Jul 30, 2020 - Save Our Jobs

July 30, 2020

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Aviation Workers Urge Congress to Extend CARES Act Payroll Support Program to Save Thousands of Jobs

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Passenger service agents, Flight Attendants, and other aviation workers are on the front lines of an unprecedented crisis for the airline industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After airline and other frontline workers mobilized in March, Congress passed the CARES Act to keep employees on payroll with wages and benefits. Now the program is set to expire in October even though the crisis isn't over. If the Senate does not take action soon, mass layoffs in the aviation industry are inevitable.

A new report released by the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD) features the stories of aviation workers who are urging Congress to extend the PSP program and save their jobs.

"The PSP has saved the jobs of hundreds of thousands of aviation workers, including mine," said Susannah Carr, a Flight Attendant and AFA-CWA member at United Airlines. "When CARES was written, it was expected the industry would be closer to full recovery by the fall. It is clear now, that will not happen. At a minimum, Congress should extend the program for another six months, through the end of March, An extension will ensure that we do not see a wave of layoffs in the aviation industry flood unemployment offices in October."

"I am not sure how I will manage my finances if the PSP is not extended," said Ruth Peniston, a passenger service agent and member of CWA Local 3641 at American Airlines. "This is the life I have known and committed to for over three decades. I cannot imagine an existence without it."

Read the full report here


New Report: The Climate Crisis is Threatening Worker Health and Safety

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A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) warns that the health and safety of workers across the country, both indoors and outdoors, is increasingly at risk from excessive heat, increasing air and water pollution, spreading infectious diseases, extreme weather, and other impacts from climate change.

The report, "On the Front Lines: Climate Change Threatens the Health of America’s Workers," features 14 first-hand stories from workers impacted by climate change, including CWA members.

Rapid changes in the climate and recent rollbacks in occupational safeguards are leaving state and federal agencies unable to hold employers accountable for dangerous and unhealthy workplaces. To address these problems, the report calls for federal legislation and action by federal agencies to improve health protections for workers.

"The effects that climate change is having on workers are undeniable," said CWA President Chris Shelton. "We can't bury our heads in the sand while workers are putting their lives on the line as the situation worsens. As big oil and gas companies are reaping mega-profits and destroying our planet, CWA members and other workers are increasingly being exposed to dangerously high temperatures and other serious workplace hazards. We must pursue aggressive legislative solutions to give OSHA the mandate and resources to identify these workplace hazards, respond to them rapidly and adequately, and implement and enforce stronger safety protections – but those steps alone are not enough. We must also expand collective bargaining rights to ensure that more workers have a voice on the job and a say over working conditions, including their health and safety."

"In recent years, we've been having wildfires one right after the other, which can stretch for hundreds of miles," said Shawn Heape, an AT&T telephone line technician and a member of CWA Local 9400, who is featured in the report. "During wildfire season, I work 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for up to four months straight. My coworkers and I are dealing with heat exhaustion and breathing in soot, ash, and toxic chemicals. Companies like AT&T and our elected officials need to start taking steps to protect those of us who are working in and around wildfires to keep communications services going."

Read the full report here.


Organizing Update

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Lawrence School District Paraeducators

A group of more than 400 paraeducators – classroom teaching assistants – in the Lawrence school district in Kansas are organizing to join with CWA. On Monday, in a major victory for these workers, the Lawrence Board of Education voted 6-1 to direct the superintendent to file the necessary paperwork for formal recognition of the Paraeducator Association of Lawrence (PAL-CWA), with a final vote set for August 10.

"This has been a four-year crusade to create a workplace with respect, equality, communication, and security for paraeducators in our district," said Mary Lee, a Lawrence paraeducator. "We have struggled, as an organizing group, through difficult times. We continued to fight so that Paraeducators could receive adequate training, support, and a living wage."

Check out this video of the workers encouraging the school district to recognize their union.

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Hope Community, Inc.

Frontline staffers at Hope Community, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening communities and the power of community members in Minneapolis, won voluntary recognition of their union, United For Hope. The workers will become part of the Minnesota Newspaper and Communications Guild/TNG-CWA Local 37002.

In a video announcing their union, they said, "We have organized ourselves to more deeply align with our belief that as everyday people, we have the power to change our own lives!"


Prosegur Workers Protest Wage Theft at NLECC Worksite

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Contract workers employed by Prosegur picketed outside of a U.S. Postal Inspection Service facility in Dulles, to protest the wage theft they have experienced at their worksite.

On Monday, contract workers employed by Prosegur picketed outside of a U.S. Postal Inspection Service facility in Dulles, Va., to protest the wage theft they have experienced at their National Law Enforcement Communication Centers (NLECC) worksite. They were joined by the leadership and members of CWA Locals 2222 and 2107.

Prosegur, formerly known as Command Security Corporation, is a federal contractor for the United States Postal Service and USPIS employing about 60 workers at the NLECC in Dulles, Va., and Fort Worth, Texas, under its contract with the USPS.

CWA estimates that Prosegur’s NLECC workers are owed more than $1 million in back wages due to violations of the Service Contract Act (SCA). The workers are demanding to be made whole for all of the back wages that they are owed, and to be paid the proper wages under the Service Contract Act moving forward.


Denver Health Workers United Members Urge Board of Directors to Take Steps to Dismantle Racism

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On July 23rd, Denver Health Workers United/CWA Local 7799 members Doris Achamfour and Tina Lonewolf told personal stories to the Denver Health Board of Directors about their experiences with racism on the job. Tina presented to the board the union's plan to dismantle systemic racism at work, which includes respecting the right to form a union.

"We ask that you form an antiracism worker management committee, including representation from DHWU members," the plan reads. "Executives must stop deterring and discouraging people from joining our union and exercising our freedoms of speech and association. To be clear, leaders cannot act to limit our collective voice at work and be antiracist at the same time; the two are mutually exclusive."

"While I know that I have the legal right to join a union, my co-workers have been discouraged from this right," said Doris Achamfour, a custodian at Denver Health in her testimony. "As leaders, I am asking you to right these wrongs. We deserve safety. We deserve respect and freedom from racism. We deserve to have a union to have a voice at work."


CWA Members Help Fellow Union Members Affected by COVID-19

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On Wednesday, CWA members from Local 6143 volunteered with the San Antonio Central Labor Council to give groceries to their fellow union members in San Antonio, Texas. The food drive was for union families that have faced layoffs and work shortages due to COVID-19. These roughly 150 families include custodial workers, hotel workers, bus drivers, and state workers across the San Antonio region. Contributions for the food came from CWA Local 6143, the San Antonio Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and other local unions.


CWA Activists Gear Up for November Elections

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CWA's political activists have been engaging in an intensive series of Zoom video trainings to gear up for the November elections! About 25 activists from across the country have participated in these sessions to grow their skills to elect Joe Biden as President, elect a pro-worker Senate, and keep a pro-worker majority in the House of Representatives. Trainings have included:

  • Social Change in Moments of Crisis, a 10-week series covering the history of the last 100 years, from working class victories through their rollback at the hands of the 1%. Participants also discussed this current moment of social crisis to better understand the political fight ahead.
  • The Power Building School, an intensive 5-week skills training that covered volunteer recruitment during a pandemic, vote by mail, advanced digital media, political messaging, and more.
  • The boot camp political activist train-the-trainer, a 3-week program that teaches activists how to run the successful CWA political boot camp training program virtually.


CWA's political activists have been participating in Zoom video trainings to gear up for the November elections!