Jul 9, 2020 - We Need Safe Union Elections

July 9, 2020

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Democratic Senators Demand Answers from AT&T on Job Cuts

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Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), along with seven other senate Democrats, sent a letter to AT&T CEO John Stankey to demand answers about AT&T's recently announced job cuts affecting more than 3,400 union-represented wireline technician and clerical jobs and 1,300 retail jobs at 250 AT&T Mobility and Cricket Wireless stores. The letter was also signed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

The senators insisted that AT&T provide a state-by-state breakdown of the current job cuts and projected job cuts for the remainder of 2020, and asked the company to indicate whether any of the work previously done by the workers whose jobs have been cut will be done by contractors or sent overseas. The letter notes that AT&T's cuts have fallen disproportionately on employees who are union members.

"We understand that for many businesses, the only response to the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 public health emergency has been to shutter their doors and lay off workers. We object, however, to corporations using the pandemic as justification for continuing to make anti-worker decisions that are aimed at boosting share price," the senators wrote.


Holding AT&T Accountable

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Unity at Mobility local activists continue their fight to hold AT&T accountable in the face of COVID-19. As part of their campaign to push back against AT&T's layoffs and store closures, they have started a petition to put pressure on the company to stop cutting jobs and lead the recovery.

In CWA District 6, Unity at Mobility coordinators and activists have called and texted members to get them involved in the fight. More than 1,000 AT&T Mobility members in District 6 have signed the petition, and activists will soon deliver it to the new CEO, John Stankey, to continue to turn up the heat on AT&T. Despite the pandemic, they have also signed up hundreds of new members in the District in the last three months!


Mississippi Call Center Bill Signed into Law!

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This week, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) signed the bipartisan Incentives Transparency for a Prosperous Mississippi Act into law. This bill, which was supported by CWA members, will protect call center workers across the state by denying state grants, loans, and tax breaks to companies who move taxpayer-funded Mississippi call center jobs out of the country.

"We applaud the Mississippi state legislature and lawmakers like Senator Juan Barnett, who led the charge in getting the Incentives Transparency for a Prosperous Mississippi Act passed, for this tremendous accomplishment for state workers and taxpayers," said CWA Local 3509 President Mike Hodges. "This legislation will continue a wave of bipartisan support for standing up to companies and keeping good jobs from being shipped overseas."


It's Time for the NLRB to Conduct Union Elections Electronically

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Last week, Reps. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) introduced the bipartisan SAFE (Secure And Fair Elections for) Workers Act. The bill, which is cosponsored by 44 other members of Congress, removes the ban on electronic voting in National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) representation elections.

Meanwhile, the NLRB's General Counsel has issued new guidance on minimizing COVID-19 related health risks during in-person representation elections. Instead of recommending mail-in balloting if in-person elections cannot be held safely, the General Counsel advises that elections should be cancelled altogether.

That's what happened at Gannett – one of the largest newspaper chains in the United States. One hundred fifty workers were forced to wait months to vote to join NewsGuild-CWA after COVID-19 concerns were used as an excuse to cancel representation elections. All the while, Gannett was conducting furloughs and not even giving masks to some of the journalists going out in the community to do life-saving reporting.

"The freedom of workers to join together in unions and negotiate with their employers is more important during this COVID-19 crisis than ever," CWA President Chris Shelton said during a press conference about the SAFE Workers Act hosted by Rep. Levin this week. "When we see workers being laid off by the millions, other workers facing pay cuts or furloughs, and others being forced to work without the protections needed to keep them safe, there's no question that they need a real voice in the decisions being made that impact their jobs."


Political Update

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Texas

In late April, CWA endorsed Texas state senator Royce West in the Democratic primary runoff election for U.S. Senate. CWA legislative-political activists in Texas have been working hard to get out the vote for West, making nearly 7,000 calls to other CWA members across the state. CWA activists also recently held a virtual town hall with West in which members had the opportunity to ask him about his plans for the COVID-19 response, racial justice, labor and organizing rights, and other CWA legislative priorities.

The Texas primary run-off elections will be held Tuesday, July 14th. The winner of the Democratic primary run-off for the U.S. Senate will go on to face Republican incumbent Senator John Cornyn in the November general election.

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Colorado

CWA activists in Colorado have been spreading the word about Republican incumbent Senator Cory Gardner's awful track record of voting against workers and union members, including voting with Trump 98% of the time. He is facing Democratic nominee John Hickenlooper in the November election.

Last month, eight of CWA's political activists from across Colorado participated in a week-long zoom training and phone bank program where they discussed Gardner's record on workers' issues, paid family leave, and much more. Each day after the training, activists made phone calls to working families asking them to vote Gardner out in November, and to support a ballot initiative that would give workers paid family leave.


Organizing Update

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Postmedia

Eighty workers at Postmedia's printing plant in Toronto are joining the NewsGuild-CWA after voting to join the Canadian Media Guild (CWA Canada Local 30213). The workers organized for fair pay, a voice in decisions that impact their work lives, health and safety, and job security.

The unit includes all employees at the printing facility, including the press room, reel room, and distribution center.

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Billings Gazette

Newsroom employees at Montana's largest daily newspaper won union recognition July 2 in a unanimous vote. They will become members of the Denver NewsGuild.

After announcing their plans on May 28, members of The Montana NewsGuild participated in a mail ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board through its regional office in Denver, with all 18 ballots cast voting "yes."

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Tribune Content Agency

Staff members of the Tribune Content Agency took a major step Monday toward forming a union, championing the fight against corporate takeovers of newsrooms. More than 75 percent of eligible staff signed cards signaling their desire to be represented by the Tribune Content Guild, part of the NewsGuild-CWA.

"Our goal is simple: Ensuring the integrity of our newsrooms and well-being of our co-workers so that, amid industry upheaval and uncertainty, we continue to produce and provide the quality journalism our clients and their communities trust," a statement signed by 34 workers said.


In Memoriam – July 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 Stephen Janusewski, a member of CWA Local 7032 who worked for Sikorsky Aerospace.