Good Morning Sisters and Brothers!
Thank you Pat, and thank you for setting up this conference – for coordinating the Unity @ Mobility Program, for working with all of the Districts and all the Locals and dealing with management and dealing with me, which is probably the most difficult part of her assignement. So thank you Pat for all you do. I also want to thank my assistant, Gladys Finnigan, who helps me every day and who makes my job a lot easier with everything she does. Thank you President Chris Walterson from Local 3122 and President Johnny Motisi from Local 3121 for welcoming us to Miami, and a thank you to District 3 Vice President Honeycutt and Locals 3121 and 3122 for helping to host this conference.
There are others that I need to thank and I will do that in a few minutes because we had a great year since we last met in Orlando last January, and I need to thank everyone for the work they have been doing.
It is 2019 with new challenges and we are in Florida and it is a real pleasure to be here for the 2019 CWA Wireless Workers Conference. We chose a city in District 3 again because District 3 will be starting negotiations with ATT Mobility for the Green Contract for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. Vice President Honeycutt will outline some of the bargaining goals with this contract later at this conference. There is no greater message that we can send to ATT than to show them that we are united in every Local, in every District, whether it is the Orange Contract, Black Contract, Purple Contract, or Green Contract.
We are here in Miami to send that message to ATT that we are UNITED. We are also here in Miami to send a message to the Wireless Industry that we will not tolerate your UNION-busting tactics anymore – we are coming after you. We want all non-union members of all these union-busting companies to know that the ATT Brigade is ready to take it to a new level.
We need to be energized and mobilized and not only in Puerto Rico this year. We need to be mobilized, energized, and ready to fight in every Local, in every District, with every member who works at ATT Mobility, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile. ATT must get the message early that this contract negotiations is not just with Puerto Rico, it is with all of CWA – with every member, in every Local, in every State, in every District in this country.
Because when we improve on our contract in one area of the country – we begin to improve all of our contracts. We MUST fight to continue to bring back work to our call centers, to keep work in our retail, to take back more of the work from contractors for our techs, to draw a line in the sand on Health care, to fight for Job Security. We fight for Job Security by fighting for the jobs that the company is consistently giving away. We want those jobs in call centers overseas and those vendor call centers – we do that by getting guarantees on the percentage of calls we handle – we did it with the Orange Contract – we did it with the Black Contract – we will do it with the Green Contract in Puerto Rico and we will do it with the Purple Contract in District 6 and when the Orange contract rolls around again – we will increase our percentages – that is how we will keep our jobs and stop ATT from sending our jobs to others.
We must do that in retail and we must do that with our techs. We have to fight to keep our work because if we don’t fight, we lose. ATT will ship all of our work to someone because that is what they do.
In 2016, we got rid of the National Bargained Benefit Plan. We did that so we could once again bargain our benefits at the same time we bargained everything else. With the Orange Contract negotiations, for the first time in 12 years, we bargained health benefits in a Mobility contract. We did this for the last year of the contract 2021 and we told the company NO MORE SHIFTING COST OF HEALTH CARE to us. We were holding the line at 29%. We had the backing of President Shelton and the District VPs. We were going to hold the line at 29% no more shifting the cost to our members. We had enough and with this contract we held the line.
We did it again last year with the Black Contract here in District 3. We drew the line in the sand and held the line at 29% and we will do it with the Puerto Rico – Green Contract – no more shifting the cost of health care to our members.
Again, our goal is to increase our power in the wireless industry and when we improve one contract, we set the bar higher for the next contract.
When our contracts are strong, when we protect our work we can show our sisters and brothers in the wireless industry who are non union that the UNION fights for you – we fight to save jobs – to keep jobs, we fight to make your work life and your workplace better – every day.
And when we fight we WIN – our 3-day strike in Mobility in the spring of 17 made us stronger and showed ATT that we will fight. The strike proved critical in the company recognizing the power of the workers especially when retail stores were forced to shut down. This success would not have been possible without the work done by Unity @ Mobility.
So are we ready to fight again – are we ready to send some energy to District 3 – that is why we are here in Miami.
We MUST continue to set our goals higher each time we go to the bargaining table. Our goal is to increase our power in the wireless industry and to improve each contract. We set the bar higher for the next contract.
In 2016 we changed the name of this conference from the CWA Mobility Conference to the CWA Wireless Conference, and our goal is to increase our power in the Wireless Industry – NOT just at Mobility, but at Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile and wherever else we can organize wireless workers.
So I would like to welcome our CWA Verizon Wireless members and our T-Mobile members to this Wireless Conference and ask you to stand, and I ask our Mobility members to give these members at Verizon and T-Mobile a huge round of applause and welcome these members to this Conference! This is the CWA Wireless Workers Conference. Let the Verizon members and T-Mobile members that are here today know that we have your back and we will be doing everything we possible can this year to add more Verizon workers and T-Mobile workers to our Union.
We started a program where we enlisted ATT Mobility members to join what we call the Brigade to help identify workers at Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile. We have hundreds of members who have been put through the program, and let me mention a few of the brigade members that have been doing an unbelievable job:
|District||Brigade Member||# of Contacts|
|2-13||Mark L. Davis||14|
That group identified 1215 contacts.
Can those that are part of the ATT Brigade who are here today, please stand up and can we give these members a round of applause for the work they are doing. Is Tyler Marik here – Tyler led all members of the Brigade by identifying 236 contacts in Verizon and T-Mobile. Great Job Tyler!
I mentioned earlier that our Unity @ Mobility Program had a great year and our Brigade Program as you can see has been a great success but we must now take it to the next level. Those contacts need to become members. This Brigade would not have happened without the great work of our CWA organizers in each District; with the help of Tim Dubnau, who helps coordinate the program and Sandy Rusher, our CWA Organizer Director leading the Brigade. Let’s give a round of applause to our Organizing Department at CWA.
What makes Unity @ Mobility work is the support of Executive Board, starting with President Shelton, but mostly the support of our District Vice Presidents: Ed Mooney, District 2-13; Richard Honeycutt, District 3; Linda Hinton, District 4; Claude Cummings, District 6; Brenda Roberts, District 7; and Tom Runnion, District 9. The day-to-day work of Area Director Pat Telesco, who coordinates the everyday issues that surround us each and every day in all of our Locals and Districts. Pat, you make it look easy and we appreciate all that you do. Helping Pat is Anne Rosenblatt Doppelt. Anne does all of our Unity @ Mobility flyers and keeps track of all of our data, plus everything and anything that Pat throws her way. Anne recently got married, so I want to also take the opportunity to congratulate her. Anne, thank you for all you do and congratulations! I also want to thank the staff from each District that is assigned to Mobility and work with Pat on a daily basis –
- In District 1- Tonya Moore and Wayne Poole
- In District 2-13- Jim Byrne
- In District 3 – Angie Wells, Kelvin Banks, Jorge Rodriquez
- In District 4 – Jane Philips
- In District 6 – Derrick Osobase, Jason Velmer, and Mike Neumann
- In District 7 - Jeanne Stewart
- In District 9 – Cherie Brokow
I also want to thank all the other staff reps in the Districts that work with Mobility Locals.
Let’s give another round of applause for our CWA staff!
We also have Unity @ Mobility Local Coordinators who work very closely with Pat and the staff reps, and I would like to thank them for all they do.
- In District 1 – Heather Trainor, Local 1101
- In District 2-13 – Deb Casey, Local 2204
- In District 3 – Mahalia Corley, Local 3680; Andrell Hubbard, Local 3902; and Nicole Figueredo, Local 3121
- In District 4 – Dea Polchow, Local 4202 and Renee Rouser, Local 4320
- In District 6 – Kendra Williams, Local 6215 and Michele Doty, Local 6300
- In District 7 – Estevan McDaniels, Local 7019; Debbie Goulet, Local 7803; and Dave Bennett, Local 7250
- In District 9 – Brandon Beck, Local 9511 and Keith Renge, Local 9408
Thank you, Local Coordinators, and let’s give them a great round of applause for the work they do every day.
Thanks to our team of researchers and support at HQ, especially Nell Geiser and Dan Reynolds for their support of our bargaining tables, no matter what day or time we called them - they answer!
We have our social media and twitter personal – Rachel van Raan and Kasey McKeral – they do a great job and Rachel desined the logo for the shirts that we have at this conference.
We have great Local officers, stewards and members in every District here at this conference!
I want to thank all of you for everything you do every day. What makes Unity @ Mobility really work are the incredible people in this room.
We started the Unity @ Mobility Program to get more members at ATT Mobility involved in our UNION. I am happy to say that we have more Mobility members than ever now that hold Local office, from Presidents to E. Board Members, Business Agents, Chief Stewards, and Stewards. CWA now has two Staff Representatives out of the Mobility Unit. This naturally increases participation across the Mobility membership while building bargaining power. So our Unity @ Mobility Program is working, so let’s keep getting stronger and stronger.
The CWA Staff, Local officers, shop stewards, and members make it happen. You are the backbone of our union. Without your commitment and your leadership, the union would be nothing.
Now, let me take a few minutes to address what is happening in this country.
Brothers and Sisters, we are living in a crazy, confusing, challenging time. Working people are under attack across this country, on so many different fronts. Families, desperately seeking better lives for their children, are being torn apart at the border. A hard-right, pro-business, anti-worker judge got appointed to the Supreme Court. The Koch Brothers and their billionaire allies are on the warpath. One of the two major political parties has literally been taken over by racists and extremists. We have a self-centered, lying lunatic in the White House. We’ve got the Janus decision.
I have been a CWA member for almost 50 years. In all that time, it has never been tougher to be a trade unionist than it is right now. That is why I am so grateful—and so, so proud—to stand here with all of you today. Proud to be a member of the best union in the country. Proud to be CWA. Because, in times like these, NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE SOLIDARITY OF ALL OF OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
Today, we are fighting for members under the most difficult conditions for workers we’ve seen since the modern labor movement was built in the 1930s. We all know why. Elections have consequences. And the consequences of the 2016 election are painfully clear for workers and the labor movement.
No Trump, no anti-union NLRB and National Mediation Board. No Trump, no rollbacks of overtime rules and OSHA protections. No Trump, no trillion dollar tax cuts for Wall Street, the corporations and the 1%. No Trump, no Neil Gorsuch. No Neil Gorsuch, no Janus decision.
As everyone in this room should know, the Janus decision came down on June 27, 2018. No one was surprised. This Supreme Court is not interested in justice. They are 100% ideological, 100% committed to empowering the wealthy and the big corporations at the expense of the rest of us.
The very day the decision was announced; Bloomberg Business Week published a story reporting that the so-called “Freedom Foundation” was sending 80 canvassers to go door-to-door in California, Oregon, and Washington State. Their goal: persuade 127,000 public workers to quit their unions. We are seeing this happen today throughout this country. We need to know what we’re up against. Our members need to know. Our members need to know that we are under attack. And it’s not just door-to-door canvassing. The Freedom Foundation is sending out “a flood of social media, mail, email, cable television ads, op-eds and phone calls to spread the news about employees’ opportunity” to drop out of their unions.
They have a simple message – "You want a raise? Drop out of your UNION – stop paying dues and give yourself a raise."
Who’s behind the Freedom Foundation? Who do you think? It’s the Koch Brothers and their allies. Billionaires like Richard Mellon Scaife. Betsy DeVos and her family. The Bradley Foundation. Their mission is unmistakable. Destroy unions. Cut off labor funding to the Democratic Party. Empower corporations and the 1%.
The right wing has been plotting its path to Janus for decades. It is part of a concerted campaign to roll back American democracy. Citizens United. Gutting the Voting Rights Act. Voter ID laws. Gerrymandering State Legislative and Congressional districts. Preventing 11 million undocumented people living in this country from gaining citizenship and voting rights.
The corporate elite wants to roll back Democracy because their programs are unpopular. If regular people get to decide on policies, the 1% loses. Ultimately, that is what Janus is all about: shutting off the democratic voices of working people, and destroying our organizations, OUR UNION, in order to protect the interests of the 1%. Our members need to know that they are trying to destroy our union. It is up to all of us to educate our membership, to talk one-on-one with our members to let them know about this threat.
Elections do have consequences. The midterm election marked our first opportunity since 2016 to start taking back power from Donald Trump and the anti-labor Republicans. We flipped the US Congress and we won more Governor’s races and took back control of more State Governments. CWA helped set off the blue wave that came crashing down on Republicans and GOP members of Congress. The magnitude of what happened on Election Day for us in CWA is still hard to grasp, but there’s no denying, we won BIG.
So it seems that America is starting to get it. Elections now have some consequences for our President.
Democrats decisively took control of the House of Representatives, where we picked up 38 seats, ending up with 235 Democrats and an 18 seat majority. We are pleased that Sherrod Brown was re-elected Senator from Ohio and that Jacky Rosen defeated incumbent Dean Heller for the Senate seat in Nevada. And in one of the sweetest developments of Election Day, anti-union pig Scott Walker was ousted from power in Wisconsin. We didn’t win all that we should have, but no amount of bluster from Trump can cover up the reality that the country decisively rejected his racist, xenophobic, hateful rhetoric and his corrupt, pocket-lining, pro-corporate politics. We have issues in some states that we need to figure out, but all in all, Election Night was a major victory for labor and progressive forces.
Beginning today, there is a NEW Congress, a Congress led by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats that will start speaking for us in this country, and CWA played a major role in flipping the House and giving us the voice we now have. I thank you all for the work you did leading up to Election Day!
This election marks a huge shift for working people throughout the country. We helped change the face of both the Federal government and our State governments by fighting for fresh faces who are committed to standing with workers.
We have incredible momentum to make some real change for workers in the coming year, and I couldn't be more proud of the amazing effort put in by our members to make it happen.
So hopefully we can keep a check on Trump while fighting back on all the other fronts!
Our work in CWA is second to none. But Brothers and Sisters, just doing what we have always done is not enough. We are in a new era - an era when every member must individually understand and support the union, an era when every member must be part of the fight. We must make sure that all of our members know we are fighting to keep the union alive.
We are at a turning point in the history of the labor movement. We have been under vicious attack for 40 years. For decades, they've hired union-busting consultants, fired workers who tried to organize, locked us out, and tried to break our strikes. In 2010, they launched their attack on public sector bargaining rights in Wisconsin and Ohio and Indiana and New Jersey. They passed private sector "right-to-work" laws in the cradle of the labor movement, in Wisconsin and Michigan. Our private sector numbers are down to what they were in 1915. 1915! And now they have come after our power in the public sector.
Our grandparents fought and died to build this movement. Now we must go back to the lessons of those days. We need to talk to workers one-on-one. We need to build power in every workplace. We need to educate every member about what is at stake, at the bargaining table and in the Halls of Congress. We need to put our bodies on the line.
I’ve spent the last 50 years trying to build this movement. I am not going down without a fight. I refuse to be part of the generation that allowed the labor movement to die. I don’t want to look back on my career and say, “too bad, we really shouldn’t have let that happen.”
Brothers and Sisters – we have a twofold mission with this conference. First, we must continue to make our Unity @ Mobility stronger by staying United; by having every Local in every District working together; by making each contract better than the one before; by expanding our union into all of Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile.
The Wireless Industry must be union – and must be CWA.
Second – we must do everything we can to save the Labor Movement – we need everyone to be involved in this fight.
Brothers and Sisters, are you with me in this fight?
Are we ready to mobilize in every Local in every District for District 3?
Are you prepared to do whatever it takes to save our labor movement?
Brothers and Sisters, I believe CWA is the greatest union in the labor movement. I believe we have what it takes to get it done. We are going to show the labor movement, show this country, what it takes to win justice for working people and in 2019 we will organize the wireless industry – but we will need everyone in this room to work with us to accomplish this goal.
Will you stand with me, will you fight with me? Because together, we can, we must, we will win. We are stronger together!
Thank you Brothers and Sisters, thank you for all that you do.
Let’s have a great conference!