NABET/CWA Local 42 General Membership Meeting, 10/13/12 “Unite! Save Middle Class America”

The meeting was called to order by NABET/CWA Local 42 President
Bill Wachenschwanz at 1 pm. Bill welcomed the thirty plus Members, Retirees and Guests present and introduces the first of two featured speakers.

Bill Wachenschwanz invites CWA Local 4340 Past President, Ed Phillips, to the podium. Ed had been the President of Local 4340 here in Cleveland for twenty years and retired in 2007. Ed is a Member of the CWA Defense Fund and was instrumental in Local 42 getting the fifty-thousand dollars to assist in our Mobilization efforts at WKYC.

Ed thanks the Membership of Local 42 for the invitation to speak and begins with a brief history and description of several CWA Funds and how money in those funds are dispersed.

This first fund Ed talked about is the eleven million dollar Defense Fund; this is the fund that TNG and NABET have used in Mobilization efforts. The WKYC Mobilization benefited directly from this Fund. The money comes from Member dues at a rate of fifty cents, per Member, per month. CWA is looking at creative ways to save Union jobs and keep the Local’s strong. This Fund is essential in this process.

The next Fund Ed spoke about was the Members Relief Fund. This is a $424 Million dollar Fund that helps Members who go on strike. The Fund will pay out $200 per week, per Member after the fourteenth day on strike. The pay out figure increases to $300 per week, per Member after the 29th day on strike and remains at that level. Currently there are discussions on moving a part of the money in the Members Relief Fund into the Defense Fund to have more money available for essential Mobilization efforts. Ed said that with all the attacks that corporate America is waging against Unions, this Fund is a very important resource for our Members in the fight to save our jobs.

The Strategic Initiative Fund which about $85 million dollars targets survival issues and is used in Organizing new Units.

Ed passionately spoke about the attack against the hard working Union Members at WKYC. He stressed that what is happening there can spread not only to the other local stations, but across the country. The tremendous advances that American workers have benefited from historically are in danger of being lost. Competitive wages, job training, seniority and fair work rules which so many people take for granted were all gained because of Union effort and activity. The current corporate philosophy that, “ You should be happy just to have a job,” not only demeans and demoralizes the workforce but endangers the very existence of the American Middle Class.

Ed said that corporate America is feeding off of Labor and is getting fat. The CEO of ATT made more money in one year than the whole corporation paid in taxes! Ed stresses that the battle we face is tough, but it is time to stick together and fight. We need to band together, NABET, SAG, IA’S and TNG and work for a unified goal of saving our jobs and preserving the entire class of people who have made this country strong. Losing this group has long range and negative residual side effects.

By sitting on the National Defense Fund Committee, Ed assures us that he is committed to our cause and will do all he can to bring the WKYC injustice to national attention. Ed said he has never turned down a request from Local 42 for aid. We as a Union, need to charge people to work together not against one another. He is ready to stand up with us in our fight.

Ed opens the floor for questions from Members which included: ULOA as a financial burden on Local’s budget’s, Merging Resources, and use of Strategic Initiative Funds to pay for a National Mobilization effort. Ed was able to explain how each of the Funds can/can not be used in these situations and what changes are being considered to address these issues. The next national Committee meeting will take place on December 9th. Ed hopes that he can garner support in the sum of $100,000 to help small Units.

Bill Wachenschwanz thanked Ed Phillips for his presentation and for his unwavering support for Local 42. Bill welcomes AFL-CIO delegate Rick Nagin to the podium.

Rick thanked Local 42 for the opportunity to represent us as our Delegate to the North Shore AFL-CIO. Rick said he had just come for a meeting with the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters joint Council where 500 people gathered to hear James Hoffa and Sherrod Brown speak. The focus of the meeting was to get out and vote. Rick stressed that the issue before the voters is whether democracy will be preserved and protected so that a handful of billionaires will not install a right-wing regime dedicated to escalating class warfare. Romney wants a “Right to Work (for less)” state; we cannot allow that to happen! This election is decisive for the Labor movement.
Rick urges all of us to vote YES on Issue 2 which is the redistricting petition. Rick also suggests volunteering at the AFL-CIO phone bank which operates every day from 10am to 8pm at 40th and Euclid. There are Labor Walks every weekend. Cleveland is the base for the Democratic Party in Ohio and we need to muster our forces to inform voters about the issues and help them understand what the middle class is up against.

Local 42 President Bill Wachenschwanz presents his comments on the state of our Local.

Bill said Local 42 is “holding its own” financially. Times are tough and with the challenge of the dues check off issue at WKYC still unresolved, there is a real need for some Members at WKYC to step up and pay their fair share. We don’t win the fight we are facing without money. Having said that, Bill also said that he is deeply committed to seeing Bethlehem Steel overturned nationally at the NLRB and ultimately, getting a contract for WKYC. Mobilization will unrelentingly continue towards that end.

Bill recapped the contract negotiations at WJW-Engineering where an 18 month CBA was reached and ratified. This contract includes a 1% raise, a one thousand dollar signing bonus and a .5% increase at the mid-point of the contract.

WOIO/WUAB will begin contract negotiations November 15th and 16th and has additional dates scheduled for December. The Negotiating Committee is in place and will be meeting with the Staff Rep to discuss proposals.

Bill stressed the importance of getting out the vote. Our jobs, the right to collective bargaining and the future of the Middle Class is at stake.

President Wachenschwanz thanked everyone for attending and invited Members and Guests to enjoy lunch and visit. A Motion was made by Cathy Watkins to adjourn the meeting. Terry Mullally seconded.

The meeting ended at 2:00 pm.

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