Oct 15, 2020 - AT&T's DSL Shutoff Will Leave Thousands Without a Broadband Option

October 15, 2020

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Join CWAers to Phonebank Together to Elect Biden!

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With only a few weeks left until Election Day and voting underway in many states, hundreds of CWAers across the country are phonebanking together to flip the Senate and to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris!

Join the fight now, don't miss out on a chance to connect with your fellow CWA members and do everything we can to ensure that working people have something to celebrate in November!

Don't worry if you're a first time phonebanker. We connect over Zoom at the start of the shift to provide training and support. Sometimes there's even (optional) dancing!

Sign up for a time that will work for you today — CWA.org/GOTV2020.


AT&T’s DSL Shutoff Will Leave Thousands of Consumers Without a Broadband Option

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AT&T recently announced that it will discontinue DSL sales nationally and disconnect 160,000 DSL customers, only some of whom have access to another wireline service from AT&T. Meanwhile, these communities are counting on the FCC to ensure reliable and uninterrupted access to broadband.

On Wednesday, CWA, Public Knowledge, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Next Century Cities, Common Cause, and the Greenlining Institute submitted a filing to the FCC warning that the FCC's deregulatory agenda leaves the agency powerless to protect Americans from losing critical broadband connections during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is unconscionable that AT&T would disconnect thousands of existing DSL customers, many of whom likely do not have another fixed broadband option, during a pandemic," said CWA Senior Researcher Brian Thorn. "AT&T is making the digital divide worse and failing its customers and workers by not investing in crucial buildout of fiber-optic infrastructure. This failure, combined with the FCC's lack of oversight, means AT&T may leave thousands of customers without a viable internet option."

The company reported a total of 469,000 DSL subscribers as of June 30, 2020, and for those subscribers not immediately cut off from DSL service, AT&T says they will "not be able to perform service changes after September 30, 2020."


Bargaining Update

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Nokia

For two and a half years, CWA members at Nokia have been fighting back against the company's attempt to eliminate the bargaining unit. Their hard work paid off. The bargaining team, using all means at their disposal, filed lawsuits, NLRB charges, grievances, and arbitrations in an effort to preserve the bargaining unit. CWAers ratified a new Effects Agreement and a Collective Bargaining Agreement last week, which includes job offers for all 201 Installers in the unit with third party vendor Goodman.

These agreements extend retiree healthcare through 2027, increase pension bands by 7%, and provide the equivalent of an enhanced severance package with an additional $30,000. The Goodman contract preserves much of the same core language as the current Installation contract and protects bargaining unit work from erosion by subcontractors.

"I would like to acknowledge all of the people who worked hard to make this happen, including the Locals who made themselves available whenever we needed them," said Bargaining Chair Mary Jo Reilly. "I'd also like to acknowledge the CWA bargaining team whose knowledge, intelligence, commitment, and tenacity made them the best bargaining team for the job."

Lisa Bolton, CWA's Vice President of Telecommunications and Technologies said, "When we fight, we win! And we weren't going to give up on our members and their families."


CWA Leaders Build Skills at 2020 Minority Leadership Institute

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Despite the challenges of the pandemic, eleven CWA leaders participated in the 2020 Minority Leadership Institute (MLI), held virtually this year. The two-week program provided training on leadership development, health and safety, organizing, mobilizing, collective bargaining, handling grievances, legislative advocacy, honing social justice and political advocacy skills, building worker power in the 2020 elections, and much more. A day was devoted to examining the relationship between racism and the exploitation of workers. A section called "The River of Life" taught participants how to use storytelling as a tool for effective organizing. CWA President Chris Shelton and CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens held a discussion session with the participants on union activism.

The MLI program was established 30 years ago as CWA's internal training program designed to promote the involvement of members of color, women, LGBTQ, and other underrepresented members within CWA at every level of our union. One representative from each District and Sector is invited to attend each year. The program has been instrumental in developing incredible CWA leaders.

President Shelton, Secretary-Treasurer Steffens, and members of CWA's Executive Board attended the virtual MLI graduation ceremony, where the participants shared their thoughts about the training program, with many pointing to the "River of Life" and the lifelong bonds they built with their fellow participants as the highlights of the program.

Here's what they had to say about their experiences:


The MLI Class of 2020!

Kimberly Johnson, President, CWA Local 1087

"The most memorable experience for me in this time was listening to everyone open up. You guys rejuvenated me and gave me more courage to keep pushing forward."

Terry Garner, President, CWA Local 2336

"It was a great experience, I'll never forget it. One thing is for sure: they are lifelong friends."

Timmia McIlWaine, Area Vice President, CWA Local 3640

"Some of the stories that my classmates shared with me made it easier for me to be able to take my walls down, and see what we have in common."

DeAndre (Dre) Davis, Executive Board Member, CWA Local 4100

"I heard the exact same story from every MLI graduate – they all loved it and it's easy to see why. Even though we're virtual, I definitely know we will keep in contact, get together, and meet in person someday."

Edward Williams, Chief Steward, CWA Local 6215

"Congratulations to my classmates. I look forward to seeing you guys down the road. I love you all."

Angel Wells, Chief Steward & Human Rights Committee Chair, CWA Local 7050

"These two weeks were nothing short of amazing. I want to thank the Class of 2020 for sharing their knowledge. I look forward to working with you and continuing our work as a family."

Pamela Bill, Executive Board Member, CWA Local 9003

"My most memorable moment was the 'River of Life.' It allowed us to be so vulnerable and open, and to share. The MLI Class of 2020 is going down in the books."

Chip Hestle II, MEC Chair of Alaska Airlines Human Rights Committee, AFA-CWA Local 27019

"To my fellow 2020 classmates, what a journey. I'm encouraged; you gave me the strength and the wisdom that I need to continue on."

CJ Jones, Vice President, IUE-CWA Local 86787

"This really helped me understand my role as a leader. I thank CWA for having such programs available."

Myra Cates, President, NABET-CWA Local 54044

"I loved the MLI conference. This was amazing. I loved all the people, and I loved learning more of how the union works."

Steven Simmons, Secretary, CWA Local 9110 (PHEW)

"The most memorable moment to me during MLI was the 'River of Life' stories. It showed me that it's ok to open up. We have a strong mindset in the MLI as well as the CWA."

Barbara Tolbert, President, CWA Local 3250 (T&T)

"At this year's MLI, I was moved by everyone in my MLI class with their 'River of Life' stories. It motivated me so much to open up and share my story. I want to thank everyone for their story because it empowered me."

Congratulations to the MLI Class of 2020!


Accident at New Flyer Non-Union Plant Highlights Need for a Worker Voice

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Last week at a non-union New Flyer bus part fabrication plant in Shepherdsville, Ky., Jennifer, a worker who was using a machine missing its safety guard, lost part of her finger in an accident. When she raced to the first-aid kit on-site, she found nothing but Band-Aids. To add insult to serious injury, her coworker was fired for speaking up for her shortly after the accident.

"I was trying to stand-up for the health and safety of my co-workers,” said Stephen Thompson, Jennifer’s coworker and cousin. “The company failed to keep one worker safe, which is how she lost her finger. They then failed to keep other workers safe from bloodborne pathogens. I wanted to blow the whistle on their lack of safety and the company fired me for speaking up. Workers deserve to be safe at work."

CWA Local 7034 represents workers at New Flyer facilities in Minnesota, and workers at the non-union plant in Kentucky have been organizing around safety and wages.

“I hope Jennifer gets all the help she needs and makes a quick recovery,” said Matt Lelou, President of CWA Local 7304. “I hope the workers in Kentucky realize the best way to implement safety into their workplace is to have a voice in the process. Unions are the only way to ensure the rank and file are heard clearly. Our brothers and sisters at New Flyer Crookston and St. Cloud stand in support of our friends in Kentucky.”

In a sign of growing anger and solidarity, workers are wearing stickers that say “I stand with Jennifer,” in both the Kentucky plant and the union plants in Minnesota.


To show solidarity, workers are wearing stickers in both the Kentucky plant and the union plants in Minnesota.


CWA Urges New Mexico Supreme Court to Uphold State Oversight of CenturyLink

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As CenturyLink continues to oppose the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC)'s efforts to scrutinize the company's service, CWA filed a brief on October 5 urging the New Mexico Supreme Court to uphold the NMPRC's oversight of CenturyLink.

In February, the NMPRC approved a hearing examiner's recommendation to reject CenturyLink's claim that it should be exempt from regulation. The commission determined that CenturyLink failed to show that there is "effective competition" for residential phone service in the markets they serve.

CWA played a major role in the hearing examiner's recommendation and the Commission's decision, providing expert witnesses and extensive briefs rebutting CenturyLink’s claims.

"CenturyLink continues to try to shirk its responsibility to over 100,000 New Mexicans who rely on the company for residential phone service, particularly in rural areas," said Brenda Roberts, CWA District 7 Vice President. "Fortunately, New Mexico has not adopted the deregulation agenda being pushed by corporations who are more interested in serving their big stockholders than their customers."