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CWA National News: America's Richest Companies: Only The “Little People” Pay Taxes & April 4th Was An “Amazing Day” from Coast to Coast As Thousands of Events Bolstered The Fight for Workers' Rights & Economic Justice

Also… United-Continental Flight Attendants' Union Election To Begin Soon, Workers in Oregon Fend Off Employer & Anti-Union Activists And It’s Time To Start Planning For Workers' Memorial Day On April 28th

Published Sunday, April 10, 2011 1:00 pm
by CWA National News & WNYLaborToday Staff

America's Richest Companies: Only “The Little People: Pay Taxes

Have you paid your 2010 taxes yet?  On a percentage basis, you're certainly paying more than the most profitable U.S. companies and in some cases you're literally paying more.  Consider, for instance, that General Electric made $26 billion in profits over the last five years and not only paid no Federal Income Tax, it got a $4.1 billion refund!  Here are the Top 10 Corporate Freeloaders, as compiled by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont): Carnival Cruise Lines over the past five years made more than $11 billion in profits, but its Federal Income Tax Rate during those years was just 1.1%; ConocoPhillips, the Fifth-Largest Oil Company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2007 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks; Citigroup, last year, made more than $4 billion in profits, but paid no Federal Income Taxes; Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1% of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion; Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year, received a $157 million Tax Refund Check from the IRS; Boeing got a $124 million refund from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last year; Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009; GE, we already talked about them; Bank of America got a $1.9 billion Tax Refund from the IRS last year, even though it made $4.4 billion in profits; and Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009 and paid no Federal Income Taxes.  However, Exxon Mobil did receive a $156 million rebate from the IRS.  For more information and graphics about Corporate Tax Evaders, visit www.usuncut.org.

 

April 4th Was An “Amazing Day” from Coast to Coast As Thousands of Events Bolstered The Fight for Workers' Rights & Economic Justice

Embracing the April 4th movement proposed by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) just a few weeks earlier, hundreds of thousands of people across the country made their voices heard last week in their workplaces, their communities and outside businesses and government buildings in the intensifying national fight for Workers' Rights and Economic Justice.  "April Forth was an amazing day, from Puerto Rico to Hawaii, and we can all be proud of our Union," CWA President Larry Cohen said. "Elected officials and employers are on notice that we will resist their attacks on our Bargaining Rights and our standard of living.  Unorganized Workers are more aware that they can organize and that we and other Unions will be there with them."  Cohen proposed to the National AFL-CIO Executive Council in early March that Unions and progressive allies plan events for April 4th, the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s murder in Memphis.  King was there to stand with hundreds of striking Sanitation Workers who were fighting for Dignity, Safe Working Conditions and Bargaining Rights.  CWA Locals organized more than 300 community events and another 300 at worksites, where members wore red and "Stand Up for Workers' Rights" stickers, passed out literature and had lunchtime gatherings, among other activities.  Many April 4th events got good local media coverage that mentioned CWA and even quoted some members.  Speaking in Maryland Heights, Missouri about CWA-Represented Child Welfare Workers, Local 6355's Richard von Glahn said: CWA Members make anywhere from $22,000 to $31,000 a year and protect children from child abuse.  “They're not the bad guys," he said.  In New Jersey, CWA Local 1038 President Paul Alexander told reporters: "The struggle of forty-three years ago is not entirely different from the struggle people are looking at today.  What took place in Memphis involved Sanitation Workers fighting for the right to negotiate a contract and to bargain.  We're being stripped of our Collective Bargaining Rights as we speak."

 

United-Continental Flight Attendants' Union Election To Begin Soon

The National Mediation Board has determined that United-Continental is now a single carrier, triggering the beginning of a Union Representation Election process for the 24,000 Flight Attendants at the newly-merged airline.  AFA-CWA, which has represented United Airlines flight attendants for over 65 years, represents 15,000 Flight Attendants at the merged carrier.  The International Association of Machinists represents about 9,500.  "This is a watershed moment in our Union and an exciting time for the thousands of Flight Attendants at the 'new' United who are ready to advance our careers with AFA representation," AFA International President Veda Shook said. "We sought this election because we want to unite the airline's Flight Attendants as quickly as possible to take maximum advantage of the leverage we have from the merger."  The NMB is expected to announce a voting schedule soon.  "This sets the stage for real gains for our profession," said Greg Davidowitch, president of AFA at United. "The expertise of our Union has resulted in contracts and daily representation that reflect the entire work and home life of the Flight Attendants."

 

Fight To Save Democratic Airline Union Elections Continues/House-Senate Conference Committee Takes Up FAA Reauthorization Bill

Bowing to airline executives angry about new Democratic Rules for Union Elections, the U.S. House defeated a bi-partisan amendment last week intended to preserve the important changes the National Mediation Board (NMB) made last year.  The AFA-CWA-supported amendment, sponsored by Steven LaTourette (Republican-Ohio) and Jerry Costello (Democrat-Illinois) failed by a 206-220 vote.  As a result, anti-Union language overturning the NMB changes remains in the FAA Reauthorization Bill.  The fight to save the Democratic Election Rules now moves to a conference committee, where differences between the House and Senate versions of the FAA legislation will be worked out.  The Senate's FAA legislation does not contain the Anti-Worker Provision and CWA will be working with Senators in both parties to make sure the Senate version prevails. If not, the Obama administration has threatened to veto the entire FAA bill.  Specifically, the provision in the House bill would return Airline and Railroad Union Elections to past rules, in which eligible voters who don't cast ballots are counted as "No" votes.  If such standards were applied to federal elections, no one in Congress today could have won election in 2010.  Under the new NMB rules, the Airline and Railroad Elections would be treated like all others, only the votes cast are counted.  The amendment's defeat in the House followed intense lobbying by anti-Union groups and a campaign by Delta Airlines.  The company gave employees "free flights to Washington to lobby against liberalizing Union Rules for airline workers," The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

 

Workers In Oregon Fend Off Employer, Anti-Union Activists

Seeking respect and basic benefits, including sick leave and vacation time, 156 workers at Dosha Salon and Spa in Portland voted 79-66 for CWA Local 7901 in a hard-fought, 18-month campaign.  Management brought in Harry Beck and other anti-Union activists to try to thwart the campaign, which organized workers at four salon locations.  A fifth is opening soon.  The Hair Stylists, Massage Therapists, Nail Technicians, Spa Hosts, Schedulers and Laundry Workers were fed up with arbitrary policies, including unreasonable restrictions on vacation and sick time.  New hires sometimes got higher pay than more senior workers doing the same job and employees had to sign restrictive "non-compete" agreements that limited their ability to augment their wages.  The company also set unrealistic sales quotas and disciplined workers who failed to meet them.  "They are brave for standing up for what they believed despite negative campaigning by management, and a visit from anti-Union extremists the company brought in to pressure them into voting no," said District 7 Organizing Coordinator Al Kogler. "Instead, the workers stayed upbeat and stuck together, wearing red T-shirts to anti-Union meetings and temporary Pro-Union Tattoos."  The employees first tried to organize when a super-majority signed a petition seeking representation, but management refused to recognize the Union.  After that, the workers' inside organizing committee sought the National Labor Relations Board Election.

 

Congressional Black Caucus Leaders Visit CWA

As part of CWA's ongoing effort to build alliances, CWA Executive Vice President Annie Hill met recently with two key members of Congress who are strong Workers' Rights Advocates.

House Democratic Assistant Leader James Clyburn (Democrat-South Carolina) and Representative Emanuel Cleaver (Democrat-Missouri), the new chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, spent some time at CWA headquarters.  Clyburn has long played a key role in advancing Pro-Worker Legislation, including the Employee Free Choice Act.  Both he and Cleaver have taken strong stands against the Union-busting actions of Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker and other governors.  "The Congressional Black Caucus shares our vision for Economic Justice and Workers' Rights," said Alfonso Pollard, CWA director for Human Rights and Politics. "We’re proud to be working with them toward our mutual goals."

 

Time To Start Planning For Workers' Memorial Day On April 28th

With Unions under such vicious attack in many states, the annual Workers' Memorial Day Commemoration on April 28th is especially critical this year and CWA is urging its Locals to begin planning events - now.  The 2011 theme is "Safe Jobs Save Lives: Our Work's Not Done." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and their GOP allies in Congress are trying to make sure of that, as they fight new safety proposals and try to roll back existing rules.  Despite the vigilance of CWA and other Unions, more than 5,000 workers are killed on the job every year, tens of thousands die from occupational diseases and literally millions suffer workplace injuries.  CWA lost three members, all AT&T technicians, to preventable workplace fatalities in 2010: Local 3212 member William Britt Hunt was killed in Georgia in January while working alone on a job that should have been assigned two technicians. Hunt was winding telecommunications cable onto a winch when his feet got caught in the cable. He was dragged into the winch and fatally injured; Local 4100 member Kevin James was killed in Detroit in April when an overhead electrical wire fell on him while he was in doing aerial repairs on a telephone pole; and Local 4320 member Bryan Green was killed in Ohio in September when his company truck slipped out of gear and pinned him while he was repairing a telecommunications pedestal.  Workers' Memorial Day flyers and materials to help you plan events are available on-line from the National AFL-CIO. Click here or go to www.aflcio.org.

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