More than 40,000 University of California employees went on strike on Wednesday for 24 hours across UC campuses and medical centers in the largest strike of 2019. UPTE-CWA Research (RX) and Technical (TX) members are striking for a fair contract, and UPTE-CWA Healthcare and AFSCME workers went on strike in solidarity. They were joined on the picket lines by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who spoke at a rally at UCLA, and other elected officials including Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Assemblymember David Chiu.
University of California's bargaining team recently presented what they are calling a "Last, Best, and Final Offer" for Research and Technical members of UPTE-CWA. The offer still contains unnecessary and unacceptable cuts including eliminating step increases for pay, no daily overtime or protections for full-time work, putting pension benefits in jeopardy by pushing new hires to choose a risky 401(k), and more. The offer would also limit the right to file a grievance in cases of sexual harassment and sexual violence.
"For over a year, the University of California has continued to ignore the well-founded concerns of the workers that make this the finest research institution in the world," said Jamie McDole, president of UPTE-CWA 9119. "By shortchanging the frontline workers who make UC run every day, administrators are showing a profound lack of commitment to the students, patients, and taxpayers that this institution is supposed to serve."
"University of California must not be a corporate-type employer," said Sanders. "University of California must be a model employer–an employer that respects its workers and treats its workers with dignity. And it must sit down with its unions and negotiate in good faith."
More than 40,000 University of California employees went on strike on Wednesday for 24 hours across UC campuses and medical centers in the largest strike of 2019.
New Jersey Executive Branch
CWA members voted overwhelmingly to ratify an Executive Branch contract with the State of New Jersey. The CWA State Worker Contract is the largest collective bargaining agreement in the State of New Jersey.
The agreement, which goes into effect July 1, 2019, includes across-the-board wage increases of 2% each year and a new health plan that lowers the employee health benefit premium share for the first time in eight years while providing significant savings to the State of New Jersey. The contract also includes improvements to due process rights, job security, and more.
"Once again, we've proven that collective bargaining and workers' rights are at the core of American democracy," said CWA NJ Director Hetty Rosenstein. "When the parties negotiate in good faith, the results are always better, more long-lasting, and of greater value than when they are not bargained."
The AFA-CWA Frontier negotiating committee has agreed to terms on a collective bargaining agreement with Frontier Airlines covering more than 2,200 Flight Attendants.
The agreement includes significant pay increases, schedule flexibility and protections, improvements for reserves, better vacation, pay protections, quality of work life enhancements, and many other benefits.
Elected Frontier Flight Attendant leaders will meet next week to vote to send the agreement to the members for ratification.
NABET-CWA members voted by an overwhelming majority to ratify an agreement with NBC Universal on a new contract to replace the Master Agreement, which expired on March 31, 2018.
The new contract includes wage and benefit improvements and covers all NABET-CWA members at NBCU, including nearly 3,000 staff and daily hire employees working as broadcast technicians in the studios and in the field for NBC News, NBC Sports, and NBC Entertainment, as well as other employees at company network and TV station operations in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.
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Allentown Morning Call
Newsroom employees at the Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., voted overwhelmingly to join the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia, TNG-CWA Local 38010. The 47-person unit joins a wave of organizing at Tribune Publishing-owned publications, marking the sixth recognition win at the company.
Workers organized around job security, pay equity, cost-of-living raises, fair and reasonable health care benefits, diversity in all ranks of the workplace, and work/life balance rules that are fair for everyone.
Newsroom employees at the Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., voted overwhelmingly to join the NewsGuild of Greater Philadelphia, TNG-CWA Local 38010.
CWA Secures Agreement with Facebook on Sweeping Reforms to Curb Discrimination
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CWA, along with the ACLU and Outten & Golden LLP, has reached a historic civil rights settlement with Facebook. Under the agreement, the tech giant will make sweeping changes to its paid advertising platform to prevent discrimination in employment, housing, and credit advertising.
CWA joined with three workers to challenge Facebook's paid ad platform for enabling advertisers to exclude older Facebook users from receiving job ads, in violation of federal and state civil rights laws. Additional lawsuits and complaints filed by other organizations alleged that Facebook's paid ad platform enabled discrimination based on race, sex, and other protected classes.
"Our campaign seeks justice for workers who have been unfairly locked out of opportunities by employers who deny their ads to older workers or women," said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. "All workers deserve a fair chance to get a good job."
At Shareholder Meeting, Call Center Workers Call on Maximus to Respect Right to Organize
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On Wednesday, Maximus employees who work at call centers that handle Medicare and Federal ACA Marketplace inquiries attended the company's annual shareholder meeting in Reston, Va., to call on Maximus to respect their right to organize free from fear, intimidation, and interference. They also called on the company to meet with a committee of workers to discuss how improved working conditions would help achieve better outcomes for Maximus and its customers.
"Every day, we do the work to ensure Americans have access to the healthcare they need, but Maximus continues to pay us poverty wages," said Railonnie Brooks, a trainer at a Maximus call center in Hattiesburg, Miss., speaking at the shareholder meeting.
CWA has filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging systemic misclassification and wage theft at several Maximus call centers (formerly owned by GDIT), where it has been estimated that employees could be owed more than $100 million in back wages.
Prior to attending the meeting, Maximus call center employees delivered petitions calling on Congress to be vigilant in holding companies like Maximus accountable for labor violations. Workers brought a letter to the shareholder meeting addressed to Maximus employees from Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) in response to the workers' petitions to Congress. Schakowsky affirmed Congress' commitment to ensuring fair treatment of federally contracted employees and to scrutinizing contractors.
"Any instance in which workers are denied a fair day's pay for a fair day's work is unacceptable to me," Schakowsky said in her letter. "It's all the more disturbing when those doing work for the federal government are not treated properly. Our tax dollars should support good, family-supporting jobs...not subsidizing poverty wages."
CWA Urges Congress to Pass "No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act"
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The Republican corporate tax cut bill contained a provision that rewards and incentivizes the offshoring of more American jobs. In order to address this, CWA is urging Congress to pass the No Tax Breaks for Outsourcing Act. The bill, introduced this week by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) along with more than 70 co-sponsors in the House and by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in the Senate, would stop rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas and reverse the offshoring incentives embedded in the tax bill.
Many of the companies that are among the biggest beneficiaries of the Republican tax bill, such as AT&T and Wells Fargo, have already been closing American call centers and aggressively offshoring U.S. jobs. After shipping jobs overseas, these companies have been gifted billions of dollars in new tax breaks while being encouraged to offshore even more American jobs in the future.
"As companies such as AT&T and Wells Fargo keep demonstrating, corporate America will keep siding with wealthy shareholders at the expense of fair treatment of their workers unless our elected officials step in," said CWA's Director of Legislation, Politics, and International Affairs Shane Larson. "These practices, including offshoring, won't just end on their own. We thank Rep. Doggett, Sen. Whitehouse, and their numerous co-sponsors for introducing this important legislation and for fighting for a fairer economy that works for all of us."
Next Steps on the "For the People Act"
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CWA members made thousands of calls to their representatives in Congress, and their efforts paid off when Congress passed the For the People Act, sponsored by Representative John Sarbanes (D-Md.), earlier this month. The sweeping pro-democracy bill contains reforms essential to fixing our political system, including voting rights, money-in-politics, redistricting, and government ethics reforms. Now, CWAers are turning their attention to pushing for the For the People Act to get a full debate and vote in the Senate.
CWA members joined a town hall call last week to celebrate the success of passing the bill in the House and lay out next steps to keep fighting for the bill to become law. CWA President Chris Shelton, Rep. Sarbanes, and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) spoke with the members on the call.
"If we don't make sure that our democracy works for the people, we will never be able to pass legislation to save call centers from offshoring, protect our union rights, make it easier for other workers to join CWA, rein in the power of Wall Street, and make sure the 1% pays their fair share of taxes," said Shelton. "We must make sure that the Republican-controlled Senate takes this legislation up for a vote, and if they don't, we need to take to the streets. We need to email, call, and visit our Senators to tell them that they need to hear our voices."
On the call, 91% of CWA members polled said they would put pressure on their Senator in support of the For the People Act. Top issues for those members included getting big money out of politics, fighting corruption, ending gerrymandering, and expanding voting rights.