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Nov 11, 2021 - Saluting Our Veterans and other news

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Strike Victory! CWA and Catholic Health Reach Groundbreaking Agreement

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Over the weekend, after a year of difficult negotiations and a month-long strike, healthcare workers at Catholic Health’s Mercy, St. Joseph’s, and Kenmore Mercy hospitals overwhelmingly voted by a margin of 94% to 6% to ratify a new four-year contract. This contract was the result of a powerful 5-week strike by 2,000 healthcare workers and members of CWA Local 1133, who stood out on the picket line from 5 a.m. to midnight each day demanding safe staffing, competitive wages and no concessions on benefits.

Faced with the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, the workers stayed united and determined while encouraged by an outpouring of support from community members, elected officials, and other union members. They picketed in harsh weather, stood toe-to-toe with scabs, shared their stories with the media, and engaged elected officials and the public to win this groundbreaking contract that has set a higher standard for healthcare workers. The new contract, covering workers at all three Catholic Health hospitals, includes across the board wage increases with no worker starting below $15/hr, a historic breakthrough in staffing ratios that make it safer for the workers and improve quality of care for patients, and no concessions on health care and pension plans. Click here to learn more.

2021 CWA Awards Ceremony: Honoring CWA Locals for Outstanding Achievements in Organizing, Political Action, Mobilizing, and More

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At last week's virtual 2021 CWA Awards Ceremony, hosted by CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens, locals and activists were honored for their extraordinary work organizing, mobilizing, engaging in political action, and more.

The Hat Award for outstanding achievements in organizing is named in honor of CWA's founding president, Joe Beirne, who would pass his hat at each organizing meeting to collect the funds he needed to cover travel costs of getting to the next group of telephone workers he was to visit. It is CWA's highest honor. This year, CWA President Chris Shelton presented the Hat Award to CWA Canada, CWA Local 2336, CWA Local 1400 (Alphabet Workers Union), NABET-CWA Local 52031, CWA Local 1101, TNG-CWA Local 31222, and CWA Local 9410. These locals have brought more than 2,000 new high tech workers into CWA from established tech platforms to Silicon Valley startups, from media tech workers to digital ads and communication firms. President Shelton stressed the need to organize and build worker power in the tech industry and called on Congress, state, and federal regulators to reign in the power of Big Tech.

President Shelton also presented the Morton Bahr CWA STRONG Award to CWA Local 1180 President Gloria Middleton for her local’s tireless efforts, over 20 years, to win representation rights at New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and CWA Local 9400 President Maurice Washington, for effectively doubling the existing membership at the San Manuel Resort and Casino. As he presented the award, Shelton noted former President Bahr’s long term vision and strategy to embrace mobilizing and political action to make our union strong.

Since the 2019 CWA convention, CWA locals from around the country have brought in nearly 15,000 new members through external organizing campaigns. Locals that have successfully supported at least 100 workers in gaining formal recognition for a voice at work during this time period received a $1,000 organizing subsidy as well as a plaque for the current year. Locals who have won this award 5, 10, or 15 times received $5,000. The full list of locals is available here. During the ceremony, President Shelton announced that locals 1031, 1032, 1033, 1036, 1037, 1038, 1040, 1101, 1180, 1400, 31003, 32035, 34071, 7799, 9400, and 39213 had donated their awards to the Catholic Health workers who were on strike in Buffalo. Watch this amazing video featuring some of the 15,000 new members who have joined CWA over the past two years.

In addition to the organizing awards, locals were recognized for their support for CWA's Political Action Fund (view list of honor locals) and for fund-raising on behalf of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

The Awards Ceremony also highlighted the history and importance of CWA’s Eduardo Diaz Union-To-Union International Solidarity Fund and our efforts to build international solidarity with AT&T call center workers in Mexico and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) workers in the Philippines. Learn more by watching the video put together by members of the BPO Employees Industry Network (BIEN).

To watch the full 2021 CWA Awards Ceremony click here.

Worker Power Update

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Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Last Friday, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), historic bipartisan legislation that will provide funds for much needed improvements to America’s transportation, broadband, and utility infrastructure and create good-paying union jobs.

CWA members have mobilized over the past few months to ensure that key priorities remained in the legislation including provisions that protect good telecom jobs by prioritizing distribution of broadband funding to projects from responsible employers with high labor standards, and closing the loopholes in and providing more transparency into our domestic procurement laws, helping to ensure that our tax dollars are supporting American jobs.


Build Back Better Act

An expected vote on the Build Back Better Act was postponed until the week of November 15 due to objections by a handful of Members of Congress.

Click here to call your Member of Congress to tell them that working people and retirees can’t afford to wait any longer for affordable child care, lower prescription drug prices, and protections when they speak out at work to improve their wages and working conditions.

Modis Workers at Google Data Centers Win Hazard Pay Through Collective Action

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Last Friday, over a 100 workers at Modis, a Google subcontractor, won the hazard pay they were promised after organizing a series of collective actions. When Modis, which helps Google manage their data centers, broke its promise to pay attendance incentive bonuses to 250 workers at multiple data centers, the workers began organizing to hold the company accountable. These bonuses were meant to incentivize workers to return to work in the midst of the COVID pandemic.

The workers, some of whom are members of the Alphabet Workers Union (CWA Local 1400), participated in workplace actions to draw attention to this issue and put pressure on management by asking difficult questions during an impromptu meeting hosted by the company. Although this was a win for the workers, who make as low as $15 an hour for highly skilled and physically difficult work, they cite Google’s two tiered employment system as the main cause of the problem and they are determined to continue organizing to put an end to this exploitative system.

Saluting Our Veterans

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On this Veterans Day, the entire CWA family proudly salutes the thousands of CWA member and retiree military veterans and their families as well as the broader veteran community for their service and sacrifice.

In his Veterans Day message, CWA President Chris Shelton uplifts the CWA veterans who have participated in the CWA Veterans for Social Change program and highlights the participation of IUE-CWA military veterans in the “Bring it Home GE” campaign calling on General Electric, one of the largest military contractors for the U.S. government, to end its offshoring practices and reinvest in American workers.

“Even through the difficulties of the last year and a half, our veterans have continued to step up as activists, organizers, and leaders in our union and beyond to meet the challenges we have been faced with and ensure the progress of the working class,” said President Shelton. “Since the launch of the CWA Veterans for Social Change program almost two years ago, CWA has been organizing a broad base of CWA activists who are veterans and active duty service members to build power and strengthen our union by advocating for issues that impact other veterans and working families.”

Read President Shelton’s full statement here.

IUE-CWA Military Veterans Call on General Electric to Reinvest in American Workers

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In a powerful new video released ahead of Veterans Day, a group of IUE-CWA military veterans speak out against General Electric’s offshoring practices and call on GE to prioritize national security and American workers by bringing good paying union manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. The video was released as part of the “Bring it Home GE” campaign launched by IUE-CWA members, along with a coalition of labor, environmental, trade, and veterans groups, to pressure GE to reinvest in domestic manufacturing jobs in green energy and military and commercial aviation. General Electric is one of the largest vendors to the U.S. government, receiving billions of taxpayer dollars each year. However, GE has constantly engaged in offshoring manufacturing jobs from plants in places like Lynn, Mass., Madisonville, Tenn., and Arkansas City, Ark., to Germany, South Korea, and Romania.

The coalition standing with the GE workers includes notable veterans and experts, such as Brigadier General John Adams; Will Attig, Executive Director of the Union Veterans Council and U.S. Army veteran; and Jose Vasquez, Executive Director of Common Defense and U.S. Army veteran, who all agree that GE’s rampant offshoring puts the United States at greater risk for both extreme climate and national security emergencies.

On Tuesday, an article in TIME featured several IUE-CWA members who painted a vivid picture of the impact of GE’s offshoring. The story also highlighted a new report from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and Cornell University that documents GE’s disinvestment in American jobs.

As the Biden administration reaffirms its commitment to the Build Back Better agenda, the campaign will continue to increase the pressure on GE to reinvest in the creation of good-paying, union jobs in manufacturing and help bolster the nation’s middle class.

More CWAers Winning Elected Office

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Last week’s newsletter included a story on CWAers who won elected office in the state and municipal elections held last Tuesday. Here are additional CWAers who won elected office in last week’s elections.

  • Corey Pursche (CWA Local 3682) - Town of Youngsville Town Commissioner
  • Dr. Nicole Speer (CWA Local 7799) - Boulder City Council

Congratulations to all.

Auto Financing for CWA Families

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