Jun 24, 2021 - CWA Member Meets with Kamala Harris, and other news

June 24, 2021

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CWA Member Speaks Out During Roundtable Discussion with Vice President Harris

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On Monday, Mapbox worker Jenn Chow joined Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh for a roundtable discussion as part of the Biden administration’s Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. Last week, a supermajority of workers at Mapbox announced that they had formed the Mapbox Workers Union with CWA Local 9410. Chow highlighted the challenges workers in the U.S. face when they join together to form a union and advocate for change at their workplaces.

“We have over 66% public support, and over 70% privately. And that disparity is because people are afraid to go public,” Chow told the group. “People understand the inequality we face across teams and states. However, we’re afraid that our leadership will come at us. Maybe they can’t fire us directly, but they can isolate us. I was even afraid to tell my coworkers that I was coming to talk with you [VP Harris] directly today.”

In response to a question from Vice President Harris about why she decided to join the Mapbox Workers Union after only three weeks on the job, Chow said, “Hearing that as a first generation student – my mom’s a single parent – I made less than my coworkers because they’re white males and went to Stanford or Berkeley, it doesn’t make me less than them. I am just as good as they are.”

Watch Jenn Chow at the Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment roundtable in Pittsburgh.


Mapbox Workers Union member Jenn Chow (far right) discussed the fear workers face when organizing a union during a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris.


Voting Rights Update

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Senate Republicans Block Vote on S.1, the For the People Act

On Tuesday, in a 50-50 vote, Republican U.S. Senators refused to begin debating the For the People Act, also known as S.1. Every single Republican Senator chose to hide behind a filibuster vote instead of explaining on the record to the American people why they oppose this important legislation, which would end partisan gerrymandering, make voting easier, and end the dark influence of corporate money in politics.

Read CWA’s statement.

Let Your Senators Hear from You

Tuesday’s vote against debating the For the People Act is not the end of the fight. From June 28 to July 10, Senators will be returning to their home states for the July 4th congressional recess. It's a great opportunity to let them know that their constituents support the For the People Act, the PRO Act, and other essential legislation. CWA and our allies will be holding events across the country. Learn more and find an event near you at cwa.org/deadlinefordemocracy.

CWA Next Generation Presents Workshop on Voting Rights in the States

Since the beginning of this year Republican state legislators in 48 states have introduced at least 389 bills to limit voting rights.

This Saturday, June 26, from 1-2:30 p.m. ET, CWA Next Generation will host “Voter Suppression in the States: A Virtual Workshop.” Georgia State Senator and CWA Local 3204 member Nikki Merritt will discuss the voter suppression laws recently passed in Georgia. Adrian Fontes, who is currently running for Arizona Secretary of State, will talk about threats to democracy in Arizona and how we can ensure voting rights are protected in every state and across the country. Click here to register now.

President Shelton Joins Senate Majority Leader for Town Hall on the For the People Act

On June 21, the evening before the vote on the For the People Act, CWA President Chris Shelton joined Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Tiffany Muller of the End Citizens United Action Fund for a virtual town hall meeting to discuss the bill.

“I want to make it clear that the entire labor movement stands strongly behind passage of the For the People Act,” said Shelton. “We will never see the progress we need to improve the lives of working people if we don’t pass it … Now is the time to stand up and say enough! We will not turn back. We will use this as an opportunity to ensure that all U.S. citizens have a right to participate in our great democratic system freely and fairly!”

Watch the town hall here.

CWA District 6 Rallies for Voting Rights in Texas


CWA District 6 President Claude Cummings, Jr., spoke to hundreds of labor and civil rights activists at a rally in support of voting rights at the Texas state capitol in Austin on June 20.

On June 20 at the state capitol in Austin, Tex., CWA members joined a crowd of more than 1,500 to rally against legislation that would restrict voting rights for millions of Texans. In a state that already has some of the strictest voting requirements in the nation, legislators are planning a special session to vote on new ID requirements for mail-in ballots, limits on early voting hours, fewer local voting options, and more protections for partisan poll watchers. Last month, Democrats walked out of the capitol to protest the bill, preventing a vote during the regular session.

Before the rally at the capitol, District 6 hosted a virtual forum featuring CWA Local 6143 President Geronomo Guerra, CWA Local 6215 Executive Vice President Earnest Tilley, Jo Angela Herrera, Vice President of CWA Local 6143, and other union leaders; former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke; and democracy activists from Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri. Natashia Pickens, President of CWA Local 6355 and Reginald Small, Secretary of CWA Local 6215, moderated the gathering.

District 6 President Claude Cummings, Jr., welcomed members to the forum recalling his wife’s experiences as a young girl in Selma on Bloody Sunday and the bravery of those who stood up against violence to defend the right of Black Americans to vote. “They weren’t doing it for themselves,” said Cummings. “They were doing it for us. We cannot let John Lewis and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., down. When we fight, we win, and we are not going back to Jim Crow 2.0!”


Organizing Update

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Southern California News Group

About 140 journalists at 11 publications that form the Southern California News Group voted in favor of forming the SCNG Guild on June 11. They will join the Media Guild of the West, TNG-CWA Local 39213.

The SCNG’s parent company is Alden Global Capital, the New York-based hedge fund notorious for slashing newsroom staffing and news coverage. But the bosses’ reputation hasn’t dampened the workers’ determination to fight for better pay and working conditions or their commitment to telling the stories of their communities.


140 editorial employees at about a dozen newspapers across Southern California voted 64-19 to join the Media Guild of the West, TNG-CWA Local 39213.

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Oxford University Press

Last week, workers at the New York office of Oxford University Press announced they had formed OUP USA Guild. They will join the News Media Guild/TNG-CWA Local 31222 and represent about 165 editors, designers, and sales and marketing staffers. OUP is the largest university press in the world.

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And More!

This month, workers at Catalist (CWA Local 2336) and the Institute for Policy Studies (TNG-CWA Local 32035) joined CWA and won voluntary recognition from their employers. Workers are also organizing at Gannett’s Atlantic Digital Optimization Team (TNG-CWA Local 31003) and La Casa de Don Pedro community service organization in Newark, N.J. (CWA Local 1037).


Building Better Broadband Update

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United for the American Jobs Plan

Jim Gardler Jobs Plan Rally
CWA Local 13000 President Jim Gardler spoke about the importance of building broadband with union labor at a United for the American Jobs Plan rally in Philadelphia on June 16.

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Reminder: Discuss Broadband With FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

 

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 L. 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.


Bargaining Update

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Asian Law Caucus

Workers at the Asian Law Caucus (ALC) of San Francisco secured their first collective bargaining agreement this week. The workers are members of CWA Local 9410.

The new three-year agreement, which covers 30 workers at ALC, provides substantial wage increases. It also guarantees an employer 401(k) match, paid holidays, and establishes a seniority system and severance pay.


Members of Alphabet Workers Union Call on Google to #DropTheDeadNames

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Earlier this month members of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA Local 1400 (AWU-CWA) called on Google to stop requiring transgender workers to use their deadnames on company badges. Last week they won an important battle for equality in their workplace.

A deadname is the name a transgender person was given before transitioning. For some transgender people, changing their names is an important part of their transition. Calling someone by their deadname can make them feel disrespected and may lead to misgendering and harassment.

AWU member Phares Lee tried for three years to have his deadname removed from his badge and was told by HR there was no remedy. On June 1, the union launched a petition demanding that Google create a chosen names policy that allows all workers to choose the names displayed on their badges.

More than 1,000 employees signed on and the company has agreed to issue Phares a new badge with his chosen name. "I learned that we are stronger together than we are alone," said Phares. "I learned that we can build our own sense of belonging. I learned that we can build our own union and take care of each other when others won’t."