CWA Local 7800

March 2013

Happy Spring to all! First I will share some news that while it was kind of expected it is official. The building that our Local is located in has been sold. The new owners intend to change the use of building and have told us we have to move. The time frame to move will be somewhere between 2 to 8 months.

We have several options, simply lease new space or to purchase our own space. Anyone who knows me understands that I have felt for years that the local should purchase a building, but that comes with disadvantages as well as advantages. At least with purchasing we can control monthly costs and control if we want to move again. The local has a large amount of cash reserves that can be used as a down payment or possibly purchase out right. If we can lower our overhead costs then of course we would have more monies annually to represent the membership. A lease while it will have less upfront costs we are still at the whim of the building owners and rates can be changed or leases not renewed forcing us to move the local yet again. The good part is we would not be required to pay any maintenance costs that would be associated with purchasing.

We have inquired to the MLKCLC to see if there is space in the Labor Temple on 1st Ave. My understanding is they could find us some space and they will provide us with some options sometime soon. The Labor temple has several meeting rooms and as tenants can reserve them and use them for a small additional fee. There is limited parking and it would still leave us with the issue of having folks trying to negotiate downtown traffic and parking to come to the Local. While it may be cost effective I don’t know that it would be better for the membership.

The Executive Board will be meeting to discuss and I hope collectively as a Board we can establish a committee to review and approve a list of priority items that need to be met to pursue a particular location. I have an opinion obviously, my perspective is simple. I would like to see the local stay in the Seattle metro area but not in the downtown core. It will simply be too expensive. I hope somewhere in the SODO district (preferred) but am open to some parts of Georgetown, or the Central District. Georgetown has opportunities for purchase but not necessarily on a direct bus line to downtown like the SODO district has. The Central District allows pretty easy access to downtown but also to I-90 that might make it easier for our MV folks to get to.

So access should be our top priority that includes parking opportunities so folks don’t have to feed the meter when coming to meetings. A safe location, we don’t want to be in an area that could be sketchy after dark, (that being said I can’t tell you how many times folks try to enter the local on a daily basis and simply yank on the door to see if it will open). A rather easy public transportation option should be a priority. Adequate space for the office with meeting rooms and the cost structure needs to be high on the priority list. The cost structure has to be within budget and hopefully will be less than we pay now.

We will be submitting a motion at the Executive Board Meeting to approve monies now to have accessible for related moving costs. We will probably have to hire an attorney for sure to look at a lease or purchase agreement. We may have to come up with deposit or earnest money. I am not sure what other costs may come at the moment but I do believe we need to have funds available to cover these costs.

I will also ask that the building committee given the authorization to make a decision and act upon it because if we have to come back to the membership we could be in limbo for a month and by then the opportunity may have gone to someone else. I would like to see most if not all of the Executive Board on that committee so will be making a motion to do so.

This is of course a huge issue for the local and will require a lot of planning and coordination and frankly 6 months really is not a lot of time to make this happen so that is why we will be making the motions as I described above. We really encourage feedback from our members as well as participation. We will update our website with new developments as they unfold and will consider using email notifications as well but I encourage everyone to attend the membership meetings to be able to vote and debate these issues.

On Saturday March 2nd we held our first bargaining meeting at MV Transportation to prepare for the upcoming contract. We accepted nominations for folks who want to be on the bargaining committee. We will be onsite at both the OTC and BOC locations on Friday March 15th to collect ballots and at the Saturday meeting on the 16th. We will collect any additional ballots and count the votes at that meeting. We will be posting notifications and process on the boards by March 11th. The ballots are secret but we do have to verify membership prior to being allowed to cast your vote. We encourage every member in good standing to participate in this process. It is your contract it is your livelihood.

The meeting on Saturday produced a great exchange of thoughts and ideas but I was hoping we could get a bit more turnout. We do appreciate those who were able to make it. We are going to look at possibly trying to schedule some meetings that may better accommodate the schedules of those working for the connector or the shuttle side of the house plus our associated other titles in the contract. We have posted and currently on the bulletin boards at both locations are Bargaining Proposal forms we again strongly encourage folks to fill those out and turn them in to one of the onsite stewards or when you cast your ballots. That information will be used to produce a list of bargaining proposals and give the bargaining team their direction as to what is most important to the membership. If you don’t take the time to let us know then we don’t know so again it really is in your best interest to fill out those forms and turn them in. For those of you that come from different countries of ancestry please help us communicate with your peers. We understand a large percentage of folks come from someplace else then the states and we want to insure they are included in the process and will participate as much as possible.

For our CenturyLink folk’s contract talks still continue and the company is still proposing regressive proposals in many areas. Nothing really new here but our Bargaining Team will continue to discuss until it becomes clear that talks are stalled or they reach a tentative agreement. I do know that these talks being drawn out as they are keep everyone in a state if uncertainty which adds a bit of stress to folks. We at the local understand it and live it every day. I can only say that we must continue this path and support our team because without them the company would take everything away from us that they could and that simply will not happen.

I think the uncertainty of it is also causing stress on the company they don’t know what to do in regards to planning and so forth. I believe it has caused them to rethink some business plans and back out of negotiations with other companies until it is resolved. Our message is pretty simple in regards to how long will this take. One day longer! Meaning we are prepared and can stay at the table one day longer than the company to get a deal that is fair and reasonable for all of us.

Some other things to note in February Paul Green, Michael Lynch, Avis Mailey and I attended a lobby day in Olympia with the A. Philip Randolph Institute which is a contingency group with the AFL-CIO. Today some of the issues they support and lobby for are:

• Civil rights, strong anti-discrimination measures and affirmative action
• Policies to promote a decent wage, high growth, full employment economy
• Labor law reform and worker health and safety protections
• Decent minimum living standards for all, including anti-poverty programs, a fair minimum wage and a comprehensive "safety net"
• Universal, affordable health care
• Family leave and child care
• Progressive and fair tax policies
• International workers' rights and fair trade Education and training programs
• Education and training programs

The APRI group works closely with Labor but they also have a network of churches they work with and other groups. The day in Olympia was attended by several hundred folks and a lot of children which was really nice to see the children being included. Avis and Michael were volunteers and helped prepare the lunches and that was a lot of work.

The agenda that day was really full and numerous visitors came and spoke to the group and they took questions and concerns from the audience related to some of the bills that the APRI group was working on. The Governor came, The Speaker of the House, several other members of Congress, and Cabinet Officials. For the most part they were asked tough questions from folks in the room on their views and they were asked to support the bills that APRI had come to lobby that day. I also had time to go visit my State Senator and give him a brief on CenturyLink negotations.

We took time to talk on the side with many regarding our contract negotiations with CenturyLink and how the current proposals on the table specifically retiree healthcare, and outsourcing work overseas would cause a problem if the company was successful. A few of them agreed to meet with us to hear more and to offer what assistance they could.

The National Convention is coming up near the last part of April. We have received some information from the National about motions that would be made. Some of these are pretty significant. I have at this time just taken a quick look at these proposals to see some of these are rather large changes to the CWA Constitution and how monies are allocated specifically through the Members Relief fund. I have put it on the agenda to discuss at the Executive Board meeting and we will want to get some feedback and have discussion at the March and April membership meetings. By then I will feel a bit more comfortable getting more in depth regarding those proposals.

On a bit of a positive note CenturyLink has posted 10 openings for Facilities Specialist so I would encourage folks who are interested to apply.

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