Jan 16, 2020 - CNN Must Pay NABET-CWA Members $76 Million

January 16, 2020

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NABET-CWA Members Win Largest Back Pay Settlement in NLRB History

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Last week, NABET-CWA won the largest back pay settlement in the 84-year history of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), requiring CNN to pay a total of $76 million to hundreds of broadcast technicians who were fired after CNN terminated its subcontract with union-represented employees at Team Video Services (TVS). The settlement provides substantial justice to workers who have been waiting more than 15 years to be made whole for the losses that they suffered as a result of CNN's unlawful conduct.

NABET-CWA's longstanding labor dispute with CNN threatened to disrupt the CNN-hosted January 14 debate at Drake University, with NABET-CWA advising the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic presidential candidates who qualified for the debate, and CNN of its intention to picket the event.

CWA President Chris Shelton extended his thanks to the Democratic presidential candidates, who demonstrated their commitment to working people by intending to honor the picket line.

"After more than 15 years, this settlement agreement finally delivers justice for workers who experienced serious hardship in their lives due to CNN's union-busting practices," said NABET-CWA President Charlie Braico. "This incredible settlement in workers' favor should send a very clear message to CNN and to other employers that union-busting is illegal and has consequences."

CNN's ability to avoid taking responsibility for its unlawful behavior for over 15 years shows just how far U.S. labor laws that are supposed to protect workers have become rigged in favor of corporations. While CNN did everything possible to avoid complying with the law, many of the affected workers struggled to make ends meet with minimum wage jobs or were forced to uproot their families in order to find work. Several of the workers have died while waiting for justice from the company.


CWA Member Testifies at House Aviation Subcommittee Hearing on Working Conditions

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At a hearing held Wednesday by the House Subcommittee on Aviation, CWA Local 3645 Vice President Donielle Prophete called on Congress and American Airlines to address serious safety concerns for airline workers.

During her testimony, Prophete noted that inadequate lighting on the tarmac, a concern repeatedly raised by her local with Piedmont management, likely led to the tragic death of Charlotte ramp worker Kendrick Hudson in August, 2019. The tug Hudson was driving hit a piece of baggage that had fallen on the tarmac, causing the tug to flip over.

In addition to insufficient lighting on the tarmac, damaged and outdated equipment and understaffing are key safety concerns for airline ground workers. Prophete said that these hazards are made worse by low wages at regional carriers like Piedmont, which lead to agents working long, exhausting shifts and taking additional jobs. Low wages contribute to high turnover, which exacerbates the understaffing problems.

"American is a highly profitable company and pays out billions to wealthy shareholders and executives. Yet, American is cutting costs and outsourcing passenger service work to low-wage contractors and regional airlines, like Piedmont," Prophete said.

Prophete said that action is needed to ensure that airlines are implementing the protocols on passenger rage required by the FAA Reauthorization Act. She also recommended that Congress work to establish ramp worker staffing ratios, so that there is an adequate number of agents working a flight, and mandate safety standards for ramp operations to guarantee a safe working environment at all airports. Prophete's recommendations were widely reported in the media.

At the congressional hearing, Dr. Brian Callaci also testified on the findings of a new CWA-commissioned study, Fissuring in Flight, using government data to show how major airline carriers have employed outsourcing, restructuring, and consolidation to suppress wages and erode the quality of jobs in the airline industry. Flight Attendants at the eight regional carriers represented by AFA-CWA have also raised concerns about unsafe conditions due to understaffing and the need to bridge the gap between regional and mainline carriers to make the industry better and safer.

In a new survey of nearly 500 Piedmont agents across the country, ninety-four percent of agents view safety as a serious problem at their station, with 74% reporting that they feel rushed to do their jobs because of understaffing and more than half of the agents reporting that they work with defective equipment in all or most of their shifts.

Watch Prophete's testimony at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChsHe5VcHxQ.


CWA Local 3645 Vice President Donielle Prophete (right) prepares to testify before the House Aviation Subcommittee.


CWA President Chris Shelton Calls for All Hands on Deck to Pass PRO Act to Build Union Member Power

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On a legislative-political activist team call this week, CWA President Chris Shelton urged CWA members to keep pressure on their Members of Congress to support the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill next month.

"We heard, as I know many of you on this call know, that there would not be a vote without at least 218 sponsors of the House bill, and we're at 219 now," Shelton said. "A number of those members agreed to sponsor the bill specifically because of the hard work that all of you put in. So now we're on the verge of this historic vote. This is an amazing achievement, but we also know that there are many members of Congress who are still waffling or trying to dodge taking a position."

The PRO Act puts power back in the hands of workers and reverses decades of legislation meant to crush unions. It would update outdated American labor laws to better protect strikes and other protest activities, make it easier to bargain union contracts, strengthen protections for workers who want to join a union, and prevent the misclassification of workers as independent contractors.

Shelton stressed the importance of continuing to call and write members of Congress. "We need to work hard over the next few weeks to hold those members' feet to the fire and make sure we get a good strong vote in support of the PRO Act to continue to build momentum for labor law reform," he said.

To send an email to your member of Congress about the PRO Act, visit https://actionnetwork.org/letters/write-to-congress-support-the-pro-act/.


Workers and Community Members Press Stephanie Murphy to Support the PRO Act

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Last Thursday, workers and community members gathered outside Representative Stephanie Murphy's office in Orlando to press Murphy to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

"When I look at the list of PRO Act cosponsors, I see Democrats, I see Republicans, but I don't see Stephanie Murphy," said Steve Wiesniewski (below), President of CWA Local 3018 in Orlando. "Does she think that it is okay for corporations to have so much control over our lives? Would she rather see money go to wealthy corporate shareholders instead of to those of us who live, work and support our families right here in her district?"


Organizing Update

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South Bend Tribune

The award-winning newsroom staff of the Gannett-owned South Bend Tribune on Wednesday took a major step toward forming a union to give a voice in the workplace to journalists who keep the community informed and who hold local leaders accountable. The vast majority of employees who contribute reporting, copy editing, page design, and photography within the Tribune newsroom signed cards indicating their desire to be represented by the NewsGuild-CWA.

Members of the South Bend Tribune newsroom who intend to form a union say they are taking this step to preserve the vital role the Tribune plays in telling the stories of the communities they serve.

Tyler James, a sports reporter with the Tribune since April 2012, said the newspaper "endured immense change in the past year. But I can say with certainty that the Tribune will continue to provide the journalism this community needs if the journalists tasked with doing so are given a voice in shaping its future. We are uniting as a union in the hope that we can protect the Tribune and help it thrive."


CWA Member Joins City Council

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CWA Local 4340 member Bill Dunman was elected to the Newburgh Heights, Ohio, City Council last November and was sworn in on January 7. Dunmam is a longtime CWA Political Action Fund contributor who took it to the next level by running for office. Congratulations Bill!


2,800 CWA Members in New Mexico Gain Access to 12-Week Paid Parental Leave for State Employees

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Nearly 3,000 CWA members in New Mexico are gaining access to a 12-week paid parental leave policy for state employees after the New Mexico Governor signed an executive order last week directing the State Personnel Office to establish a 12-week paid parental leave policy for all state employees.

The policy went into effect Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020.