Mar 4, 2021 - COVID-19 Vaccine Info for CWA Members, and other news

March 4, 2021

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Biden Supports Alabama Amazon Workers' Union Organizing Efforts

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In one of the strongest pro-union displays ever from a sitting president, President Joe Biden posted a video showing his support for Amazon workers in Bessamer, Ala., who are organizing to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

In the video, Biden stressed that the National Labor Relations Act not only protects workers' right to form a union, it encourages it. "It's a vitally important choice," Biden said. "One that should be made without intimidation or threats by employers."

Watch the video here.


For the People: Protecting Voters

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To loosen the hold corporate money has on our country, we must build worker power, and to do that, we need the For the People Act. The bill, which has been given the designation H.R. 1 as a sign of its importance, passed the House of Representatives yesterday with a bipartisan vote of 221 to 201. All of the Democratic members of the House and three Republicans voted for the bill. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

"We know that those who have taken a sledgehammer to voting rights will only redouble their efforts in the wake of the 2020 elections," said CWA Senior Director for Government Affairs and Policy Shane Larson. "Even as our nation is facing so many different crises, we must make democracy reform an absolute top priority to ensure that for the next election cycle – which is already in full swing – we have fair elections. CWA members will be working to ensure the Senate passes the For the People Act in order to protect our democracy, including fighting for elimination of the filibuster, if necessary."

Because the For the People Act is one of the most important bills that Congress is considering, we have been sharing information in the CWA eNewsletter about how the bill ensures that eligible voters can participate in elections and reduces the role of large donations in political campaigns.

Last month, we highlighted how the For the People Act will give people more choices about where and when they vote and how it will update the voter registration process.

The bill would also establish a number of new protections for voters. First, it would prohibit the spread of misinformation about elections that aims to hinder or discourage voters, and increase penalties for voter intimidation. Second, it would require that states inform voters of polling place changes, ballot drop-off locations, and alternatives to presenting voter ID. Finally, the bill would establish a review process for changes to the voting process that disproportionately affect minority communities and create a system for detecting repeated instances of voting rights violations.

Laws regulating voting, the role of money in politics, and corporate lobbying have not kept up with changes in American politics. But corporate executives want to keep things the way they are so they can keep calling the shots. They're doing whatever they can, including spreading misinformation about the bill, to hold on to their power.

We can't let them get away with it. Tell your Senators that it is time to update our voting system to give every eligible voter the chance to vote. Click here to send an email.


Together We Can End This Pandemic

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Life during the COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy, as members of our union have struggled with serious illness and lost friends and family members to this terrible disease.

Now that several COVID-19 vaccinations are approved and vaccination programs are underway, we are making real progress toward reducing infections, illness, and death from the virus.

CWA's Executive Board has done a thorough review of information about the COVID-19 vaccines and has issued a statement strongly recommending that CWA members be vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine to protect themselves, their families, their co-workers, and their communities. In addition, the Executive Board supports voluntary vaccination programs and they oppose mandatory vaccination as a condition of employment.

The COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by the FDA have been thoroughly tested and the test results have been reviewed by an independent panel of medical experts. They have found them to be safe and very effective at keeping you from getting symptomatic COVID-19, or getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19.

The vaccines work with your body's natural defenses so they will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed (this is also called immunity). Experts also think that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may help to prevent mild, asymptomatic COVID-19 disease.

The COVID-19 vaccines cannot give you the disease itself. The vaccines may cause side effects in some people like sore muscles, feeling tired, or mild fever. These reactions mean the vaccine is working to help teach your body how to fight COVID-19 if you are exposed.

Stopping this pandemic for good is going to require all the tools that we have available – staying at least 6 feet apart from people who don't live with you, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, washing your hands frequently, wearing masks, and getting vaccinated.

CWA's COVID-19 information page at cwa.org/covid has been updated with the latest information about COVID-19 safety and vaccination, including links to information about vaccine eligibility rules and the sign-up process.

CWA's Health and Safety Department has created a survey to learn more about members' experience with COVID-19 vaccines. The survey is for all members, whether you have had a vaccination, plan on getting a vaccination, or do not want to get a vaccination. Take the survey at cwa.org/vaccine-survey.

So stay informed, be safe, get vaccinated, and together we can end this pandemic.


Bargaining Update

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CWA Members at Glitch Secure First-Ever Contract for Tech Workers

Workers at Glitch, the software company behind Stack Overflow and other project management tools, have signed a first-of-its-kind collective bargaining agreement for tech workers. Glitch employees joined CWA Local 1101 in March of 2020 and quickly received voluntary recognition from the company. The new contract focuses on working conditions, grievance process, just cause, severance pay, and right to recall for workers laid off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Glitch workers are part of the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA) initiative.

"This is an absolutely historic win for us," said Katie Lundsgaard, a software engineer at Glitch. "We love our jobs, we love working at Glitch, which is why we wanted to ensure we have a lasting voice at this company and lasting protections. This contract does that, and I hope tech workers across the industry can see that unions and start-ups are not incompatible."

"We're excited that Glitch workers have signed their first-ever contract, a milestone in this industry," CWA Local 1101 President Keith Purce said. "CWA has decades of experience helping workers improve conditions at some of this country's largest, most powerful corporations. We know we're stronger when we fight together, and we hope this victory inspires other tech workers to organize their workplaces."

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Lumen (Kansas/Missouri)

Members of CWA Local 6372 in Kansas and Missouri are fighting for job security at Lumen, formerly known as CenturyLink, which is attempting to make changes to contractual language in order to allow the company to lay off union members and keep contractors. Approximately 100 CWA members have been working without a contract since February 10th of this year. Bargaining began on January 18th and a contract extension has lapsed. The workers are mobilizing to bring attention to the issues at Lumen.


Tell the Senate to Save Our Aviation Jobs!

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Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which includes an extension of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) through September 30, 2021. The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate for a vote. This critical bill affecting the jobs of many CWAers including passenger service agents and AFA-CWA Flight Attendants, needs to pass and be signed by President Biden before mid-March when the PSP expires.

The bill would provide $1.9 trillion in relief for Americans, including $15 billion in funds to help airlines maintain their payrolls through September. It would ensure no involuntary furloughs, no reductions to hourly pay rates, continued service to all of our communities, a cap on executive compensation for two years beyond the relief, and a ban on stock buybacks and dividends for a year beyond relief.

While there is light at the end of this very long tunnel, we must continue to make our voices heard. Take a moment to send a message to your Senators today, and every day, until the bill passes.


Committees Meet to Lay Social Justice Groundwork for CWA Convention

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This week, CWA's National Civil Rights and Equity Committee and National Women's Committee held their three-day Annual Joint Meeting. The committees met virtually to prepare their reports and presentations on today's most pressing social justice issues and our union's work for the upcoming CWA Convention. They were joined by President Chris Shelton and Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens for a discussion on the ongoing priorities of our union. Executive Board Diversity Committee Co-Chairs CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings Jr. and IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew, as well as CWA District 9 Vice President Frank Arce and At-Large Diversity Member Vera Mikell attended the meeting.


CWA Supports Moratorium on Utility Shutoffs

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A group of Senators led by Jeff Merkley of Oregon sent a letter to Senate leadership yesterday asking that the upcoming coronavirus relief package include safeguards to prevent Americans from losing access to critical utilities during the pandemic.

"Ensuring that all Americans have access to utility services during this pandemic is too important to be left to the discretion of individual utility companies," said CWA President Chris Shelton. "Essential workers have been on the job throughout the COVID-19 crisis making sure that households and businesses stay connected to energy, water, and communications services. We need a national moratorium on utility shutoffs so that service providers hold up their end of the bargain."