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Printed in the U.S.A.
High Stakes in
Election Year Congress
Celebrating pg New Contracts at Sprint
Dr. KING’s 3
Legacy pg ‘Extras’ Act on Media Guild Merger
pg N.J. Workers Cash In on Pension Law
2 FEBRUARY 2000 CWANews
IN MY OPINION
By Morton Bahr
Gore is the Workers’ Champion – It’s a Matter of Record
ince the time of CWA’s endorsement of Vice President Al despite the fact that AT&T had shut down a major manufacturing facility in his home
Gore for the presidency at our 61st Convention last July, state of New Jersey.
Gore and Senator Bill Bradley have campaigned vigorously in From the vice president’s standpoint, these are not isolated cases of sup-
Iowa, New Hampshire and other primary states and have port for working families. During Al Gore’s years in the Senate — representing a
engaged in many televised debates. “right-to-work” state, I would stress — his record of support for AFL-CIO-backed
The news media have painted a picture of two Democratic candi- legislation is topped only by that of Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)
dates with little difference in ideology or on policy matters. One might These were among the factors that the AFL-CIO executive council took
fairly ask, wouldn’t either candidate be good for working families? into consideration in discussing whom to endorse at the time that both Bradley and
Our endorsement and continued strong support of the vice president are Gore were seeking labor’s support.
based on the conviction that he is unique among all the candidates of both parties in Time and again,Vice President Gore has shown that his commitment to
the strength of his commitment to working people, as well as his overall qualifica- workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively is more than talk or political
tions for the top office. expediency.
Al Gore was there for us long before he entertained running for the White NABET-CWA members at ABC well remember election night in 1998
House, and he stood up for CWA members at times when then-Senator Bradley when the network locked them out — and when Al Gore stood up for them. The
from New Jersey did not. It’s a matter of record. vice president was slated for a high-profile network interview with ABC White
Let’s look at two key votes before Congress that dealt with the fundamental House correspondent Ann Compton, which would frame the election coverage for
issues of protecting pensions and jobs for CWA members. the Democrats. Gore canceled the interview, declaring: “I don’t cross CWA picket
First, when the AT&T Bell System was broken up in the early 1980s, CWA lines, electronic or physical.” His example caused other Democratic politicians to
mounted a legislative effort to give the workers pension portability as they were refuse to appear on ABC throughout the long lockout.
suddenly scattered among eight different corporate entities and were frequently trans- Gore walks the walk, demonstrating he means it when says, as he did last
ferred back and forth during a period of personnel adjustment. Without congressional Labor Day speaking to the 25th anniversary convention of the Coalition of Labor
action, these workers had no guarantee of keeping their seniority when they transferred. Union Women: “Let me tell you as plainly as I can, I am pro-union, pro-worker, pro-
As a congressman from Tennessee, Al Gore voted for the CWA-backed family, pro-working family.”
amendment to protect Bell workers’ seniority and pensions in 1983. When the And he spelled out a campaign agenda to back it up: Support for initiatives
Senate took up a similar measure in January 1984, Senator Bradley sided with the to make it easier for all workers to organize, further attention to equal pay for
telephone companies and the Reagan administration, and against CWA, voting “no.” equal work, improved day care and after school programs for working parents, and
His vote helped kill the measure by 44-40. (Later the portability expanding family and medical leave benefits.
amendment would be passed in another legislative fight.) These are the facts behind our union’s endorsement of
Our endorsement and
In 1991, another key issue emerged that directly affected Vice President Gore. This endorsement was reached following
continued strong support of
jobs for CWA members at the Bell companies. With a bill pending the democratic processes that are the basis of all our actions in
the vice president are based
to permit the Bell regionals to manufacture telephone equipment, CWA. A scientific survey of our members conducted for CWA
on the conviction that he is
CWA was pushing for an amendment — opposed by the Bush showed overwhelming support for Vice President Gore, then dele-
unique among all the
administration — that required the Bells to perform that manufac- gates to our convention last summer made it official with their
candidates of both parties
turing in the United States. endorsement of Gore’s candidacy for the presidency. CWA does
in the strength of his
Al Gore, by then a senator, voted for the CWA domestic not presume to try to “tell” members how to vote. However, we
commitment to working
content legislation on the key vote, while Bill Bradley was one of do urge members to look closely at all the candidates and com-
people, as well as his
only two Democrats to cross over and support a measure by pare their records — and above all, register, go to the polls and
Senator Phil Gramm (R-Texas) to kill the CWA amendment — participate in this great democratic process.
for the top office.
Volume 60, No. 2 FEBRUARY 2000
Official Publication of the Communications Workers of America (AFL-CIO, CLC)
International Union Headquarters, 501 3rd Street, N.W.,Washington, D.C. 20001-2797
Phone: (202) 434-1100.
Address changes: Inquiries or corrections for CWA News subscriptions
should be addressed to CWA Membership Dues Dept.
Produced by CWA Communications Department
Director/Executive Editor Jeffery M. Miller
Associate Director Candice M. Johnson
Senior Writer/Editor John Cusick
Senior Writer/Editor Janelle Hartman
Editorial Assistant Brenda D. Dawson
CWA News (ISSN 0007-9227) is published 10 times a year by Communications Workers of America,
501 3rd Street, N.W.,Washington, D.C. 20001-2797. Periodical Postage Paid at Washington, D.C.
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Printed at Kelly Press, Cheverly, Md.
Design by Chadick & Kimball,Washington, D.C.
CWA Executive Board • President Morton Bahr
• Secretary-Treasurer Barbara J. Easterling • Executive Vice President Larry Cohen
• Vice Presidents District 1, Larry Mancino • District 2, Peter Catucci • District 3, James E. Smith Jr. • District 4,
Jeffrey Rechenbach • District 6, Ben G.Turn Jr. • District 7, John Thompson • District 9,Tony Bixler • District 13,
Vincent Maisano • Communications and Technologies, James E. Irvine • Telecommunications,T.O. Moses • Public and
Health Care Workers, Brooks Sunkett • Printing, Publishing and Media Workers,William Boarman • Broadcast and
Cable Television Workers, John S. Clark • The Newspaper Guild/CWA, Linda K. Foley
CWANews FEBRUARY 2000 3
Film Extras Make PACT With TNG’s Canadian Media Guild; Arnold Amber. “They can’t vote on their
contract, and they have the right to be
SBC Wireless Headquarters Workers Join CWA TNG-CWA President Linda Foley
noted that the potential exists for orga-
nizing at least 1,000 freelance “extras” in
t seems like everyone is getting into PACT members listen to proposal that led to an Canada and praised the Canadian Media
the act, but not everyone who overwhelming vote to merge their organization Guild for “its unique ability to attract new
with the Canadian Media Guild,TNG-CWA Local members.”
appears in Canadian movies and tele-
213. Leaders of the Professional Association of
vision productions gets equal pay, ben- Canadian Talent seated at the head table are,
Lareau said that PACT-CMG will seek
efits or job security under a strong union from left, Board Chairman Ian Thurbide, Pres. out additional freelance extras by adver-
contract. That’s why more than 700 back- Charlie Fife and Vice Pres. Dennie Foster. tising in trade papers across the country.
ground performers, or “extras,” last fall The next step for PACT will be to
formed the Professional Association of approve new bylaws Jan. 21, then apply for
Canadian Talent. a bargaining certificate from the Canadian
On Jan. 7, following the recommenda- Artists and Performers Professional
tion of their executive committee, more Relations Tribunal, which under Canadian
than 100 members representing the asso- law regulates collective bargaining in the
ciation decided to take PACT to the next entertainment industry. A decision is not
level. In a spirited meeting they voted expected before fall.
almost unanimously to become a branch Maskell hoped a possible jurisdictional
of the Canadian Media Guild,TNG-CWA. challenge from ACTRA could be resolved
“We are now an official trade union, amicably. “Hey, we’re going to have to be
and we’ll take the necessary steps to at the same bargaining table,” he said.
obtain a certification order that will give
us the right to engage in collective bar- Wireless Solidarity
gaining,” said PACT President Charlie Fife. CWA Local 6215 won its second major
CMG President Lise Lareau said the unit through a card check election at SBC
Guild at first tried to help PACT hook up Wireless.The unit of 400 SBC Wireless
with another union, the Alliance of Canadian Headquarters employees, said District 9
provide that a certain number of ACTRA ground performers in their bargaining cer-
Cinema,Television and Radio Artists Organizing Coordinator Sandy Rusher,
members must be employed as back- tificate,” explained CMG Staff
(ACTRA). PACT chose to instead become brings the total to 1,200 SBC Wireless
ground performers at union wages, but Representative Keith Maskell. “But these
a branch of CMG when ACTRA showed no employees organized in the Dallas/Fort
allow producers to hire an unlimited num- people are not in ACTRA.”
desire to have them as members. Worth area within the last year.
ber of extras who are not represented. “These people have no representation
“It’s pretty surprising we’re at this CWA Vice President Ben Turn Jr., of
“ACTRA says these people (PACT) are and no involvement in that union,”
point, but we’re glad to have them join represented because they have back- stressed TNG-CWA Canada Director (Continued on page 4)
us,” Lareau explained. “For the Canadian
Media Guild and the entire union, this is
an entry into the film industry. It’s a con-
vergence of the people who do content.
For us, it’s a direction we should be going.
Sprint Units Settle on 3-Year Pacts, Avert Strikes
If you’re a media union, you should repre-
sent all the media.” fter narrowly averting a year-end activism of our local leaders and members Facing a common thread of retrogres-
The Canadian Media Guild,TNG-CWA strike, Sprint local service units prevented that from happening.” sive demands that varied somewhat by
Local 213, is The Newspaper Guild’s covering 2,700 workers are look- Moses said he was “very appreciative bargaining unit, Sprint locals in all five
largest local, representing about 4,500 ing forward to 3 percent annual of the dedication of staff and local com- states kept up a high level of mobilization
journalists, anchors, producers, directors wage gains, pension and savings plan mittee members who worked through the throughout bargaining. The day after
and announcers, as well as off-camera per- improvements and enhanced pay incen- Christmas holidays,” as well as the “coop- Thanksgiving CWA and IBEW members
sonnel throughout Canada. Many of its tives for service representatives. And eration and active involvement” of CWA passed out thousands of fliers calling
members work within the broad network because CWA prevailed in getting the Vice Presidents Jimmy Smith, District 3, attention to a general deterioration of
of television stations that make up the company to withdraw most of its retro- Jeff Rechenbach, District 4, John Thompson, local service and excessive compensation
Canadian Broadcasting Company. gressive demands,T.O. Moses, CWA vice District 7 and Vince Maisano, District 13. for Sprint CEO William Esrey, targeting
Though PACT initially sought to affiliate president for telecommunications, said he The new pacts put standby assignments such Sprint outlets such as K-Mart, Radio
with ACTRA — which represents the expected ratifications to be completed by on a volunteers-first basis. They include Shack and Staples. Members wrote to
principal performers who have speaking the end of January and satisfactory settle- new medical options to offset higher out- Esrey, asking if he would be willing to
roles in movies and TV — five meetings ments for other Sprint units that bargain of-pocket costs where employees pay a forego his stock options. They talked to
in five months between PACT and this year. share of medical costs, higher mileage and proprietors of small businesses in their
ACTRA leadership failed to produce a Sprint bargaining committees in per diem payments, improved severance communities, posted signs in their front
merger agreement. Oregon, Indiana,Tennessee and two in pay for most units, new long distance tele- yards and wore red or purple T-shirts to
Part of the problem is that most PACT North Carolina reached tentative agree- phone concessions, and assurances that work once a week in displays of solidarity.
members pass anonymously in front of ment on new three-year contracts Dec. 30, seniority will be considered ahead of qual- Still, Sprint demanded to reduce or
the camera or mimic conversations in the just hours before a strike deadline of mid- ifications for eliminate double-time pay, to weaken
background of scenes. They are usually night. A sixth committee, in Florida, transfers and seniority and to cut out certain kinds of
freelancers who work a day or two on extended bargaining and on Jan. 3 agreed recalls. premium pay. The company also wanted
one production, then move on to another. to send the company’s final offer to the to weaken recall rights and to freeze
Earning on average $7 an hour, with no membership, once again averting a strike wages for certain technical classifications.
benefits, they often patch together careers that would have begun the following day. CWA members responded with a 9-to-1
by working through several different In support of
Ratification votes were underway as the bargaining, CWA
agents. CWA News went to press, with Moses The remaining Sprint local service units
ran ads in major
ACTRA members, on the other hand, reporting that the Indiana,Tennessee and newspapers in that bargain in 2000 are: Missouri (333
typically work under a collective bargain- Oregon units had voted to ratify. five states during members) and Kansas (140 members),
ing agreement and play speaking parts. “Overall, these packages are very posi- the last week of whose contracts expire Feb. 12; Ohio (687
They earn more than $18 an hour plus 1999, calling
tive,” Moses said. “Sprint management attention to
members), Feb. 28; New Jersey (222) mem-
overtime and benefits. ACTRA contracts expected these negotiations would pro- bers, May 14, and Virginia (152 members),
duce big wins for the company, but the problems. May 15.
4 FEBRUARY 2000 CWANews
Membership Grows at SBC Wireless
(Continued from page 3) Organizing ROUNDUP Thirty-seven workers make up those
s Crossing guards in Middletown, N.J.
voted 65-1 to join CWA, with two void
Victories Elsewhere: ballots, as certified by the state Public
s Cellular One in New York state is Employee Relations Commission. Ed
nearly all CWA following card check cam- Sabol, administrative assistant to District 1
paigns in Rochester, Albany and Glens Vice President Larry Mancino, credited
Falls, District 1 Organizing Coordinator CWA Local 1032 President Jim Marketti
Jeff Lacher said outstanding efforts by and organizer Bernice Krawzcyk.
local organizers led to recognition for s CWA Local 1040 President Carolyn
more than 85 workers in the three loca- Wade reported a victory at the Atlantic
tions. The inside organizing committee in County Division of Inter-Generational
Rochester, where 49 workers are Services for a unit of potentially 60 work-
employed, was assisted by Local 1170 ers. The vote was 28-21 for CWA, in an
organizers Don DePerna, Rich Downey election conducted by New Jersey PERC.
and Michele McGrath. Lacher called the Organizer Tom Bruno spearheaded the
victory “a great testament to the efforts campaign.
of Local 1170’s new president, Linda s Tulsa (Okla.) Typographical Union 403
Local 6215 officers and organizers celebrate victory in card check campaign for SBC Wireless head-
quarters in Dallas/Fort Worth. From left are Sec.-Treas. James Allen,Winston Evans, Evelyn Toliver, Exec. McGrath, and organizers in following (CWA Local 14625) received voluntary
Vice Pres. Carol McGee,Vice Pres. Nancy Hall, Pres. J.D.Williams, and Doug Johnson. through during a very trying time.” The recognition and has bargained a first con-
local’s longtime president, Robert Flavin, tract for four new members at
died Nov. 4, about a month before the Dimensions Printing. Hunter Phillips,
District 6, credited the win to the efforts Better pay, consistent work rules and card check. In earlier campaigns at Albany administrative assistant to Printing Sector
of Local 6171 President J.D.Williams, the recognition of seniority are among issues and Glens Falls, Local 1118 organizer Pat President Bill Boarman, credited local
local’s executive board and local organiz- that will be addressed in bargaining, Cumo and Executive Vice President Gil President Jack Benning and Vice President
ers Evelyn Toliver, Doug Johnson and chaired by District 6 Southern Area Carey helped develop strategy and issues. Jim Benning for both accomplishments.
Winston Evans. Director Bill Davis Jr.
Toliver said the local first approached
headquarters workers in 1998 when they
were working to organize customer ser-
vice. They backed off when they learned
that campaign was to be directed at Dallas
Lucent, AT&T Union Leaders Plan for 2000
A card check drive normally takes ocal union leaders representing with Justice worked with Communications about new union leverage at the compa-
three or four months. But because con- CWA members at AT&T and and Technologies staff in presenting the nies. In bargaining unit meetings, partici-
tacts had already been established,Toliver Lucent Technologies met to sharpen three-phase mobilization program. pants set out short and long-term goals
said,“This campaign moved relatively fast.” skills and further develop strategies Workshop participants also had the for building union power at the compa-
The first card was signed Sept. 30, to stop the companies from shifting work opportunity to develop skills to work bet- nies. Lucent delegates voted to encourage
1999, which started the 60-day clock per away from quality union jobs. The week- ter with the media, both on and off cam- participation at the Lucent shareholders’
CWA’s agreement with SBC. By Nov. 29, long leadership conference, held in era, in sessions presented by the CWA meeting set for Feb. 16 in Oakland, Calif.,
the local had collected 242 signatures out Orlando, Fla., brought together 325 union Communications Department. and put in place a drive to collect proxies
of 366 eligible, figures Rusher reported on officers, including many elected for the Mobilization strategists for both Lucent of shareholders. Lucent presidents will
Jan. 3 as certified by the American first time. and AT&T met just before the conference meet in Oakland the day before the
Arbitration Association. Jim Irvine, CWA vice president for to continue planning actions that will bring shareholders’ meeting.
Toliver said that even though the com- Communications and Technologies, called
pany honored its neutrality agreement and on AT&T and Lucent locals to step up
permitted on-site access, most meetings
with workers were conducted off the
premises of four headquarters offices.
their efforts to gain new leverage with the
companies. “Our relationship with both
Lucent and AT&T has drastically changed
Lucent Stock Drop
Service representative Gloria Garnett
took the lead at the Glenn Campbell
office, with 157 eligible workers. Garnett
over the past year and a half, and we’re
determined to use all the tools and new
strategies we have to make certain we
‘No Surprise’ To Workers
had been in earlier, unsuccessful campaigns have their attention,” Irvine said.
for Wireless. “She was eager to get start- Participants heard from CWA Secretary- hen Lucent Technologies Lucent announced a downsizing of
ed on this one. She moved at least 80 Treasurer Barbara Easterling; Vice reported that its fiscal year 1,300 technicians in its small business unit
percent of her office in our direction,” Presidents John Thompson, District 7, and first quarter earnings would last November. In the meantime, the
Toliver said. Vince Maisano, District 13; Ron Allen, be lower than anticipated, it company has been unable to meet
Toliver also singled out strong efforts assistant to the CWA president; Ralph caused a major drop in the company’s demand for its equipment and products
by inside organizers Monica Murphy at Maly, assistant to Irvine and Mike Jones, stock value — nearly 29 percent — that can transmit a rapidly growing vol-
Revenue Management, 210 workers; Felicia president of host Local 3108. The fea- accompanied by analysts’ speculation that ume of data and voice traffic, as well as
Jackson and Cindy Esparza, the Corporate tured speaker was Lester Brown, who the company would need time to restore installation and service, Irvine said.
Office, about 100 employees; and Vernon motivated and energized the group. “credibility and confidence.” “At a time when the telecommunica-
Lincoln at Spring Valley Technical Support, In workshop sessions on mobilization, But “CWA members who work at tions sector is exceptionally strong and
where 11 of 12 workers signed cards. participants looked at ways to expand Lucent Technologies weren't surprised,” demand for Lucent’s products and exper-
Toliver said the fact that most of the community coalitions, draw on support said Jim Irvine, CWA vice president for tise should be at its peak, Lucent is weak-
Wireless workers had union background from the international trade union move- Communications and Technologies, ening its own position by eliminating the
from previous jobs or had family members ment, improve their one-on-one programs because “we’ve been talking with Lucent jobs of the very people who give Lucent
who belonged to unions helped tremen- and work with union and community part- for months about its downsizing of its competitive edge. Lucent needs to
dously. “They knew that working for ners to focus attention on the fight for employees who install these sophisticated maintain its quality workforce, not cut it,
Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. was total- workers’ rights to organize. Seth Rosen, systems and equipment, and how the so that business customers can continue
ly different from working for Southwestern assistant to CWA District 4 Vice President absence of a long-term employment strat- to receive the service they expect and
Bell Wireless, and the difference was CWA.” Jeff Rechenbach, and Simon Greer of Jobs egy will harm the business.” deserve,” he said.
CWANews FEBRUARY 2000 5
New Jersey Bill Puts More Money in Workers’ Pockets
new bill reducing the amount that members’ aggressive mobilization and Workers in the Public Employees increases amount to 14 percent over the
New Jersey’s public workers con- political action program, in a joint effort Retirement System, or PERS, have been next four years.
tribute to their pension plan will with the other public employee unions and paying about 5 percent of their salary The bill allows the contributions to be
mean more take-home pay for the New Jersey state AFL-CIO,” he said. toward their pension. The figure is being reduced again by as much as 2 percent
260,000 state and local government Mancino also praised the efforts of reduced by 1.5 percent under the bill, sav- after two years if the fund is healthy. If it
employees. state Senate President Donald ing workers about $252 million between isn’t, the contributions could be increased.
Gov. Christie Whitman signed the bill DiFrancesco, prime sponsor of the legisla- now and the end of 2001. But CWA leaders say they expect the
into law Jan.18, the last day of the legislative tion, and Assembly Speaker Jack Collins. “The 50,000 public employees repre- fund to thrive. District 1 Area Director
session. The State Assembly passed it by an Brooks Sunkett, CWA vice president sented by CWA will take home an aver- Robert Pursell said the fund is estimated
overwhelming majority a week earlier. for public workers, hailed the accomplish- age of $600 more in their paychecks over to have more than $8 billion in excess
Larry Mancino, CWA vice president for ment. “This is certainly good news for the next two years,” Mancino said. “And assets, a figure that continues to grow.
District 1, credited the bill’s success to our members, who have served the state that’s on top of the wage increases we’ve The bill “will not cost the taxpayers one
hard work by CWA members and other loyally in both good and bad economic negotiated with employers.” For CWA- dime, and the pension fund will remain
unions. “This comes as a result of our times,” he said. represented state employees, those very healthy,” he said.
Appeal Halts Return to Work in Detroit Aug. 30, 1996. Many activists, including
Foley, were arrested.
Rusnell, who began work at the Free
Press in 1969, wasn’t arrested. But the
he Detroit News, the Detroit Free company fired him anyway, claiming he
Press and the company that runs blocked access to the building. The arbi-
the two newspapers are appealing trator didn’t buy it, saying the evidence
a judge’s order to reinstate 50 showed that “Mr. Rusnell did nothing
workers illegally fired for strike-related whatsoever to impede movement . . . ”
activities in 1996, a delaying tactic expect- The decision by the administrative law
ed by union officials. judge wasn’t all good news. He ruled
“They’re taking their usual militant against 37 employees, who Mleczko said
position,” said Lou Mleczko, president of were fired after participating in protests
TNG-CWA Local 22. “Their attitude is, nearly identical to the August event. The
‘We hate the NLRB and we’re challenging union is appealing.
everything.” “We were dismayed,” he said. “On the
Detroit Newspapers Inc. employees one hand, the judge reversed firings for
have spent nearly five years out of work civil disobedience. On the other hand, he
because of the 20-month strike and the upheld them. There wasn’t any consisten-
subsequent, ongoing lockout. The appeal cy in the decision.”
to the full National Labor Relations Board One of the 37 was Kate DeSmet, a
means it could be months, or longer, reporter at the Detroit News for 17
before employees know whether they’ll years. Defying logic, the company fired
get their jobs back. her three times during the strike. She has
The order, from an NLRB administra- Union activists staged a sit-down protest in August 1996 that led to arrests. Striking Detroit no intention of giving up the fight.
tive law judge, instructed Gannett Co. and Newspapers Inc. employees who were fired afterwards have been ordered to be reinstated by an NLRB “I said to a union officer when we had
Knight-Ridder Inc. to pay back salaries and administrative law judge.The newspapers are appealing. just walked out that I felt I was born for
benefits with interest, remove references this moment,” DeSmet said. “I’d been so
to the discharges from personnel files and after two legal victories in December — and start our lives again.” disgusted with the way journalism was
post notices announcing the decision and the judge’s ruling and an arbitrator’s deci- Rusnell was one of hundreds of work- going, so disgusted with Gannett, so dis-
promising not to violate employees’ rights. sion. “I was vindicated twice,” he said. “I ers who took part in a sit-down protest gusted with editors. I was flying high. I
Linda Foley, president of The Newspaper thought my family could get back on track in front of the Detroit News building on thought,‘Now I have a voice.’”
Guild-CWA, said the ruling,“proves once
again the Detroit newspapers will violate
the law in order to achieve their goal of
busting the union.” European Unions Join Call for Scrutiny of Sprint/MCI WorldCom Merger
The companies were ordered by a
unanimous NLRB ruling in August 1998 to
WA and unions abroad are turning nications industry, for workers of the two to protect their livelihoods.”
reinstate all fired employees but have
up the heat on the proposed $115 companies and for European consumers,” CWA International Affairs Director
refused. Nearly 600 workers are still illegal-
billion merger of MCI WorldCom said Philip Boyer, UNI deputy general sec- Eduardo Diaz said UNI has encouraged
ly locked out. The strike involved six unions
and Sprint, as the deal faces increas- retary. thousands of European workers to express
representing nearly 2,500 employees.
ing scrutiny by the Federal Communications In an editorial drafted for European their concerns through letters to their
CWA Vice President Bill Boarman, who
Commission and the European Union. newspapers Jan. 14, Bowyer pointed out elected representatives in the European
heads the Printing Sector, said the compa-
Union Network International, repre- that the merger would thwart competition Parliament, urging them to demand from
ny has appealed every decision that’s gone
senting 15 million members in 920 unions by combining Europe’s largest Internet the commission “a full and comprehensive
against it. “It’s time for them to accept
worldwide — including CWA — has backbone, owned by MCI WorldCom, with review of the implications of the merger
responsibility for this travesty and put an
called upon the European Commission of its second largest, owned by Sprint. for Europe’s Internet backbone.”
end to the suffering in Detroit,” he said.
14 member states to take strong regulato- “History shows that MCI WorldCom They join Sprint employees in the
“Put people back to work and give them
ry action against the megamerger. and Sprint, two avowedly antiunion com- United States, who, at the urging of CWA
the money they’re due.”
“Combining these two telecommunica- panies, will contemplate layoffs after the Telecommunications Vice President T.O.
Gary Rusnell, a CWA-represented
tions giants would be a gigantic step back- merger,” Boywer said. “Without trade Moses, are directing similar letters to FCC
printer, hoped that was going to happen
ward for Europe’s developing telecommu- union support, employees will be helpless Chairman William Kennard.
6 FEBRUARY 2000 CWANews
ssues of importance to working fami- or about $3,000 below the poverty line
lies are heating up once again with the for a family of three. The real value of the
return of the 106th Congress on Jan.
24. CWA is pushing for a stronger
CWA Stakes Out minimum wage has been falling steadily,
because sporadic increases have not been
patients’ bill of rights, a raise in minimum enough to offset decades of inflation. The
wage, and legislation to address the
increasingly widespread misclassification of
Legislative minimum wage now is worth 21 percent
less than it was in 1979, and without an
employees as independent contractors.
Along with the entire labor movement,
the union is defending against attacks on
Positions increase, the real value of the minimum
wage will drop to $4.90 by 2001.
Also, House and Senate conferees will
overtime pay and efforts to thwart an
ergonomics standard that’s been put out
for public comment.
With Eye to attempt to resolve the differences
between two health care reform bills
passed in 1999, creating a single bill the
At the same time, senators and mem-
bers of Congress are staking out positions
on issues like Social Security, Medicare and
November President can sign. The Bipartisan
Consensus Managed Care Improvement
Act (H.R.2723), introduced by Reps. John
tax cuts, as battle lines are drawn for the
November elections. Elections Dingell (D-Mich.) and Charles Norwood
(R-Ga.), passed 275-151 last fall with
“You can bet that lawmakers who owe CWA support. It would ensure that
their seats to big business and the wealthy health care decisions are made by medical
will come at us on every issue of concern experts rather than insurance company
to our members,” said CWA Secretary- bureaucrats. The bill would provide the
Treasurer Barbara Easterling, who heads 161 million Americans enrolled in man-
CWA’s Government Relations program. aged care plans access to needed special-
“In the short term, we’ll have to mobilize ists and emergency room services and
to pass or to block legislation, but in Abraham (Mich.), would have allowed last session, but that doesn’t mean work- assurance that doctors and patients can
November we’ll have a much better employers to exclude from overtime any ing families won’t face an attack on over- openly discuss treatment options. It would
opportunity: to elect Al Gore President of bonus payments made to employees. By time pay and worker issues in the new also set up an appeals process for denials
the United States, along with a more reconfiguring their compensation systems, session. Nor was this Congress’s first of service and legal redress for injury or
union-friendly Congress.” employers could significantly reduce over- attempt to cut overtime pay. Both House death due to refusal to supply care.
CWA will actively pursue legislation to time payments, while still requiring and Senate measures have been proposed In conference, the bill must be recon-
prevent employers from misclassifying employees to work the additional hours. to restrict overtime pay to hours exceed- ciled with a weaker Senate version that
workers as independent contractors. The This amendment was approved by a 54-44 ing 80 within a two-week period. contains more restrictive patient protec-
Independent Contractor Clarification Act vote, with 44 Democrats opposing. Working fulltime at the minimum tions and offers no expanded right to sue
of 1999 (H.R.1525), sponsored by Reps. The House didn’t act on the measure wage, a worker earns just $10,712 a year, health care providers.
Gerald Kleczka (D-Wis.) and Amo
Houghton Jr. (R-N.Y.), would prevent
employers from denying workers the
umbrella of protections that an employer-
employee relationship confers.
RSI Day Aims to Curb Workplace Injuries
Microsoft workers represented by
WashTech-CWA, some NABET-CWA TV nion leaders in at least 13 coun- Employees, said the idea of an RSI day was
production crews, translators and inter- tries are calling attention to the conceived by an injured Canadian activist. An
preters, and members of the Musicians’ problem of repetitive strain international planning committee was estab-
union are often treated as independent injuries this month by joining in lished over the past year. The group has set
contractors, earning less and living with- the first-ever RSI Awareness Day, Feb. 29. up a website at www.ctdrn.org/rsiday.
out the strong job security protection and Locals are being encouraged to host Lichterman suggested locals consider
benefits of employees working under a events in their communities, or among bringing in an occupational therapist to
collective bargaining agreement. Freelance their membership, to help people under- talk about ergonomics, host discussion
journalists and photographers compete stand what RSI injuries are and how they forums or join with other community
for work that would be performed by can be prevented. “What we’re trying to activists to put on educational events in
TNG-CWA members, and subcontracting do is increase awareness, prevent others their towns.
is a rampant problem in the telecommuni- from being injured and promote under- Meanwhile, CWA staff is getting ready
cations industry. standing and acceptance for those with to testify in support of a proposed OSHA is holding three public hearings
Minimum wage and overtime pay are RSI,” said Joan Lichterman of UPTE/CWA Occupational Health and Safety over the next three months, starting Feb.
two issues left over from the first session Local 9119 in southern California. Administration rule that would require 22 in Washington, D.C. The others are
of this Congress that will surely return. A Lichterman, an editor represented by the employers to correct ergonomic prob- March 21 in Portland, Ore., and April 11 in
bill backed by CWA and sponsored by University Professional and Technical lems in the workplace. Chicago.
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) would
have raised the federal minimum wage,
AT&T Backs Down on Threat to ‘800’ DA Service
now $5.15 an hour, by $1 an hour over a
two-year period. But that measure was
amended by the Republican-dominated
Senate. The Senate attached a “poison
pill” measure that coupled a $1 minimum T&T has backed away from its sharp criticism from CWA and from con- tance and Internet-based directory ser-
wage increase over three years with a attempt to eliminate toll-free sumer and public interest groups. vices showed that these alternatives took
plan to allow employers to cut workers’ directory assistance service, a big Opponents cited hardships the move longer than AT&T’s service and produced
overtime pay. victory for CWAers who have would cause to millions of people not faulty results more than half the time.
The Senate Republican plan would have been fighting to protect operator jobs and connected to the Internet — especially “Universally accessible toll-free directo-
affected 73 million workers eligible for preserve this important customer service. the poor and the elderly — as well as to ry assistance is a vital resource for con-
overtime pay and would have given AT&T had petitioned the Federal disabled people and others who rely on sumers, businesses, government and civic
employers new options in classifying Communications Commission to allow it the operator-provided service. organizations,” CWA told the FCC.
workers’ earnings. The amendment, intro- to discontinue the operator-provided In a CWA filing to the FCC, the union “There is no reasonable substitute in the
duced by GOP Sens. Pete Domenici “800” number directory assistance and noted that a test of 411 directory assis- marketplace.”
(N.M.), Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Spencer shift that data to the Internet.This drew
CWANews FEBRUARY 2000 7
Manchester Guild a Step Ahead in Telecommuting Debate
New Hampshire newspaper has to be available by phone during working
the solution to the controversy hours.
over a Labor Department letter But he said the union’s research indi-
suggesting employers are liable for cated home-based workers may put in
job-related injuries suffered by home- more time than office-based employees,
based workers: “possibly because they feel some guilt
Negotiate. about being at home.” In that respect, he
While some members of Congress and said the union was wary, not wanting
businesspeople flew into an uproar over employees to violate the contract by
the “letter of interpretation” from the working uncompensated hours.
Occupational Safety and Health Administra- The federal controversy started when
tion, the Manchester Newspaper Guild, The Washington Post broke a story Jan. 4
TNG-CWA Local 167, can point to an about a letter OSHA sent to a Texas busi-
innovative contract that allows telecom- nessman, who raised questions about his
muting under rules acceptable to the responsibility for home-based workers.
union and management. OSHA’s response wasn’t new policy,
“When we proposed it to the compa- rather an informal advisory, Labor
ny, they balked a little at first,” said Tom Secretary Alexis Herman said. The letter
Thibeault, the local’s chief negotiator for said employers could be liable for work-
the 1998 contract with the Manchester related injuries at home but stopped
Union Leader newspaper. “But we point- Veteran reporter Pat Hammond is shown at her home office, allowed under unique telecommuting short of saying companies needed to
ed out the advantages and they saw that it language in The Newspaper Guild’s contract with the Manchester Union-Leader. inspect an employee’s home work area.
could give them flexibility, too. They Herman withdrew the letter the day
decided it was worthwhile.” after the Post story ran, saying she will
The union and company agreed to a provision for job sharing and a 35-hour said,“they didn’t, even from the beginning, convene a conference of business and
three-year pilot program. All parties — work week. get their back up about it or say,‘This is labor leaders and set up an interagency
the employee, company and Guild — Local President John Whitson said ridiculous.’ They seemed to see that the task force to study the issue.
must agree to the terms of the telecom- union leaders aren’t surprised that more way work life and family life overlap, it “We acknowledge . . . that employers
muting arrangement, which is worked out people haven’t taken advantage of could allow people to work and live their are responsible for employee safety and
on a case-by-case basis. The contract lan- telecommuting — yet. “We were looking lives in a less stressful way.” health, but we don’t know what that
guage is believed to be the first of its kind more toward the future and where tech- Whitson said the company wanted to means and how that applies to these new
in CWA. nology is going,” he said. ensure that “they were going to get work work arrangements in the home today,”
The contract specifies that the work Even though the company didn’t imme- out of the employees” at home, and she said. “That is why we need a national
station must be ergonomically correct, diately embrace the proposal,Whitson inserted language requiring the employee dialogue on this subject.”
one that is satisfactory to the joint union-
management safety committee. Under
the contract, the company is responsible
through Workers’ Compensation if the
employee is injured in the designated area
during scheduled work hours. The com-
Celebrating Dr.King’s Legacy
pany isn’t liable for injuries suffered by
family members or visitors.
The newspaper had tried telecommut-
ing, successfully, since 1996 with a
reporter who lives 90 miles from the
paper. Pat Hammond made a pitch to
work at home when complications from
breast cancer surgery caused one arm to
Johnny A. Knox
swell, forcing her to spend four hours a
day on a machine designed to relieve the
Hammond, 69, works on the Union Across the country, from Seattle to Miami to
Leader’s Sunday News and comes to the Washington, thousands of union members gath-
office on Saturday. Otherwise she works ered to remember Dr. Martin Luther King and to
on a laptop at home, talking to her editor build on his call for social and economic justice.
about once a day. “It’s a very simple arrange- Atlanta — Dr. King’s home and the focus of his
ministry at Ebenezer Baptist Church — was again
ment,” she said, adding “Oh, my gosh, yes,” the site of numerous events and activities for par-
when asked if she’d recommend it. ticipants seeking to advance civil rights. Members
Hammond’s experience led the Guild to of CWA Locals 3263, 3204, 3250 and CWA staff
seek the new contract. Although she is the joined community service projects, civil rights
only employee now working at home, teach-ins, a town hall meeting at Clark University
that included scholars, students and members of
Thibeault said another worker did so for a the Congressional Black Caucus, a church service
short period when a family member was ill, and labor prayer breakfast. The events were orga-
rather than take vacation or unpaid leave. nized by the AFL-CIO, the Atlanta labor council and
Telecommuting isn’t limited to reporters; CWA activists. CWAers sorted and distributed
any job that can be done at home can be donated clothing for children, and members of
Local 3204 shuttled residents to and from the
considered. The local represents 170 march on Jan. 17. Above, Rep. Maxine Waters
members in editorial, advertising, circula- (D-Calif.) leads discussion at the town hall meet-
tion, janitorial, accounting and data pro- ing. From left, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.,) Waters,
cessing. Past negotiations have yielded Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), and Rep. Cynthia
other worker-friendly language, including a McKinney (D-Ga.).
8 FEBRUARY 2000 CWANews
Union Fights Merger, Saves Jobs PBS station would cover 41, thinning out
state-mandated services to local school
districts, among other losses, NABET-
At Binghamton PBS Station CWA Staff Representative Bill Murray said.
“The union gave the community an
outlet,” Murray said. “A commercial
merger, you can’t fight. But a PBS station
t was late September 1999 and union belongs to the public. The community has
leaders from NABET-CWA Local 26 put money into it for years and they
had been summoned by management should have a say in what happens to it.”
from WSKG, the public broadcasting In December, long after the two sta-
station in Binghamton, N.Y. tions’ boards of directors were supposed
The news was grim, as union President to vote on the merger, the deal fell apart.
John Ziller had expected as soon as he Exactly what happened and why isn’t clear
saw the station’s lawyer arrive. A merger but Ziller and Murray say they are certain
with a station 70 miles away was in the the union’s actions played a role. The sta-
works, and WSKG employees were going tion’s financial situation also improved
to lose their jobs. somewhat during the fall, which they said
“We were pretty much told it was a may have been a deciding factor.
done deal,” Ziller said. “They said it could Ziller, who works for the FOX station
happen in a week, or two weeks or a in Binghamton, which is part of the same
month.” local as WSKG, said many employees “felt
But it didn’t happen at all, thanks in Members of NABET CWA Local 26 cele- like we were sunk” at first and doubted
part to quick, intense pressure from the brate victory against merger that would have they could stop the merger. Ultimately, he
union, which covers 15 workers at WSKG. cost them their jobs. said their hard work strengthened the
“We weren’t about to take this lying union.
down,” Ziller said. Within days, the union interviews and distributed thousands of local programming would be lost, that all “This kind of thing brings people
was getting its “Stop the Merger” message postcards for community members to PBS shows would come via a fiber optic together,” he said. “In the small amount of
out on billboards and in TV ads, even a send to station management. link from WCNY in Syracuse, N.Y. Instead time we had, we really got a lot accom-
website. They issued press releases, did Union members made it clear that of covering 20 counties, the combined plished.”
A Day Off to Vote and said the state’s job grade system and
he 400,000 members of United
Auto Workers will have plenty of
time to cast ballots, drive voters to
the polls and do last-minute lobbying on
Election Day, thanks to a rare benefit
Labor & Economic News Across the Country
pay structure badly need to be over-
hauled. Kentucky workers are far behind
their peers in other states, he said.
Workers should be prepared for a
fight, however. Kentucky House Speaker
Jody Richards, a Democrat, and Senate
President David Williams, a Republican,
negotiated by union leaders last year.
said they don’t expect legislative support
The UAW is getting a paid holiday on
there were 268 billionaires and 34.5 peo- unfettered access to U.S. borders. for collective bargaining.
Election Day this year and in 2002. Most
ple in poverty. Teamsters and members of the
of the workers are in Michigan and Ohio,
The economy remains as divided as it’s Amalgamated Transit Union persuaded
states that have played a pivotal role in
been since the pre-Depression days of the members of Congress to ask President Union Beats Wal-Mart
recent presidential elections.
UAW President Stephen Yokich told
1920s: One percent of the country’s
households have more wealth than the
Clinton to keep the border closed, citing
concerns about American jobs, as well as
In Las Vegas
The New York Times that the union’s goal
bottom 95 percent combined, researchers health and safety. Unlike the United
is to elect more candidates who care al-Mart, infamous for fighting
said. States, Mexico doesn’t have vehicle main- unionization, won’t be able to
about workers’ issues, regardless of their
“The rising tide has lifted the yachts to tenance standards, a safety rating system build a “SuperCenter” in Las
political party. He said the union will
tremendous heights, but many Americans or restrictions on the number of hours a Vegas, thanks to the efforts of the United
encourage members to vote, and not
are still bailing out their boats after trucker can drive. Federal officials say Food and Commercial Workers.
treat the time off as an extra vacation day.
decades of sinking real wages and wealth,” Mexican trucks will continue to be The union led a community campaign
“It’s not a holiday,” he said. “It’s a day to
the group said. “Average workers are restricted to specific U.S. border commer- against the discount giant, which would
show you’re a good American citizen.”
earning less, adjusted for inflation, than cial zones until Mexico addresses U.S. have sold groceries — in addition to
A 1995 study by the Bureau of
they did a quarter-century ago. The safety concerns. everything else under the sun — at the
National Affairs found that only 6 percent
lifeboats of homeless shelters and food proposed store. Wal-Mart tried to per-
of the country’s unionized workers had
banks are overflowing with people caught
half or all of the day off on Election Day.
in the undertow.” Governor Bucks Politics, suade residents that food prices go down
in towns where SuperCenters go up, but a
The study,“Divided Decade; Economic Backs Unions study by the Nevada Council of Senior
Rags and Riches Disparity at the Century’s Turn,” is avail-
able on the Internet at www.stw.org.
Citizens disproved the claim.
“Wal-Mart destroys jobs, neighbor-
entucky Gov. Paul Patton got a chilly
he 1980s were supposed to be the reception from state politicians after hoods and businesses,” said Rebecca West,
“greed” decade, but the number of
billionaires in the United States
Road Safety Warriors he called on them to support collec-
tive bargaining for public employees.
president of UFCW Local 711.
Wal-Mart’s problems don’t end in Las
soared in the 1990s. So did the number “If a majority of the employees of any Vegas. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court
grassroots campaign by union mem-
of people living in poverty. public employer want a union, then, just let stand a lower court decision finding
bers has helped bar unsafe Mexican
According to United for a Fair like in the private sector, they ought to Wal-Mart liable for the racial harassment
trucks from U.S. highways.
Economy, an independent, nonpartisan have the right to one,” Patton said in his of a Hispanic contractor — a $300,000
Under provisions of the North
research group, the country had 61 bil- “State of the Commonwealth” speech in verdict. In another case, the U.S. Court of
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),
lionaires in 1989 and 31.5 million people January. Appeals upheld a $157,000 judgment
restrictions on Mexican trucks and buses
living below the poverty line. Last year, Patton, a Democrat, called for a bill giv- against the company for denying work to
were to be lifted Jan. 1, allowing them
ing public workers the right to unionize a man with a prosthetic arm.
CWANews FEBRUARY 2000 9
Eugene Guild Fighting Company’s
year after the negotiating team for they’re fighting every step of the way.
The Newspaper Guild in Eugene, “I think maybe they thought we’d just
Ore., started to bargain a new fold up, get frustrated and cave in,” chief
contract with The Register-Guard, negotiator Lance Robertson said. “It’s not
every major issue is still on the table. going to happen.”
Maybe that’s not surprising, considering No one from the Baker family, owners
the proposal from the family-owned news- of the 76,000-circulation paper, will come
paper amounts to nothing but take-backs: Members of The Newspaper Guild-CWA in Eugene, Ore., after the Eugene Celebration parade.Their
to the bargaining table. Instead, Guild
entry featured a Humvee made of refrigerator boxes painted to look like the costly vehicle the company
A pay freeze for advertising employees, a negotiators have stood firm against a bought to promote its website.
pay cut for beleaguered circulation work- union-busting lawyer from Tennessee and
ers, changes that would lead to more part- a human resources director who has “We haven’t even bargained all the items notice inviting colleagues to a barbeque.
time workers at less pay, and language that defied a National Labor Relations Board in the contract,” Robertson said. “There’re Union materials, which had been quietly
would cripple, if not kill, the Guild. ruling. probably close to 20 items in their proposal distributed for years by workers on their
It’s a bleak situation for the 155-mem- “For 53 years, we’ve had a fairly good and ours that we haven’t talked about.” breaks, were barred.
ber Guild,TNG-CWA Local 194. But relationship with the Baker family,” Still, the mediator agreed to step in. He The NLRB sided with the union and, in
Robertson said. “This is a major departure met with the two sides, taking proposals a settlement, the company agreed to rescind
from anything the Guild has seen before back and forth, for two days in December. the policy. But the human resources direc-
at the bargaining table. The hiring of an Another round is scheduled Feb. 3-4. tor reinstated it last August as the union
outside negotiator like (Michael) Zinser, Robertson said the only sign of progress was mobilizing against the company’s bar-
who has a reputation for breaking unions, was the company’s reluctant agreement to gaining tactics. An unfair labor practice
is a clear indication of where the company create a committee of circulation workers complaint is pending against the company.
wants to go.” and managers to review the company’s “This is a business that prides itself on
It’s not as if the company were broke, proposal for performance-based pay, protecting the First Amendment, protect-
or even close, Robertson said. The news- which starts with an 8-percent pay cut. ing free speech,” Robertson said. “And
paper’s publisher has boasted about the The company has been so petty that here they are trying to stifle it — not just
paper’s profits and the family has started some Guild negotiators are being forced to stifle it, but eliminate it.”
new business ventures — a fancy high-rise take vacation days or unpaid time to bar- The union has taken issues public,
apartment building downtown and a $50 gain. In December, the company docked a starting with an entry in the annual
million business park near the company’s day’s pay for two negotiating team mem- Eugene Celebration parade last
$40 million new offices. bers, even though both had made up the September. The Guild has followed up
The Guild has been so tough that the hours. The Guild is filing a grievance. with speeches to community groups, radio
company took the unusual step of asking a The union is also fighting a no-solicita- talk show appearances and, recently, a
federal mediator to intervene — unusual, tion policy the company first used, illegally, radio ad produced by CWA.
because mediators generally aren’t to thwart the Guild during a campaign in “The community support has been
Bill Bishop, a past president of TNG-CWA Local brought in unless the two sides have 1997 to organize part-time employees. great,” Robertson said. “We’ve had enor-
194, donned a devil’s costume for a city parade talked over every issue and can’t come to Under the policy, employees couldn’t so mous response from other labor unions,
last fall to represent the union-busting lawyer agreement on specific points. much as circulate a get-well card or post a politicians and everyday citizens.”
hired by The Register-Guard newspaper.
County Trying to Fire Worker for Leaving During Bomb Threat
lerical worker Brenda Hicks didn’t “The county has decided that the issue Others called the union and got similar hours combing the building. The threat
worry at first when she saw more isn’t their callous disregard of the safety of advice but have testified that they didn’t was called in about 8:30 a.m. and the
sheriffs’ deputies than usual roam- the workers and the public entering the go because they feared retribution. Hicks search was continuing when Hicks left at
ing the Burlington County, N.J., building,” said John Lazzarotti, president of said she learned that another boss came 10:40 a.m.
Courthouse last Nov. 3. Then a supervi- the Burlington County branch of 1034. into the records area after she left and Six days after the incident, she was
sor told her why they were there. “The issue is that they’re the boss and the “was ranting and raving that he was going notified in writing that she faced discipli-
“They’re looking for a bomb,” the union isn’t going to tell the workers when to fire or discipline anyone who left.” nary action and could be fired. The mat-
woman told Hicks, a member of CWA they can leave the building.” The threat was a hoax, but it was the ter is before a county hearings officer,
Local 1034 in southern New Jersey. Hicks was the only worker who left. first such call to the courthouse in three who has met with the parties twice. A
“They’re doing what?” Hicks remem- years. Lazzarotti said managers acted too third hearing was scheduled for Jan. 7, but
bers saying, her heart pounding. “Why are quickly in deciding that no one was at the county asked for a postponement.
we still here?” risk. “Brenda Hicks exercised better judg- In the meantime, the union has filed
The supervisor said no one was ment that anyone else that day,” he said. two grievances that the county has agreed
allowed to leave, but suggested Hicks call “The county should have decided to evac- to arbitrate. The first is on behalf of all
the union and get its position. A union uate the building, instead of deciding that CWA-represented employees, charging
officer told her she had the right by con- they knew better than anyone else.” that the county violated their right to a
tract to a safe and healthy workplace, Hicks said she’d never been through a safe work environment by failing to evacu-
meaning she could leave if she wasn’t bomb threat and was scared, for herself ate. The second grievance stems from the
comfortable staying. and the 6-year-old daughter she is raising county’s refusal to give Hicks holiday pay
She did. And the county wants to fire alone. “I was a nervous wreck walking (time and a half), for Election Day, the day
her for it. home,” she said. “I was so worked up, I before the threat.
Outraged union leaders are vigorously was nauseous.” Hicks said the incident illustrates how
backing Hicks in an ongoing disciplinary She noted that while managers claim to important a union is. “The union has
hearing, and have filed two grievances believe the threat was a hoax from the backed me 100 percent,” she said. “That’s
related to the incident. Brenda Hicks beginning, deputies spent more than two something I feel really good about.”
10 FEBRUARY 2000 CWANews
Census Needs Help for Accurate Count Questions about Census
2000? Want to work as a
` ounting heads in an urban high
rise or suburban cul-de-sac isn’t census taker?
the challenge of Census 2000.
The real work is finding the Check the Census Bureau’s website
homeless family living in a broken-down at www.census.gov or call one of the
car, the migrant farm worker moving from 12 regional offices:
job to job, the John Doe in a hospital
ward or a prison cell. Atlanta ......................404-331-0573
It’s an epic task, the federal govern- community of young families may need of the 860,000 temporary census jobs. Boston ......................617-424-4977
ment’s largest peacetime undertaking, and funds for schools, another area may need Much of the work can be done part-time Charlotte..................704-344-6624
its results will help set the country’s politi- services for seniors or job programs for on nights and weekends. The jobs will Chicago ....................312-353-9759
cal agenda for the next decade. CWA is native Spanish speakers generally last four to six weeks and pay Dallas ........................214-655-3060
encouraging members to take part. Census data is published collectively $8.25 to $18.50 an hour, depending on a Denver ......................303-231-5029
“We proudly endorse and support the and anonymously. Federal law bars the community’s prevailing wage rate. Detroit ......................248-967-9524
U.S. Census Bureau’s plan for a complete Census Bureau from sharing specific Prospective workers must take a 30- Kansas City ............816-801-2020
and accurate count in Census 2000,” answers with anyone, including immigra- minute test with 28 questions measuring Los Angeles ............818-904-6522
CWA President Morton Bahr said. tion officers, the IRS, courts, police and skills, abilities and knowledge required by New York City ......212-620-7702
“Especially important to us is a full enu- the military. various census positions. ..................................................or 7703
meration of the poor and minority popu- A resolution supporting Census 2000 “It’s a comfortable, pleasant job,” said Philadelphia ..........215-597-8312
lations that have been traditionally under- was passed at the 61st annual CWA con- Don Bishoff, a retired member of The Seattle ......................206-553-5882
counted.” vention in July, urging members to cooper- Newspaper Guild-CWA Local 194, in
The census, done every 10 years, ate with the count by returning census Eugene, Ore., who was hired last fall to
decides how many seats a state gets in the forms by April 1, two weeks after they’re verify addresses for the upcoming count.
U.S. House of Representatives and can be scheduled to be delivered nationwide. If “You kind of work at your own pace, with
used to draw new lines for electoral dis- forms aren’t back by April 26, census informal quotas. I certainly enjoyed it.” day he spent more than two hours trying
tricts, based on population. The results workers will start knocking on doors. Bishoff said he earned about $8.50 an to locate a distant home in Oregon’s
also help the government choose where The CWA resolution encourages hour, plus mileage, confirming that certain Coast Range. “I think they’re genuinely
and how to spend your tax dollars. A members and retirees to apply for some addresses did — or didn’t — exist. One trying to find everyone they can,” he said.
Application Deadline Near for CWA College Scholarships
WA’s Joseph Anthony Beirne and returned to CWA headquarters by advantage of this opportuni-
Foundation will award 30 scholar- March 31. ty to win financial assistance
ships of up to $3,000 for the Students engaged in undergraduate and for college, community col-
2000-2001 school year to active graduate work are eligible, including stu- lege or vocational school,
and retired CWA members, their spouses, dents who plan careers in education and to take the first step on
children or grandchildren, or those of rehabilitation, special education and labor the road to life long learn-
deceased members. Applications, available studies.Awards are based on merit. ing and a successful, fulfill-
from local presidents, must be completed “We encourage young people to take ing career,” said CWA
President Morton Bahr.
Each Beirne scholar-
Proud to be Disgruntled ship is renewable for a
second year upon
demonstration of satis-
progress. In addition,
the foundation will
fund second-, third-
awards of Ray
ships, as well as
grants for commu-
nity and social ser-
vices training and
fellowships and internships.
In 1974, CWA established the Beirne
Foundation in memory of its founding
president. The foundation is funded by secretariat — in South and Central
contributions from CWA members and America and the Caribbean. The program
An online magazine has named IBM workers its “Disgruntled Employees of the Year” for an ongoing locals. was established in memory of a former
effort to organize with the help of CWA. Alliance@IBM/CWA was formed after the company schemed For the past 35 years, the Ray Hackney CWA vice president who traveled exten-
to reduce pension plan benefits for mid-career workers. The Wall Street Journal said the workers’ battle scholarship program has provided college sively and worked closely with communi-
not only got IBM to backpedal, but drew national attention to the corporate trend toward cash-balance funding to CWA members or family as cations unions in those areas.
pension plans. “Everybody likes to talk about the new economy,” said Daniel S. Levine, editor of well as to union members or dependents The Hackney program is being incor-
Disgruntled magazine. But “when it comes to employees fighting for their rights and protecting their
benefits, some ideas from the old economy, such as collective bargaining, still have value today.” The affiliated with Communications porated into the Beirne Foundation pro-
IBM workers are the first group recipient in the award’s five-year history. Above, CWA staff and sup- International — now part of Union gram this year, with Communications
porters of IBM workers rally in Washington, D.C. Network International, a worldwide union International’s merger with UNI.
CWANews FEBRUARY 2000 11
Dave Kent, Award-Winning CWA News Staffer, Dies at 61
avid P. Kent, associate editor of the dinator of the Labor for McGovern cam- for the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper He was active in the CWA Staff Union
CWA News and a union staff paign, an initiative of several unions includ- where he was an active Newspaper Guild and served until recently on the union’s
member since 1966, died on Dec. ing CWA that took issue with the AFL- member. executive committee.
31, 1999 after a 10-month battle CIO’s neutral stance in the presidential A native of St. Joseph, Mo., he attended Kent is survived by his wife of almost
against lung cancer. He was 61. race between Richard Nixon and George the University of Missouri school of jour- 12 years, Carol Ann Kent, a son, Gregory,
In 1990, he received the Max Steinbock McGovern. nalism and took his first newspaper job at a daughter, Sandra Golden, and three
Award, the top Before joining the CWA staff, Kent the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram in Ohio in grandchildren.
feature writing worked from 1961 to 1966 as a reporter 1960.
award of the
Association., for a
Retired CWA Representative Frank Lupinacci Dies
News series on rank Lupinacci, a retired staff repre- go to work for representative. He was noted for his han-
AT&T’s closing of sentative in District 13 remembered the company.” dling of grievances, arbitration and bar-
a Radford,Va. as a tough negotiator with a sense Lupinacci gaining, District 13 Vice President Vince
microelectronics of humor, died Jan. 13 of complica- served as presi- Maisano said.
plant and the shift Kent tions from Alzheimer’s Disease. dent of FTWP “Frank always had a way about him.
of work to a Lupinacci, who was 74, started work in Local 43, on the He could be as tame and meek as can be,
maquiladora factory in Matamoros, 1947 as an installer for Pennsylvania Bell. north side of and then be very forceful when the time
Mexico. He described the devastating From his early days in the Federation of Pittsburgh. Later, was necessary,” he said. “He commanded
impact of the shutdown on the town of Telephone Workers of Pennsylvania, he he served as the a lot of respect from his colleagues, as
Radford, where workers had earned $9 fought for contracts giving workers basic Pittsburgh division well as the companies he bargained with.”
per hour, and the exploitation of $1-per- rights. “He used to tell us,‘There are vice president, Lupinacci was also active politically. He
hour Mexican workers living in shacks things you wouldn’t believe, that members one of four served the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO as a vice
with raw sewage running past their door take for granted today, that we didn’t FTWP divisions Lupinacci president and acted as the director of the
steps. have,” said his son, Frank Lupinacci Jr., who set up statewide to Committee on Political Education for the
In 1972, Kent was selected by then- is retired from Pennsylvania Bell. “I was govern locals. When the union merged Pittsburgh Council of the AFL-CIO. He
CWA President Joseph A. Beirne as coor- very proud of my dad, and very proud to with CWA in 1984, he became a CWA retired in 1990.
CWA bers. They started with small stuff like selling candy to raise money. But when the Local
Newsmakers 2011 Retiree Club three years ago approached Aman about running a bingo operation,
they got serious. West Virginia law requires that all proceeds from gambling be donated
to charity, so all proceeds go to veterans’ programs, college and vocational school schol-
arships and the local United Way. Aman shows up every Friday night to help run the
operation. Vice President Art Helmick, Secretary Patt Lamp,Treasurer Stella
Barnett and Steward Debbie Sleeth also contribute time. Says Aman,“Our ultimate
Terry Getty, a retired CWA member with goal is to be able to award full-tuition scholarships to all our members, retirees or
three decades of union service, has been induct- dependents. I am determined that we will get there.”
ed into the East Central Iowa/North Western
Illinois AFL-CIO Hall of Fame. Getty, who CWA Secretary-Treasurer Barbara Easterling was featured in
worked as an outside technician for US West in “Those Who Have Shaped Our Lives,” a special millennium section
Iowa, belonged to Local 7117 from 1967 to 1997, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The section looked at past and pre-
serving as a steward, chief steward, vice presi- sent Ohio residents who have made significant contributions to soci-
dent, newsletter editor, safety chairman and com- ety, including labor activists. Easterling began her career as a tele-
munity services chairman. Additionally, he served the Quad City Federation of Labor, phone operator in Akron. The article highlighted Easterling’s five
AFL-CIO, as a delegate and board member. Vice President Al Gore came to the pre- decades of union work, including a job in 1970 as chief of the Ohio
banquet reception for Getty and three other retired Quad Cities union members. Labor Division. In 1980, she moved to CWA headquarters as an
House Minority Whip David Bonior (D-Mich.) was the keynote speaker. More than 500 assistant to then-President Glenn Watts. “She made history in 1992
people attended the event in Bettendorf, Iowa, Getty’s hometown. when she became the first woman to serve as secretary-treasurer of CWA and again in
1995 when she became the first woman to win an executive position with the AFL-CIO,
Three-time Olympic sprint kayaker Mike Harbold of CWA Local 2108 in Washington, as its secretary-treasurer,” the newspaper reported.
D.C., is on pace to compete once again in next summer’s Olympic Games in Sydney,
Australia. A cable splicer for Bell Atlantic, Harbold was featured in the February 1999 CWA Vice President Bill Boarman, head of the Printing Sector, has
CWA News. Since then, he has qualified for financial assistance and flexible scheduling been appointed to a second term on the Maryland Commission on
under a special Bell Atlantic program to aid Olympic athletes, and his local union has Judicial Disabilities, which oversees the conduct of the state’s 300
helped with fund-raising to allow him to maintain his grueling training schedule and travel judges. Boarman was reappointed by Gov. Parris Glendening, who
to world-class competitions. Harbold made the U.S. National Team this year in a double originally asked him to serve three years ago when the 11-seat com-
kayak, and he and partner Phillipe Boccara went as far as the semifinal in the 1,000 meter mission was opened to five members of the public. Previously, only
events this summer at the World Championships in Milan, Italy.They will compete in the judges and lawyers held seats. The commission reviews complaints
Olympic team trials beginning in May. The U.S. will field one single, one double and one against judges around issues of ethics, impartiality and courtesy.
4-man sprint kayak in the men’s events at the 2000 Olympics. Boarman said it’s hard at times “because I’ve spent all my life as an
advocate for the worker, and now I sit as a disciplinarian.” But he said he never loses
CWA Local 2011 started a scholarship fund 10 years ago with small fund raisers and sight of the “human side” of an issue. “Because I’m not a boss, not a businessman, not a
presented $500 awards to the children of just two members. A decade of hard work by lawyer or judge, and I’ve been on the other side of the table, I think I help the commis-
President Linda Aman and the executive board and — bingo — the Clarksburg,W.Va. sion understand the problems of the individual on the job,” he said. In addition to
local closed out 1999 with 59 scholarships presented to dependents of its 248 mem- monthly meetings, Boarman serves as chairman of the commission’s budget committee.
12 FEBRUARY 2000 CWANews
Picking Up the Pieces
By Janelle Hartman
he flash flood that turned Albert Getting ‘Back To
Gomalka’s neighborhood into a
deadly, diseased, putrid-smelling, Normal Living’
mud-covered landfill seemed like
the type of catastrophe that strikes far-
away countries. From CWA
But this was Bound Brook, N.J., popula-
tion 11,000, middle-class America. Or it Albert and Shelley Gomolka
had been before Hurricane Floyd turned
its fierce rains on the eastern seaboard
last September. “God let me collect baseball cards for
Gomalka, a New Jersey state park 45 years,” he said. “Now I’m giving them
superintendent represented by CWA back to Him.”
Local 1037, remembers it in vivid detail: Gomalka knew the collection wouldn’t
The first floor of his house filling with be covered in the event of a flood, but he
water in just 15 minutes. His family never expected that to be a problem. His
scrambling to safety upstairs. Ruined cars house is on an incline, nearly a mile from
floating down the street. The deafening the Raritan River. Bound Brook has flood
racket from rescue boats and helicopters. warnings five or 10 times a year, he said,
One day after the flood, waters are still high but receding. but the problem is downtown. In his
neighborhood “we’d never had even a few
to dig through the foul mess. inches of water, let alone a flood.”
“You just have to start, inch by inch, He urges people to know exactly what
hauling everything out,” he said, describing their insurance policies will and won’t
the scene. “There weren’t even garbage cover, and cautioned that emergencies
bags. All the stores were sold out. There declared “national disasters” give insur-
were piles of junk 40 feet high in the ance companies all sorts of ways to wiggle
street.” out of their obligations. He got $221
The piles included Gomalka’s massive from his homeowner’s policy and $5,000
baseball card collection, which he’d stored from the flood policy. His mortgage
in his cellar. He started saving cards when required the policy, which cost him up to
he was 3 years old and said Sports $1,000 a year.
Collectors’ Bible had named his collection He is enormously thankful for the help
one of the “300 greatest” in the world. from CWA and individual members. “I
He planned to help finance his boys’ col- can’t begin to express my gratitude for
lege education with some of the cards and the support and caring from my fellow
Piles of garbage, destroyed appliances and ruined furniture on Gomolka’s street were still being cleaned open a collector’s store for his retire- brothers and sisters in the union,” he said.
up weeks after the flood. ment. But he’s managed to be philosophi- “They’re helping us get back to normal liv-
cal about the loss. ing.”
Hundreds of spotlights that made the for $1,500, the maximum available from
midnight sky look like high noon. CWA’s Disaster Relief Fund.
It was even worse when the waters “When I found out, I almost dropped.
receded the next morning. Two of I said,‘Wow, will that help.’”
Gomalka’s elderly neighbors had drowned. Gomalka got the news from his shop
Pets died. Furniture, clothes, appliances steward, John Keator, who handed over
and keepsakes — notably Gomalka’s 1.5 the check at a meeting of park superin-
million baseball cards — were destroyed. tendents, all union members. “I think the
The stench of garbage, sewage and rotting moment I got to present the check to him
animal carcases was sickening. Bleeding, was the happiest moment of my union impact for which I will always be indebted.
crying people ill with tetanus and other volunteerism,” Keator said. “We both got I am pleased to report that I have been
ailments filled a shelter. Armed National choked up.” able to maintain Dean’s List status since
Guard officers cordoned off the town. In addition to the national’s donation, Dear Editor, my entry to the school in the fall of 1997.
“It was like a war zone,” Gomalka said. local CWA members chipped in another My Grade Point Average stands at 3.894,
Four months later, Gomalka, 48, is still $1,300 out of their own pockets. One I would like to express my sincerest and I am currently under review for admit-
cleaning and repairing his home and yard. union colleague brought the family two thanks for the scholarships granted to me tance to the Engineering Honors Society.
He has huge bills from electricians and loads of furniture. for the 1998-1999 and 1999-2000 school Once again, thank you for your support.
plumbers. He’s filled out several lifetimes’ Gomalka, overwhelmed by destruction years. The Joseph Anthony Bierne
worth of paperwork for a small amount and debt, had contacted the union himself Memorial Foundation Scholarship Program Peter Snell
of federal aid. He’s been bullied by surly to ask about disaster relief. Because the has provided essential financial assistance, Bogota, New Jersey
insurance agents who seemed to enjoy local unit had several members affected by without which the cost of education
spelling out what his house, car and flood Hurricane Floyd, Keator said the executive would be overbearing. For information about this year’s scholarships
policies wouldn’t cover. board decided to make a $5,000 donation I am currently a junior at Rutgers see page 10.
In spite of it all, Gomalka feels blessed. to the Red Cross, which was helping all University, the College of Engineering,
He, his wife and their three sons, ages 2, 4 victims. where I am pursuing a degree in the field The CWA News encourages feedback from
and 9, weren’t hurt. Family in nearby Gomalka said it was appropriate, prais- of Electrical Engineering. I would like to members. Send letters to: CWA News, 501
communities gave them shelter. The Red ing the Red Cross for providing hot food, commend you for the service you provide Third St., N.W.,Washington, DC 20001, or
Cross gave them meals. And CWA’s coffee and cleaning supplies in the neigh- to students like myself every year. In my e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may
national headquarters gave them a check borhood for a month as residents began case, you have made such an incredible be edited.