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Feb 23, 2017 - U.S. Santander Workers Demand A Union

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Bank Workers at Santander Demand a Voice in the Workplace

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Bank workers in the Committee for Better Banks – a coalition formed by CWA, bank workers, and other community and consumer advocates – are speaking out for better working conditions.

This week, Santander workers, customers, and consumer advocates in Dallas and Boston delivered letters demanding that Santander executives respect workers' right to form a union and treat American workers and customers with the same standards as it treats those abroad.

Bank workers around the world showed their support. Thousands of Santander workers in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Germany held protests in support of their American co-workers.

"Our neighbors and communities trust us to help them – whether it's with a loan or saving for their kid's college tuition – but Santander executives choose to put us in an impossible position between providing for our families and doing what's best for our customers," said Peggy Spencer, a Santander worker and Committee for Better Banks member in the Dallas area. "We're taking our first major step to winning a voice on the job, improving working conditions and putting an end to discriminatory, deceptive practices that are holding back thousands of families."

Santander is one of the world's largest banks with more than $555 million in profits each month from a growing fleet of banks in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New England, and its subsidiary Santander Consumer USA is the country's largest subprime auto lender, bringing in $4 billion in the last four years.

But even as Santander's profits grow, the bank faces increasing scrutiny of its risky and unethical business practices. A new report by the Committee for Better Banks finds that Santander's home mortgage lending discriminates against thousands of low-income borrowers and borrowers of color in cities throughout the Northeast, including denying more than 26% of borrowers of color a mortgage loan.

Santander is the only bank in America to fail the Federal Reserve stress test three years in a row, raising concerns from members of Congress and regulators about its ability to serve its more than 2 million U.S. customers. In just the last couple of years, Santander has been fined more than $1 billion for deceptive practices from illegal overdrafts and overcharging Black and Latino customers to illegally repossessing cars owned by members of the U.S. armed services serving overseas.

Read more at Reuters and

Santander workers, customers, and consumer advocates in Dallas and Boston delivered letters demanding that Santander executives respect their right to form a union and treat American workers and customers with the same standards as it treats those abroad. Thousands of Santander workers in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Germany held protests in support of their American co-workers.

Bargaining Update

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The CWA bargaining team at DIRECTV Mid-Atlantic and West reached a tentative agreement covering about 300 DIRECTV technicians, warehouse, and administrative workers in Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, and Oregon.

CWA members held a telephone town hall on details of the proposed contract on Feb. 21; the ratification vote is set for March 3.

Read more here.

Organizing Update

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The six Retail Sales Consultants (RSCs) at the only CenturyLink retail store in Texas voted 6-0 for CWA representation on February 17, despite an anti-union campaign that featured literature, large posters, and daily captive audience meetings for over a week.

New Jersey CWAers Fight to Protect Healthcare

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CWA members and health care advocates are standing up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by taking the fight to save health care to the district offices of Republican Members of Congress across New Jersey. Every Wednesday, CWA, along with partner organizations in the NJ for Health Care coalition, are gathering outside the district offices of New Jersey’s five Republican Congressmen to generate grassroots pressure on them to oppose the repeal of the ACA without replacement.

The protests have grown week to week, with nearly 2,000 people joining the demonstrations across New Jersey to date.

Members of Locals 1014, 1032, 1033, 1036, 1037, 1038, 1040, 1077, 1080, 1082, 1085, have picketed Congressmen Lance, Freylinghuysen, McArthur, Smith and LoBiondo every Wednesday for the past 6 weeks. "A repeal would cause more than 51,000 adults in the 2nd District to lose health care coverage", said Mike Blaszczyk, President of CWA Local 1085. "Repealing without a replacement would be devastating."

Letters from the NJ for Health Care coalition were also delivered to each of the Congressmen expressing concern about the rollback of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid. Health care advocates are also calling for town hall meetings with residents to be convened in every district.

A report by NJ Policy Perspective shows outright repeal would take away health care coverage for nearly 800,000 New Jerseyans, and cause millions more to lose important protections that help them maintain their coverage and their health. Repealing the Medicaid expansion as part of rolling back the ACA would cause about 528,000 adult New Jerseyans to lose their health coverage. Many of the protections afforded under the ACA – including free preventive care including contraceptives, coverage for kids through age 26, no lifetime limits on insurance, and protections for those with pre-existing conditions – all are under threat.

Learn more about how ACA repeal would affect Americans here.

CWA members from Locals 1032 and 1033 stand up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the district office of Rep. Chris Smith (R) in Hamilton, NJ.

California Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Save Offshored University Jobs

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A new bill in the California state legislature is aiming to save thousands of information technology jobs at the University of California (UC) from being sent overseas.

California Assembly member Kevin McCarty (D) recently introduced legislation (AB 848) that would require the state’s public universities to certify that any contracted work "will be performed solely with workers within the United States." It’s squarely aimed at UC system, which has contracted Indian outsourcer HCL to manage IT infrastructure and networking-related services.

At the end of this month, 79 IT workers at UC’s San Francisco campus are expected to lose their jobs to lower-paid workers from India. As a condition of their severance, they’ve been required to train HCL staffers in India over videoconference and workers brought to campus on H-1B visas how to do their jobs.

The new bill, which has the support of UPTE-CWA, may be too late to help the San Francisco employees, but it could stop the loss of thousands more UC jobs. San Francisco is only the first phase of this HCL contract, which applies to all 10 UC campuses across California.

This marks the first time a public university has ever offshored American IT jobs, undercutting its own mission of preparing students for high-tech industry jobs.

CWA: Low Income Families Need Lifeline Broadband Program

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CWA and 35 consumer, civil rights, and community allies called on the Federal Communications Commission to end its efforts to undermine the Lifeline program that enables low-income families to have access to affordable communications services.

In a letter, the group reminded FCC Chairman Pai and Commissioners Clyburn and O’Rielly that Lifeline "is the only federal program poised to bring broadband to poor families across the U.S." making it possible for them to "connect to jobs, complete their homework, and communicate with healthcare providers and emergency services."

Read the letter here.

The Commission must reject the critics who suggest that Lifeline is unnecessary "because poor people would adopt these technologies absent a subsidy." This is a discredited and empty argument. Usage data and survey responses for families living in lower income communities shows a very high demand for home Internet access among low income families. These families overwhelmingly would subscribe if home access were more affordable.

The group urged the FCC to reject any further efforts to erode Lifeline, to overturn a recent order that rescinded Lifeline designations for nine carriers, and instead implement the Lifeline modernization order, so the program can catch up with the 21st century.