Oct 29, 2015
Sanders Joins CWAers in New York Protest against Verizon
CWAers turned up at a Midtown Manhattan Verizon Wireless store this week to protest the firing of Bianca Cunningham who helped organize Verizon Wireless workers in Brooklyn.
Joining the protesters was Sen. Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor said it is not unusual to find Sanders on a picket line, election or no election.
"Last year, we were in a battle with FairPoint Communications and there was one elected official who joined us on the picket line time after time and that elected official was Bernie Sanders," Trainor said.
"All over this country, Verizon is a metaphor," Sanders told the protesters. "You've got corporate America making huge profits. Their CEOs get huge compensation packages and then with all of their money, what they do is they hire lawyers in order to make it harder for workers to survive in this country...What these companies do is use their power to cut wages, to cut healthcare benefits, to cut pensions."
Sen. Bernie Sanders joined CWAers as they protested Verizon's demands to cut job security and retirement benefits for 39,000 members of CWA and IBEW, and the firing of Bianca Cunningham who helped organize Verizon Wireless workers in Brooklyn. Bottom photo, from left: Bianca Cunningham, Sen. Bernie Sanders, CWA District 1 VP Dennis Trainor, and former CWA President Larry Cohen.
In a historic vote last year, 63 retail store workers at six Verizon Wireless stores in Brooklyn, N.Y., joined CWA Local 1109, Tony Spina, the local's president, said. Cunningham, a retail Verizon Wireless worker, led that organizing effort. At this week's protest, Trainor brought Cunningham out to huge applause and chants of "Bring Bianca Back! Bring Bianca Back!"
"Our chief bargainer, Bianca Cunningham, was caring for our members, doing her job as steward and this company fired her," Trainor said.
Cunningham said all she was trying to do, beside leading the fight to organize Verizon Wireless workers in Brooklyn, was to hold the company accountable.
"Verizon claims they cannot give you a raise and protect your pensions because landline is a dying business. Meanwhile, at the Verizon Wireless bargaining table, they are refusing to make movement on wages, they are refusing to make any movement on anything and we're all making them millions of dollars. So, we ask the question, which is it, Verizon?" Cunningham said.
Cunningham said she hopes her Brooklyn Verizon Wireless coworkers learn to replace the fear with hope and the understanding that "the only way to fight corporate greed is through organizing."
CWA has not endorsed any candidate in the presidential primary elections and is currently conducting an online poll of members to determine whether to endorse a candidate.
Bargaining Continues for Contracts Covering 39,000 at Verizon
Negotiations continued this week with Verizon, although the company continues to press for givebacks.
Missouri Public Workers
CWA Local 6355's negotiating committee reached a tentative three-year labor agreement with the Missouri Department of Social Services and Department of Health and Senior Services last week. Pending ratification, the agreement will cover more than 6,000 social and public health service workers.
CWA Local 6355 President Bradley Harmon, left, shakes hands with Guy Krause, director of personnel at the Missouri Office of Administration.
"We achieved important gains in protection from discrimination and work rules concerning leave and schedules that will help Missouri state workers achieve a more reasonable work-life balance and I'm proud of that," said Natashia Pickens, CWA Local 6355's negotiating co-chair, who works as a family services eligibility specialist in St. Louis County. "CWA members will have to continue to organize our coworkers, though, before we are able to achieve the improvements in our pay and staffing levels that Missouri's citizens need in order to get the quality of social services they deserve."
At the same time, an anti-worker majority in the Missouri General Assembly has relentlessly attacked CWA state workers in recent years. Gov. Jay Nixon has been forced to veto so-called "paycheck protection" and "right to work" legislation passed over bipartisan objections in 2014 and again this year.
Camden Public Workers Rally for Fair Contracts
CWA Local 1014 and Local 1084 members held two rallies calling attention to their fights for fair contracts. Clad in CWA red, the workers held the rallies during their lunch breaks in front of the Camden City Hall.
A contract for the 450 workers at the Camden County Board of Social Services, represented by CWA Local 1084, expired two years ago. In addition to calling for a new contract, the local is speaking out about the degradation of services being provided to the needy in the community.
CWA Local 1014, which represents a number of bargaining units throughout Camden County, is highlighting the plight of about 311 City of Camden employees. These members' quality of life has been drastically eroded in the last few years because of layoffs, furlough days, increased cost of living, zero percent raises, and the increased cost of health insurance and pension contributions, due to changes enacted by the Christie administation.
CWAers in Camden, N.J., stand together for good jobs.
AFA-CWA and United Airlines Continue Contract Mediation
The AFA-CWA Joint Negotiating Committee completed its first mediation session with United Airlines management last week. The negotiations cover 24,000 Flight Attendants from United, Continental and Continental Micronesia Airlines.
Mediation will resume in Chicago on November 3, 2015.