Jun 17, 2021 - CWA Members Demand Safe Staffing, and other news

June 17, 2021

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Bargaining Update

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The New Yorker, Pitchfork, and Ars Technica

Workers at The New Yorker, Pitchfork, and Ars Technica announced landmark agreements yesterday on their first contracts with media conglomerate Condé Nast. The workers will be represented by the NewsGuild of New York, TNG-CWA Local 31003.

The agreements include substantial wage increases, limitations on future health-care cost increases, defined working hours for salaried employees, a ban on nondisclosure agreements related to discrimination and harassment, and measurable commitments on diversity and inclusion.

"Throughout two and half years of negotiations, our union remained steadfast in our commitment to improve the quality of life for ourselves and for future employees," said Natalie Meade, Unit Chair at the New Yorker. "Thanks to our members' hard work, the era of at-will employment and wage stagnation at The New Yorker is finally over."

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Frontier Communications


Members of CWA Local 9588 and allies in Ontario, Calif., mobilized at Frontier Communications last week to demand a fair contract ahead of negotiations.

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Ocean County Board of Social Services

Ocean County Board of Social Services workers, who are members of CWA Local 1088 in Ocean County, N.J., reached a new agreement this month that provides significant pay increases, including 14% for the lowest paid members in the unit. Members made their demand for COVID-19 safety measures a centerpiece of their campaign.

In an article that ran in Labor Notes in early June, Jessica Coffin, a Human Services Specialist and CWA Local 1088 steward, said, "After months of working in fear, and with COVID back on the rise, we decided that enough was enough."

Mobilization committee members engaged their co-workers and members of the community in creative tactics such as setting off car alarms every day to coincide with informational picketing.

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Memnon

On May 27, Memnon Archiving workers at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., unanimously ratified their first union contract as members of CWA Local 4818. The workers had been negotiating for months under the added strain of furloughs due to COVID-19.

In an article in The Bloomingtonian this week, CWA Local 4818 President Richard Spires said safety issues were a priority, "We Memnon workers decided to pursue unionization due to unacceptable safety standards, wage rates, and lack of any benefits. Since our safety concerns needed to be addressed immediately, our first fight after voting to unionize was to clean up the safety issues within the building." Spires added that he hopes the efforts in Bloomington will open up discussions about injustices throughout the industry.


Members of CWA Local 1126 Demand Safe Hospital Staffing

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On June 11, essential healthcare workers represented by CWA Local 1126 in upstate New York rallied to demand fair and safe staffing at Mohawk Valley Health System. Nurses, service, and maintenance workers have experienced dangerously low staff levels during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

"We've all been in difficult staffing situations in the past, but none have been as bad as during this pandemic," said registered nurse Barb Spudie. "Safe staffing is good for workers and patients. It decreases staff illnesses, injuries, and burnout. Retention of nurses is at an all-time low now. And it's not just nurses—it’s housekeeping, care attendants, secretaries, [and] laundry workers. Everyone is short-staffed. We need boots on the ground to get our jobs done."

In May, the New York state legislature passed long overdue safe staffing legislation, putting even more pressure on hospital administrators to improve staff-to-patient ratios. Members of CWA Local 1126 are currently negotiating for a new contract and calling on hospital management to ensure safe staffing ratios now rather than waiting for the legislation to become enacted.


Essential healthcare workers represented by CWA Local 1126 in upstate New York rallied to demand fair and safe staffing at Mohawk Valley Health System.


Street Named in Honor of CWA Member Priscilla Carrow

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A street in Queens, N.Y., has been co-named Priscilla Carrow Way in honor of a CWA Local 1180 member who worked at Elmhurst Hospital and died of COVID-19 last year.

Carrow dedicated her life to helping others. She served as a senior steward and in leadership positions for many community organizations.

"Priscilla was an essential worker who was a true hero," said CWA Local 1180 President and Northeast Region At-Large Executive Board Member Gloria Middleton. "She was responsible for distributing PPE to doctors and nurses in the beginning of the pandemic while not being able to use it for herself. She gave her life for the safety of others. I hope that having a street named in her honor will inspire people to learn more about her and continue to fight for justice in her name."


A street in Queens, N.Y, has been named in honor of CWA Local 1180 member Priscilla Carrow who worked at Elmhurst Hospital and died of COVID-19. 


Reminder: Join Us Saturday to Celebrate Juneteenth

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Join us on Saturday, June 19, at 1:30 pm ET, for a virtual event to celebrate Juneteenth. This year's event will highlight Juneteenth's significance for the labor movement and the ongoing work CWAers have been engaged in over the past year to build an anti-racist union. We will be joined by CWA activists, artists, and special guests. This event will also center the need to protect our voting rights and reform our democracy by passing the For the People Act.

Tune in at www.facebook.com/events/1095300170956162/.


Discuss Broadband With FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

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Join us on June 29 at 7:30 pm ET for a virtual fireside chat with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, CWA President Chris Shelton, and a group of CWA members from our Build Broadband Better project.

The discussion, which will be moderated by CWA District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton, will focus on how the FCC is addressing the pressing need for affordable, reliable broadband service, and what CWA members can do to help promote broadband access in their communities. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions.

RSVP here: cwa.org/fccchat.


U.S. Trade Policy Should Encourage "A Race to the Top" for Workers

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Last Thursday, U.S. Trade Rep. Katherine Tai addressed the importance of worker-centered trade in a historic speech during a virtual town hall hosted by the AFL-CIO outlining the Biden Administration's "worker-centered trade policy."

For too long, America's trade policy has been driven by multinational corporations. Workers have been pitted against each other as companies boost profits by sending jobs to the lowest bidder.

Tai reiterated the Biden administration's position that passing the PRO Act is critical for rebuilding our economy. She promised that the administration would chart a new course on trade. "President Biden is leading us on a new path," Tai said. "He wants an economic policy, including a trade policy, that delivers shared prosperity for all Americans, not just profits for corporations. We want to make trade a force for good that encourages a race to the top."


Organizing Update

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Mapbox

This week, a majority of eligible workers at Mapbox, a mapping services and location cloud platform for computer software and app developers, announced they have formed the Mapbox Workers Union to represent all U.S. employees. The workers called on Mapbox management to voluntarily recognize their union. The campaign is part of the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA).

"Through our union, I know we can work to raise the standards for all workers at Mapbox, in the tech industry, and in the broader community," said Amisha Singla, senior data engineer at Mapbox.

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Lawrence, Kan., Public Schools

This week, the Lawrence Public Schools USD 497 Board of Education voted unanimously to recognize the Personnel Association of Lawrence-CWA (PAL-CWA) as the union for all classified staff in the school district. With this vote, 350 food service workers, administrative assistants, custodians, maintenance and facilities workers, and musical accompanists will have the chance to join PAL-CWA.

This comes almost a year after approximately 300 instructional classified staff in the school district won recognition. PAL-CWA Chair Hannah Allison asked the board to vote in favor of recognizing the remaining classified workers in the district as part of the union. "Our union is really important to us because we know that the day-to-day working conditions that we work in, those are also our students' learning conditions," Allison said.

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The Atlantic

Last week, editorial employees at The Atlantic announced they have formed The Atlantic Union and will be affiliated with NewsGuild of New York, TNG-CWA Local 31003. Management of the magazine has agreed to voluntarily recognize their union.

The unit will include writers, editors, and the art team, as well as workers on the copy desk, fact-checking, podcasts, and experimental storytelling teams. In their mission statement, the workers said they organized their union in order to "create a more equitable and diverse workplace that provides fair compensation and meaningful support to its workers, particularly its junior staff."


Deadline for Democracy

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Passing the For the People Act to ensure that Americans can freely cast our ballots so that every voice is heard and our elections reflect the will of the people continues to be a top priority for CWA activists.

The bill has passed the House of Representatives and awaits action in the Senate.

From June 28-July 10, Senators will be returning to their home states for the July 4th recess. It's a great opportunity to let them know that their constituents support the For the People Act, and CWA and our allies will be holding events across the country. Learn more and find an event near you at cwa.org/deadlinefordemocracy.


Rep. Wild Reintroduces Philippine Human Rights Act to Stop Attacks on Labor Activists

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On Tuesday, Rep. Susan Wild (D-Penn.) reintroduced the Philippine Human Rights Act. The Act suspends security assistance to the Philippines until President Rodrigo Duterte's regime ends its brutal campaign targeting labor leaders and activists.

During a press event announcing the reintroduction, Rep. Wild noted that CWA members and call center workers in the Philippines have a long history of working toward their common goals, including during the 2016 Verizon strike when Filipino workers who handled Verizon calls showed their support with pickets and workplace actions. "This is about solidarity," Rep. Wild said, "It's about standing up for one another and understanding that protecting labor rights and all human rights here at home requires supporting those same rights abroad."

CWA District 7 Vice President Brenda Roberts, who chairs CWA's Customer Service Program, also spoke at the event. "It is clear the attacks on free speech and democracy are on the rise in the Philippines. We cannot stand idly by while Duterte kills labor activists one by one.

"We must condemn it, and do every single thing within our power to stop it. And that starts with legislation like the Philippine Human Rights Act."


Demand Action for Low Wage Workers

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On June 21, 2021, CWA will join the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and poor people, low wage workers, moral and faith leaders, and all people of conscience for the hybrid National Poor People's and Low-Wage Workers' Assembly in Raleigh, N.C. The online/in-person National Poor People's and Low-Wage Workers' Assembly will raise a chorus of voices demanding a moral revolution that puts the suffering of 140 million poor and low-income people in the U.S. at the center of every policy debate. Join the movement!

Click here to register and for more information about this historic event!