Friday, March 15, 2013

Communications Workers Rally, March 23

The Communication Workers of America and the German Union Ver.di have formed a partnership to give T-Mobile workers a voice on the job and to protect those jobs from being outsourced overseas.

T-Mobile closed 7 call centers including one located in Lenexa, KS, and outsourced nearly 3,300 jobs overseas in June 2012. Now T-Mobile is trying to merge with Metro PCS who outsources almost all of their customer service jobs. T-Mobile has said that if the merger goes through, jobs will go overseas.

Please join CWA workers and three German Ver.di guests for a rally on Saturday, March 23, 2013 from 1-3 pm to highlight the need for fairness for workers, and to make sure that there are no jobs lost here in Wichita as a result of this merger.

Support members of our community and their families. Support fairness for workers. Come to the rally at
T-Mobile Call Center
2525 North Woodlawn
March 23, 2013
1-3 pm

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Labor's Food Pantry-Union Members Care

Our thanks to Mario Cervantes, the AFL-CIO Community Service Liaison Coordinator for the following article. As he explains, Labor's Food Pantry is open to all. If you or your faith community would like to contribute to the pantry, please contact Mario directly at the number below. Thank you, David Hansen

With the economy showing signs of a glimmer of a recovery we must still remember that we have many individuals and families that are struggling to make ends meet. Most of these families struggle towards the end of each month, after paying rent, utilities, just to put food on their table. And for those families that are unemployed their neighborhood food pantry is a vital resource.
That’s where Labor’s Food Pantry comes in by providing a food box to help supplement their family’s food budget, which helps them make it to the next payday or unemployment check. Labor’s Food Pantry touches the lives of 8 to 12 families each month and the help they receive is more than just nourishment for their body, it’s the sense that someone cares and is willing to help! And that someone is the union member! Ready and willing to help anyone in need!
Labor’s Pantry touches the lives of anyone that is in need of food, not just union members, but anyone that struggles to provide food for their family, anyone that might be hungry, should we allow any person or child to go hungry? A resolving NO! In community service we recognize this important principle, that the Union member is first and foremost a member of the community, and as a member of a community the union member cares about the entire community and everyone in that community!
 When I hear or read comments that unions are the problem, it makes me mad first and sad second because those that make those comments, just don’t know the real story or don’t want to know! Union members provide millions of dollars annually to United Way and other charities in the community.
And through these dollars provide the resources needed to fund programs and services utilized by anyone in need in the community, the hot meal delivered to a homebound senior or the hospice care that a family receives for their love one at the end of their life or maybe services for a disabled child or help for a woman that might be fleeing domestic violence. All of these services and many more provided by the support of union members working together with other community members to improve the life’s of everyone. The support union members give is not only financial but hundreds of hours of volunteer time, helping at local nonprofits, churches, mentoring at schools, scouting or just helping a neighbor, community service in the true sense of the word. Community Services, it might be a well kept secret but we really weren’t trying to keep it a secret, we see a need, we act on it, and we Git-ur-Done!
If you would like to help support the Labor Pantry please consider bringing a nonperishable food item to each union meeting and I’d be glad to pick-up. Pantry wish list: cereal, macaroni and cheese or any boxed meal.
 If your community service committee is looking for a group project or you would like more information on Labor’s Pantry please contact me at 267-1321 ext 4209
 Thank you sisters and brothers for all you do to support the partnership and our community.
Flyer placed in each food box

Wichita-Hutchinson Labor Federation of Central Ks, AFL-CIO

Labor’s Food Pantry - Emergency Assistance

Food Items Donated and/or Purchased by area “Union Members”
UNION YES         X

Members of Organized Labor!  Helping the whole community!

Labor Cares - Labor Shares

In Solidarity,
Mario Cervantes
AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison
United Way of the Plains

Monday, March 11, 2013

Faith and Labor Forum Report/Larry Smith's Talk

The IWJ Kansas Faith and Labor Forum sponsored by Pine Valley Christian Church was held on March 8th. The band, Shoulder to Shoulder, brought us great energy and inspiring music. Martin Eddy, representing the International Aerospace and Machinists Union, Tammy Chaffee of the Communications Workers of America, Stuart Elliot of the United Postal Workers Union, Bryan Pfiefer of the American Federation of Teachers, and Larry Smith of the United Teachers of Wichita represented the voice of labor. Representative Carolyn Bridges brought us a message from the Kansas House of Representatives. Reverend David Hansen moderated the event and shared a faith perspective. Our thanks to all who attended and shared in this event and to the members of Pine Valley Christian Church for your hospitality. Our thanks to Larry Smith for allowing us to publish the text of remarks, which are printed here.

Faith Communities and Labor: Natural Allies

The faith community has always been the natural ally of the working class and the labor movement. During the 1800s, it was the faith community that worked for legislation to help the poor, and supported efforts to create an 8-hour work day and child labor restrictions. In the1930s, faith communities partnered with government to help the working class that were hardest hit by the Great Depression. In the 1960s and 70s, it was the faith community that walked with workers in Memphis, Detroit, Philadelphia, and other cities across the nation.

Today we are facing an attack on the working class and on organized labor that has not been seen since the days of the Gilded Age. Unions are blamed for the mismanagement of bloated corporations. Workers are blamed for being lazy, are dismissed because they are not "job creators." And public school teachers are called "thugs" and "terrorists" by politicians and media outlets firmly in the pocket of Big Business. And so I am here on behalf of the workers, on behalf of the labor movement, to ask for your assistance once again.

The state elections of 2010 and 2012 have brought a new type of politician to Topeka. This politicians has decided that large corporations are people, but that unions are gangs of bullies and thugs. This politician has decided that large corporations should be able to funnel endless amounts of money into political campaigns, but that unions should not be able to collect any dues from members if those funds involve political activity. This politician has decided that business should not have to pay any income tax, but the poor and working class should pay more in sales tax and have their mortgage exemptions taken away.

There are many bills in the state legislature that can only be termed anti-teacher, anti-labor, anti-worker, anti-poor. Too many to count, in fact. But here are a few that you may have heard of:

HB 2023: The "Payroll Exemption Act," which seeks to take away the right of public unions to have their union dues deducted from their paycheck. But the real purpose is to deny unions their funding so that they cannot speak out on behalf of teachers or students.

HB 2027: Was the old HB 2085, now has become a gut-and-go bill to remove 25 of the 30 work items now negotiated between teacher unions and the local school boards. It would also let any person or group bargain with the school board, and all unions would have to have a re-certification election every two years. In other words, this bill would practically destroy teacher unions, and let school boards issue unilateral contracts.

HB 2069: This bill would prohibit local prevailing wage provisions for all state construction projects; it is probably unconstitutional, but will require an expensive lawsuit to bring it to the Kansas or U.S. Supreme Court.

SB 73: This bill would make major changes to the worker compensation rules in favor of business, and very much against the worker. The worst change is that appeals would no longer go to district court, but to the Workers Comp Board, which would have already ruled on the issue.

There are many other bills in the same vein. Many of these bills affect an enormous number of working Kansans, including many of you.The net effect of this type of legislation is to take away our freedoms and our hard-earned money. But even more importantly, many of these bills would destroy our public education system, and create a society of have's and have-nots.

I'm a history teacher at East High School. We're currently teaching my favorite part of American History: the civil rights movement. I tell my students that the history of the civil rights movement, and the impact it had on our country, is more important than World War 2, more important than the Cold War, more important than Vietnam and Watergate. I tell them that because the civil rights movement goes to the very heart of what this country is all about: the fulfillment of that outrageous idea that "all men are created equal." Public education is an essential part of that idea, for without an adequate education, the poor and the marginalized have no way to achieve the American Dream. Without an adequate education, the poor and the marginalized are taken advantage of. Without an adequate education, the poor and the marginalized are doomed to generational suffering.

It has been encouraging to see a lot of my fellow teachers waking up to all that is going on around them, and to begin to speak up. You know, teachers aren't any different from anyone else: we have families to raise, bills to pay, houses and yards to take care of. There never seems to be enough time to do all we want, and when we get done taking care of those never-ending tasks and chores of our work and our homes, we just want to be able to sit down and spend a little time with our families and friends. But I've seen so many teachers that are giving up that time to get involved in fighting for what they believe in: a decent education for our students, and decent pay and working conditions for teachers.

But we need your help. We need Kansans all over this state to stand with us and fight these politicians and their legislation. We need Kansans like you to write letters, make phone calls, send e-mails, to your legislators and tell them you want them to stop these attacks. Tell them to vote NO on these bills that seek to harm teachers, workers and students. Tell them to start working to represent everyday Kansans.

I was born in 1959, just as the civil rights movement was gaining momentum. I've been proud to be from Kansas, the home of Linda Brown and the Brown v. BOE decision. I've been proud to be from Wichita, the home of the first student-led lunch counter sit-in.

But I've also been sad that I was too young to participate in the civil rights movement in those days. As I studied those events,and later taught them, I told myself that, if I had been older, I would have been there. I would have marched and protested in Birmingham. I would have gone to Mississippi to register voters. I would have gone to Washington to hear Dr. King tell us about his dream. And I would not be surprised to find many of you have had similar feelings.

Well, now we have that opportunity. Public education is the civil rights movement of our time, and it effects all of us. People of color, people of all faiths, people of all political beliefs. Now is the time to stand up. Now is the time to speak up. Now is our time.