Over the past few months, CWA members have worked tirelessly to build support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. All of the emails, calls, and visits with members of Congress are paying off – the House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill on Thursday evening.
CWA's critical role advancing the bill was evident this week on Capitol Hill. Jennifer Womack, who has worked at a Verizon Wireless call center in Irving, Texas, for the last three years and has been organizing with her coworkers to join CWA, spoke at a press briefing hosted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott on the bill. CWA President Chris Shelton and CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens also attended the event.
Womack described how, after she and her coworkers started discussing forming a union at Verizon Wireless, the company began forcing them to attend mandatory anti-union meetings, sometimes pulling workers they suspect may support organizing into those trainings at a moment's notice.
"Those trainings terrified a lot of people," Womack said. "Eventually, I asked our CEO about this at Verizon's shareholder meeting. But after that happened, my work life got even worse. The company isolated me from my co-workers and some people I was close to were afraid to even talk to me. This retaliation makes it very difficult for workers to form a union if we want to.
"That's why I'm so glad that the House is taking up the PRO Act. This bill would put power back in the hands of workers like me to make our own decisions about forming a union without risking our jobs. I'm especially glad that the bill would ban the sort of mandatory anti-union trainings that we faced. It's also really important that the bill imposes real penalties on companies that break the law, since right now it seems like companies can get away with pretty much anything with a slap on the wrist. I believe that everyone should be treated fairly and be able to have a voice on the job. The PRO Act is a great step to help achieve that."
On Thursday morning, Secretary-Treasurer Steffens addressed a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus. Steffens stressed the historic importance of the bill and shared her story of being wrongfully fired after organizing a union at the Contra Costa Times.
The CWA Executive Board has said that if an incumbent member of Congress or a Senator does not vote for the PRO Act, they will not receive an endorsement for reelection from CWA this year.
CWA members have worked tirelessly to build support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, including CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens (top right) and Jennifer Womack (top left).
Bargaining and Mobilization Update
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AT&T Southwest Mobility
At the opening of bargaining this week for more than 8,000 AT&T Southwest Mobility employees in Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas, the CWA bargaining team urged AT&T to negotiate a contract that includes wage and benefit improvements and a commitment to keeping good, family-supporting jobs in the region. Workers set up informational picket lines at retail stores and call center locations across the region in support of the bargaining.
Despite record-breaking profits, the company has cut more than 37,000 jobs since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) went into effect in 2018, including 4,040 in the fourth quarter of 2019.
"The employees of Mobility handle every technology offered to consumers and play a critical role in AT&T's core business. It's time for the company to stop focusing so much on pumping up its stock price and focus on investing in its employees and the next generation networks that our communities need," said Jason Vellmer, a CWA Staff Representative who is leading the bargaining team.
AT&T has continued to cater to the demands of controversial vulture hedge fund Elliott Management, which purchased a small stake in AT&T in September 2019. Elliott is pushing AT&T to extract profits from the company by eliminating jobs, outsourcing work, and divesting critical assets.
The current contract expires on February 21, 2020.
As bargaining opened yesterday for T-Mobile retail workers in Pinole, Calif., members of CWA and other labor unions gathered outside of the bargaining location to show their support. Addressing the rally, CWA District 9 Vice President Frank Arce said, "This T-Mobile store in tiny Pinole has set the example for not just T-Mobile, but for the wireless industry to take the next step."
Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendants, members of AFA-CWA, along with labor allies, took the fight for a fair contract to the quarterly Hawaiian Airlines Board of Directors meeting this week. Flight Attendants also demonstrated at six different airports to tell the public about their working conditions and demands for better wages.
"We are now trying to get more members of the larger working community to share our message," Jaci-Ann Chung said. "We live in these communities and it's important to let Hawai'i residents know what is going on."
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South Bend Tribune
Journalists at the South Bend Tribune voted to join the NewsGuild-CWA on Wednesday, adding momentum to the wave of union organizing at Gannett-owned publications and throughout the industry. The South Bend Tribune is the third Gannett-owned newsroom to win union recognition in less than four months, following the Arizona Republic and Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader.
The three new Gannett units join 32 long-established units at what has become the largest chain in the industry, following the company's merger with GateHouse Media in November.
"This union is us, we are the reporters, photographers, designers, and editors that bring Michiana the highest quality news we can," said Michael Caterina, Tribune photographer. "This union will give us, the people that live here, a seat at the table when it comes to our employment."
It’s Time to #MakeBillionairesPay!
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CWAers are fighting to make billionaires pay their fair share! On Tuesday, members of CWA Local 1118 joined State Senator Jen Metzger, Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, and other allies for the announcement of a bill that would tax corporate stock buybacks in New York, raising more than $3 billion annually.
Later the same day, members of CWA Locals 1101 and 1180 rallied on Wall Street to #MakeBillionairesPay. Two AT&T Mobility workers from CWA Local 1101 talked about the devastating effects of job cuts at AT&T, which plans to spend $30 billion buying back its own stock to boost stock prices. AT&T has cut more than 37,000 jobs since the Republican corporate tax cut bill went into effect two years ago.
Although Donald Trump, Republicans in Congress, and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson pledged that the tax bill would lead to more jobs, higher wages, and greater investment, those benefits have not materialized. Instead, corporations have used their tax windfall to finance stock buybacks which benefit wealthy investors and corporate executives.
Members of CWA Locals 1101 and 1180 rallied on Wall Street to #MakeBillionairesPay.
Join the Frontier Communications Town Hall Call
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The financial situation at Frontier Communications continues to deteriorate. Recent press reports indicate that Frontier management is considering a bankruptcy filing by mid-March. CWA's leadership has been monitoring the situation closely and has reached out to Frontier management to come to the table to work together to turn the business around. So far new Frontier CEO Bernie Han has shown no interest in working together on these vital issues.
CWA will be holding a town hall call on February 13 to discuss what a bankruptcy could mean for CWA members and how members are fighting to protect their future at Frontier.
Click here or text FTR CALL to 69866 to register for the call.
CWA members at Frontier Communications in District 9 held actions to call on Frontier CEO Bernie Han to meet with CWA President Chris Shelton.
UCWGA-CWA Members Fight Back against Georgia's Education Funding Cuts
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Georgia has slashed funding for higher education and offloaded responsibility to students and employees, and members of the United Campus Workers of Georgia-CWA are fighting back! UCWGA-CWA members held a rally Wednesday at the Georgia Capitol to push for lawmakers to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for University System of Georgia employees and to waive the exorbitant fees that graduate students pay for various campus services while working as teaching assistants.
UCWGA-CWA members held a rally Wednesday at the Georgia Capitol to push for a $15 minimum wage and to waive exorbitant campus services fees.
Political Update – CWA Endorsements
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Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez for U.S. Senate – Texas
Over the last decade and a half, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez has led some of Texas' largest and most important labor and voting rights organizations. With her background of standing up for working people, Tzintzún Ramirez is best suited to address the pressing needs and challenges of all Texas working families – not just the privileged few.
"On behalf of the more than 38,000 CWA members in Texas, we are excited to throw our full support behind Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez for the U.S. Senate. As a tireless fighter for working people, Cristina represents the change we so desperately need in Texas and in our nation," said Claude Cummings, Jr., CWA District 6 Vice President.
Jennifer Brunner for Ohio Supreme Court
Judge Jennifer Brunner is a candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court in 2020. She served as Ohio Secretary of State from 2007-2011, fighting for important reforms to expand voting rights like same day voting.
"Workers don't want favors, just a level playing field in our State courts. Judge Brunner has proven as Secretary of State and as a District Court Judge to be very fair and open minded. Working families will benefit from having her on the Ohio Supreme Court," said Linda L. Hinton, CWA District 4 Vice President.