Jun 25, 2020 - UnionPlus Assistance for CWA Members During the COVID-19 Crisis

June 25, 2020

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Organizing Update

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Kaleida Health

Clinical Engineering employees at Kaleida Health in Buffalo, N.Y., won their union representation election last week and will join CWA Local 1168. Workers stayed strong and public in their CWA support despite an anti-union campaign which included the unjust termination of a committee member on the Friday before the election.

These workers are enthusiastic that they are now standing shoulder to shoulder with 4,000 other CWA members at Kaleida Health.


Clinical Engineering employees at Kaleida Health in Buffalo, N.Y. won their union representation election last week and will join CWA Local 1168.

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Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach Daily News, Naples Daily News, Ft. Myers News-Press

Two new units of The NewsGuild-CWA in Florida scored big victories on Tuesday, defeating union-busting efforts by Gannett, the nation’s biggest newspaper chain.

Just hours apart, workers at the Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach Daily News voted 55-0 to form the Palm Beach News Guild and workers at Naples Daily News and Ft. Myers News-Press voted 38-6 to form the Southwest Florida News Guild.

The workers’ victories followed a concerted effort by Gannett management to delay voting and subvert the union campaign. Gannett’s management took full advantage of the health crisis, repeatedly opposing mail-in voting for the two Florida groups and for the Delaware NewsGuild in filings before the NLRB while publicly denying that they objected to the process.

"Our newsrooms' all-but-unprecedented unanimous vote sends a tremendous message: that we are as united as can be, that we are intent on preserving our institution and its values, and that we will fight hard for security, equity, and transparency," the Palm Beach News Guild's organizing committee said after the vote count.

"Today's win has been a long time coming," the Southwest Florida News Guild's organizing committee said. "After many months of organizing and delays, we're looking forward to meeting Gannett at the bargaining table where we will continue to fight for better working conditions for our colleagues and for the future of local journalism in Southwest Florida."

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ACLU of Kansas

Employees of the ACLU of Kansas announced Tuesday that they are forming a union and have filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board. The ACLU has a long history of supporting workers' rights and democracy, the workers noted in a press statement, and they are "thrilled to bring these values into their own organization." The group will join the United Media Guild Local 36047 of The NewsGuild-CWA.

Staffers say their affiliation with the Guild will strengthen their work by giving them more democratic representation while they pursue civil rights for all.


Bargaining Update

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NJ State Workers

New Jersey State Workers are voting on a Job Security Agreement negotiated with Governor Murphy that District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor called "the best in the country." New Jersey is facing a $10 billion deficit, and 1 in 4 New Jersey workers have filed for unemployment. The State Worker COVID-19 Emergency Agreement provides a No Layoff Agreement for over 30,000 workers all of this year and all of next year in exchange for a delay of some across the board raises, and furloughs of workers during the time they can collect enhanced unemployment benefits under the CARES Act.

The bargaining team is proud of the agreement to provide job protection for CWA members and their families. Members are reviewing the details and will vote on the agreement after reviewing the MOA and summary of the agreement, which are available at CWANJ.org.


CWAers Celebrate Juneteenth with Livestream Featuring Union Leaders

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From poverty to policing practices to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in Black communities, as union members, we must begin discussing ways to dismantle racism.

Last Friday, for Juneteenth – an annual celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States – CWA held a Facebook Live event, "From Under the Oppressor's Knee: Workers Rise Up for Black Lives," featuring union leaders, artists, and activists in the movement for racial justice. A panel discussion on building a workers' movement that takes on racism featured CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor, CWA Local 6355 President Natashia Pickens, Nse Ufot of the New Georgia Project, and Kooper Caraway of the Sioux Falls AFL-CIO.

"The work is happening," said Pickens, encouraging all generations of union members to band together to fight against racism. "The conversations are taking place. There’s room for everybody. Younger people are stepping up, while the older people have the history. We’re ready for the responsibility. We're ready to do the work, many people just need the opportunity. Young people, don't be afraid to say yes when you’re asked to do something, even if it seems daunting. And older people, don’t be afraid to say yes when a younger person is asking to do it. It’s okay if they fail. You didn't start off knowing how to do everything. It's been decades of us fighting – we can't let this die."

Watch the full event here.


House Democrats Introduce Bill to Expand Broadband Infrastructure

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With more Americans relying on their communications services than ever during the pandemic, House Democrats introduced the Moving Forward Act, a new broadband infrastructure bill containing vital funding to expand broadband service.

CWA President Chris Shelton thanked the Members of Congress for introducing a bill that includes many provisions important to CWA members, including strong labor protections.

"Millions of families in the United States do not have access to affordable, reliable broadband internet connections – totally unacceptable before, but especially unacceptable during a pandemic when many are being asked to stay at home to bend the curve to save lives," said Shelton. "The House Democrats' broadband infrastructure bill introduced includes strong provisions to expand broadband access to rural communities and protect good union jobs across the country."

The bill is expected to come up for a vote next month.


Election Update

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In the New York Primary Election this week, CWA-endorsed candidates won big! The pandemic did not stop CWA members from phonebanking (left) and volunteering to get out the vote (right) for the pro-worker candidates. Congrats to the following candidates for their election wins: Tom Suozzi (NY-03), Grace Meng (NY-06), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), Yvette Clark (NY-09), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), and Ritchie Torres (NY15).


UnionPlus Assistance for CWA Members During the COVID-19 Crisis

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CWA Members who currently have a Union Plus Mortgage, Credit Card, Personal Loan, or Supplemental Insurance programs may be eligible for additional hardship assistance through the Mortgage Assistance Program and Union Plus Hardship Help. The Union Plus Mortgage Assistance Program provides interest-free loans and a $1000 grant to help eligible members make mortgage payments when disabled, unemployed, furloughed, locked out or on strike. Union Plus Credit Card holders are eligible for a $300 job loss grant if they have been laid-off or furloughed for 45 days or more due to COVID-19. The eligibility criteria and application process can be found at www.unionplus.org/hardship-help/union-plus-hardship-help-benefits.

The MetLife Legal program is making available additional resources including free consultation and document review and access to a self-help library so members can get questions answered and also review and complete Wills, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Directives and similar documents for free through July 31, 2020. Additional info, including the instructions to reach the self-help document library, is available here: https://www.unionplus.org/blog/consumer-tips/free-legal-document-review-and-consultations-through-july-31-2020.

The Free College program is making available additional financial aid to students who may need additional assistance for education-related expenses due to COVID-19. Info on Free College is here: https://www.unionplusfreecollege.org/.