From Organizing to Mobilizing: United Transportation Alliance Launches App-Based Taxi Service

Taxi riders in Newark, N.J., can now enjoy the convenience of using a cellphone app to book a cab while resting secure in the knowledge that the dispatched driver is licensed and insured, and that the vehicle they are about to get into has been inspected and regularly maintained.

The Transunion Car Service (TCS) is a joint venture of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1039, the United Transportation Alliance (UTA), which is a new affiliate of CWA Local 1039, and the New Jersey State AFL-CIO that is already 300 members strong.

UTA taxi drivers are benefiting already from the union’s many supports and protections, including access to a credit union, affordable legal assistance for traffic court, immigration support and health care, life insurance and pension benefits.

UTA is the fastest-growing multiethnic union in the state. Its mission is to transform the taxi industry.

The UTA’s board of directors has gone beyond organizing to establish Transunion Car Service, which combines the ease of booking a cab electronically with the security of knowing that driver and vehicle are fully licensed, regulated and insured.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” says Lionel Leach, president of CWA Local 1039. “TCS customers can get a cab easily and ride with peace of mind. TCS drivers are caring professionals and proud union members whose background, credentials and cars have been fully vetted.”

Transunion Car Service kicked off Friday in Newark. It is expected to be available in Atlantic City by the end of the month, and in Elizabeth and Hoboken by fall. Customers can visit the website www.ridetcs.com and download the app, or call 855-RIDE-TCS or 973-297-1111. Fares can be paid by credit card or cash.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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T-Mobile Guilty of Violating Labor Law Workers’ Rights, NLRB Judge Rules

A judge at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) yesterday found T-Mobile U.S. guilty of engaging in nationwide labor law violations against workers. The unprecedented ruling comes after a rare move last year by the NLRB consolidating multiple complaints against T-Mobile U.S. for illegal actions and policies in Albuquerque, N.M.; Wichita, Kan.; Charleston, S.C., and New York City.

At issue were illegal corporate nationwide policies that block workers from organizing or even talking to each other about problems at work. Workers throughout the T-Mobile U.S. system were subjected to and effectively silenced by these illegal policies; the judge’s order to rescind them covers 40,000 workers.

Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen said:

This decision exposes the deliberate campaign by T-Mobile U.S. management to break the law systematically and on a nationwide scale, blocking workers from exercising their right to organize and bargain collectively. This behavior can only be changed by a nationwide remedy to restore workers’ rights. Deutsche Telekom, the principal owner of T-Mobile U.S., has claimed that its U.S. subsidiary follows the law. Now we have the official word: T-Mobile U.S. is a lawbreaker. Bonn, the headquarters of DT, no longer can hide behind the false statements made by T-Mobile U.S. executives. These behaviors would be almost unimaginable in Germany or any other democracy in the world.

The decision by NLRB Judge Christine Dibble focused on T-Mobile U.S.’s illegal employment policies and restrictions that prohibited workers from discussing wages with each other or criticizing working conditions or seeking out assistance to blow the whistle on unlawful behavior.

The decision finds that the corporate policies “would chill employees in the exercise of their…rights” or would be construed “as restricting [an employee’s] rights to engage in protected concerted activities, including unionizing efforts.”

Judge Dibble found that T-Mobile U.S.’s Wage and Hour Complaint Procedure, for example, “tends to inhibit employees from banding together.” She writes that the corporate procedure’s requirement that an employee notify management of a wage issue first, “in combination with the threat of discipline for failing to adhere to the rule, would ‘reasonably tend to inhibit employees from bringing wage-related complaints to, and seeking redress from, entities other than the Respondent, and restrains the employees’…rights to engage in concerted activities for collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”

Carolina Figueroa, a T-Mobile U.S. call center worker from Albuquerque, said:

We are happy and relieved. We are finally being heard. My co-workers and I at T-Mobile U.S. will have the right to speak out against unfair treatment and should not be muzzled or retaliated against—and with today’s decision, the company has to declare this to all of its employees nationwide.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Collective Action Pays Off, Just Look at These 24 Hours

Collective Action Pays Off, Just Look at These 24 Hours

In 24 hours starting late Wednesday, workers who have been standing together in collective action scored three major victories.  Walmart workers got a raise, Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Communications Workers of America (CWA) members settled their strike with FairPoint, and United Steelworkers made safety at oil refinery plants a national issue.

Says AFL-CIO Communications Director Eric Hauser:

One 24-hour period shows how much progress can be made when workers come together to speak with one voice. Collective action must be at the heart of the growing discussion about raising wages.  Only when workers pool their power can they make progress that benefits not just union members but all workers and entire communities.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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After 11 Years, CNN Techs Finally Get Justice

Photo courtesy Gregor Smith on Flickr

After 11 years, technicians working for a CNN subcontractor have received justice after the company initiated what Communications Workers of America called a “phony reorganization scheme to get rid of unionized workers.” The National Labor Relations Board found overwhelming evidence that the news channel engaged in anti-union activity and that CNN was a joint employer of the technicians and subcontractor. CNN was ordered to rehire about 100 workers and compensate 200 others, with the total CNN has to pay expected to be tens of millions of dollars. Additionally, the channel is required to restore any bargaining unit work outsourced since previous contracts ended, recognize the employees’ union, and begin bargaining with the two National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians locals that represent the workers.

In December 2003, CNN terminated its relationship with subcontractor Team Video Services, whose workers were represented by NABET-CWA in Washington, D.C., and New York City. The union filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB. In 2008, a judge ruled against CNN, but the channel appealed the ruling and challenged the NLRB’s legal authority in the case. The delays lasted until this year. During that time, many of the workers lost their homes, went bankrupt and struggled to pay medical bills. A number of them have passed away.

NABET-CWA President Jim Joyce said the union’s members were grateful for the decision:

These workers have waited far too long for this measure of justice to finally be delivered and have suffered far too much as the result of these unlawful activities. CNN should finally do the right thing now and immediately comply with the orders of the National Labor Relations Board issued today.

Tyrone Riggs, one of the workers who lost his job in 2003, echoed those sentiments:

Today is a good day to stand up straight. I never gave up hope. I never wavered. I knew justice would prevail.

CWA President Larry Cohen added:

All of us in CWA should be proud of our work and the coalition that helped support Senate confirmation of the NLRB members in July 2013. Without a functioning NLRB, this decision would never have been possible. But today belongs to the 300 technicians and their families, and our hearts and minds are with them.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Study Takes Down T-Mobile’s ‘Facade of Good Behavior’ Toward Workers

If you looked at the list of awards T-Mobile has received over the past few years as a “Top Workplace,” “Best Place to Work,” “Best Employer,” etc., you might be knocking on the door to apply for a job—despite the history of National Labor Relations Board complaints against T-Mobile for its alleged mistreatment of workers.

University of Massachusetts sociology professor Tom Juravich and graduate student Essie Ablavsky decided to take a closer look at the accolades T-Mobile touts as proof it is a top-flight employer and found that the awards are as phony as T-Mobile’s claims.

The study, “The Corporate Rating Sham: The Case of T-Mobile,” found that the majority of corporate recognition contests are based on self-nomination and self-reported data with little independent verification. The programs often lack transparency in terms of the criteria used for evaluation, resulting in the inclusion of questionable employers, and many of the firms conducting national evaluations also provide consulting services to the same companies they are supposed to be rating. According to the report:

Rather than evaluating actual company performance, the ratings are a better indicator of a company’s allocations of resources to win awards and its work to create a facade of good behavior.

Juravich and Ablavsky say that at the same time T-Mobile was named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by one corporate ratings organization, a highly respected independent analyst gave T-Mobile a CCC rating, the lowest score possible.

As the National Consumers League (NCL) points out, T-Mobile has drawn the attention of concerned observers—members of Congress, investors, progressive organizations—for its treatment of workers, “ranging from overbearing and disrespectful management styles, to suppression of workers’ rights.” Says NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

T-Mobile is a good demonstration of what is wrong with corporate recognition awards. The company’s well-known problematic labor practices put these ‘best of’ awards in doubt. A company’s treatment of workers must be a key factor in any ratings process, and awards for quality must not be allowed to mask abusive workplace policies.

T-Mobile workers at call centers and retail stores across the country have been fighting for a voice on the job and respect at work for several years. They say they have faced an extensive anti-union campaign by the company that in 2012 closed seven call centers in the United States and shipped more than 3,300 jobs overseas.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and ver.di, which represents workers at T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom, are working to help T-Mobile workers get the union representation they want. Find out more at TMobileWorkersUnited.

Click here to hear from workers about what it’s really like to work at T-Mobile.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Union YES! American Airlines Passenger Service Agents Win Largest Organizing Victory in the South in Decades

Union, YES! American Airlines Passenger Service Agents Win Largest Organizing Victory in the South in Decades

In what Communications Workers of America (CWA) heralds as “the largest labor organizing victory in the South in decades,” passenger service agents at American Airlines voted to form a union after a 19-year struggle.  In the vote announced today, 86% of the 9,000 agents who voted favored the union, which will now represent 14,500 agents, the vast majority of whom live in the South. American Airlines agents in the West are represented by the Teamsters and the two unions form a joint CWA-IBT unit to bargain with the airline.

Nearly three-quarters of the agents work in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona and several thousand are home-based reservations agents.  The wide range of jobs the members work include: reservations, ticket and gate agents, baggage service agents, customer assistance representatives, customer service supervisors, club representatives, passenger operations center representatives and special service counter agents.

About the result, CWA said:

The vote clearly shows that workers who can make a fair choice about union representation want bargaining rights. New American agents are concentrated in southern states and work at diverse locations, including large and small airports, call centers and at home. Across every group, they voted for bargaining rights and union representation.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke about the broader importance of the victory:

Clearly, one of the largest labor organizing victories in the South in decades is a historic day. But it also shows that the future of the U.S. labor movement is alive, as these workers can be found at airports, call centers, even working from home. The right to collectively bargain will always be what our working family fights for.

The agents themselves were ecstatic about the victory. Richard Shaughnessy, who has been an agent at Miami International Airport for 27 years, said:

The merger between American Airlines and US Airways is an exciting time for all of us. But even more exciting is our victory today. We’re the front-line employees who interact with our customers every day, and we are looking forward to a positive relationship with management to make this merger ‘work’ for all of us. We are anxious to get to the bargaining table.

Carroll Locklear, a home-based reservations agent in Texas, said:

I’ve been with American Airlines for 18 years, and through all of those years I have been praying for this day. We have been the odd employees out for so long because we were the only employees without union representation. Gone are the days that management can take what they want when they want. This will be a win-win for all of us.

Eula Smith, a customer service agent in Charlotte, N.C., added:

We feel stronger now with this vote. I’m a 60-year-old woman with 42 years with this employer. You can’t live in the South and make a decent wage unless you are in senior management in a corporation or belong to a union. We need this. We need not just a union, we need CWA.

Ken Grunwald, a 23-year reservations agent at the call center in North Carolina, said:

I’m proud to remember everyone over the years who worked so hard for our union voice, who never gave up in the face of adversity, and who gave their blood, sweat and tears so that we would have the opportunity to celebrate this victory today. It’s a victory for all American Airlines employees! I’m so excited to think that we will finally be able to negotiate a legally binding contract. We now all have each others’ back.

Janet Elston, an agent at Dallas International Airport, concluded:

Nineteen years ago, a handful of agents started a drive to obtain representation for [American Airlines] airport and reservations agents. Many hundreds of activists have spent thousands of hours over the years to get us to today’s election result. They never wavered and never, ever gave up. We have finally achieved what most thought was impossible: union representation for our work group. Now we’ll begin a new working relationship with our company, with a legal binding contract.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Denver SuperShuttle Drivers Oppose 30% Pay Cut

Denver SuperShuttle drivers.

Airport drivers who work for SuperShuttle in Denver are fighting back against the threat of reduced wages and lost jobs. The long battle began 5 years ago when drivers attempted to organize for a voice on the job with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) after the company hired new drivers and reduced pay for existing employees. The situation recently heated up as the drivers say the company stopped bargaining with them and imposed a new contract that cuts wages by 30% and forces them to reapply for their jobs.

SuperShuttle is owned by a French multinational corporation, Transdev, and the company has reportedly hired a lawyer with expertise in “union avoidance.” This is just the latest broadside in a drawn-out battle. In 2011, after a long process before a vote could even be held, 95% of the drivers voted to join CWA. Workers reported that SuperShuttle retaliated against pro-union employees in 2012 as negotiations began. A “final offer” from SuperShuttle was rejected by 93% of the drivers, and the company imposed a contract that is being challenged before the National Labor Relations Board as a violation of federal law. SuperShuttle’s most recent response is imposing the new contract with the 30% wage cuts.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre said:

I recently had the opportunity to meet with these drivers in Denver. They are proud, hardworking fellow immigrants. We will not let this injustice go. The AFL-CIO is going to stand with and fight with these workers for justice.

The drivers are speaking out against the new contract.  Noureddine Berezqi, who has been with SuperShuttle for 16 years, said: “I worry about my fellow drivers who now qualify for food stamps. Under this new contract, I couldn’t even support myself, let alone my wife if she was still in school.”  Abdel Hmami, with 9 years with the company, added:  “Before [the new contract] we had peace of mind. Now I have to hustle at two jobs to earn what I did before.”  Mohamed Hllouz, a 5-year employee, also is considering more work:  “I’ve seen my income cut by 50% under this contract, especially this time of year because it’s busier. I’m thinking about getting a second job now.”

Supporters of the shuttle drivers can sign a CWA-sponsored petition on their behalf.  You can also follow the ongoing campaign on Facebook.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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