the only real reason for fast track for the TPP is the growing realization that the TPP never would be adopted if it was subject to careful review and meaningful congressional oversight.

Why has there been little modification in the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process in the leaked chapters of TPP despite rising global opposition? ISDS means private and virtually secret tribunals where multinational corporations can sue national and local governments for any governmental action that limits the corporation’s future profits. Currently there are 500 such cases pending. Philip Morris has sued Australia and Uruguay for implementing plain package cigarette labeling. Occidental Petroleum has won a $2.3 billion judgment against Peru for limiting its right to drill based on environmental concerns.

The U.S. Trade Representative answers the criticism by saying the U.S. has not lost a case yet. But Ambassador Michael Froman knows full well that ISDS provides incentives for moving investment outside the U.S., by guaranteeing that future profits are insulated from stronger environmental or other regulations in other nations.

Democratic presidential contenders campaigning in Iowa need to step up now and tell us “which side they are on.” The president controls trade policy so what these candidates say on trade is far more consequential than on issues that require congressional approval.

For Democrats campaigning in Iowa, the case is even clearer. Two-thirds of Senate Democrats and 80-plus percent of House Democrats are opposing fast track. Are we going to nominate a presidential candidate who turns her/his back on those who are running for office at the same time? Just as importantly in Iowa and across the nation, the entire base of the Democratic Party is saying “no” to fast track. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Democrats in Iowa owe it to the party to speak out now when it matters. Particularly in the House, the vote in several weeks will be very close. Dodging the issue will lead to little accountability in the campaign and in the years ahead.

Saturday was inspirational for so many reasons. For me it renewed my hope that working families in Iowa and across our nation are ready to Stand Up and Fight Back!

Larry-Cohen-avatar-1413481216-60x60Larry Cohen will step down as President of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) on June 8, 2015

World Labor Unions Urge Halt to TPP Negotiations

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has called on governments to stop negotiations on the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” agreement, criticising the secrecy and corporate bias in the current negotiations.

The Communication Workers of America (CWA), the Teamsters and the Machinists are leading the AFL-CIO’s efforts.  Together with a broad coalition of organizations put together by the Citizen’s Trade Campaign, they delivered a total of 663,373 petition signatures and letters opposing Fast Track trade authority to House and Senate leaders.

CWA President Larry Cohen promised that CWA activists would turn their attention to stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as “a dangerous trade deal that threatens our jobs, communities and the environment by giving big business new powers to undermine important laws and regulations.”  Cohen added:”We’ll be demanding that the White House and Congress put its citizens before the corporate and financial interests that already define and dominate the global economy.”

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “This secretive trade deal is good for some multinational corporations, but deeply damaging to ordinary people and the very role of governments. Corporate interests are at the negotiating table, but national parliaments and other democratic actors are being kept in the dark. What we do know, much of it through leaks, is that this proposed deal is not about ensuring better livelihoods for people, but about giving multinational companies a big boost to profits. Governments should shut down the negotiations, and not re-open them unless they get genuine and transparent public mandates at home that put people’s interest in the centre.”

The current TPP proposals include provisions which would:
- Make governments submit to so-called investor to state dispute settlement (ISDS) procedures whereby investors can sue governments on a wide range of policies, including environmental and social policies ;
- Introduce patent protections that would boost pharmaceutical companies’ profits, but put vital medicines out of reach for millions of poorer people;
- Severely restrict governments’ ability to make national laws for public health, safety and general welfare with a ‘regulatory coherence’ chapter;
- Stop governments from giving priority to public policy aims when making decisions about public procurement;
- Impose a series of restrictions on governments’ abilities to regulate the financial sector, thus holding back efforts to reform damaging financial speculation and impeding governments from taking measures to maintain their balance of payment.

Proposals for protection of workers’ rights have met with heavy resistance from some countries, and appear to not cover all ILO Conventions that establish Fundamental Rights at Work or subnational (state and province) labour legislation. The proposals also contain no enforcement for environmental provisions, and fail to address the need for action to mitigate climate change.

“A fair and open global trading system is essential to prosperity, but this proposed TPP is nothing of the sort. Global and regional trade needs to create jobs and prosperity for the many, not just provide welfare for corporations and transfer more power from the parliaments to the boardroom,” said Burrow.

National trade union centers in the countries negotiating the TPP are today formally calling on their governments to stop the negotiations, and to seek a proper negotiation mandate if they are to engage in the negotiations again.

The national trade union centers that support this call are: Australia, ACTU; Canada, CSN and CSD; Japan, JTUC-RENGO; Mexico, UNT; New Zealand, NZCTU; Peru, CUT and CATP; United States, AFL-CIO. Some of these trade unions, as well as the unions of Chile (CUT-Chile) and Malaysia (MTUC) had asked for the negotiations to stop at an earlier stage.

For more information on the global trade union effort, contact the ITUC Press Department on +32 2 224 02 04