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Posts About Communications Workers of America

This blog has been cross posted from the CWA blog. The original post is available online here

04_Cohen_2015_ConventionIn his last keynote address as CWA President, Larry Cohen told delegates that "we can't keep playing by their rules – the deck is stacked, the dice are loaded, the game is fixed." To change that stacked deck, "we need allies and deeper coalitions because the obstacles are that much tougher. We are forming something together beyond a single issue, a deeper sense that we are building a movement together that can move from one issue to another, linked by our goals of democracy and economic justice. I commit to you that I will fight just as hard, shoulder to shoulder with you to build this movement," he said.

Read Cohen's full speech and watch some video here.

Cohen administered the oath of office to new CWA President Chris Shelton, who praised Cohen as a "visionary, transformational" leader.

Cohen was presented with the President's Award, CWA's highest honor for organizing, also known as the "Hat Award," in honor of CWA founding President Joe Beirne. In presenting the award, Shelton said the honor was long overdue and was a tribute not only to the 40,000 New Jersey public workers that Cohen brought into CWA in 1981 but his decades of work to help wor

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Posted In: Communications Workers of America

The following blog has been cross-posted from CWA's Reistence Growing blog. The original post is available online here

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America, Communications Workers of America

The following blog by Kenneth Quinnell with AFL-CIO has been cross posted from the AFL-CIO’s blog. The original post is available online here. 

Union, YES! American Airlines Passenger Service Agents Win Largest Organizing Victory in the South in Decades

In what Communications Workers of America (CWA) heralds as "the largest labor organizing victory in the South in decades," passenger service agents at American Airlines voted to form a union after a 19-year struggle.  In the vote announced today, 86% of the 9,000 agents who voted favored the union, which will now represent 14,500 agents, the vast majority of whom live in the South. American Airlines agents in the West are represented by the Teamsters, and the two unions form a joint CWA-IBT unit to bargain with the airline.

Nearly three-quarters of the agents work in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona and several thousand are home-based reservations agents.  The wide range of jobs the members work include: reservations, ticket and gate agents, baggage service agents, customer assistance representatives, customer service supervisors, club representatives, passenger operations center representatives and special service counter agents.

About the result, CWA said:

The vote clearly shows that workers who can make a fair choice about union representation want bargaining rights. New American agents are concentrated in southern states and work at diverse locations, including large and small airports, call centers and at home. Across every group, they voted for bargaining rights and union representation.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke about the broader importance of the victory:

Clearly, one of the largest labor organizing victories in the South in decades is a historic day. But it also shows that the future of the U.S. labor movement is alive, as these workers can be found at airports, call centers, even working from home. The right to collectively bargain will always be what our working family fights for.

The agents themselves were ecstatic about the victory. Richard Shaughnessy, who has been an agent at Miami International Airport for 27 years, said:

The merger between American Airlines and US Airways is an exciting time for all of us. But even more exciting is our victory today. We’re the front-line employees who interact with our customers every day, and we are looking forward to a positive relationship with management to make this merger ‘work’ for all of us. We are anxious to get to the bargaining table.

Carroll Locklear, a home-based reservations agent in Texas, said:

I’ve been with American Airlines for 18 years, and through all of those years I have been praying for this day. We have been the odd employees out for so long because we were the only employees without union representation. Gone are the days that management can take what they want when they want. This will be a win-win for all of us.

Eula Smith, a customer service agent in Charlotte, N.C., added:

We feel stronger now with this vote. I’m a 60-year-old woman with 42 years with this employer. You can’t live in the South and make a decent wage unless you are in senior management in a corporation or belong to a union. We need this. We need not just a union, we need CWA.

Ken Grunwald, a 23-year reservations agent at the call center in North Carolina, said:

I’m proud to remember everyone over the years who worked so hard for our union voice, who never gave up in the face of adversity, and who gave their blood, sweat and tears so that we would have the opportunity to celebrate this victory today. It’s a victory for all American Airlines employees! I’m so excited to think that we will finally be able to negotiate a legally binding contract. We now all have each others' back.

Janet Elston, an agent at Dallas International Airport, concluded:

Nineteen years ago, a handful of agents started a drive to obtain representation for [American Airlines] airport and reservations agents. Many hundreds of activists have spent thousands of hours over the years to get us to today’s election result. They never wavered and never, ever gave up. We have finally achieved what most thought was impossible: union representation for our work group. Now we’ll begin a new working relationship with our company, with a legal binding contract.


This has been reposted from the AFL-CIO.

Posted In: Communications Workers of America, United Steelworkers

This guest post which originally appeared on Eclectablog was written by Sue Browne, Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance. The original blog appears online here

On Tuesday at the Michigan AFL-CIO offices in Lansing, labor and environmental leaders called on Governor Snyder and state and local lawmakers to take the lead in crafting a flexible state plan to help Michigan meet its emissions reduction targets, as laid out in EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The plan includes the first ever proposal of its kind to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants—while also expanding renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts that create jobs across the state.

Mike Schulte, a staff representative with the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Bryan Grochowski of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Dave Holtz Chair of the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter also advocated for renewing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which is set to expire next year.

The RPS is not only saving consumers on their energy bills, but can also help the state to meet the emissions reductions targets laid out by EPA.

“We can’t start soon enough on the important conversations about how to make these standards work best for Michigan,” said Mike Schulte with CWA. “It is important that Governor Snyder, lawmakers and community leaders begin the work of finding out which actions best build on our economic strengths while achieving the necessary reductions in carbon emissions.”

The leaders urged Michigan lawmakers and Governor Snyder to craft a proposal that responsibly reduces carbon pollution from key sources, upgrades infrastructure, and expands clean energy and energy efficient technologies. They emphasized that doing so will build on the progress Michigan has already made in clean energy technology—spurred by state policies like the Renewable Portfolio Standard—while creating and maintaining middle class jobs and helping to revitalize the state’s manufacturing sector.

“We are working to ensure that Michigan’s leaders will get to work crafting compliance mechanisms that are best suited to the local and regional economies,” said Bryan Grochowski with SEIU. “We need solutions that will protect existing jobs—while reducing carbon pollution—and create new job opportunities, encourage investment, and jumpstart new technologies.”

The group said the Clean Power Plan is a step forward as America works to tackle the effects of climate change, while also ensuring power reliability and fostering economic stability.

Michigan’s clean economy is helping power the state’s recovery, employing more than 76,000 workers. As Michigan expands its clean energy production, the renewable energy industry could support nearly 21,000 jobs in manufacturing alone by 2020, if the industry sources components from local manufacturers.

“Michigan has made great progress in clean energy technology and that’s been spurred by state policies like the Renewable Portfolio Standard,” said Dave Holtz with Sierra Club. “Clean, renewable energy has created and maintained middle class jobs and helped revitalize the state’s manufacturing sector. Our progress will stall if the state’s standard is allowed to expire in 2015.”

In the third quarter of 2013, Michigan ranked fourth in the nation in clean energy jobs announced. Michigan’s clean energy sector supports 20,500 jobs and $5 billion in annual economic activity.

[Photos provided by the BlueGreen Alliance]

Posted In: Michigan, Climate Change, Sierra Club, SEIU, Communications Workers of America
Posted In: Communications Workers of America

The following blog has been cross-posted from the CWA blog Resistance Growing. The original is available online here.

T&T cities identified for faster internet capacity

AT&T is expanding its ultra-fast fiber network to 100 cities nationwide.

The fiber network will deliver AT&T’s U-verse at broadband speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second. Just how fast is that? At that speed, in one second, you could download 25 songs. In three seconds, you could download an episode of your favorite TV show. And in 36 seconds, you could download an entire HD movie.

AT&T’s network build-out is “world changing, as more communities come on line with fiber networks that are 100 times faster than what they have today,” said CWA President Larry Cohen.  

“This is what fast means. It will be great for our members and overall employment, will accelerate business and economic development, provide for new and not-yet-realized services, make state-of-the-art television and other services available to consumers, and help the U.S. regain its place as a leader in true high-speed accessibility,” he said.   

For more than eight years, CWA’s “Speed Matters” campaign has pushed for the expansion of true high-speed fiber networks in the U.S. as necessary to keep pace with economic growth, job creation and global competition.  Speed matters on the Internet, and CWA has been calling for policies to promote faster Internet speeds and higher capacity networks. 

Until now, companies have focused their high-speed build outs in smaller metropolitan areas.

AT&T's announcement is a big step towards laying cables that customers need to tap into the Web across the country. We're finally inching closer to national, affordable high-speed Internet access for everyone.

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Posted In: Infrastructure, Communications Workers of America

The following blog was originally posted on the Communications Workers of America website.

At the Good Jobs, Green Jobs Conference, union and green activists focused on how to beat "fast track" authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an IUE-CWA program to help manufacturing plants save energy and become more efficient, and how sustainable planning in the aviation industry can help improve communities.

AFA-CWA International President Veda Shook and Lourdes Maurice, Executive Director for the Federal Aviation Administration's Energy and Environment Office, moderated a discussion that addressed the airline industry and global greenhouse gases, climate change and ways to improve the aviation industry with a focus on smart planning.

IUE-CWA President Jim Clark and members highlighted the sector's partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund that works with management and workers to identify and implement energy saving opportunities at manufacturing facilities.

Also spotlighted was IUE-CWA's Lean/High Performance Manufacturing program, which looks at organizing production to lower costs, eliminate waste, improve quality and keep good jobs.

CWA Senior Director George Kohl, with the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council, outlined the critical fight to stop fast track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership. About 30 CWA and IUE-CWA activists participated.

Posted In: Trade/Make it in America, Communications Workers of America

Let’s not fold on environmental protections and protecting working families as we negotiate a new trade deal. 

What good are better environmental protections and improved living standards for us all if, when pressed, they’re the first thing up for negotiation? That’s where we’re headed with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The idea that we’d negotiate such a trade agreement behind closed doors and under restrictive deadlines by fast-tracking negotiations doesn’t set the stage for success either. Americans deserve to hear everything they’d be getting, and giving up, by fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. 

This week, the Senate Finance Committee heard from the Communications Workers of America’s President Larry Cohen during a hearing on how Congress should negotiate this and other trade agreements. The concerns he expresses in his testimony are warranted. Besides the impact the TPP would have on environmental standards and basic quality of life for millions of Americans, a new trade deal shouldn’t add to the deficit, shouldn’t diminish consumer protections, should comply with all International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions and more.

Cohen testified “We struggle and fight to hold on to the hard-won gains of years past even as the companies score record profits and CEOs’ pay is at astronomical highs. We need to recognize the role that trade agreements have played in creating this situation. 

See his full testimony below: 

We can’t afford to stand for these values within our own borders and fall back on our demands when pressured to do so. 

Speaking to the environmental implications, Cohen said, “It also does nothing to protect our environmental and climate policies from attack by foreign corporations or to put less stress on our scarce natural resources. More must be done to ensure that trade agreements don’t become a global race to the bottom on the environment.” 

The bad deal Americans would be getting by fast-tracking TPP authority doesn’t end there. Cohen voiced similar concerns about a race to the bottom with regard to fair labor standards, “It’s troubling to us that while previous discussions around Fast Track and negotiating principles have mentioned International Labor Organization (ILO) standards as a benchmark, the U.S. has endorsed few of those very standards itself.” 

There’s no denying that trade is an essential force in our economy. However, we must do more to be sure it’s not setting us back in the long term. Lawmakers would do well to show a little more determination in protecting transparency, consumer and environmental protections, fair labor standards and much more, so that our democracy doesn’t fall by the wayside today or any time soon.  










Posted In: Trade/Make it in America, Communications Workers of America

The following blog is from Tom Conway, a Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance.

Last week I had the pleasure of taking part in the United Steelworkers (USW) and Communications Workers of America’s (CWA) Health, Safety & Environment Conference in Pittsburgh. This is always an informative and inspiring event. This year 1,400 union members, and some management staff, from across the country and a variety of industries came together in the Steel City to learn, teach, and recommit to making our workplaces and communities safe from injuries, death, and industrial disaster.

The USW and the CWA are partners in the Tony Mazzocchi Center and members of the BlueGreen Alliance. Tony Mazzocchi was a visionary who united labor unions with environmental organizations to achieve key victories in the 1960’s and 70’s, including things like the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the Clean Air Act and the first Earth Day. The BlueGreen Alliance is the legacy of that work, and my colleagues and I were honored to have the opportunity at this conference to conduct workshops on climate change, environmental regulation, jobs, and infrastructure. We were thrilled to have over 60 union members join these sessions to discuss with us the impacts that they are already seeing in their communities from a changing climate and what we need to do about it. In case you haven’t heard, we call it Repair America.

From the conversations we had in these workshops, it is clear that we need to act now. There were several workers from plants that had begun to see frequent shutdowns from flooding recently. We listened as three CWA members from New Jersey explained to us the devastation that they are still dealing with daily from Hurricane Sandy. We heard about the concern in one workplace that consistent annual drought conditions now have the company considering relocation. There seemed to be agreement amongst everyone in the room that we need to do something, but some people are also worried that taking action on climate change and infrastructure may lead to increased bills and taxes for workers and more jobs lost overseas, if it is not done right. So we discussed what “doing it right” means; things like trade considerations, research and development, a fair transition for workers, and energy efficiency improvements in our factories.   

The participants in these workshops were great folks, all engaged on these issues, looking to stay informed and get involved. They appreciate that these issues are complicated and require thoughtful solutions, and that running from or denying there is a problem is not it. I’m grateful for people like them.

I got back from Pittsburgh to my home in Northwest Indiana and there was another group of environmental-minded union members coming together on a Saturday morning to take part in National Public Lands Day. I joined a group of Steelworkers, representing 4 local unions from the region, in removing invasive species from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  We spent hours working side by side with Cub Scouts and Park Rangers, cutting and pulling Honeysuckle vine that was choking the life out of the forest. A few of the Steelworkers had brought their kids, to teach them about the amazing nature in their backyard and also the idea of this shared beauty, these public areas for everyone to enjoy and take care of,… democracy at its very best.

That was a great week. I’m fortunate to be able to say I really enjoy my job. I learn a lot from interacting with a diverse group of people in the labor and environmental communities. It is weeks like last week which give me hope during weeks like this week, when, instead of doing something about climate change and jobs and trade and infrastructure and so on, the federal government is shutdown.

I saw once again last week that working Americans are ready to have the hard conversations, make the difficult decisions and do the work necessary to make our people and planet safe and healthy. The members of Congress who are blocking action on, well, EVERYTHING should follow their example. 

Posted In: Indiana, Illinois, Work, Environment and Public Health, Communications Workers of America, United Steelworkers

If you have recently found yourself more frustrated and more disillusioned with Congress’s inability to get things done lately, you’re not alone. Today nearly 100 organizations, including the BlueGreen Alliance, delivered a message to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that enough is enough.

In January, Senate leaders had the chance to reform the Senate rules and end the abuse of the filibuster. Instead, they agreed on a weak compromise.

As a result, it is business as usual. A determined, radical, obstructionist minority is abusing the rules, requiring a 60 vote supermajority for nearly every piece of legislation and nearly every nomination.

It can’t continue this way.

Sign the petition to tell Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell that it is time to end the obstruction.

Our federal court system is in crisis because agencies that safeguard workers’ rights, ensure the safety of our air and water and protect worker’s safety cannot function effectively because key leaders can’t be confirmed. The inability of the Senate to confirm judicial and executive branch nominees hurts our democracy every day.

The full text of the letter signed by the BlueGreen Alliance and over 45 organizations appears below.


 To Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell: 

Our nation faces critical problems that require that all aspects of the federal government function at the highest possible level. The cabinet departments and regulatory agencies must have a full complement of leadership. Likewise, the federal courts must be fully staffed in order to fulfill their constitutional obligation to provide justice to the American people. In order to ensure that these vital positions are promptly filled, the United States Senate must have in place a process that allows it to expeditiously and fairly fulfill its role of providing advice and consent to the President’s nominees, as the Constitution mandates, particularly when a majority of the Senate is willing to act. 

Regrettably, the Senate’s constitutional role in confirming executive and judicial nominations has broken down. We are now faced with the unprecedented procedural hurdle of requiring 60 votes for virtually every nominee submitted by the President. The result has been the debilitation of vital federal courts and many important regulatory bodies. The use of the silent filibuster by the minority, based on their requirement of 60 votes to consider an issue, has evolved into a weapon of partisan obstruction and delay. The process no longer provides unfettered debate that allows the minority to be sure that its voice is heard. In effect, it has granted a minority of 40 senators a veto power over nominees to the judicial branch and independent agencies – nominees that are imperative to the functioning of government and access to justice. 

The price for this unparalleled dysfunction is not paid just by those seeking justice in the courts or important administrative decisions, but by the institution of the Senate itself, which is now held in the lowest level of esteem in its history and has lost the respect and trust of the American people. 

This crisis of confidence grows as the roster of institutional failure expands: 

There now is no ability to enforce labor law in the United States of America. The National Labor Relations Board remains severely impaired by the failure of the senate to confirm a full five member board and general counsel. Three Democratic and two Republican nominees, along with the general counsel, must receive confirmation votes to ensure this agency can meet its statutory obligations to safeguard workplace protections for 80 million Americans and monitor the collective bargaining process. 

The judicial crisis in our courts is growing worse. Over 10 percent of all federal judgeships are vacant, creating a crisis in the courts and denying justice to thousands of Americans whose cases are interminably delayed, if they are ever heard at all. There are over 30 more vacancies now than when President Obama took office, dozens of which are classified as “judicial emergencies.” Filibusters have been applied to large numbers of district court nominees for the first time in history, and circuit court nominees face record-breaking delays and are routinely filibustered, including nominees for the D.C. Circuit, which has four openings, including the seat vacated by now-Chief Justice John Roberts in 2005.

Opponents of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are trying to block the CFPB's ability to move forward with its mandate. The Bureau was established by Congress only two years ago because the public demanded reform and transparency of the activity within our financial system that brought about a fiscal collapse in this country. Yet the Senate refuses to allow an up-or-down vote on a director in a transparent attempt to subvert the statute by blocking the agency’s leader from taking office. 

The Senate minority has threatened to enact their anti-environment agenda by denying a confirmation vote on leadership positions critical to the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Interior. If these positions go unfilled these federal agencies cannot carry out their charge of protecting the health and safety of Americans by limiting dangerous pollution in our air and water and will be stymied in supporting our wild places which are important to our national legacy and our economy. 

Similarly, the Senate minority refused to allow a confirmation vote on the leadership of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services which oversees Medicare and Medicaid programs covering 100 million people and together accounting for 23% of the Federal budget. The threat of the silent filibuster denied leadership to the programs enacted by the majority in Congress. 

The Federal Election Commission (FEC), an independent body tasked with enforcing our nation’s campaign finance laws remains one of Washington’s most dysfunctional agencies at a time when oversight is sorely needed. It can only act with the agreement of at least 4 of its 6 commissioners. However, 5 of the 6 seats are currently vacant or held by lame-ducks still sitting on expired terms (as they are entitled to do until a replacement is confirmed). The sixth and final seat expires in April. Once the President acts and nominates new commissioners, it is the Senate’s responsibility to grant them an up or down vote. 

The abuse of the filibuster to undermine policies that the minority cannot defeat through normal legislative channels represents a subversion of core democratic principles and Senate traditions, and should not continue. 

The Founders gave to the Senate the responsibility to provide “advice and consent” to the president’s nominees by majority vote. No one doubts that the Senate should take this vital task seriously and carefully consider nominations to important positions within our government. But they never envisioned that the Senate would abuse its advice and consent role by employing rules and procedures that would deliberately undermine the full and efficient functioning of the American government or deny a vote to those who have been appointed to positions that Congress itself established. The willful misuse of the Senate’s rules must end. 

We call on you, and all the members of the Senate, to restore fairness and honor to the nomination and confirmation process for executive and judicial nominations, and use the rules of the Senate in a constructive way that fulfills both your constitutional responsibilities and the needs of the American people in these challenging times. Or to reform those rules if a determined minority remains adamant in maintaining a veto over everything that conflicts with their radical philosophy. 


Alliance for a Just Society
Alliance for Justice
Alliance for Retired Americans
American Association for Justice -Formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America
American Association of University Professors
Americans for Financial Reform
The American Federation of Government Employees
American Federation of Teachers
American Postal Workers Union
American Sustainable Business Council
Blue Green Alliance
Campaign for America’s Future
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Effective Government
Center for Science in Public Interest
The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
Clean Water Action
Common Cause
CREDO Action
Daily Kos
Defending Dissent Foundation
Democracy 21
DREAM Action Coalition
Equal Justice Society
Friends of the Earth
Gamaliel Transportation Equity Network
Healthcare for America Now
Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work
Leadership Center for the Common Good
National Association of Letter Carriers
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
National Consumers League
National Education Association

Posted In: Communications Workers of America
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