Feb 13, 2020 - House Passes Historic Workers' Rights Bill

February 13, 2020

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U.S. House Passes Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act

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On Thursday, thanks to the tireless work of CWA members and a broad coalition of labor, civil rights, environmental, religious, immigrant rights, and women's groups, the U.S. House passed the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, historic legislation to make it easier for workers to join a union.

"The voices of America's working people are finally being heard," said CWA President Chris Shelton. "Members of Congress are starting to understand that the reason our economy has left so many families behind is that corporations have bent labor law to their will. The PRO Act restores balance to our system by putting power in the hands of working people. It will make it much easier for workers to join a union, and crack down on the dirty tricks that companies use to make workers afraid of taking collective action to improve their lives."

Last Wednesday, Jennifer Womack, who has been organizing with her coworkers at a Verizon Wireless call center in Irving, Texas, to join CWA, spoke at a press briefing hosted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott about how the PRO Act would help her and her coworkers.

Speaker Pelosi shared Womack's story during her remarks just prior to the vote on the House floor.

"When Jennifer and her coworkers tried to improve working conditions, she was subjected to humiliating retaliation and forced to attend anti-union trainings designed to scare her off," Pelosi said. "She told us, 'I believe the decision to join a union should be up to me and other workers, without having to face threats and retaliation.' Democrats agree."

The PRO Act now awaits action by the Senate, where Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has failed to move the bill forward. The Trump administration has indicated that the President would veto the bill.


CWA Veterans Fight for the PRO Act

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A group of CWA veterans from across the country came to Washington, D.C., as part of the CWA Veterans for Social Change program last month to tell their stories to members of Congress and talk about the importance of supporting the PRO Act, historic legislation that will put power in the hands of workers and reverse decades of legislation meant to crush unions. Learn more about CWA Veterans for Social change at cwa.org/veterans.


CWA and IUE-CWA Members Lobby for Pro-Worker Legislation

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CWA and IUE-CWA members from CWA Locals 3301, 3310, 3312, and 3321 and IUE-CWA Locals 83643, 83701, 83761, and 83766 held a joint lobby day with the Kentucky AFL-CIO to urge their state elected officials to support pro-worker legislation including House Bill 13 to protect call center jobs.


Workers are Fighting Back at Maximus

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Last week, CWA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on behalf of caseworkers in Lawrence, Kan.,​ employed by Maximus, Inc. – a giant government health and human services contractor – alleging that Maximus misclassified them into lower-paying titles that don't reflect their true job duties and skill level. Maximus workers are organizing to join CWA.

Caseworkers serve as troubleshooting experts resolving complicated health insurance cases that require expertise and a high level of skill. Caseworkers' primary duty is to write detailed reports identifying the root causes of snags in the insurance process, and recommending solutions for them – a function not covered by the job classification that Maximus has given them.

Last week, the Topeka Capital-Journal covered the story of a Maximus caseworker, Logan Stinemetz, who says he spent a year trying to obtain a classification appropriate for the work he does. "Several times, I was told that the company 'owned' my job description, so they weren't able to give it to me," Stinemetz said.

Also last week, New York Magazine broke a story about how Maximus has hired a professional union buster to come in and hold captive audience meetings to discourage workers from organizing. The story identified a critical problem at the company: most Maximus workers are paid low wages, and they can't even afford basic health care access, like prescriptions and necessary procedures.

Read more about Maximus' poor track record at https://www.maximusaccountability.org/.


CWAers in District 7 Kick off Political Activist Training

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On January 29th, 17 CWA members from Locals 7702, 7708, 7750, and 7777 attended the kickoff of a six-week Tier 1 Political Activist Training in Englewood, Colo., hosted by CWA Local 7777. Attendees made calls to Congress urging them to pass the PRO Act and made plans to get their coworkers involved in the fight!


NABET-CWA Members Win Unfair Labor Practice Complaint

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A National Labor Relations Board judge has found that layoffs of NABET-CWA Local 24 President Dianne Chase, Frank Lavergehtta, and Mike Stoffel from radio stations owned by Stephens Media Group (SMG) in Watertown and Massena, N.Y., were unlawful. The judge found that the elimination of the part-time shifts and reduction in hours for several other NABET-CWA members and an interrogation of a NABET-CWA member as to whether he would cross a picket line also violated the National Labor Relations Act.

In addition, the judge found that SMG unlawfully declared an impasse and implemented unilateral changes (including the layoffs and reduction in hours) at the radio stations in Watertown and unlawfully terminated the employment of David Romigh, Local 24 shop steward in Massena, for criticizing management.

The judge ordered SMG to reinstate the workers with back pay and interest and to resume contract bargaining with the union. The order must be reviewed by the NLRB before taking effect.

"This decision is a big victory for the workers at SMG, and shows that when workers fight back against union busting, they win," said NABET-CWA President Charlie Braico.


Be Our Union Valentine

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Right now, 25,000 Flight Attendants at Delta Air Lines are working to organize a union with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA).

Delta is the last major U.S. carrier where Flight Attendants are not represented by a union. For decades, Delta management has tried to sell "We're a family, we don't need a union," but a new generation of workers are coming together for voice on the job and a fair share of the company's industry-leading, record profits.

This Valentine's Day, send a message of love and support to the Flight Attendants at Delta by asking them to Be Our Union Valentine at https://actionnetwork.org/forms/be-our-union-valentine.