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Sen. Schumer Urges Verizon to Re-Hire Unjustly Fired Union Member

Image courtesy of CWA District 1

Senator Charles Schumer and workers Image courtesy of CWA District 1, All Rights Reserved.

Call Comes After Feds Serve Verizon With a Labor Complaint For Attempting to Silence Brooklyn Workers

Workers are the First Retail Workers to Form a Union in Verizon Wireless & Are Seeking a Fair First Contract

New York, NY – Senator Chuck Schumer joined CWA in front of the wireless store where the unjustly-fired Bianca Cunningham worked and urged Verizon to re-hire her and settle its contract with the Communications Workers of America.                                

Image courtesy of CWA District 1

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer Image courtesy of CWA District 1, All Rights Reserved.

“I am proud to stand with members of the CWA as they work to build their union and settle a fair contract with Verizon. First, we’re  joined today to tell Verizon to ‘Bring Back Bianca!’ Bianca Cunningham—a hardworking employee at Verizon Wireless– who was unjustly fired. Second, we’re urging Verizon to finally negotiate and settle a fair first contract so that its hardworking employees can live a better quality of life,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “Unions are ladder to the middle class for so many hard-working people. And when we have vibrant unions, like CWA, we have the opportunity to build contracts with fair wages and benefits that can strengthen and grow the middle class.” 

“Verizon just announced $5.5 billion in profits in the fourth quarter of 2015 and pays its retail workers about 300 times less than the company CEO,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District One.  “But management would rather intimidate its workers by firing their leader for standing up for her rights than settle a fair contract.  It shouldn’t take Federal charges for Verizon to bring Bianca back and settle fair and just contracts.” 

Image courtesy of CWA District 1

Image courtesy of CWA District 1, All Rights Reserved.

In November, the Federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) authorized the issuance of a federal complaint against Verizon for violating federal labor laws when it fired Bianca Cunningham in an attempt to silence Brooklyn Verizon Wireless workers.

The 65 newly-unionized Brooklyn workers are the first retail workers in all of Verizon Wireless to form a union. Management is also targeting other union activists.

Verizon Wireless workers are fighting for raises, better benefits and a voice on the job to improve working conditions and protect themselves against unfair metrics that drive commissions and management favoritism.

New Report: A Year of Raising Wages Agenda

Worker wins rule since first ever Raising Wages Summit,
but challenges remain

(Washington, DC) – Marking nearly one year since the first ever Raising Wages Summit, the AFL-CIO today released a new report detailing the successes, struggles and path ahead to raise wages for working people.

The report, “Fighting for a Better Life: How Working People Across America are Organizing to Raise Wages and Improve Work,” finds that over the last year income inequality has shifted from a problem we discuss to a problem we can solve.

The report points to clear and unequivocal steps for a path forward. Armed with the solutions outlined in the report, the central conclusion is that America is ready to move beyond the discussion of income inequality and is beginning to write new rules that will shape the economy.

“One year ago, we made clear that raising wages for all working people was our number one priority,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “In 2015 we came together in collective voice and action, and made significant progress.”

The report goes well beyond direct wage increases, highlighting successes that demonstrate the all-encompassing nature of the raising wages agenda. Numerous organizing victories, paid sick leave laws in multiple states and municipalities and new protections against wage theft if five states are outlined as part of the effort to create an economy built on raising wages.

The report also outlines hurdles to further victories, and challenges that remain as the raising wages agenda grows.

In December 2015 alone, the report shows, President Obama and Democrats in Congress were forced to fight off six amendments to the budget that would have rolled back protections for working people. And while the unemployment rate continued to fall last year, wage growth showed only modest improvement before grinding to a halt.

Even with modest wage growth and significant gains for working people in 2015, the report is a reminder that more work is needed in order to keep raising wages a priority in political and economic conversations. 

“Although the victories and the momentum of the Raising Wages movement in 2015 demonstrate that collective action works, we are still far behind where we need to be and where we can be,” said President Trumka. “In the year ahead, we will continue to push for a comprehensive economic agenda that puts working people first. Raising Wages is not a hobby, it is our mission.”

View the report at: http://www.aflcio.org/content/download/174433/4152655/RaisingWagesReport2015.pdf

Is Hearst’s Anti-Union History Repeating At WMUR?

What’s the Agenda Behind the News and Entertainment You Watch?

IMG_2193Hearst Corporation is one of the largest media corporations in the world. It has ownership interests in 360 different businesses, including cable networks A&E and ESPN; 30 television stations that reach one in five American households; dozens of magazines; and even digital outlets such as BuzzFeed (which reaches 190 million unique visitors around the world each month). Hearst Television is “the largest ABC affiliate group” and “the second-largest NBC affiliate owner” – and it even owns two CBS-affiliated stations. When you stop and look, Hearst seems to be pretty much everywhere.

Hearst also has one of the longest histories of opposing labor unions, starting with the Newsboys Strike of 1899. In 1944, Hearst Publications went all the way to the Supreme Court trying to keep its employees from forming a union.

And it looks like Hearst is still fighting unionization today. A group of 20 WMUR employees voted to form a union last April – and it’s now December, and Hearst management still doesn’t want to negotiate with the union about workers’ retirement benefits.

Even after receiving letters from presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Even after being contacted by Martin O’Malley’s campaign. Even after the Democratic National Committee and the New Hampshire Democratic Party removed WMUR as a sponsor of the December 19th presidential candidates’ debate, citing “WMUR’s unwillingness to move forward on scheduling negotiations between the Hearst Corporation and Production Department employees represented by IBEW Local 1228.”

Workers have a right to join together in a union.  Employers have the legal obligation to bargain – in good faith – with their employees’ union.

WMUR’s employees have decided to exercise their right to form a union. But it looks like WMUR management – following Hearst’s long history of fighting unions – is now refusing to allow those newly-unionized workers to keep their retirement plan.

Do you wonder if the anti-union agenda might be finding its way into the news and entertainment you watch?

Last year, Hearst Corporation “achieved record revenue and profit for the fourth straight year” – logging $10.3 billion in sales with profits benefitting the Hearst Family Trust. CEO Steven Swartz even sent out a “Thank you” letter celebrating employees’ “hard work and creativity.”

But that fourth-year-in-a-row CEO “Thank you!” is probably sounding pretty hollow to those 20 WMUR employees faced with losing their retirement plan.

Please sign this petition to tell CEO Swartz and the Hearst Family Trust to end their campaign against unions, and to negotiate fairly with the employees who helped the corporation make record-breaking profits.

Worker Wins Update: Workers Continue to Make Waves and Raise Wages this Season

Washington, DC – Workers across the country finished 2015 strong, fighting for and achieving several significant victories to help create a better life for all working families.

Trump Las Vegas Workers Voting ‘Yes’ to Join Union: Last week, workers at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas voted yes to be represented by Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 of UNITE HERE. Over 500 employees at the hotel will now become members of the union.

Tennessee-based Volkswagen Workers Vote to Join Union: Approximately 150 skilled trades employees at VW’s Chattanooga, TN plant voted overwhelmingly to join a union earlier this month. The election, held under intense pressures from anti-working family advocates, is a critical step towards ensuring auto workers and workers throughout the South have a greater voice in the workplace.

Workers at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Win New Contract: Earlier this month, 2,000 workers from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas voted on and approved a four year contract between the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, Bartenders Union Local 165 and the hotel. The contract comes after a two-year fight with the Cosmopolitan’s previous owners, and has critical language ensuring that wages and benefits are protected if the casino and resort is sold again.

Huffington Post Workers Vote to Join Union: The Huffington Post continues the trend of new media unionizing, as the editorial staff asked management to recognize Writers Guild of America East as their union representative earlier this month. This vote makes The Huffington Post the biggest digital news operation to opt for union representation. In the past year, working people have made significant gains in the media industry as the News Guild-CWA and Writers Guild of America East have won major organizing wins, including Gawker, The Guardian US, ThinkProgress, Salon, Vice Media, and Al Jazeera America.

Temple University Adjuncts Join AFT: Late last month, more than 1,400 adjust professors voted to join full-time faculty members and librarians that are already represented at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This vote represents the largest single representation election for adjuncts in the United States since 2013.

Wake County Raises Wages: Last month, the Wake County Commission, in North Carolina voted to raise the minimum wage for county workers to $13.50 an hour. This county joined Greenville, Greensboro, Asheville, Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro in giving their employees a living wage

American Airline Agents Approve First Contract: Late last month, American Airlines agents overwhelmingly voted in favor of their first contract as members of the CWA/IBT Passenger Service Association. The new contract ensures higher wages and better job stability for agents.

San Antonio Hotel Workers Resolve Labor Dispute: Workers at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio and the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk will be receiving higher wages and improvements in working conditions after settling a seven-year dispute that involved the NLRB, OSHA, and workers.

Dallas Construction Workers Win the Right to Rest: Last week, the Dallas City Council passed a new ordinance allowing construction workers to take a 10 minute rest every four hours. The legislation, championed by the Dallas AFL-CIO, will help promote safer workplaces for workers operating in dangerous conditions.

Why Four Organizing Wins Are a Snapshot of the Future of Working People

Statement by AFL-CIO Strategic Advisor and Communications Director, Eric Hauser, on recent organizing wins by working people across the country:

“As we all deal with the on-demand economy, it is critical to note the power of the collective voice. The future is seen in the actions of workers over the past weeks to stand up, hand in a ballot, and declare with one voice they want a union. These workers represent a snapshot of America, and represent the best chance for every working family to have access to a better life.”

Over the last weeks, working people have cast their ballot to join a union. Significant examples include:

Trump Las Vegas Workers Voting ‘Yes’ to Join Union – Over 500 employees will become part of Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Las Vegas.

Temple University Adjuncts Vote to Join Unions – More than 1,400 adjuncts will join the 1,400 full-time facility members and librarians already members of unions at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Tennessee-based Volkswagen Workers Vote to Join Union – Approximately 150 skilled trades employees at VW’s Chattanooga, TN plant voted overwhelmingly to join a union earlier this month.

Envoy Air Employees Vote to Gain Union Representation – Nearly 5,000 Envoy Air agents joined to vote to become part of a union in an election conducted by the National Mediation Board.

Trump Las Vegas Workers Vote For UNITE HERE Union

Trump-vote-victory-099sTrump Las Vegas Workers Vote “YES” to Join the Union in NLRB Election

Culinary Union Calls for Immediate Contract Negotiations

LAS VEGAS, NV – After two days of voting in a National Labor Relations Board election, a majority of workers at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas have voted “YES” to be represented by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165 of UNITE HERE. Over 500 employees of the hotel are in the union’s bargaining units and were eligible to vote.

Trump Las Vegas workers voted in the NLRB election on December 4 and 5 at their hotel. This victory for workers at the luxury non-gaming hotel co-owned by businessman Donald Trump and casino owner Phillip Ruffin, comes nine months after workers at the Trump International Hotel Toronto voted to join UNITE HERE, and one week after the Trump Toronto workers ratified their first contract.

“I’m so happy that our voices were heard and votes counted!” said Carmen Llarull, a guest room attendant at the hotel, “My coworkers and I look forward to negotiating a fair contract and making our lives better.”

“Trump Las Vegas workers have spoken loud and clear: They want respect, dignity, and the Las Vegas union standard,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Union. ”Trump Las Vegas should recognize the workers’ vote immediately and sit down with us to negotiate a contract as soon as possible.”

“I’m proud to work at this five-star hotel and am even prouder that we have joined the union,” said Alma Zamarin, a food server at the property. “My coworkers and I need fair wages, good benefits, and job security at the Trump Las Vegas, just like workers at other non-gaming properties on the Las Vegas Strip.”

Other non-casino hotels on the Las Vegas Strip that are union and have union benefits: Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, Elara Hilton Grand Vacations, Hilton Grand Vacations Suites on the Las Vegas Strip, Hilton Grand Vacation Paradise, and Hilton Grand Vacations Club at the Flamingo.

Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent over 57,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. UNITE HERE represents 270,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America.

CulinaryUnion226.org / @Culinary226

Worker Wins Update: From Airports to the Airwaves, Workers Make Gains Over Busy Fall


Washington, DC – Workers across the country have stood up in the past months to win better wages and working conditions.

UAW members ratify contracts with Detroit’s Big Three: In the past two months, workers at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler have ratified new contracts. The ratifications, representing approximately 142,000 American workers, give autoworkers better pay, better benefits and bonuses.

Phoenix Airport Fueling Agents join the IAM: Over 120 fueling agents at Swissport in Phoenix, Arizona, voted to unionize as a part of IAM. The workers chose to unionize over concerns with substandard wages, working conditions and the security of their jobs. Their collective action comes after a strong anti-union campaign.

Broadcast Workers Win First Contract:Workers at the Big Ten Network ratified their first college sports network union contract with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Approximately 125 local freelance broadcast workers will receive pay increases, health benefits and annuity contributions as a part of their first contract.

B&H workers vote to unionize:  Employees at the biggest non-chain photo store in the United States, B&H, joined the United Steelworkers, by  an overwhelming 200-88 margin. The workers hope to fix unsafe working conditions and harassment issues.

AFGE Organizes Five Union Elections: AFGE welcomed new members from 5 different government agencies. These includes 475 professional employees at the San Diego VA hospital, 200 physicians and dentists in Phoenix, Arizona, five EPA employees in Dallas, 37 guards at Ft. Meade, MD and 25 vocational rehab counselors at the VA in San Diego, California.

Media Publication Employees Unionize for Fair Representation: Al Jazeera America employees unionized for representation and job security, after management originally fought the organizing efforts. This organizing effort follows suit from several digital publications whose workers chose to unionize in 2015. The Al Jazeera digital journalists will be represented by CWA.

Barnard College Adjuncts Join Union: Barnard College adjunct professors overwhelmingly voted to form a union with the United Auto Workers in early October.

Envoy Air joins CWA: Close to 5,000 airline agents voted to join the Communications Workers of America for fairness, a safer work environment, job security and better wages. This organizing effort is part of CWA’s representation of nearly 60,000 flight attendants at 19 different airlines.

California Judge Issues A Restraining Order Against Union Busting Tactics In Charter School

Judge Orders Temporary Restraining Order to Protect Teachers at LA’s Largest Charter School Chain from Harassment and Intimidation 

Alliance College-Ready Public Schools must immediately stop coercive tactics, along with surveilling teachers, blocking emails, and denying access to teacher union organizers 

LOS ANGELES – Late Thursday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant signed a temporary restraining order (TRO) forbidding managers at LA’s largest charter school chain, Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, from continuing harassment of the 27-school chain’s 700 teachers.

“It’s very rare for the courts to find it necessary to issue a TRO to protect teachers from abusive behavior by charter school managers,” said United Teachers of Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl. “Alliance employs hard-working, dedicated educators who only want to improve their schools and advocate for their students. Instead of respecting their rights and treating them as professionals and valued employees, they’ve faced an onslaught of unfair and illegal actions. This behavior would be wrong in any workplace but is totally unacceptable in a publicly funded school setting.” 

Last week, the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) had asked the court for a TRO and also had filed for “injunctive relief” to stop illegal anti-teacher coercive activity by the charter school chain’s board and managers. PERB made the decision to take Alliance to court and seek an injunction after more than six months of an unlawful anti-union campaign by the Alliance against its own teachers and numerous unfair practice complaints.  A decision on injunctive relief will not be determined until after the parties meet in court on November 17. In the meantime, through the TRO, the court has ordered Alliance to immediately:

  • Stop coercing teachers; 
  • Stop polling teachers on their support for or against the unionization effort; 
  • Allow union organizers access to teachers at the worksite — after school; 
  • Forbid managers from coming within 100 feet of a conversation between union representatives and teachers; 
  • Not block union generated emails to teachers sent via the employer’s email system. 

Alliance has a very high teacher turnover rate, with 25 percent of the chain’s teachers quitting every year. Some schools lose 40 percent of their faculty members annually.  Motivated by a desire to improve student learning conditions and educators’ working conditions, Alliance teachers began exploring unionization last year so that they could address professional issues with the charter chain’s board and executives and better advocate for their students.

In May 2015, roughly a quarter of Alliance’s teachers (146 out of the then 600 teachers) publicly signed their names to a petition and called on the charter school chain’s management to remain neutral as teachers considered forming a union. Earlier, last spring, 70 teachers had announced their intention to form a union with UTLA.  Since that time, according to legal documents, Alliance and its managers have engaged in an unrelenting and illegal anti-union campaign. Among other actions, Alliance management:

  • Sent principals, assistant principals, and other administrators to illegally surveil teachers during discussions with union organizers;
  • Directed Alliance employees not to sign union authorization cards;
  • Interrogated employees about their views on union organizing, and pressured employees to take a position against the union;
  • Interfered with the right of Alliance workers to communicate with one another about workplace issues during non-work times in non-work area;
  • Refused to meet with Alliance employees and union representatives despite state labor law requirements.

The Alliance board of directors, composed primarily of business leaders such as Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler, investment banker Frank Baxter and former Northrop Grumman Chairman and CEO Ron Sugar, has brought some of the worst private-sector anti-union tactics to these publicly funded charter schools. Alliance’s CEO and President is Dan Katzir, who previously served as the Managing Director for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, became Alliance’s top manager earlier this year.

Largest Federal Employee Union Hits New Heights as AFGE Membership Hits 300K

AFGE Logo 2 “Remarkable achievement” amid political attacks on labor unions, working people, union president says

WASHINGTON – The American Federation of Government Employees has reached 300,000 active members for the first time in modern history, a historic milestone that caps 24 consecutive years of membership growth. 

“This is a remarkable achievement, especially in light of the continued threats to labor unions in general and public sector unions in particular,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said.  

“In a political climate that is becoming increasingly hostile to organized labor and the rights of working people to bargain collectively, federal employees understand that there is tremendous power in coming together in the workplace and speaking with one collective voice.” 

AFGE reached the 300,000 member mark on October 26, 2015 as an employee at the Federal Bureau of Prisons joined the union. AFGE reached 200,000 members at the end of 2002. The next benchmark is 500,000 members.  

“Everyone who is a member of AFGE joins because they want to be part of something bigger than themselves,” Cox said. 

Cox encouraged federal and D.C. government employees who do not yet belong to AFGE to consider joining today. Employees can sign up at www.afge.org/join.  

“Being a union member means looking out for everyone in the workplace, not just your own self-interests. It’s about lifting up those individuals whose voices are otherwise silenced. It’s about joining together in solidarity to fight for better working conditions not just in your own workplace but in workplaces across the country and around the world,” Cox said. 

Growing the union is one of the four main objectives of AFGE’s Big Enough to Win plan, which is the union’s roadmap for the next decade. AFGE has added new organizers to help locals with recruiting efforts, held Organizing Institutes and train-the-trainer sessions to improve our organizing efforts, and held many recruitment drives at workplaces across the country. 

“We have gotten to where we are today by building a culture where organizing occurs every single day of the year,” Cox said.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 670,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.

Trump Hotel Workers Say Donald Can “Start Here” If He Wants To “Make America Great Again”

Trump: “Make America Great Again.”

Hotel Workers in Las Vegas: “Mr. Trump, Start Here.”

Trump Casino Las Vegas (FLICKR Jim G)

Trump Casino Las Vegas (FLICKR Jim G)

Las Vegas, NV – “Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again,’” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Union. “Mr. Trump should start right here in Las Vegas with workers at his hotel. Many of them are immigrants who work hard to provide for their families. They deserve equal treatment and should be respected for their contributions to this great city.”

On Friday, August 21, 2015 at 5 p.m., employees from Trump International Hotel Las Vegas will march from Las Vegas Boulevard to their hotel to demand equality. They will be joined by clergy leaders, community organizations, elected officials, and union workers throughout the city. Over 500 Trump Las Vegas employees are seeking to unionize so that they can have the American Dream and have a better life for themselves and their families.

“I came from Mexico many years ago and became an American citizen to have a better opportunity for me and my family,” said Maria Jaramillo, a housekeeper at the Trump Las Vegas. “This country is a nation of immigrants, and we all work hard and deserve to be treated fairly.”

“I was born in America, and, with my union job, I have the opportunity to provide for my family. That’s why I support Trump workers who want to unionize,” said Pamela Parre, a banquet server at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, an MGM Resorts International property in Las Vegas. “Mr. Trump can make America better by treating his employees with dignity and respect, and make their jobs great jobs just like mine.”

In June 2014, five Trump Las Vegas employees were unfairly suspended for exercising their legal right to wear a union button and organize their coworkers. After the Culinary Union filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the Trump Las Vegas, these workers were returned to work with back pay. In June 2015, the Culinary Union filed additional charges with the NLRB asserting that the Trump Las Vegas violated the federally protected rights of workers to participate in union activities. Some of the new charges include incidents of alleged physical assault, verbal abuse, intimidation, and threats by management.

The Culinary Union is the largest labor union as well as the largest immigrant organization in Nevada, representing hospitality workers who come from 167 countries and speak over 40 languages. The Culinary Union and the national organization UNITE HERE have long campaigned for immigration reform and the rights of immigrant workers, including the Immigrant Workers’ Freedom Ride in 2003, and continues the fight to achieve comprehensive, worker-centered immigration reform.

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