Maine Labor Advocates To Show Movie SALT OF THE EARTH in Solidarity For IBEW-CWA FairPoint Workers

SALT OF THE EARTH CROPPED

In an expression of solidarity with the IBEW and CWA workers at FairPoint Communications who are struggling for a fair contract, the Community Union of Ellsworth & Hancock County has organized a public showing of the movie Salt of the Earth on July 29.

SALT OF THE EARTH
Tuesday July 29th, 7:00pm
Ellsworth Unitarian Universalist Church
121 Bucksport Rd.

Join the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ellsworth’s Peace & Social Action Committee, Community Union of Ellsworth & Hancock County, IBEW Local 2327, CWA Local 1400, Maine State Association of Letter Carriers, Maine AFL-CIO, Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine, for a free showing of the movie “Salt Of The Earth.”

For more information call 667-4877

Share this flyer with your friends by clicking here for Facebook or here for Twitter.  Also you can download this PDF version of the flyer to post at your worksite or email to your friends.

SALT OF THE EARTH PNH

FairPoint employees attend annual meeting and claim part of company’s contract proposal violates federal law

Fairness at Fairpoint Banner


Fairness at Fairpoint BannerLocal community and union members support Northern New England telecom workers at rally

Charlotte, NC—Employees of Charlotte-based FairPoint Communications traveled from Northern New England to attend the company’s annual shareholders meeting today. The employees—members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA)—came to address top executives and the Board of Directors over concerns they have about the company’s most recent contract proposal. The collective bargaining agreement between FairPoint and 2,000 IBEW and CWA members expires August 2nd.

According to union leaders, the company’s proposed new hire wage rates are, in many cases, below minimum wage levels by as much as 31%. Peter McLaughlin, Business Manager of IBEW 2327, asked management, “Are you aware that your negotiators are therefore asking the unions to agree to wage levels that violate federal and state laws?”

Union members also expressed concern about rising executive compensation at the same time that management has proposed steep cuts to employee pay and benefits and cut jobs. “Company contract proposals want to enforce poverty wages, cut pensions, and slash health care,” said Serina DeWolfe, a member of CWA Local 1400. “Since 2011 our CEO [Paul Sunu] has seen his compensation increase by more than 37%. We want to know why the Board rewarded Mr. Sunu so handsomely even as management eliminated the jobs of hundreds of our co-workers and now proposes to pay new hires poverty wages,” she said.

After the meeting, the FairPoint employees were joined by dozens of local allies for a rally outside the downtown Charlotte hotel where the meeting was held. “We believe every working person deserves respect and a fair deal. FairPoint, a company based right here in North Carolina but owned largely by Wall Street hedge funds, is attempting to destroy good jobs in Northern New England. We came out today to support our brothers and sisters who traveled more than 1,000 miles to demand justice,” said Ashley Howard, a Trustee of the Southern Piedmont Central Labor Council.

Charlotte-based FairPoint Communications is the primary landline telephone provider in Northern New England. The IBEW System Council T-9 includes Locals 2320, 2326, and 2327 and represents approximately 1,700 FairPoint employees in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. The Communications Workers of America Local 1400 represents approximately 300 FairPoint employees in the three states.

CWA Applauds Government By The People Act

Image from Twitter @OfByUS

CWA-blue-lineWashington, D.C. — The Communications Workers of America (CWA) applauds the introduction of H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act. The legislation was unveiled today by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Minority Leader Leader Pelosi (D-Calif.). The bill is an important step in reducing the influence of moneyed special interests in politics and would put our elections back into the hands of everyday Americans.

Image from Twitter @OfByUS

Congressman Ellison
Image from Twitter @OfByUS

“We the people want to be heard,” said CWA President Larry Cohen. “Corporations, Super PACs and Dark Money give a big voice to the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the rest of us. This uncontrolled spending threatens the democratic voice that is the foundation of our country. Increasingly, ordinary Americans are expressing a growing conviction that their votes don’t count, that our political process is controlled by the biggest bankroll, and that money, not the public interest, sets policies and priorities in government.”

The Government By the People Act would change how we finance our elections by encouraging candidates to rely on a large number of small donations from their constituents back home, as opposed to funds from extremely wealthy donors, special interests, lobbyists, Wall Street and big business. It would empower ordinary voters and hold members of Congress accountable to the people who put them in office, not the biggest bankroll.

Here is how it would work:

• Contributions of $1 to $150 would be matched on a six-to-one basis by a newly-created “Freedom from Influence Fund.” Large contributions would not qualify for any match. The fund would be financed by closing corporate tax loopholes.

• The first $25 contributed by small donors would qualify for a “My Voice” refundable tax credit.

• Every candidate’s contributions from the new fund would be capped, and there would be strict enforcement of campaign finance laws, including disclosure of all donations.

Learn more about the Government By the People Act at www.ofby.us

New Survey Show Voters Don’t Want To Take The ‘Fast Track’ On The TPP

Stop Fast Track

Nationwide, Bipartisan Survey Finds Strong Voter Opposition to Fast Track Authority for Trade Deals Such as the Trans Pacific Partnership

Stop Fast Track

Washington, D.C. — A nationwide, bipartisan survey of voters’ attitudes about “fast track” authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership found strong opposition to Congress’s approving “fast track” authorization, with a strong majority of Americans indicating their belief that trade agreements make the country worse off.

The survey was conducted Jan. 14-18, 2014 by Hart Research Associates, a Democratic pollster, and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, a Republican polling firm.  It was jointly sponsored by the Sierra Club, the U.S. Business and Industry Council and the Communications Workers of America.

Voter opposition to fast track authorization is broad, with 62 percent saying they oppose fast track authority for the TPP trade deal, versus 28 percent who say they favor it. After hearing an equal number of arguments that have been made by organizations supporting and opposing fast track, voter opposition grew to 65 percent, including 45 percent indicating that they are strongly opposed.

In households where a voter either owns or works for a small business, the verdict is clear: 64 percent say they expect TPP to hurt more than help small business.

On wages and jobs, the environment and food safety, voters clearly believe that TPP will make things worse.  By a 35 point margin, voters believe that TPP would make things worse in terms of American wages (56-21). By a 30 point margin, voters believe that TPP would make things worse environmentally, not better (48-18). Among voters under age 35, 54 percent say that TPP would have an adverse environmental impact.  A full 63 percent believe that TPP would make U.S food safety worse.

“We’re up against big corporations and deep-pocketed polluters, but environmental groups, labor unions, and other allies have the support of American voters. We need to work together to let people know how this behemoth of a trade deal would affect our jobs, our wages, our access to clean water and air, and our safety as consumers. And we need Members of Congress to oppose fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program.

“Republican Members of Congress and their political advisors ignore at their peril the massive opposition of Republican and Independent voters to Congressional passage of fast track trade authority. They are also gravely concerned about the negative impact the proposed TPP will have on jobs in this anemic recovery. These voters know firsthand what the Republican leadership studiously ignores: Since the U.S. runs persistently high trade deficits under current outmoded trade policies – a cumulative deficit of $10 Trillion in goods since NAFTA – trade displaces many more jobs than it creates and small businesses and their employees suffer disproportionately,” said Kevin L. Kearns, president of the U.S. Business and Industry Council.

“Trade agreements are no longer just about tariffs and quotas. They are about the food we eat, the air we breathe, the jobs we hold. We cannot abdicate this process to non-elected representatives. Trade policy, done correctly, is a win for the U.S. economy and U.S. workers. But fast tracking this TPP will reduce the quality of life for Americans,” said CWA President Larry Cohen.

Among other survey findings:

Opposition to fast track authority remains strong across incomes, with 60 percent of voters in households with incomes under $50,000 and 65 percent of those with incomes over $100,000 expressing opposition to fast track authority.

Republicans overwhelmingly oppose giving fast track authority to the president (87 percent oppose), as do Independents (66 percent). Only Democratic voters give a slight edge to favoring fast track, with 52 percent in favor and 35 percent opposed.

More than half of non-college white voters, or 53 percent, are less likely to re-elect a Member of Congress who supports fast track.

Full poll results here

We Can’t Abdicate Trade Policy to Secret Negotiations and Non-Elected Officials

Larry Cohen CWA

Washington, D.C. — In testimony at the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on “Advancing Congress’s Trade Agenda: the Role of Trade Negotiating Authority,” Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America called for a strong and enforceable role for Congress in setting trade policy and priorities.

Last week, legislation calling for “fast track” authorization of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements was introduced.

“Trade agreements are no longer just about tariffs and quotas. They are about the food we eat, the air we breathe, the jobs we hold. We cannot abdicate this process to non-elected representatives. We cannot let foreign policy objectives trump domestic concerns and in the process unravel our own democracy instead of strengthening others,” Cohen said.

“Nor should we abdicate the decision to determine with whom the U.S. should negotiate. Vietnam is a 90 million person nation that is a party to the TPP negotiations.  The minimum wage in Vietnam is 28 cents an hour, and the average hourly wage is 75 cents. Vietnam’s is a record of non-existent workers’ rights and an extensive roster of human rights violations, including the documented use of child labor,” he said.

Cohen was the only witness testifying in opposition to “fast track” authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade deals. He addressed the issues that a broad coalition of unions, environmental organizations, consumer groups, fair trade advocates and others have joined to work for trade policies that benefit everyone.

“We recognize the reality that we are living in a global economy. Trade policy, done correctly, is a win for the U.S. economy and U.S. workers.

“It is critical that we work to stop the global race to the bottom that has been the result of old-style trade agreements. As a nation, we strive to improve our standard of living and provide a better life for our children and grandchildren. We should not compromise on these values and reduce the quality of life for Americans through our trade policies.” Cohen said.

Congress should establish these priorities for fast track legislation, Cohen said.

1. Document that any new trade deal is not likely to add to the nearly $1 trillion in annual trade deficit in goods. This deficit has increased by five times since we adopted NAFTA.

2. Document the net effect on employment, don’t look only at increases in exports. Each trade deal comes with the promise of job growth, yet the overall impact has been job loss, due to a wave of imports and offshoring.

3. Document the effect on pay and workers’ standard of living. Since NAFTA was negotiated, U.S. wages have stagnated and workers’ weekly take home pay is $100 less than 40 years ago.

4. Ensure that consumer protection regulations by federal, state and local governments are not diminished.

5. Ensure that all trading partners comply with ILO principles and convention. The U.S. has ratified just two of those eight principles that cover workers’ rights, child labor and freedom of association.

6. Ensure that environmental standards are not degraded and are enforceable.

7. Ensure that these social goals are enforceable at least at the same level as all other sections, like patents, investment protection and intellectual property rights.

8. Ensure that Congress plays a meaningful role in setting priorities and limits the authority the U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate on basic governance and human rights.

 

Read the full testimony here: http://www.cwa-union.org/fasttrack-cohen-testimony

Read the executive summary here: http://www.cwa-union.org/fasttrack-cohen-summary

Labor Day Message from CWA President Larry Cohen

Larry Cohen CWA

Washington, D.C. — This Labor Day, we are celebrating some victories and looking ahead to big challenges. We know that times are tough and bargaining can be brutal. But we’re encouraged, because we’re armed with a strategy that enables us to build our power by building a movement of allies – civil rights activists, labor, greens, community organizers, people of faith, immigrant rights groups, the LGBT community and others — who share our vision of social and economic justice.

We know that we can’t reach our goals of secure jobs and bargaining rights on our own. No one group can go it alone. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its allies are too entrenched, too wealthy, too able to exert pressure and control over our democracy. But by working together, like-minded people are bringing about real change.

That’s why National People’s Action’s Sunflower Community partners with our local and T-Mobile activists in Wichita, Kansas, to help win workers’ rights and real immigration reform. That’s why CWA locals in North Carolina are joining the “moral Monday” demonstrations against that state’s assault on voting rights. That’s why CWA members are working with the Sierra Club, Citizens Trade Campaign and Jobs with Justice activists to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership that’s a bad deal for workers, consumers and the environment. That’s why CWA activists have teamed up with faith leaders to support fast-food workers’ strikes for fair wages in St. Louis and other cities. And it’s why 2,000 CWAers joined the crowd at the 50th anniversary March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, to remind our nation that the American dream is not a reality.

CWA Launches New Website to Help T-Mobile US Workers Speak Out

CWA-blue-line

WASHINGTON, DC — The Communications Workers of America (CWA) today launched an innovative new website, www.TMobileWorkersUnited.org, run by workers for workers. T-Mobile Workers United, or 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.

The website makes it easier for T-Mobile and MetroPCS employees to connect to a network of their colleagues across the country and gives them the social media tools to support and raise awareness about TU.

Here’s what workers are saying online:

·         “With the recent acquisition of Metro PCS (9 million no contract customers and no customer service based in the USA) the winds of change are blowing. T-Mobile USA stopped employees’ raises and stopped the phone incentive for employees. We feel if we don’t unite soon, more call centers may soon be on the chopping blocks for downsizing.” – Roland Ellis (Nashville, TN)

·         “I joined TU because I was tired of the unfair treatment. Sometimes I feel like they think they can do whatever they want and there is nobody governing them or there to tell them they are wrong. And when you try to tell them they are wrong, it gets disrespectful. It becomes the type of environment that shouldn’t be a work environment. This is not the streets. You don’t get in someone’s face and tell them they are wrong. You don’t intimidate someone to not voice their opinion or not stand up for themselves.”– Adrian Dominguez (New York, NY)

·         “I’m organizing because, basically, I feel a calling for it. I do care about what happens to young people, especially young workers. I’m at the end of my working life so I’m not afraid. And I just feel like people need to step up and make the American labor movement understand what’s going on. We’re going downhill fast and it really concerns me.” – Candace Harrison (Albuquerque, NM)

Check out more stories and videos at www.TMobileWorkersUnited.org. If you would like to speak with a worker, please contact Kendra Marr Chaikind at kmarr@cwa-union.org.

In 2011, CWA, ver.di, the German union that represents workers at T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom, and a coalition of community and labor groups around the world partnered on an international campaignto win workers a voice and respect at T-Mobile. The company’s anti-union campaign has been brutal: Workers who even express interest in organizing have faced harassment, intimidation and surveillance. The National Labor Relations Board has repeatedly sent the telecommunications giant warnings for its behavior.

This May, T-Mobile officially merged with MetroPCS, combining T-Mobile’s 30,000 employees and 33.2 million customers with MetroPCS’s 3,700 workers and 9.3 million customers.

Workers want this new company to succeed, and they believe that justice and respect in the workplace are essential for that success.

Tentative Agreement Reached for 6,500 Agents at US Airways

teamster airline

CWA-blue-line

teamster airline

Washington, D.C. — The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters reached a tentative agreement covering 6,500 passenger service employees at US Airways. The IBT and CWA together represent the reservations and airport agents.

The tentative agreement provides for wage increases at every step for all passenger service employees and includes a ratification bonus. It also provides critical job security protections, an important issue for workers as the US Airways- American Airlines merger goes forward.

Agents from US Airways and American Airlines have launched a joint campaign to make certain they have a strong union voice at the merged airline.

‘“Working together, passenger service employees at US Airways have built a strong, united group that will continue to make advances for all agents as the US Airways-American Airlines merger proceeds,” said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins.

 

A ratification vote is being scheduled.

 

CWA Pushes New Bi-Partisan Bill To Stop Offshoring Call Centers

ViviCam 6300

‘Press 1 For America’ Bi-Partisan Bill Lets Consumers Choose U.S. Based Call Centers and Bans Tax Dollars for Companies that Off-Shore U.S. Call Center Jobs

 

Call Center Bill Would Require Customer Service Reps To Identify Their Location — And Offer Consumers The Chance To Be Transferred To A U.S. Call Center 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Communications Workers of America (CWA) today hailed the introduction of the bi-partisan “U.S. Call Center and Worker Protection Act of 2013” (H.R. 2909), legislation that lets consumers choose to use a U.S. based call center and would end taxpayer subsidies for corporations that send U.S. jobs off-shore.

The “Press 1 For America” section of the legislation requires call center employees to identify the country from which they are taking the call, and if outside the United States, offer the consumer the opportunity to be transferred back to a facility located in the U.S.  Further, the bill also requires that a list of companies that send jobs off shore be made available to the public. An additional provision allows firms that return jobs to the United States from overseas to be taken off that list, and companies that send U.S. jobs offshore would be barred from receiving federal loans, grants or subsidies for three years.

“Companies that choose to outsource American call center jobs overseas should forfeit their eligibility for federal financial assistance – it’s that simple,” said co-sponsor Rep. Tim Bishop (NY-1). “I am proud to stand with a bipartisan coalition to say that companies deserve support if they invest in good, American jobs, but companies who turn their back on American workers deserve nothing from American taxpayers.”

The bill is also sponsored by Democrats  Mike Michaud (ME-2) and Gene Green (TX-29), along with Republicans David McKinley (WVA-1), Michael Grimm (NY-11) and Chris Gibson (NY-19).

“My number one priority in Congress is West Virginia jobs, and this bill could help save thousands of them,” said Rep. McKinley. “We cannot and should not mandate that companies keep all their call centers here in America – but we sure as the dickens don’t have to help them finance the off-shoring of American jobs by providing them with federal funds.”

In the last Congress, a similar bill had more than 130 bi-partisan co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, though majority leadership declined to allow a vote on the measure.

“This makes it clear that consumers should have choice to create U.S. jobs in call centers, and there should be no more handouts from taxpayers for those who choose not to keep good jobs here at home,” said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins.

Collins noted that in 2012, T-Mobile USA closed seven call centers in six states, affecting 3,300 working Americans and their communities, while at the same time increasing the number of service calls going to facilities in Central America and the Philippines.

State legislative efforts also have been building over the past year with bills being introduced in Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, New York and New Jersey, among other states.

CWA Leader Arrested During Civil Disobedience for Immigrant Workers’ Rights

Pres Cohen getting arrested.  Via TwitterPic pic.twitter.com/e9NJ3DXJ79
Pres Cohen getting arrested.  Via TwitterPic pic.twitter.com/e9NJ3DXJ79

Pres Cohen getting arrested. Via TwitterPic 

5_LC at rally

CWA President Larry Cohen arrested in Washington DC

Washington, D.C. — Activists from labor, immigrant rights, faith, environmental, civil rights and community groups launched “40 Days of Action and Prayer for Families” on immigration reform with a demonstration and civil disobedience outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen was among the leaders who were arrested at a sit down protest that focused on the failure of the House of Representatives to take action on immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for 11 million.

The civil disobedience action sent a strong message to House leaders that the fight for immigrant families is growing and will continue through Congress’ five-week August recess and into the fall until the House produces a comprehensive bill that benefits all 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Cohen said, “All of us in CWA are proud to stand for citizenship and against intolerance.  I am proud to represent our members today as we demonstrate the broad movement that supports a citizenship path for 11 million of our co-workers and neighbors.  We will support this campaign as long as it takes whether we are sitting in the streets or organizing in our communities.”

CWA activists and others will raise this issue at meetings and actions in the home districts of their Members of Congress.

Other groups participating in today’s action were:  Center for Community Change, National Immigration Law Coalition, AFL-CIO, Gamaliel, SEIU, Greenpeace, United Farm Workers, America’s Voice, US ACTION and CASA de Maryland.