Apr 16, 2020 - Our Chance to Put a Worker on AT&T's Board

April 16, 2020

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Warren and Khanna Introduce Essential Workers Bill of Rights to Protect and Compensate Frontline Workers

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United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) unveiled a proposal this week for an Essential Workers Bill of Rights to protect and compensate frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic and called for the next coronavirus relief package to include these policies. The Bill of Rights includes many of the policies that CWA has identified as critical for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Essential workers are the backbone of our nation's response to coronavirus," said Senator Warren. "We have a responsibility to make sure essential workers have the protections they need, the rights they are entitled to, and the compensation they deserve. The next relief package must put all workers front and center – but it must also specifically include the policies in our Essential Workers Bill of Rights."

"Nearly 60 million Americans are still working to keep our internet running, to deliver our groceries, to make sure we have electricity, and to care for the sick. In an age of automation, we are reminded of the dignity and importance of work that is not remote," said Representative Khanna. "This crisis needs to open our eyes to the value of workers who are often invisible, and we need to give them the pay and benefits they deserve."

The Essential Workers Bill of Rights calls for health and safety protections, robust premium pay for essential workers, protections for collective bargaining agreements, truly universal paid sick leave and family and medical leave, and more. Read the full Bill of Rights here: https://www.warren.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/elizabeth-warren-and-ro-khanna-unveil-essential-workers-bill-of-rights.

Review CWA's "Putting Workers First: Policies to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic" at https://cwa-union.org/covid19policies.


Frontier Communications Declares Bankruptcy

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Frontier Communications filed for bankruptcy this week. CWA members and leaders have been preparing for the bankruptcy for several months as the company's finances continued to deteriorate. In a message to CWA members, Frontier stated its intention to honor CWA's collective bargaining agreements.

Frontier's frontline employees have a unique insight into the challenges – and opportunities – that the company faces. Unfortunately, Frontier's management did not engage with CWA members or leadership as part of their negotiations with creditors, denying their workforce a much-needed voice in the future of the company. CWA members expect to have input about the direction of the company as the bankruptcy process goes forward, and CWA will press for a seat on the unsecured creditors' committee to ensure that members' interests are protected during the bankruptcy process

The need for high-speed, reliable communications services is more evident now than ever before. Our position has been clear – Frontier needs the debt relief and financial flexibility to invest in its network and its employees, so that CWA members can provide the service that Frontier's customers want and deserve.

CWA's FAQ on the bankruptcy is available at https://cwa-union.org/news/faq-on-frontier-bankruptcy.


Trump Administration Decision on Airline Grants Will Hurt Frontline Workers

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Union leaders including CWA President Chris Shelton and AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson issued a joint statement condemning the Treasury Department's decision to convert a significant portion of aviation CARES Act grants to loans and calling on Congress to take action.

"The Treasury Department's decision to transform direct payroll aid into a loan program creates a terrible precedent and endangers workers' careers. We urge Congress to use its oversight and legislative powers to remedy this distortion of the law and ensure that frontline workers are not further harmed by this crisis," the leaders said.

Read the full statement here.


Report Shows Major Corporations Back Campaign to Block Federally Coordinated Medical Supplies

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A report released today by CWA and other unions and advocacy groups exposes the role of major corporations, via their leadership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in lobbying against the use of the Defense Production Act (DPA) to coordinate medical supply distribution in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic. President Trump has thus far refused to use the full power of the DPA to ensure that hospitals and frontline workers have the supplies they need to protect themselves and the public.

This week, IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew wrote to President Trump asking him to use his authority under the Defense Production Act to compel General Electric to use its underutilized facilities to produce more life-saving ventilators. "The most effective way for GE to meet our nation's ventilator needs is to put thousands of skilled GE workers to work in underutilized GE facilities across the country," Kennebrew wrote.

"The crisis we face with the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes. It requires us – all of us – to work for the common good," said CWA President Chris Shelton. "But at a time when our country is depending on skilled workers to make essential products like ventilators, IUE-CWA members at General Electric are left wondering why they are facing layoffs instead of having the opportunity to use their skills to help save lives. It's shameful that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is actively lobbying against the use of the Defense Production Act."

The report, "Unmasked: The Corporations Backing a Lobbying Campaign Against the Use of the Defense Production Act," documents that many of the most powerful corporations that lead the Chamber have direct financial interests in how the COVID-19 response plays out.

"I am not happy that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the corporate executives who sit on its board, are actively lobbying against using the Defense Production Act to produce such supplies," said CWA member Vanessa Quinn, a registered nurse in Buffalo, N.Y., in an article on the report in the American Prospect. "The Federal government, during a time of crisis, has the responsibility to ensure that we have the supplies and equipment we need."


We're Calling on Congress to Act NOW to Protect our Democracy!

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As we navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we must take measures to protect public health while maintaining the integrity of our electoral system. The Wisconsin primary election demonstrated the fragility of our democracy during this crisis and made it clear that we need safe voting solutions NOW.

The CARES Act of 2020 took a step in the right direction by allocating $400 million in funding to states for election assistance; however, much more is needed. The next COVID-19 relief package must include $4 billion in election assistance, an expansion of vote-by-mail, no-excuse absentee voting, in-person early voting, and online and same-day voter registration in all states and to all voters.

Join us on our Day of Action on April 20th! Write a letter to your Member of Congress to demand more funding and fairer provisions for a safe and fair electoral process.


CWAers Rally In Support of COVID-19 Frontline Workers

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CWA members and a coalition of labor unions and community organizations rallied at hospitals, labs, and home healthcare centers across Western N.Y. to show support for healthcare workers on the frontlines of care in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.


Our Chance to Put a Worker on AT&T's Board

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CWA Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus Jeff Rechenbach has proposed that AT&T add an employee director to its Board. The proposal will be up for a vote at AT&T's Annual Meeting of Stockholders on April 24. Company shareholders, including many CWA members and retirees, are eligible to vote on stockholder proposals.

This year's meeting is being held via webcast, but you do not need to attend the meeting to vote. If you hold stock in AT&T, you should have received your annual meeting materials, including a proxy voting card either in the mail or electronically.

An employee voice – and vote – on the Board would provide an important counter to vulture hedge funds like Elliott Management and others which have pushed for massive job cuts and stock buybacks. CWA recommends that you vote FOR the Employee Director proposal, which is item number 5 on your proxy card.

CWA's recommendations on other proposals are available online at cwa-union.org/2020-att-proxy-voting-recommendations. After you submit your vote, please visit cwaunion.wufoo.com/forms/att-proxy-confirmation to let us know. This will help us get a better understanding of our strength as shareholders, and allow us to use that strength effectively in the future.


Reminder: CWA's COVID-19 Resource Page

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We continue to update our COVID-19 resource page with new resources to address common questions and concerns that CWA members have as the pandemic continues to affect every aspect of our lives.

Materials include recommended health and safety protocols for workers and information about benefits available as the result of recently passed federal legislation to address the crisis. The page also has links to information on the CDCs dangerous recommendation that asymptomatic workers who have had close contact and known exposure to a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 continue to work, instead of being quarantined.

Your local leadership will have the most up-to-date information on policies in place at your work location to address the COVID-19 pandemic and what action you should take if you believe you are being asked to work under unsafe conditions.

Remember, if you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms consistent with infection, contact your healthcare provider immediately and follow reporting procedures established by your employer. Also notify your CWA Local or District as soon as possible.


In Memoriam – April 16, 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 Maria Clark, a member of CWA Local 1037 who worked at the State of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission; Steven Michael, a member of CWA Local 1180 who worked for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development; Marius Narcisse, a member of CWA Local 1180 who worked at HASA Greenwood; Zeke Cousins, a member of CWA Local 1101 who worked at Verizon; Walter Simpson, a member of CWA Local 1105 who worked at Verizon; Cletus Nwachukwu, a member of CWA Local 1037 who worked for the State of New Jersey Department of Children and Families; Eddie Germain, a member of CWA Local 1032 who worked for the State of New Jersey Department of Transportation; and Cynthia (Neicey) Ford, a member of CWA Local 1037 who worked for the State of New Jersey Department of Children and Families.