Dec 23, 2021 - CWA Leading the Charge for Equitable Broadband Access and other news

December 23, 2021

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Organizing Update

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Tower Safety

Workers at Tower Safety in Phoenix, Ariz., a company that offers cell phone tower climbers an array of trainings and certifications with an emphasis on safety, won voluntary recognition and joined CWA. “For far too long cell phone tower climbers have been taken advantage of by the big telecom companies who avoid responsibility by subcontracting the work,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “Workers are often provided with outdated equipment to perform highly dangerous duties without adequate training and very little pay and benefits.”

These workers risk their lives every day going up towers to provide us with the cell phone connection we depend on. They deserve better. CWA is committed to continuing to support workers in this industry as they organize for better working conditions, fair pay, and a voice on the job.

Read more here.

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AT&T In Home Experts

After an effort by management to cancel a long-standing Christmas holiday break for AT&T In Home Expert (IHX) workers in Maryland, the workers pushed back with the help of CWA to get the Scrooge-like decision reversed. This is the first time management has attempted to cancel Christmas break for the workers who are organizing to build power and join their AT&T IHX colleagues in other areas in forming a union with CWA. This win reflects the collective power AT&T IHX workers are building across the nation.


Bargaining Update

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Frontier Communications

Last Tuesday, Frontier workers in Connecticut, members of CWA Local 1298, held a picket in Meriden, Conn., for a fair contract. These workers, along with Frontier workers in New York and California, are currently bargaining with Frontier for increased wages, good benefits, affordable healthcare, and more. Bargaining in Connecticut will resume in early January and the workers will continue their strong mobilization efforts to get a contract without delay.


Connecticut Frontier workers, members of CWA Local 1298, held a picket in Meriden, Conn., for a fair contract.

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MinnPost

Last Tuesday, workers at the MinnPost, members of the Minnesota Newspaper and Communication Guild (TNG-CWA Local 37002), ratified their first collective bargaining agreement, less than seven months after they won voluntary union recognition. The new agreement establishes minimum salaries that will give most members big pay increases, expands leave for new parents, includes “just cause” protections in cases involving involuntary termination and stipulates that discipline must be progressive and corrective, not punitive. The agreement will also create opportunities for union members to review their immediate supervisors and other management employees.

Read more here.

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LifePath

This month, workers at LifePath (CWA Local 13500), a non-profit that provides programs and services to individuals with developmental disabilities, won COVID-19 retention incentives and appreciation payments. The appreciation payments, up to $750 and $350 for full time and part time employees respectively, will go into effect this week. In addition, full time and part time workers will receive retention payments of $400 and $200 respectively from funds available through the American Rescue Plan.

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Cumberland County Improvement Authority

Last Thursday, the Cumberland County Utilities Authority Board of Commissioners in New Jersey overwhelmingly approved an agreement reached with CWA Local 1085 in November. These contracts are the result of the tireless organizing of the workers who formed the union earlier this year in large part to fight back against monetizing the utility in a deal with a private equity firm.

Read more here.


CWA Activists Continue to Fight for Equitable Broadband Access and Good Jobs

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Thanks to the leadership and the activism of CWAers, the $65 billion allocated in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to expand our nation’s broadband networks will help states across the country bring their telecommunications infrastructure into the 21st century and create new jobs in the process. Since the passage of the bill, the CWA Broadband Brigade and local activists have been mobilizing to ensure states eligible to receive federal funding Build Broadband Better by creating good union jobs and prioritizing closing the digital divide.

In New York, Nick Hoh, a telecommunications worker who serves as the Political Coordinator for CWA Local 1104 and is a member of CWA's Build Broadband Better team, labeled the $65 billion in federal broadband funding “a game changer for the nine million New Yorkers who currently lack an affordable, 21st-century internet connection” and called on New York lawmakers to “go further” to ensure an equitable broadband buildout by a well trained union workforce in a recent op-ed published by the Times Union.

In New Mexico, Stacy Watashe, Executive Vice President of CWA Local 7011 and a former Lumen Technologies employee, published an op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal where he noted that the federal funding to expand broadband access “could not have come at a more critical time for New Mexicans.” He pointed out that the longstanding disparities in broadband access for poor, rural, and tribal communities in New Mexico are in part the result of Internet Service Providers’ failure to invest in essential fiber-optic buildout in areas where they do not expect to turn a high profit, and called on New Mexico’s regulators to ensure the equitable distribution of federal broadband funds throughout the state. “No American should be left behind or limited to less reliable wireless connections because of their income or where they live, and our state regulators have a responsibility to prioritize these areas and use federal broadband funding to close this gap,” he wrote.


United Campus Workers in Georgia Secure a Big Win for College Students

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University of Georgia graduate student and member of the United Campus Workers Georgia (CWA Local 3265) Bryant Barnes testified recently at a state senate committee hearing in favor of eliminating the special institutional fee.

In a win for current and prospective students at Georgia’s 26 public universities, the state senate’s Student Fees Study Committee has recommended the elimination of the special institutional fee. This recommendation comes as a result of the mobilization of United Campus Workers-Georgia (CWA Local 3265) activists, including a recent testimony by University of Georgia graduate student Bryant Barnes at a Committee hearing. The mandatory fee, which can range from $200 to over $500, was initially implemented by the state’s Board of Regents during the Great Recession. It has been a burden for students, parents, and public officials who are already grappling with the increasingly high cost of college education in the state.


Shelton Outlines Stakes for IUE-CWA Workers at GE as Company Splits into Thirds

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In an op-ed published in Fortune, CWA President Chris Shelton outlined what is at stake for workers at General Electric following the company’s announcement that it plans to split into three separate companies over the next three years.

“With its decision to split, GE stands at a crossroads,” Shelton wrote. “Does the 129-year-old institution want to continue its 40-year track record of disinvesting, de-unionizing, and offshoring its U.S. manufacturing operations? Will GE continue putting our planet and national security at risk or will it choose to be part of a historic rebuilding of America?”

IUE-CWA members at GE have been urging the company to “bring it home” by reinvesting in domestic manufacturing jobs in green energy, military, and commercial aviation. As part of the campaign, they have released a series of powerful video advertisements that highlight the impacts of GE’s offshoring of defense contracted work, and the environmental impacts of GE’s expanding global supply chain.

“Whether GE ultimately continues as one company or three, it needs to stop offshoring,” Shelton notes in his op-ed. “Anything less is a betrayal of workers and will deal a ruinous blow to communities that are fighting harder than ever to survive.”


Worker Power Update

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Freedom to Vote Act


Last Thursday, CWA activists and leaders participated in a national phone bank to build support for the Freedom to Vote Act. Participants dialed over 4,600 households to call on Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kristen Sinema (D-Ariz.) to support the Freedom to Vote Act.

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Michigan

Last Thursday, CWA District 4 leaders and activists in Michigan met with Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and discussed broadband expansion and call center legislation. The activists pointed out areas in Michigan like Flint and Saginaw that lack essential fiber deployment and receive below standard service, and discussed the importance of ensuring broadband expansion using the resources in the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to those and other areas in the state that are in need of high-speed internet service.


CWA District 4 activists met with Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) to discuss broadband expansion and call center legislation.

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Build Back Better

Last weekend, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) released a very negative statement laying out his opposition to the Build Back Better Act, a nearly $2 trillion, bipartisan spending package that will provide essential support to, and improve the lives of, working families across the country by capping the price of expensive prescription drugs including insulin, subsidizing child care costs, extending the increased $300 per month child tax credit, covering hearing benefits under Medicare, making more affordable housing available, and more.

This is a blow to the countless activists, including CWA members, who have been advocating for the inclusion of key provisions and the passage of this bill. The President of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, Josh Sword, noted in a statement, “This legislation preserves the strained Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which provides benefits to thousands of coal miners who suffer from the disease.” He added, “[t]he West Virginia AFL-CIO knows, and Sen. Manchin should know, how important those provisions are to West Virginians and that’s why he should get back to the table and continue to be part of the discussions.”

Despite this setback, CWA remains just as committed as ever to getting this bill passed and our allies in Congress and the White House are standing by us on that. We will not let misguided law makers like Sen. Manchin water down the bill and its key, pro-worker provisions, such as strong financial penalties on employers and executives who commit unfair labor practices, restoring the tax deduction for union dues, ending tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas, and more. CWA will keep fighting to secure the 50 votes needed to keep the bill intact.

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Thanking Our Labor Champions

CWAers across the country have continued to visit Congressional offices to thank their representatives for supporting the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Build Back Better Act. Click here to check out the great photos from these visits!


Register for the 2022 AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference

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Registration is now open for the upcoming 2022 AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference: Honoring Our Past and Protecting Our Future. The virtual conference will take place on January 16 and 17, 2022. The early registration fee is $35 and a general fee of $50 will become effective on January 4, 2022. Information on how to register can be found here. The site will also be updated periodically with details about the agenda, speakers, workshops, and more.


Happy Holidays from CWA!

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Our regular, weekly eNewsletter will return in the new year.