Jul 29, 2021 - CWA Members Win on Wages and Performance Reviews and other news

July 29, 2021

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Building Support for the PRO Act

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CWA members have been rallying outside Senators’ offices, signing postcards and participating in phone banks to build support for the PRO Act, historic legislation that would put power in the hands of workers and reverse decades of legislation meant to crush unions.


Clockwise, from top left: West Virginia, Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, and Kentucky.


Legislative Update

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U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle reintroduced the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act this week to ensure taxpayer dollars do not support companies that offshore customer service jobs. The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.), and Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), also gives consumers a voice in deciding where their calls are handled.

If passed, the legislation would provide incentives to locate call centers in the United States and create a list of companies that have shipped customer service jobs overseas, which would make them ineligible for some federal grants and loans. Similar legislation has been passed in state legislatures in recent years in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, and Nevada.

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Congress Moves to Save GE-Savant Jobs

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to a defense appropriations bill that could affect dozens of IUE-CWA Local 84704 workers laid off in March at a GE-Savant plant in Bucyrus, Ohio. The amendment, which requires the Department of Defense to buy only LED bulbs made or assembled in the United States, is a victory for workers and their allies after months of mobilizing to bring jobs back from China.

In an article that ran in the Bucyrus Telegraph Forum, IUE-CWA Local 84704 President Will Evans said he appreciated the effort by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) to save jobs with the amendment. Ryan is a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “We are asking for bipartisan support of this initiative in order to protect and promote U.S. jobs right here in Ohio,” said Evans.

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Local Journalism Sustainability Act

A bipartisan bill that provides a path to financial stability for struggling local newspapers, digital-only publications, and local television and radio stations through a series of tax credits, has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate.

“The Local Journalism Sustainability Act would provide a much-needed boost to save local news jobs,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss. “Half of America’s journalism jobs have been wiped out in the past decade and the losses have accelerated during the pandemic. The erosion of local news puts our democracy at threat of extinction. We enthusiastically support this plan to save local news.”

Learn more at newsguild.org/newsguild-applauds-local-journalism-sustainability-act.

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Philippine Human Rights

Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and 10 other senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressing their concerns about the human rights situation in the Philippines and urging the U.S. government to stand with human rights defenders and labor activists. The letter specifically cites attacks on trade unionists and labor organizations. A recently published report illustrated the targeting and violence faced by call center workers who are members of the BIEN workers’ organization in the Philippines.

CWA strongly supports Senator Markey's effort as well as legislation like the Philippines Human Rights Act, which would protect working people by blocking U.S. funding for the Philippines police and military—including equipment and training—until human rights conditions improve.


Bargaining Update

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Frontier Communications

CWA members at Frontier Communications in West Virginia ratified a 2-year contract extension agreement with the company this week. The current contract would have expired on August 7, 2021.

The new agreement extends the contract through August 5, 2023, and includes 2% wage increases each year as well as corporate profit sharing payments of at least $700 annually. The agreement also requires that West Virginia technicians be dispatched by West Virginia dispatch employees.

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Point Park University

Faculty and campus leaders at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Penn., who are members of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh (TNG-CWA Local 38061) have been working without a contract since June 30.

Faculty members have called on university administrators to bargain in good faith, saying the university’s “last, best and final offer” of July 21 would keep pay rates lagging far behind those at similar institutions and would result in dramatic cuts in retirement benefits. Faculty members have charged the university with a variety of unfair labor practices, including unilateral changes to terms and conditions of employment and direct dealing with individual members.


NLRB Victories on Wages and Performance Reviews

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CWA members prevailed in a pair of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decisions this month.

At NBC News, Digital Employees who are members of The NewsGuild of New York, TNG-CWA Local 31003, won raises and back pay after the NLRB found that NBCUniversal acted improperly last year when it rolled back increases it had already granted. The Board ordered the company not only to restore wage increases, but also to award workers back pay.

“The [NLRB] decision is a win for Guild-represented workers who will have their wages restored," said Susan DeCarava, President of TNG-CWA Local 31003. “It is also a strong reminder to NBC management that it must bargain with the union over wages and other terms and conditions.”

In another case, management at the Idaho Statesman attempted to make page views and other digital metrics a mandatory part of employee reviews. The Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA Local 37082, reached a settlement with the McClatchy Company, which owns the newspaper, after the NLRB General Counsel found merit in the union’s charge that the company had violated federal labor law by unilaterally changing the criteria for performance reviews.

The win for the Idaho journalists comes after months of internal protests that McClatchy ignored. In an official announcement, the Idaho NewsGuild said the ruling means that “Idaho Statesman journalists no longer have to fear losing their job for missing an arbitrary quota they had no role in setting. It means they don’t have to cede their news judgement to please Facebook’s and Google’s algorithms.”


TNG-CWA Members at NBC News celebrate their successful effort to win raises and back pay.


Organizing Update

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Forbes

Members of the Forbes Union have voted overwhelmingly to form their union with the NewsGuild of New York (TNG-CWA Local 31003) in an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. Journalists, editors, videographers, and other workers at the financial magazine organized and demonstrated super majority support in May, but the company refused to voluntarily recognize the union.

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And more!

This month, workers at The Washingtonian (Washington-Baltimore NewsGuild, TNG-CWA Local 32035) and several Gannett-owned newspapers announced they are organizing their unions with the NewsGuild-CWA, including editorial employees of The Journal News, Poughkeepsie Journal and Times Herald-Record (NewsGuild of New York, TNG-CWA Local 31003) as well as the Record-Courier in Kent, Ohio (Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA Local 1).

Workers at several non-profit organizations are also organizing, including employees of the Denver Public Library (DPLWU-CWA Local 7799) and Big Green and New Era in Colorado (TNG-CWA Local 37074). Workers at the American Civil Liberties Union in Minnesota (Minnesota Newspaper and Communications Guild, TNG-CWA Local 37002) joined employees of at least 12 other state ACLU chapters who have organized recently, as reported in Workday Minnesota.

As part of the CODE-CWA campaign, workers at Democracy Works in New York, N.Y., (News Media Guild, TNG-CWA Local 31222) and developers for the San Francisco Chronicle (Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521) formed their unions this month.


Federal Court Rules that T-Mobile Illegally Prevented CWA Member from Emailing Co-Workers

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On July 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that T-Mobile broke the law in 2015 when management of the Wichita, Kan., call center reprimanded a customer service representative after she sent a message through her work email account inviting coworkers to join the campaign to organize their union, T-Mobile Workers United (TU-CWA Local 6457).

Management responded by sending an email message to all workers at the call center claiming the worker’s email violated company policy because it was not business-related. However, T-Mobile had allowed workers to send non-business email messages in the past. An Administrative Law Judge concluded the company had discriminated against the worker and issued a decision against the company for unfair labor practices. The company appealed the decision to the National Labor Relations Board, setting in motion the filing of the subsequent appeals that culminated with the Circuit Court’s decision in favor of CWA last week.

Workers at T-Mobile have been organizing since 2009 despite T-Mobile’s refusal to recognize their union and the company’s ongoing anti-union campaign of intimidation and discrimination.


CWA Public, Healthcare and Education Workers Pledge to Build Back Better

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This week, participants in the CWA Public, Healthcare and Education Workers (PHEW) sector “Public Workers Build Back Better” digital summit united around a clear message: after withstanding years of attacks and weathering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we urgently need to fight for our public services, and CWA members and public workers who provide them.

That message was reinforced by CWA President Chris Shelton at the summit’s plenary session. “This is our moment,” Shelton said. “Every one of you must mobilize your members to make sure that your state and local governments are going to use [American Rescue Plan relief funds] to restore jobs, raise wages, provide premium and hazard pay, and make job-creating investments in public services.”

Other sessions of the summit focused on mobilization, pensions, stimulus relief funds, and building momentum for bargaining. More than 200 members and leaders from across the sector attended the online digital summit and were joined by CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens; CWA Vice-Presidents Dennis Trainor (District 1), Richard Honeycutt (District 3), Linda L. Hinton (District 4), Brenda Roberts (District 7), and Frank Arce (District 9); IUE-CWA Industrial Division President Carl Kennebrew; and At-Large Executive Board Members Gloria Middleton (Northeast Region) and Erika White (Central Region).

During the summit, PHEW Sector Vice President Margaret Cook emphasized the importance of political action, contributions to CWA’s Political Action Fund, and fighting for voting rights as part of the agenda. “We serve the community, and we work for the community, so we understand how important politics is as part of what we do,” she said.


CWA Members in Kentucky Endorse Charles Booker for U.S. Senate

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Last week, CWA members in Kentucky endorsed Charles Booker for U.S. Senate. Booker is running for the seat currently held by Senator Rand Paul.

“Booker’s opponent, Rand Paul, has consistently voted against organized labor and introduced new legislation that is in direct conflict with the rights of the workers of Kentucky,” said Kindre Batliner, President of IUE-CWA Local 83761. “Paul has done nothing but use union busting methods to maintain the status quo and perpetuate the wage and health disparities that currently exist in our state. He is bad for workers and bad for the state of Kentucky.”

"Charles Booker has walked with CWA during informational pickets and during the AT&T work stoppage in 2019,” said CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt. “He has proven his dedication to CWA and the labor movement in Kentucky. He is always available when his support is needed and never fails to answer our calls. We are proud to endorse Mr. Booker in his Senate campaign."


CWA members from 15 locals across the state of Kentucky held a rally in Louisville last week to endorse Charles Booker for U.S. Senate.


New Report Shows Impact of Political Spending on Broadband Buildout

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A new report from Common Cause that was developed in partnership with CWA examines how lobbying and political spending have shaped the digital divide.

The report, Broadband Gatekeepers: How ISP Lobbying and Political Influence Shapes the Digital Divide, finds that the 15 biggest, most influential ISPs and related trade associations spent more than $234 million on lobbying and federal elections during the 116th Congress—an average of more than $320,000 a day. This spending has stymied progress on issues like network resiliency, increased broadband speeds, and price transparency that are critical to closing the digital divide.

“Our political system is rigged in favor of hedge funds and wealthy shareholders who demand short-term profits over the lasting health of our economy. To satisfy Wall Street, ISPs and trade associations are spending millions fighting legislation that would help close the digital divide,” said CWA Senior Director for Government Affairs Shane Larson. “The impact this has on low-income communities and rural residents is devastating. Telecom companies are limiting deployment of fiber optic broadband to wealthier neighborhoods and monopoly cable is overcharging for subpar service. It’s time broadband workers and customers get some accountability. That has to come from Congress and the FCC.”