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Oct 5, 2017 - CWA Wins Workplace Rights for Wireless Workers

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Bargaining Update

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Mesa Airlines

Mesa Airlines Flight Attendants, represented by AFA-CWA, voted by 97 percent to ratify a new contract with economic and work rule improvements for more than 1,100 Flight Attendants.

"Mesa Flight Attendants voted for a huge step forward that provides a strong foundation for our future," said Heather Stevenson, AFA-CWA President at Mesa Airlines. "Mesa Flight Attendants worked for years to be recognized for our work and dedication as aviation's first responders. This contract will make a significant difference for Mesa Flight Attendants and their families."

The four-year agreement addresses concerns about Mesa Flight Attendant wages in comparison to other regional carriers. It includes initial pay raises of up to 20 percent, with additional increases in subsequent years that will substantially improve pay for all Flight Attendants over the life of the agreement. The contract also includes increased schedule flexibility with a preferential bidding system, provisions to protect Flight Attendants in delays and cancellations, and improved work rules.

The agreement was reached with the assistance of the National Mediation Board (NMB).


Air Transport International (ATI)

Air Transport International (ATI) Flight Attendants, represented by AFA-CWA, reached a tentative agreement for a first contract.

"ATI Flight Attendants have worked hard to achieve a first contract. Negotiations began with our successful organizing campaign in 2016. By standing together, we were able to achieve a solid first contract recognizing the substantial contributions of Flight Attendants to the airline," said Kristen Hillman, AFA-CWA ATI President.

The six-year agreement covers over 30 Flight Attendants. It provides immediate pay raises and defined schedule and work rules.

Help Our CWA Family in Puerto Rico

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CWA members, locals, and leaders are rallying support for CWAers and their families in Puerto Rico, who are facing tremendous hardship now more than two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island.

On the ground in Puerto Rico, members of CWA Local 3010 in Puerto Rico are working nonstop to repair damaged communications systems.

CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt said a shipment of water and other critical supplies left Miami for Puerto Rico, with American Airlines providing free transport. "The devastation and need is beyond comprehension," Honeycutt said. "More than 95 percent of the island is still without power and it’s difficult to get the trucks and supplies necessary to fix the power grid to the island."

"Residents are in desperate need of water, batteries, lights, and cash, because ATMs haven’t worked since before the storm hit," he said.

CWA locals are checking on members in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Local 3010, which represents AT&T Mobility members, reports that 55 members are still unaccounted for, while Local 33225 (UPAGRA) also reports that some members can’t be contacted. Members of Local 3140 who work for American Airlines in Puerto Rico have all been contacted, that local said.

Honeycutt and CWA President Chris Shelton urged CWAers and locals to contribute to the District 3 Disaster Relief Fund (click here). "We will do everything we can," Shelton said.

Every dollar of the fund goes directly to assist CWA members in need of shelter, dry clothing, and basic medical supplies. Donations are not tax-deductible.

AFA-CWA has teamed up with other airline unions, the AFL-CIO, and United Airlines to fly more than 300 volunteers from 17 states and supplies to Puerto Rico to help with relief efforts and rebuilding. Other CWA members were among the volunteers. AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson, who helped make this relief effort happen, joined AFA-CWA Flight Attendants in staffing the flight.

Residents will likely remain without water or power for weeks or months. Communication remains difficult as CWA members work around the clock to restore mobile phone services. Local President Luis Benítez reports that Local 3010's offices are ruined; officers are securing a temporary site to serve as a member assistance center.

Local 3010 members Benedicto Quiñonez, Roberto Flores, Jose Limery, and Victor Martines are splicing fiber at a damaged cell tower.

Below: AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson, second left, with the crew of the United flight headed to Puerto Rico with union volunteers and desperately needed supplies.

Local 4501 is CWA STRONG

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Local 4501 in Columbus, Ohio, took on the challenge and is becoming CWA STRONG. The local represents public workers at Ohio State University; in Lima, Mansfield, Newark and Marion, Ohio; the Ohio Secretary of State's Office; Pickaway County Jobs and Family Services; Franklin County Veterans' Commission, and other agencies.

Members work in skilled and service trades and as paralegals, benefits and program specialists, and in other occupations.

Local 4501 President Kevin Kee said, "When our local and activists heard about efforts to limit the membership of our union, especially the Friedrichs case, it was a real wake up call."

The local represents about 2,200 workers, and about 500 workers were agency fee payers, just under 25 percent of total membership. Local 4501 is working with other CWA activists, including Local 4310 President Dianne Bailey and Local 4322 organizer Tomika Cooley, to do everything it takes to make sure Local 4501 is CWA STRONG.

President Kee says:

We knew we had to do something. We started with a one-week organizing blitz in October 2014, dedicated to reducing the number of agency fee payers. Organizers from District 4 joined with Local 4501 members in making house calls and onsite visits. We exceeded our goal and actually got 158 new members to sign up that week.  It was amazing, and it was the start of our program to make our local CWA Strong.

Building on that first week, we knew we needed to continue to organize. We created spreadsheets and databases of every building at OSU where we represent workers, plus members' work shifts and contact information. It's a lot of work, but it’s what is needed to reach out to members and engage in the one-on-one contact that is so effective.

Over the last six weeks, we've stepped up our program, meeting with members and workers at worksites three times a week. With the help of a District 4 organizer, we've signed up another 167 people in just six weeks.

We've learned that it's important to highlight what we're doing, if we've won a member benefit or made other gains, or when we're bargaining a new contract and know that the way to build strength at the bargaining table is by building strength in our numbers. That way, agency fee payers and non-members see what the union is doing. They recognize the value and say they need to sign up.

We know that it's important to reach out to everyone. Sometimes, a university worker or county worker hasn’t signed up just due to the fact that no one has reached out to them. That's all changed now. Our steady progress is becoming tremendous success.

T-Mobile Ordered to Rescind Illegal Policies

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T-Mobile US workers have regained their right to speak out at work and other important rights on the job. The National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit have ordered T-Mobile to rescind its illegal workplace rules, to notify all workers that this action has been taken, and to correct the current employee handbook and other work rules.

T-Mobile was cited by the NLRB and the Court for 12 illegal workplace rules. T-Mobile workers, with the support of T-Mobile Workers United and CWA, fought back against this corporate gag rule that affected tens of thousands of workers.

A judge found that, among other things, T-Mobile's illegal job rules were written such that:

  • Workers were barred from discussing their wages and salaries with coworkers, the public, their union, or government investigators.
  • Workers were prohibited from disclosing and discussing other terms and conditions of employment, thanks to a vague and far-reaching confidentiality policy.
  • Workers were prohibited from using cameras or any other electronic devices to document unsafe conditions in the workplace or other problems.
  • Workers were prohibited from disclosing the identity of those involved in company investigations, keeping workers from working together to fight issues like sexual harassment.
  • Workers were required, under threat of firing, to sign a form stating that they would comply with the company's illegal rules and report anyone who violated the illegal rules – i.e., report those who exercise their rights under the law.

T-Mobile workers welcomed the decision, which came after years of hearings and appeals by the company. According to Justin Smith, a Messaging Specialist at the call center in Wichita, Kan., "This is a big win for employees and another indication that unless we take a stand to force T-Mobile to follow the rules, they won't. It demonstrates the power of collective action."

Victoria Singer, a Retail Support Representative at a call center in Albuquerque, N.M., said, "T-Mobile is right in line with corporate America, implementing a multitude of rules meant to keep workers from talking to each other about our pay and working conditions. It's a blatant attempt to keep us from organizing to improve our jobs and our lives. I'm proud to have been part of an effort to expose these illegal rules for what they are."

Judge Orders NCI to Rehire Fired Union Supporters

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An NLRB administrative law judge in Fort Worth, Tex., found that the National Captioning Institute violated federal law when it fired two workers for their union activity, and committed other labor law violations.

NCI is a nonprofit corporation that provides closed captioning, subtitling, and other media services in Dallas; Santa Clarita, Calif.; and Chantilly, Va. NABET-CWA has been working with NCI workers who want union representation.

Judge Robert Ringler outlined management's illegal actions, which included firing two workers, interrogating employees, searching employees' chat logs for union discussions, sending anti-union emails to employees, maintaining an unlawful social media policy, and maintaining an unacceptable behavior policy.

Ringler found "abundant evidence of union animus" and pointed out that management's overblown reaction that resulted in stringent disciplinary measures and the termination of employee Mike Lukas was suspect. The reasons cited for termination of a second worker, Marie Hall, were "nonsensical" and "suggest invidious treatment," the judge said. Ringler also found that management was "untrustworthy for many reasons."

Ringer ordered NCI to cease and desist all unlawful practices, rescind illegal and overbroad policies, and offer the two fired workers reinstatement with full back pay, plus interest. NCI also was ordered to notify employees of the NLRB order by email and Intranet.

Eric Seggi is the NABET-CWA staff representative who has been working with the 150 captioners and other workers at NCI to gain a union voice. "This ruling is great news, especially for the two fired workers who have been out of work for more than a year. It’s been a tough fight," he said.

The workers at NCI include captioners for major networks and sports programming as well as workers in engineering, Internet Technology, and maintenance.

Political Action Update

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Members of CWA Local 2201 in Richmond, Va., met with Schuyler Van Valkenburg, center, the CWA-endorsed candidate for the House of Delegates, District 72, before heading out for a precinct walk. Local President Richard Hatch said activists also were working hard to elect Ralph Northam for governor of Virginia.

How Many Palm Beach Mansions Does a Wall Street Tycoon Need?

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That's the question that Julie Reynolds answers in this cover story for The Nation, focusing on the growing purchase of newspapers by Wall Street hedge funds that then slash coverage, lay off staff, or shut down the newspapers altogether, in order to siphon off the profits.

The article focuses on Digital First Media and owner Alden Global Capital. TNG-CWA members work at 13 DFM-owned properties.

Read more about the fight to make sure that "News Matters," at Digital First Media publications and at newspapers and publications nationwide.