Apr 9, 2020 - We Need OSHA to Protect Workers During the COVID-19 Outbreak

April 9, 2020

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We Need OSHA to Protect Workers During the COVID-19 Outbreak

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The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has been MIA during the COVID-19 outbreak and has failed to ensure employers are adequately protecting workers. Weakened CDC recommendations have taken precedence over more protective, enforceable OSHA standards. OSHA has not even appeared at any of President Trump's coronavirus press briefings. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and President Donald Trump's political appointees at the Labor Department have all but abandoned America's workers at a time of crisis.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to sweep through our communities, workers are being faced with entirely new challenges and daily risks that endanger themselves, their families, and their communities. In a column this week, Dr. David Michaels, who ran federal OSHA from 2009 to 2017, speaks out about OSHA's lack of response during this federal emergency and describes all the ways in which OSHA must step up and protect workers.

We must demand the Trump administration and Secretary of Labor Scalia allow OSHA to do its job. OSHA must issue an Emergency Temporary Standard for Infectious Diseases to safeguard the nation's healthcare workers, first responders, and other workers whose lives are on the line before one more worker dies.

To read the full article by Dr. David Michaels, click here.


Addressing the Impact of COVID-19

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As the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, CWA members are fighting to ensure that the health, safety, and financial security of working people are not ignored in favor of policies that would only benefit the 1%.

CWA's COVID-19 information page includes action items on expanding paid family leave, increasing production of personal protective equipment, and more.

The page also contains resources on the recently passed federal legislation that mandates paid sick days and paid family leave in some COVID-19 related situations and expands unemployment benefits. The AFL-CIO has posted a state-by-state guide to assistance available to working people who have been impacted by the pandemic. It is available at https://aflcio.org/covid-19/state-resources.


IUE-CWA Members Increase Pressure on GE to Boost Ventilator Production and Enhance Safety

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This week, IUE-CWA members escalated their campaign demanding that General Electric address the COVID-19 pandemic by using its expertise to manufacture ventilators at its underutilized facilities. They are calling on President Trump to use his authority under the Defense Production Act to require GE to increase production.

Protests by members at GE facilities in Dallas, Texas; Salem, Va.; Lynn, Mass.; and Schenectady, N.Y. – standing six feet apart – were widely covered in the media.

IUE-CWA members' safety demands include the installation of proper equipment for taking the temperature of every person, employee or not, before they enter a GE facility and discussions with Union officials at both the national and plant level on how to best protect workers required to remain on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our members are ready to help America during this COVID-19 crisis by making life-saving ventilators in our IUE-CWA represented facilities. These workers have the skills, and we have the space in our plants to do this work," said IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew. "Instead of laying workers off, GE should be stepping up to the plate with us to build the ventilators this country needs. In the plants that are up and running, GE also needs to keep workers safe on the job. They need to do more in the plants to make sure workers are protected while they are keeping this country running."

Sign the petition to ask President Trump to use his authority under the Defense Production Act to require that GE use it’s excess capacity to produce ventilators: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/ge/.


Protests by members at GE facilities in Dallas, Texas; Salem, Va.; Lynn, Mass.; and Schenectady, N.Y. – standing six feet apart – were widely covered in the media.


Tonight: Join the Discussion on The Fight for COVID-19 Protective Equipment

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From healthcare to telecommunications, transportation, manufacturing and more, essential workers – including many CWA members – have been facing a two-front war: confronting the COVID-19 crisis, and fighting for the Personal Protective Equipment they need to keep themselves, their families, and the general public safe from harm. But it shouldn't have to be that way – and we need everyone to help in this fight.

Join us tonight, April 9, at 7pm ET/6pm CT/5pm MT/4pm PT, for a conversation with frontline CWA healthcare workers and IUE-CWA manufacturing workers on how we're uniting in the fight for PPE and how the federal government can help. The event is hosted by Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar – who will discuss how the federal government must take action to protect workers. Click here for more information and to RSVP.


Bargaining Update

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Frontier California

Bargaining opened this week for CWA members at Frontier Communications in California.

In his opening statement, District 9 Vice President Frank Arce noted that the COVID-19 pandemic shows that Frontier's services are more critical than ever. "This is not the time to abandon jobs in the communities of California," Arce said. "This is not the time to be lowering the standard of living or diminishing benefits or pensions. This is a time for Frontier to help the economy and provide good middle-class jobs by investing in California."

Frontier's management has driven the company into debt, and is negotiating bankruptcy terms with its creditors. Although CWA has provided concrete ideas for reducing the debt and returning the company to sound financial footing, the company has not worked with the union to address its financial issues.

Key issues for the bargaining committee include providing adequate protections to CWA members to keep them safe and healthy; maintaining and improving benefits; and preserving continued employment security and access to the jobs of the future.


Puerto Rico 9-1-1 Bill Protects Funds for Emergency Calls and Restores Collective Bargaining Rights

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After two years of intensive lobbying and solidarity from CWA Local 3010 members, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vazquez, signed a bipartisan bill last week that will protect public 9-1-1 funds and restore CWA members' collective bargaining that has been suspended since 2017.

"CWA is proud of this achievement. Since 2017, our 9-1-1 employees have been victims of bad legislation approved by the current administration which allowed cuts to all benefits of our collective bargaining agreement and allows the government to use 9-1-1 funds in matters not related to emergency calls. This law will restore collective bargaining rights and wages, while making sure that 9-1-1 funds will be used exclusively to handle emergency calls, in accordance with federal law and regulations," said Aramis Cruz-Domínguez, CWA Local 3010 President.

"Now CWA Local 3010 must ensure that the Department of Public Safety complies with this law. We will fight to make sure the government understands the importance of our 9-1-1 Bureau," said Cruz-Domínguez.


Members of CWA Local 3010 have been lobbying for two years to protect public 9-1-1 funds and restore collective bargaining.


At A Time When Workers Need Unions More Than Ever, Trump is Making it Easier for Employers to Bust Unions

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We might be in the middle of a pandemic, but the Trump NLRB is not taking a break from union busting.

Last week, the Trump NLRB rolled out new rules expected to go into effect on July 31st including eliminating a policy that allows for a delay in determining the results of a union election if an employer is accused of union-busting. Previously, if an employer was accused of engaging in threats or coercion of workers during a union representation campaign, the election could be delayed until the issue was resolved.. Another new rule would allow as few as 30% of the workers who have gained union representation through voluntary recognition to file a petition with the NLRB and hold an election to overturn recognition of the union.

CWA and other labor unions are exploring options to challenge the rule to stop it from going into effect at the end of July.

Read more here.


In Memoriam – April 9, 2020

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CWA has established a memorial page for members who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

This week we honor the memory of Richard Stewart-Johnson, a member of CWA Local 1101 who worked as a Parking Production Assistant; Gerald Hall, a member of CWA Local 4100, who worked at AT&T; Anick Jesdanun, a member of TNG-CWA Local 31222 who worked for the Associated Press; Robert Moody, a member of CWA Local 1180 who worked for the New York City Police Department of Environmental Protection; and Tony Greer, a member of NABET-CWA Local 51016 who worked for ABC at Good Morning America.