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

Global Worker Solidarity Gets Real

 

by Paul Garver

Fast Food for 15 Labor activists have long called for international solidarity to confront global corporations, but sentimental and rhetorical appeals to the workers of the world to unite failed to produce lasting results throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, recent global organizing campaigns in fast food, which employs millions worldwide, and telecommunications show promise.

Fast Food

The international coordinated actions of fast-food workers on May 15, 2014, took place in 158 U.S. cities and 93 other cities across 36 countries. More than 10,000 workers and their supporters participated. This represented an unprecedented level of global labor solidarity.

Organizing fast-food workers on a global scale poses enormous challenges. There are relatively few workers in any outlet, and they are mostly precariously employed by third parties other than the global corporations. Labor law in the United States and most other countries is ill-adapted to facilitate worker representation and collective bargaining for such an atomized work force. Fast-food unions have gained small toeholds in only a few European countries that have collective bargaining by sector. Only in New Zealand has a determined union membership been able to conduct repeated, if brief, strikes to raise wages.

After the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) began putting significant resources into community-based organizations and worker centers, fast-food worker organizing has taken off into a powerful movement for raising the minimum wage for all workers.

Global coordination to raise the minimum wage by raising public consciousness rather than through sector or workplace organizing is done through the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF). The IUF, using funding from its own member unions, including the SEIU, held a global meeting of 80 fast-food workers and union representatives from 26 countries in New York in the week prior to the May 15 actions. Many of the foreign delegates remained in the United States to help organize the protest actions in U.S. cities. IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald notes that “The Fight for 15” is “just the beginning of an unprecedented international fast-food worker movement.”

Telecommunications Organizing

Another major global organizing campaign is talking place within Deutsche Telecom (DT), parent of T-Mobile U.S., which the Communication Workers of America (CWA) has been trying to organize. The large union ver.di, which represents DT workers in Germany, has been supporting the CWA organizing drive, trying to compel DT to apply higher worker rights’ standards to its operations in the United States. In May 2014, ver.di sponsored a thousand-strong rally at DT’s Berlin headquarters that included hundreds of international trade unionists in Berlin for an International Trade Union Confederation World Congress, CWA President Larry Cohen. and fired T-Mobile U.S. union activist Josh Coleman. Because of ver.di’s tireless media campaign, Coleman has become well known in Germany as a symbol of DT’s anti-union conduct in the United States.

This was not a one-off event. Ver.di members on the DT works council have visited several Southern U.S. cities where CWA is trying to organize at T-Mobile, and the two unions have formed a joint organization called T-Mobile Workers United (TU) to encourage contacts between German and U.S. workers, including an online discussion forum.

To be effective, global labor solidarity must be mutual and long-term, built around the common interests of workers in particular sectors and transnational companies. Global campaigns like these are moving in the direction of deeper practical organization and strategic planning.

Paul Garver is a retired organizer for the IUF and for SEIU and has been active in DSA for more than three decades. This article also appears in the Fall 2014 issue of Democratic Left.

Verizon Wireless Workers Make History in Brooklyn

by Mike Elk

cwa-verizen

Verizon technicians at the Avenue H garage in Brooklyn show their support for retail workers at the company. (CWA Local 1109)

Tim Dubnau, District 1 organizing coordinator for the Communications Workers of America (CWA), saw something earlier this month that he’d never witnessed before in all his years in the labor movement. On May 14, when Verizon Wireless workers throughout Brooklyn held an election to unionize with CWA, a pregnant employee arrived at the Bayridge store at about 11:45 a.m. Already in labor, this worker was unable to descend the stairs to the voting area. In response, the National Labor Relations Board shut down voting and set up a special voting area in the bathroom of the store so the woman could vote.

“It was incredible that this union vote was so important to this woman that she came in to vote while going into contractions,” says Dubnau.

That day, Dubnau also experienced another first in his tenure with the CWA: a victory for the union among Verizon Wireless retail workers. 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.

Continue reading

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

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