CWA Local 7800

May 2013

I want to first acknowledge Michael Lynch who received the Walter D. Andrews Award. The Walter D. Andrews (WDA) award is given to any CWA Minority Caucus member that has demonstrated by their involvement, the commitment to the areas of Organized Labor and the Community. Congratulations!!

In April CWA held its convention. I always enjoy the convention as is brings me back to reality and to focus on larger goals of CWA, aside from the Local business that is done every day. Both aspects are important for building our union. We have known that at least for the last decade unions have been under attack. That is not old news and the fact the attacks continue on is proof we need to stay vigilant in our resolve to stand up and fight back whenever under attack. Unions have been around for over 100 years. They were founded with a simple purpose to ensure employees had rights at work so employers did not abuse them. Forced overtime, Child Labor, low wages, safety, all these now have laws that employers must follow to protect the workers. These things came from unions speaking up for the people and working with legislatures to get laws on the books. Many corporations to this day are working very hard to get many of these protections removed and to be successful, they know they must first crush the labor movement. Our numbers are dwindling but our presence is still felt.

One thing we need to pay attention to is the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Currently it is not a functioning body and Corporate America along with Republican allies are trying to kill the NLRB. As of today, there is only one Senate confirmed member and two recess appointees under court challenge. The NLRB requires at least three members to take action and the NLRB is the only federal agency to enforce labor laws and without a board, the government can’t enforce laws on the books. It's ridiculous.

President Obama has submitted five (5) nominations to the Senate and they have not acted upon any of them. We locally will be asking folks to take action on this important issue and we hope every one of our members will support the action and take a moment to participate.

Some of the key things the NLRB has ruled on recently are when Verizon fired 86 workers while on strike, they ruled against Verizon. They ruled against CNN for illegally firing workers and setting up a dummy company to replace them. They can also enforce employers to provide data and engage in bargaining of contracts.

CWA President Larry Cohen addressed the convention and as always was very motivating. His speech is posted on the National site; http://www.cwa union.org/pages/president_larry_cohens_remarks_to_the_74th_cwa_convention I would encourage folks to read it. I will post some of the quotes here:

These are hard times. But in hard times, times of resistance, we learn what makes a difference. And what does not. We learn how to create hope. We learn who our true brothers and sisters are. We learn about solidarity, caring, and love. And it is our solidarity and love for each other which will carry us through this dark period in our history.

President Larry Cohen is making the point that we must continue to fight even though so many are against us. We must create hope. He repeated several times in regards to our work and challenges ahead “Hard yes, Hopeless no.”

He also spoke of building a movement and the national issues that we must continue to challenge and work with other activists groups on issues where we share the same frustrations. I think to simplify I will just add a slide that was shared with us it pretty much sums up all the different things we are working on- here locally as well in partnership with our allies and our CWA Locals.

CWA Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hill reported on CWA’s finances and administrative structure and also discussed CWA initiatives like the human rights program and our growing retiree project.

CWA’s headquarters building pays for itself with an aggressive campaign to lease office space to non-CWA tenants and a refinanced mortgage contributing $2 million to the CWA budget for 2012-2013. Changes in CWA’s administrative processes also will make it easier for locals to update membership information.

The human rights program is taking on the mission of movement building, working with civil rights groups, women’s groups, students, and faith leaders to gain social justice in our communities and throughout our country.

The retiree program is growing fast too, with retirees active in just about every campaign in our union, from support on picket lines to political action. Retirees are a critical part of our union and provide real support, whether it’s by contacting a member of Congress or doing an online action, Hill said.

This is the first time the national building has actually produced an income allowing those funds to go into the general budget, so there is some progress there.

There were also numerous proposals at convention and some those that passed are below:

CWA delegates made some important changes to the CWA Constitution.

• Delegates established telecom bargaining councils with the authority to designate national issues that cross bargaining unit lines at the same company. Vice presidents must agree on any changes to these national issues; if they can’t reach agreement, the CWA President will resolve the issues.

This change recognizes the frustration that members, locals and bargaining committees experience when employers refuse to bargain at a national table, and will coordinate issues across districts and sectors.

 • Delegates set a new mandatory retirement age of 70 for all full time, elected Executive Board members. Board members who reach age 70 before their terms are completed can finish out that term but not run for re-election.

This measure complies with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

 • Participation in the National Committee on Civil Rights and Equity and the Women’s Committee was expanded to include representatives from the Public, Healthcare and Education Workers Sector, the Media Sector, AFA-CWA and IUE-CWA.

A significant change that was made though, was regarding the defense fund was passed. Locally our Executive Board agreed to vote no on this but the convention body overwhelmingly accepted this proposal. I still have some reservations regarding this but it passed and we will accept that and work within the system to access these funds locally whenever working on a national issue.

Adopting the recommendations of the Defense Fund Oversight Committee, delegates strengthened CWA’s ability to fight for economic justice and to play offense in organizing, bargaining and other campaigns.

• Delegates approved recommendations to roll the defense fund into the strategic industry fund and created two new silos – for public workers who don’t have the right to strike and for AFA-CWA. SIF silos already exist for telecom, media, manufacturing, passenger service agents and public workers.

• Delegates also voted to use one-half of the annual investment earnings from the MRF to create the CWA Growth Fund under the Strategic Industry Fund, which will support CWA’s movement building, organizing, leadership development, research, industry analysis and fight for economic justice. DFOC responsibilities will be expanded to include participation in the approval and evaluation of Growth Fund campaigns.

The DFOC report stressed that, “the world has changed since we took collective action to establish the Members’ Relief Fund in 1991. Today we face a new and different set of challenges that require us, once again, to take bold and decisive actions to keep our union strong.”

The balance in the MRF, as of March 31, 2013, was $444,787,000.

There were also several proposals from the Telecom Adhoc group which locally we voted no and those motions did not pass at convention either.

Getting back to our bargaining units, here at MV Transportation we are preparing for Bargaining. We have had several meetings with the membership and the Bargaining Committee is meeting again on May 9th to finish preparing proposals for our initial bargaining meeting with the company later this month. More details will follow and for our MV members if you want to get emailed updates please contact the office with your email address.

CenturyLink………. What can I say here… I think everyone is annoyed and frustrated that we have not reached an agreement yet. I can only say I can only have empathy for our Bargaining Team members. The duration of these negotiations has been quite long and I can only imagine the stress involved with this. I give them 100% support. During the convention District 7 had a meeting with all the delegates that represent CenturyLink workers and while nothing new was really shared that we all don’t already know after 9 months of bargaining, is it will probably take another 60 or 90 days to get to a tentative agreement. Our Bargaining Team is committed to staying and bargaining. To the question “how long?” One Day Longer!!

At IATSE we have also been bargaining for 9 months. Yesterday we handed out flyers at their membership meeting asking the members to show support for the dispatchers. From members we talked with, who came to attend the meeting, they were very supportive of the dispatchers. The President of IATSE invited me into their membership meeting to say a few words. I accepted the invitation… somewhat hesitantly because our goal there was not to disrupt their meeting, only to encourage support and hopefully leading to a renewed focus on their part to get these talks done. We have another bargaining meeting scheduled so maybe we will see some progress.

We participated in the May Day rallies (the earlier nonviolent ones that received little press coverage… sigh) and I want to thank everyone that came out for that. Labor is in strong support of Immigration reform and has committed to support that. I want to thank all those who came out to walk in that march. There were thousands of folks who participated in the rally.

Let’s enjoy the summer and if everyone will consider donating a small amount of time to either a community action, or a mobilization regarding contract negotiations at any of the employers listed above, it will be helpful in making those campaigns more successful. Every member is what the Local is comprised of and every member has something riding on these talks so hopefully everyone will support these actions.

We held Advanced Stewards Training at the local as well in April. Susie McAllister our Staff Representative lead the full day training and several stewards were present for the training. Dianne Tarantino, Nancy Dee O’Brien, Gary Scholl, Yedida Fink, from MV Transportation along with Suzanne Wylde & Kevin Fuller from CenturyLink.

Regarding the Local office and sale of the building and our need to move... the original deal has fallen through but our landlord is still actively pursuing the sale of the building so we continue to look at properties and will continue to do so understanding that we will be forced out of this building. We just don’t know of the time frame. Since the other deal fell through another deal could come and they might not offer us a 6 month window and they only have to give us 30 days’ notice at this point, so we are looking and hopefully will find the perfect building soon.

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