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

T-Mobile US Workers Unite for Respect

T-Mobile Workers United photo.

With a new website——workers at T-Mobile US are connecting with each other to build strength in their drive for workplace justice and respect.

Working with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), T-Mobile Workers United (TU) is an alliance of hundreds of call center representatives, retail associates and technicians who are standing up to discuss the issues and challenges they face at the new T-Mobile US, a merger of T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS.

For the past several years, T-Mobile workers say they have faced an extensive anti-union campaign by the company that last year closed seven call centers in the United States and shipped more than 3,300 jobs overseas. Continue reading

Unions Join MLK 50th Anniversary Rally, Renew Call for ‘Jobs and Freedom’

by Bruce Vail

Bayard Rustin (left) and union leader Cleveland Robinson

Bayard Rustin (left) and union leader Cleveland Robinson

Unions are strongly backing a march in Washington, D.C., next week to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. Participating unions are heralding King’s strong ties to labor, and many are using the opportunity to renew the original march’s call for jobs and freedom.

AFSCME [American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees] is one of at least 15 unions who are financially sponsoring the August 24 rally and bringing members to participate. AFSCME has chartered about 100 buses and plans to bring 3,000 to 5,000 marchers, says spokesperson Chris Fleming.

“At AFSCME, we have a special connection to Dr. King,” says Fleming. “Many will remember that he died in Memphis in 1968 when he went there to support the sanitation workers who were organizing with AFSCME. The same struggle for economic justice continues today, so we are proud to honor him by continuing the struggle.”

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Cablevision CEO’s Threats Prompt NLRB Complaint

By Mike Elk

The NLRB says Cablevision violated the National Labor Relations Act in its attempts to deter its Bronx workers from joining the Communications Workers of America. (CWABrooklynVision )

The NLRB says Cablevision violated the National Labor Relations Act in its attempts to deter its Bronx workers from joining the Communications Workers of America. (CWABrooklynVision )

The NLRB says Cablevision violated the National Labor Relations Act in its attempts to deter its Bronx workers from joining the Communications Workers of America. (CWABrooklynVision )

Last June, Cablevision workers in the Bronx voted against joining the Communications Workers of America by a landslide, with 43 workers voting in favor of unionization and 121 workers voting against it. Now, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) says that it plans to file a complaint against Cablevision, accusing the company of engaging in illegal conduct in the lead-up to the election. Continue reading

Labor’s Turnaround: The AFL-CIO has a plan to save the movement

by  David Moberg

(March 3 2013)The mood at the meeting, one AFL-CIO top staffer said, was that the future of the labor movement Richard Trumka was at risk if they continued “business as usual.”

As I waited outside the AFL-CIO’s closed-door executive council meeting on Tuesday at a hotel near Disney World, I recalled a conversation at another AFL-CIO meeting some 35 years ago. The Democratic Socialist leader of the machinists union, William “Wimpy” Winpisinger, had called for retirement of the AFL-CIO’s aging, conservative president, George Meany, saying that labor was in crisis and needed to head in a new direction. I approached the teachers union president, Albert Shanker, known as a feisty Cold War liberal, to get his reaction. Wimpy was too impatient, Shanker said. The labor movement was like a battleship. It takes time to turn it around.

Who knew how long?

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25 Cablevision Union Members Fired During Confrontation with Management

by Mike Elk

An  encounter between workers and management ended in 25 firings. (CWA)

An encounter between workers and management ended in 25 firings. (CWA)

(Feb 1) Around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning (January 30), four dozen unionized Cablevision workers gathered outside of an executive’s door in the company’s Brooklyn office and demanded to speak to him, citing Cablevision’s “open door” policy. The workers, who voted to join Communication Workers of America (CWA) over a year ago, were upset over how contract negotiations were going—they felt that Cablevision was not addressing union concerns about pay, benefits, pensions and job security. An hour later, says CWA, the still-waiting workers were shocked to be informed by management that 25 of them were to be fired.

CWA believes that the firings were illegal retaliation, noting that the 25 workers were all key union leaders within the workplace.
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Going Global at T-Mobile: German Union Members Seek Better Treatment for U.S. Wireless Workers

By Steve Early

When telecom technician Werner Schonau came to Nashville last February, it wasn’t for a fun-filled vacation, inspired by some Teutonic affection for country music. Instead, Schonau, an elected member of the works council at Deutsche Telekom (DT) in Neunkirchen, was part of a fact-finding mission that included twelve other German workers, union leaders, and parliamentarians.

In Nashville, this foreign delegation, organized by Germany’s largest union, ver.di, by-passed the Grand Old Opry and went directly to the customer service center operated by T-Mobile, the nationwide wireless carrier wholly-owned by DT. In a pattern that was repeated at other stops on their U.S. labor rights tour, the Germans tried to meet with T-Mobile workers in non-work areas during non-work times, only to be barred by company managers and private security guards at every facility.

In Frisco, Texas, call center supervisors acted like kindergarten teachers, hurriedly closing all the window blinds to prevent customer service reps from seeing those gathered outside, under a union banner. The center director sent his entire staff an email reassuring them that this attempted European invasion was just a “publicity effort.” He also re-iterated the company’s longstanding position that, in the U.S., “it is better for both T-Mobile employees and our business to maintain a direct working relationship between management. The vast majority of our employees have chosen not be represented by a union.”

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CWA’s Cohen: Can Labor and Allies Create an ‘American Spring?’

By David Moberg

Just before Christmas in 1986, Larry Cohen, having just been named organizing director of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) after stunning successes in New Jersey during 10 years as a worker-organizer, confronted a crisis that came to be known as “the Christmas Massacre.”

Workers at a MCI call center in Southfield, Mich., had petitioned for a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election to certify CWA as their union. But rather than let them decide whether they wanted a union, as the law promises, or even fight for a “no” vote, as most employers do, MCI instead simply shut down the center and fired 500 workers, bringing each in separately to retrieve personal property.

“I realized the success we had in New Jersey was not really possible on a large scale if we didn’t build a broad movement,” Cohen said. “The system was already broken. It wasn’t going to be fixed by one union. It wasn’t going to be fixed by the labor movement…It was too late, and the fight needed to be about working Americans, not about unions.”

In response to the crises at MCI and other corporations, such as Eastern Airlines, Cohen and other labor and progressive leaders founded Jobs With Justice the next year as a network of  labor-community coalitions—now numbering 46 in 24 states—that, most significantly, asked every member to pledge to “be there” in support of someone else’s fight five times over the next year.

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Naming the 1%. Verizon Workers and Restaurant Workers Unite!

by Roger Sikes

Friday June 22nd marked the one year anniversary for 45,000 Verizon workers who have been bargaining for a fair contract at Verizon. Verizon made 10 billion in profits last year yet continues to try to strip away benefits from its employees at the bargaining table.

Members of Verizon’s Board of Directors help to run the company and therefore play a key role in settling this dispute.  Each board member earns about $230,000 a year for their work as a Verizon director.

Clarence Otis is a key Verizon board member and he also happens to be the CEO of Darden Restaurants, the largest company-owned and operated full service restaurant company in the world.  The Darden brand includes restaurants like Capital Grille, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and more.  There are more than 1900 Darden restaurants in the US.

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Organizing Wildfire and Wildcat Strikes Spread Among Cablevision Workers

by Mike Elk

Mike Elk

After nearly two decades of Cablevision workers attempting to organize in New York City, it suddenly appears that they’re meeting success. This story perhaps precipitates a broader trend about how, given the hope of the Wisconsin Uprising and Occupy Wall Street, workers are reinvigorated to fight back against slashed wages and poor working conditions.

In January of this year, in a campaign involving a massive training of shop stewards, political support from elected New York City officials, and community outreach with groups like Occupy Wall Street, 282 Brooklyn-based Cablevision workers voted to unionize with CWA (for more on the dynamics of this incredible campaign, read my story here). Then a group of 120 from the Bronx—employed by Corbel, a Cablevision subcontractor—went out on a wildcat strike to protest cut wages. Last month, those Corbel workers voted to join the IBEW.

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