CWA: Senate Republicans Want to Devastate Health Care for Millions, Democrats Look to Expand Coverage

2 days 4 hours ago

CWA President Chris Shelton issued this statement:

Despite spending more on health care than any other industrialized nation, the U.S. lags behind the nations of the world that guarantee universal access to affordable, quality health care.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation sets the stage for a health care system that finally would make good health care available and affordable for every American.  CWA long has supported an overhaul of our health care system and a “single payer” plan that would provide universal coverage. The Medicare for All Act is one opportunity to do just that.

The introduction of Medicare for All legislation shows the huge contrast between Democrats, who are working on ways to expand health care coverage for all Americans, and the Republican leadership that is continuing to push for changes that will hurt millions of people.

Right now, Senate Republicans are trying to push through the Graham-Cassidy bill that would make our health care system much worse for working families. It would cut protections for people with pre-existing conditions and allow insurance companies to make their health care so expensive that ordinary Americans couldn’t afford it.  It would put an “age tax” in place, requiring older Americans to pay thousands of dollars more, it will make health care bargaining much more difficult and it would slash the Medicaid program. 

It’s a mean-spirited and extreme measure that CWA and our allies will resist. 

Ryan Fluence

Contract wins, Boeing gambles pensions, killing health care

2 days 8 hours ago
Tuesday, September 19, 2017   LOCAL   ► In today’s Columbian — PeaceHealth union ratifies first contract — A 900-member group of recently unionized service and laboratory workers at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center voted Thursday to ratify their first contract. The group voted in December to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers, which now […]
David Groves

How the Canadians Are Trying to Use NAFTA to Raise Your Wage

2 days 8 hours ago
How the Canadians Are Trying to Use NAFTA to Raise Your Wage AFL-CIO

Finally, after nearly a quarter of a century, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is being renegotiated. This is a good thing. NAFTA is called a "trade deal," but it’s mostly a collection of rules that give corporations more power over the three economies of North America. It gives companies tools to undermine laws and rules that protect America’s working families. It increased threats by U.S. employers to close workplaces and move to Mexico. And once the companies got there, NAFTA provided strict rules for them, but only vague guidelines to protect working people’s rights and freedoms.

NAFTA negotiations have not progressed very far, and it is too early to say whether the effort will bring a New Economic Deal to working people or simply more crony capitalism. But there was some fantastic, surprising, excellent news recently.

The Canadian negotiating team did something big: They told the U.S. negotiators that U.S. laws that interfere with people’s freedom to negotiate on the job are dragging down standards for Canada and need to be abolished. Guess what? Canada is right.

These laws, known as "right to work," are another example of the wealthiest 1% rigging the rules to weaken the freedom of people joining together in union and negotiating with employers for better pay, benefits and conditions at work. Not surprisingly, states with these freedom-crushing laws are less safe and have lower wages, dragging down workplace standards for those in other states, and apparently in Canada, too.

Canada gets the obvious: These laws take away working people’s freedom to join together and raise their wages. Canada is pushing the United States to be fairer to working people, just as the U.S. is pushing Mexico to be fairer to its working people. Will the U.S. negotiators see the light and agree to this proposal in NAFTA? We certainly hope so. It will tell us a lot about who the president stands with: Corporate CEOs or working families?

Learn more about laws that take away working people’s freedom.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 09/19/2017 - 11:59


Kenneth Quinnell

DREAM nurse speaks out to save DACA

2 days 11 hours ago
‘My patients do not care where I’m from when I’m taking care of them.’   By RUTH SCHUBERT Washington State Nurses Association WENATCHEE (Sept. 19, 2017) — Jessica Esparza says she’s here to stay. She wants to keep working as a registered nurse on the medical oncology unit at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee. She […]
David Groves

Still targeting health care, Durkan boosted, democracy vs. the right

3 days 8 hours ago
Monday, September 18, 2017   HEALTH CARE   ► From Politico — Senate GOP tries one last time to repeal Obamacare — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his leadership team are seriously considering voting on a bill that would scale back the federal government’s role in the health care system and instead provide […]
David Groves

Call Congress to stop latest health care attack

3 days 8 hours ago
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 18, 2017) — They’re ba-ack. Republicans in the U.S. Senate are making a last-ditch attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act before the Sept. 30 deadline to do so through a simple majority party-line vote. The Graham-Cassidy bill is being marketed as a “moderate” approach, but it is just as cruel as […]
David Groves

North Carolina’s Labor Federation Elects First Woman President

6 days 7 hours ago
North Carolina’s Labor Federation Elects First Woman President

MaryBe McMillan becomes the first woman to lead the North Carolina labor movement after being unanimously elected president of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO during the 60th annual convention that wrapped up today.

McMillan has served as secretary-treasurer of the state federation since 2005. She has spearheaded the cause of getting national and international unions to invest in and organize the South. Before beginning her career in the labor movement, she worked with housekeepers trying to organize at North Carolina State University and, after receiving her Ph.D in sociology, did public policy research for several progressive nonprofits. In 2004, she took a job at the AFL-CIO's Union Community Fund, where she met North Carolina State AFL-CIO President James Andrews—beginning a 12-year partnership fighting for working families in North Carolina.

"James has mentored and inspired countless labor leaders and activists in North Carolina and beyond," said McMillan. "For over 40 years, he has fought tirelessly to make our state a better place for working people. Our labor movement is much stronger because of James’ leadership, and so many of us are better leaders because of his example. I know that I am."

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper awarded Andrews the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest honor, for his more than four decades of service to the labor movement.

McMillan knows challenges lie ahead, but she is ready to lead with the support of the most diverse board in history that includes two members from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and the first LGBTQ member.

"I look forward to working with our affiliates to build the movement we all want—one that is constantly growing, that is both big enough and bold enough to set the agenda and drive our politics, that is unafraid to hold our politicians and our own leaders accountable—a movement with the power to change this state and this nation."

The 60th annual convention featured workshops on storytelling, internal and community organizing, and strategic planning for the future of North Carolina’s labor movement. It also highlighted the debut of a North Carolina labor history exhibit from the Knights of Labor in the 19th century to the Duke Faculty union in 2016.

"I am proud to call the new president of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO my friend," said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre. "MaryBe is a champion of working people in North Carolina, and we will stand with her in the fight to ensure we all have the freedom to join together and negotiate. We will march with her to end discrimination at the polls in North Carolina and across America. And we will organize and mobilize across the state and the South."

For highlights from the convention, including photos and video, check out the hashtag #ncafl60.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/15/2017 - 13:27
Kenneth Quinnell

Everyday heroes, DACA deal or no deal, Supertool, Wayne’s Rhapsody

6 days 8 hours ago
Friday, September 15, 2017   LOCAL   ► From KXLY — Freeman High School janitor hailed as hero for stopping shooter — Ordinary people faced extraordinary circumstances in the Freeman High School shooting. That’s why the school’s janitor is being called a hero, thanks to his quick action to restrain the student gunman. Sam Strahan, […]
David Groves

Popular Support for Working People at Highest Level in a Decade: The Working People Weekly List

6 days 8 hours ago
Popular Support for Working People at Highest Level in a Decade: The Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s this week’s Working People Weekly List.

Support for Labor Unions Is at Decade High, Poll Finds: "Union approval is at its highest level among Americans in a decade—but still not as high as it once was. A Gallup Poll released for Labor Day found 61% of adults in the U.S. approve of labor unions—the highest percentage since 2003, when approval was at 65%. The 2017 approval rate is up 5 percentage points from last year and 13 points above the all-time low of 48% in 2009."

Canada Is Using NAFTA to Demand Protection for U.S. Unions: "As unions and Big Business prepare to square off in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, there will be heated debate over the continental trade pact’s impact."

President Trump Has Reached a Compromise with Top Democrats on DACA: "The top House and Senate Democrats said Wednesday they had reached agreement with President Donald Trump to protect thousands of younger immigrants from deportation and fund some border security enhancements—not including Trump’s long-sought border wall."

Poll: Majority Wants Congress to Establish Path to Citizenship for DACA Recipients: "A majority of voters want Congress to pass legislation that allows undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to become citizens if they meet certain requirements, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted following the Trump administration’s decision to wind down the program protecting these so-called Dreamers from deportation."

Labor Unions Are Stepping Up to Fight Deportations: "Yahaira Burgos was fearing the worst when her husband, Juan Vivares, reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in lower Manhattan in March. Vivares, who fled Colombia and entered the U.S. illegally in 2011, had recently been given a deportation order. Rather than hide, he showed up at the ICE office with Burgos and his lawyer to continue to press his case for asylum."

Unions Aren't Obsolete, They're Being Crushed by Right-Wing Politics: "Growing up in heavily Republican Missouri years ago, Dawn Burnfin was sure that workers in the modern world didn't need the labor movement. 'I was taught that unions were just a bad deal all the way around,' she said. 'I don't know if anybody specifically took me aside and said, "Hey, unions are bad." It was just the implied attitude of everyone there.'"

OSHA's Claims About Hiding Information on Worker Deaths Fall Flat: "Since January, government agencies under the Donald Trump administration have taken steps to hide information from the public—information that was previously posted and information that the public has a right to know."

AFT Survey Shows Strong Parental Support for Public Schools: "Too often, the voices of the parents of public school children are left out of our national discussions about education. The AFT sought to change this and commissioned a survey that interviewed 1,200 public school parents to learn how they feel about the issues that directly affect their children."

Responding to Harvey and Irma: What Working People Are Doing This Week: "Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here's a look at the broad range of activities we're engaged in this week."

Working Families Remember 9/11: "On the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, America's working people commemorate those who lost their lives and those who worked tirelessly to help us recover and rebuild. Here are their words...."

RN Response Network to Deploy Additional Nurse Volunteers to Houston Post-Hurricane Harvey: "National Nurses United’s (NNU’s) Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN), a national network of volunteer nurses, will deploy its second delegation of RN volunteers to Houston, beginning Monday, Sept. 11, to provide medical assistance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, NNU announced today."

Freelancing Ain't Free: "When is the moment in time for a freelance writer that a late payment becomes wage theft, and what do you do about it?"

Attention, Kentucky: Closing a Pension Is Never a Good Idea: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it—and it’s prime time for Kentucky lawmakers to learn a history lesson."

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/15/2017 - 11:57
Kenneth Quinnell

Murray’s new child care bill: ‘Right thing, smart investment’

6 days 11 hours ago
The following is from the Office of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA): WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 15, 2017) — Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, on Thursday introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, a comprehensive early learning and child care bill to ensure affordable, high-quality child care for working […]
Amy Woodward

OSHA's Claims About Hiding Information on Worker Deaths Fall Flat

6 days 12 hours ago
OSHA's Claims About Hiding Information on Worker Deaths Fall Flat

Since January, government agencies under the Donald Trump administration have taken steps to hide information from the public--information that was previously posted and information that the public has a right to know. 

But a recent move is especially personal. Two weeks ago, the agency responsible for enforcing workplace safety and health—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—removed the names of fallen workers from its home page and has stopped posting information about their deaths on its data page. In an attempt to justify this, the agency made two major claims discussed below. Like many efforts to decrease transparency by this administration, these claims are unfounded, and the agency whose mission is to protect workers from health and safety hazards is clearly in denial that it has a job to do. Here's how:

OSHA claim #1: Not all worker deaths listed on the agency website were work-related because OSHA hasn't issued or yet issued a citation for their deaths.

Fact: It is public knowledge that 1) OSHA doesn't have the jurisdiction to investigate about two-thirds of work-related deaths but does issue guidance on a wide variety of hazards to workers that extend beyond their enforcement reach, and 2) OSHA citations are not always issued for work-related deaths because of a variety of reasons, including limitations of existing OSHA standards and a settlement process that allows employers to remedy certain hazards in lieu of citation. (The laborious process for OSHA to develop standards deserves a completely separate post.) But neither of those points mean the agency cannot recognize where and when workers are dying on the job, and remember and honor those who sought a paycheck but, instead, did not return home to their families.

In fact, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, also housed in the Department of Labor, counts and reports the number of work-related deaths each year. The agency reported that in 2015, 4,836 working people died of work-related traumatic injury—"the highest annual figure since 2008." So, another agency already has taken care of that for OSHA (whew!). But this is just a statistic. Luckily for OSHA, employers are required to report every fatality on the job to OSHA within eight hours, so the agency has more specific information that can be used for prevention, including the names of the workers and companies involved, similar to the information the public has about deaths that occur in any other setting (outside of work).

OSHA claim #2: Deceased workers' families do not want the names and circumstances surrounding their loved ones' death shared.

Fact: Removing the names of fallen workers on the job is an incredible insult to working families. The shock of hearing that your family member won't be coming home from work that day is devastating enough, but then to hear that their death was preventable, and often the hazards were simply ignored by their employer, is pure torture. The organization made up of family members who had a loved one die on the job has stated repeatedly that it wants the names of their loved ones and information surrounding their deaths shared. It does not want other families to suffer because of something that could have been prevented. The organization has made it very clear that it opposes OSHA's new "out of sight, out of mind" approach.

So why shield this information from the public? We know the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups have long opposed publication of this information. The Trump administration seems to live by very old—and very bad—advice from powerful, big business groups whose agenda it's pushing: If we don't count the impact of the problem or admit there is a problem, it must not exist.

Find out more.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 09/15/2017 - 08:41
Kenneth Quinnell

Bargaining Update

1 week ago

AT&T Mobility

Hundreds of AT&T Mobility CWAers protested outside the iPhone launch at Apple HQ on Tuesday. Marking the start of a critical sales period that's expected to bring in billions for AT&T, workers called out the company’s pay cuts for its retail employees and its rampant outsourcing and offshoring that undermine their job security and ability to provide quality customer service.

Read coverage of the protest here and here.

Last week, Mobility workers briefed members of Congress, including Senator Bernie Sanders, on these issues and on AT&T's continued refusal to bargain fairly.

AT&T Mobility CWAers fighting for a fair contract protested outside the iPhone launch at Apple headquarters.

Sarah Splitt

Organizing Update

1 week ago


Staff members at StoryCorps, a nonprofit that curates and shares stories of everyday Americans, voted for representation by CWA Local 1180 by an 83 percent vote in an NLRB election. The 24 staff members work in Brooklyn, N.Y., San Francisco, and Chicago.

"In the past, we experienced sudden layoffs, worked for low wages, and weren't able to negotiate over working conditions. My colleagues and I decided to come together and organize so we could have a seat at the table to discuss issues like healthcare benefits, severance packages, and greater transparency around pay. Now we'll be able to have a say in making StoryCorps a better place to work," said Mia Warren, production assistant.

Read more here.

Staff members at StoryCorps voted for representation by CWA Local 1180.

Sarah Splitt

Remembering September 11

1 week ago

This year marks 16 years since the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of thousands of Americans, including members of CWA, NABET-CWA, and AFA-CWA.

Our members were doing their jobs, on planes and on the ground at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and in Shanksville, Pa. We honor their memory.

Read more here.

Sarah Splitt

Local 2009 is CWA STRONG

1 week ago

Local 2009 in Huntington, W. Va., represents more than 500 workers at AT&T Mobility, Frontier Communications, and DIRECTV.

Members of CWA Local 2009 in Huntington, W. Va., are mobilizing to make CWA STRONG.

The local is growing and thriving despite anti-union attacks from the Republican state legislature. Last year, a West Virginia "right to work" (for less) law was passed, overriding the governor's veto. A circuit court judge issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the law from being enforced – for now.

With West Virginia workers' collective bargaining rights in limbo, Local 2009 is taking a proactive organizing approach as part of the CWA STRONG program.

As the local focuses on expanding its reach, Local President Shannon Fink says that face time is the key. "One-on-one, face-to-face contact between coworkers is how we grow. In order to organize effectively, we must have people in each workgroup reaching out to their coworkers individually to talk about what the union does to help them in the workplace and help the community." 

Fink says that sharing information with prospective members about efforts like CWA's push to pass call center legislation shows that the union is actively working to help them.

The local is training 30 stewards this week, and is planning other mobilizing events.

Sarah Splitt

CWA Families Need Our Help

1 week ago

Families in Texas, including many CWA families, continue to struggle in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and major flooding that hit the region. Texas residents, many of whom lost nearly everything, also must cope with growing health and environmental hazards brought on by flooding and huge volume of trash that can’t yet be removed.

Meanwhile, CWA District 3 is working with locals to assess the needs of CWA members in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Southeast, following the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma. CWA is monitoring this situation to determine how we can help.

Donations to the CWA Hurricane Harvey Solidarity Fund, 100 percent of which go to CWA members affected by the hurricane, are still needed. You can donate to the solidarity fund here.

Online donations are preferred, but you can also send a check payable to CWA Hurricane Harvey Solidarity Fund to the CWA District 6 office at this address:

CWA Harvey Hurricane Solidarity Fund
c/o Judy Graves
The Parkway, Building One
4801 Southwest Parkway, Suite 115
Austin, Texas 78735

Donations are not tax deductible.

A CWAer's home in Texas after Hurricane Harvey.

Sarah Splitt

Take Action: Stop Tax Giveaways to the Wealthy and Corporations

1 week ago

There's a massive lobbying effort underway right now to give big tax breaks to millionaires and corporations at the expense of the rest of us.

These mega-tax cuts for the rich and corporations that send good jobs overseas would be paid for by cuts of up to $5 trillion from Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, and other important programs and service that working families are counting on. 

That’s the budget plan President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress are pushing. We need to speak out now, and say no. The 1 percent and wealthy corporations should pay their fair share of taxes – not get an even bigger handout.

Sign the petition telling members of Congress to reject a budget that cuts Social Security and the programs working families need, to give a big tax break to wealthy corporations and the 1 percent.

Sarah Splitt

DACA deal near, Baumloney, how baristas may dress

1 week ago
Thursday, September 14, 2017   DEFENDING THE DREAM   ► In today’s NY Times — Trump confirms support for law that protests Dreamers — President Trump said on Thursday morning that he supports legislation that would protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation and would deliver a “massive” increase in border security — but not with […]
David Groves

AFT Survey Shows Strong Parental Support for Public Schools

1 week ago
AFT Survey Shows Strong Parental Support for Public Schools

Too often, the voices of the parents of public school children are left out of our national discussions about education. The AFT sought to change this and commissioned a survey that interviewed 1,200 public school parents to learn how they feel about the issues that directly affect their children.

AFT President Randi Weingarten spoke about the survey:

These results match what I hear from parents and communities across the country. There is zero ambiguity when it comes to what parents want for their children’s education: safe and welcoming, well-funded neighborhood public schools that help children develop their knowledge and skills and ensure equal opportunity for all kids. Parents deeply support the public schools their children attend and are happy with the job public schools are doing. And while we will never be satisfied until every public school is a place parents want to send their children, educators want to work, and kids are engaged and happy, these results confirm the sentiment we’ve seen in other recent polls that show support for public education continuing to rise.

It’s striking that the agenda being pushed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to defund public education and divert resources to vouchers and other privatization schemes—even when they are cloaked as ‘choice’—is completely at odds with parents’ educational priorities. This is true across every race, political persuasion and area of the country. These results should serve as a clarion call to policymakers to stop defunding our schools and instead deliver on the priorities parents want, to reclaim the promise of public education for all children.

The survey found that public school parents:

  • Say that the public schools their children attend provide them with an excellent or good quality education.
  • Are satisfied with their children's public schools when it comes to helping their child or children achieve their full potential.
  • Favor good quality neighborhood public schools over school choice.
  • Say their top priorities are: providing a safe and secure environment for children, making sure students graduate with the knowledge and academic skills to succeed in college, ensuring that all children have the opportunity to succeed, and developing students' critical-thinking and reasoning abilities.
  • But they also have concerns about education issues such as: education budget cuts at both the local and federal levels, shifts in funding away from traditional public schools to vouchers and charter schools, increased class sizes, layoffs of teachers and staff, high teacher turnover rates, and cutbacks in art, music, libraries and physical education to focus more on reading and math.
  • Say the central challenges facing public schools today are inadequate funding, too much standardized testing, large class sizes and lack of support for teachers.
  • Overwhelmingly disapprove of the job Betsy DeVos is doing as education secretary.
  • Express the greatest confidence in educators—both teachers and principals—and parent organizations to have the best ideas for public schools.
  • When it comes to investments to strengthen public schools, they favor expanding access to career and technical education and other vocational programs that prepare students for jobs, reducing class sizes, providing extra resources and support to turn around struggling neighborhood schools, making sure school curriculums include art and music, providing health and nutrition services to low-income children through their public school, improving mentoring for new or struggling teachers, increasing the number of community schools, and providing high-quality preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds.

Read more about the findings.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 09/14/2017 - 11:31
Kenneth Quinnell