Jun 11, 2020 - CWA President Chris Shelton: We Must Win Elections

June 11, 2020

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CWA President Chris Shelton: We Must Win Elections

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In his keynote address to CWA's Virtual Legislative-Political Conference on Monday, CWA President Chris Shelton discussed our national economic, health, and racial justice crises and the importance of this fall's elections.

"CWA needs you to fight as you never have before over the next five months," Shelton urged members. "The future of our union and our jobs depends on it. The future of our families depends on it. The future of our country – and the future of our planet – depend on it."

Shelton also reviewed the need for a strong congressional response to the COVID-19 crisis. "I fear that tens of thousands more layoffs lie ahead – especially if Congress doesn't act to provide funds to keep vital public services in the states functioning and continue critical assistance. This pandemic has demonstrated that every worker needs the freedom to join a union so that they can protect themselves from the abuse of corporate power."

Watch a video of the speech here.

The conference, which concludes tomorrow, included presentations and panels featuring CWA activists, with sessions on taking back the Senate and electing Joe Biden, as well as discussions on universal broadband access, and building power to dismantle racism. Anna Flemings, a Maximus worker and member of CWA's Call Center Workers United national organizing committee, participated in a joint event with the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center that examined the way corporations are putting workers' lives at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens will close out the conference tomorrow with a panel on the policies that are necessary to protect working people as we recover from the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.

Stay up-to-date with CWA's Legislative and Political priorities by subscribing to the CWA Collective Briefing newsletter at cwapolitical.org/collective-briefing.


CWAers Stop Work to Take a Stand Against Racism and Police Violence

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Today, CWA members across the country participated in actions to take a stand against racism and police violence. Many members stopped work for 8 Minutes and 46 Seconds – the length of time the Minneapolis police officer who viciously murdered George Floyd had his knee on his neck.

CWA members have supported the protests his tragic killing has sparked across the country, and started conversations with each other about how to dismantle racism.

Visit our Facebook page, where we will be posting photos as they come in.


Organizing Update

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Pop-Up Magazine Productions

Just weeks after media workers at Pop-Up Magazine Productions announced their union campaign, they have won voluntary recognition.

The group organized around issues including job security, transparency, career growth, and compensation. Though the organizing drive began long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis added to the urgency of the campaign.

The bargaining unit, consisting of roughly two dozen employees at Pop-Up Magazine and California Sunday Magazine, will join Media Guild of the West, TNG-CWA Local 39213.

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Lawrence School District Paraeducators

Paraeducators from the Lawrence, Kan., school district are requesting voluntary recognition from the school board to form a union. The organizing committee requested recognition at the school board meeting's public comment portion.

"Having a community of paras is irreplaceable and it would mean a lot to us if you could be able to recognize us and recognize our union," Tatyana Younger, a paraeducator and member of the group's organizing committee said, according to the Lawrence Journal World.


NewsGuild-CWA and District 2-13 Denounce Racist Management Decisions at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Last week, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Reporter Alexis Johnson posted a tweet deemed controversial by management. Top editors quickly took steps to remove her from covering stories related to the protests in Pittsburgh, citing a social media policy that is not in the union contract. Johnson, who is one of just a few Black journalists at the P-G, was punished for reporting while Black.

Johnson was disciplined without just cause and The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh filed a grievance. It, along with many, many others, is pending against a company determined to fight journalists instead of building a publication accountable to Pittsburgh and the truth.

NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss and District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney issued a statement denouncing the racist management decisions at the Post-Gazette.

"There is only one respectable thing for Post-Gazette managers to do: apologize to Alexis, remove the ban they placed on her coverage, and let talented, dedicated, loyal P-G journalists do their life's work to the benefit of our paper, our readers, our community, and our democracy," Schleuss and Mooney wrote.

Read the full statement here


Trump NLRB Comes After Workers Rights

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Trump's NLRB is at it again – taking advantage of a pandemic to take away workers' rights. The agency has issued a new terrible decision this week redefining "solicitation" to include conversations among co-workers encouraging support for union representation. This decision opens the door for employers to enact policies that prohibit these conversations.

This joins other recent Trump NLRB decisions like ruling that employers can restrict the use of work email outside of work time to discuss workplace issues, can prevent workers from discussing ongoing workplace investigations into illegal and unethical behavior, such as sexual harassment, and more.

"Corporations have far too much power over working people's lives," said Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton. "The National Labor Relations Board is supposed to safeguard workers' freedom to join together and fight back against injustice at their workplaces and protect workers when their employers abuse their power. President Trump's NLRB has done just the opposite. With every decision, they make it harder for workers to speak out and easier for employers to silence them."


Is COVID-19 Surging in Your Community?

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While social distancing directives have reduced COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in many areas, several states are reporting spikes and record numbers of cases.

All CWA members should continue to practice appropriate protocols for avoiding infection. If you are at high risk for exposure at work, your employer should be providing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment. For those who are not at high risk, and for guidance when you are off the job, make sure to review our tips for non-medical/community face masks at https://cwa-union.org/non-medical-face-masks.

If you have concerns about COVID-19 protocols in your workplace, contact your shop steward or a local officer.

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.