This week, Mya Harris, a call center worker at federal contractor Maximus, won shareholder approval for a proposal requiring the company to conduct and publicly release the findings of a yearly racial equity audit. The audit will analyze the impacts of the company's internal and external business practices on workers, stakeholders, and communities of color that depend on their services. While it is unusual for corporate shareholders to approve worker-led proposals, Maximus workers who are organizing to form a union with CWA have been mobilizing to draw attention to racial equity issues at the company.
In its 2021 Annual Report, Maximus wrote, “We are proud to employ an organization within the U.S. that is very diverse. As of September 30, 2020, we were 71% female and 66% racially diverse.” However, none of the 24 executives identified as Maximus’ Executive Committee and Business Leaders is Black. The yearly audit is a big step towards holding one of the largest federal contractors in the country accountable for diversity at all levels of the company. In addition, the audit will help ensure the services that Maximus provides are free from bias by analyzing the impact the company's business operations may have on communities of color and what the company could do to mitigate any negative impact.
Bargaining at Kaleida Health in western New York began this week. The workers are covered by a contract that is set to expire May 31. The contract covers nearly 8,000 employees, including more than 4,000 workers represented by CWA. CWA Local 1168 and 1199 SEIU bargaining committee members have been meeting regularly to prepare for their joint contract campaign. Mobilizers attended one of these meetings last week to hear from the Catholic Health strike team about their experiences on the picket line. Last year, CWA-represented workers at Catholic Health held a successful strike for a fair contract that raised standards for workers and patient care.
CWA Local 1168 and 1199 SEIU bargaining committee members met to prepare for bargaining with Kaleida Health.
CWA Local 13500 members are bargaining a new agreement with LifePath, an organization that serves individuals with disabilities. Several important issues remain unresolved including LifePath’s demand to cut back on short term disability benefits and force employees to use their paid time off days prior to receiving any benefit at all.
After the company received new state funding earlier this year, CWA and LifePath entered into an agreement to immediately provide a minimum $2 per hour increase to every bargaining unit employee and resume negotiations for a new contract.
The Leaguers, Inc.
Last Thursday, workers at the Leaguers, Inc., members of CWA Local 1037, stepped up their mobilization efforts ahead of their second bargaining session and delivered a petition to management demanding transparency surrounding COVID-19 funds. The Leaguers, Inc. is a multipurpose, non-profit, social services organization providing various services to the community including head start and early head start services. CWA Local 1037 represents full-time and regular part-time teachers, associate teachers, teaching assistants, family advocates, child care providers, home visitor specialists, nutrition specialists, food service workers, custodians, and other employees.
Worker Power Update
Take Action for Supreme Court that Represents Us All
President Biden’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, is a qualified, fair minded jurist with a proven track record of defending the rights of working people over corporations and powerful special interests. When former president Donald Trump issued an executive order to restrict workers' union rights, Judge Jackson blocked it. She has supported workers who face religious and racial discrimination, and opposed efforts to limit the scope of collective bargaining.
Today, CWAers and other union members across the country are participating in a day of action to call on the Senate to confirm Judge Jackson, who would be the first Black woman on the Supreme Court.
Click here to call your Senators today and tell them that we need a justice like Judge Jackson who cares about fairness and won’t side with our bosses.
We will also be holding a national phone bank on Wednesday, March 30th, at 6pm EDT, to encourage members to call their Senators. Click here to register and build support for a Supreme Court that represents us all.
CWAers in New York Rally for Pay Transparency Bill on Equal Pay Day
On Equal Pay Day, members of CWA Local 1180 and other community allies rallied on the steps of City Hall in New York City to celebrate the passage of a law requiring employers in New York City to post minimum and maximum salary ranges in any advertisements for jobs, promotions, or transfer opportunities. The new law is a big step in the fight to end pay disparities and the latest in a nationwide trend of state and local laws designed to promote pay equity by increasing employees’ bargaining power in pay negotiations.
“With the salary range transparency bill, women will have a fighting chance, one that we have deserved for decades, when it comes to competing against men for a job,” said Gloria Middleton, CWA Local 1180 President and National Executive Board Member.
CWAers in New Jersey Applaud Governor Murphy's Budget Proposal to Fully Fund Pension for Public Workers
During his eight years as governor of New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie waged a relentless attack on public employee pensions. Year after year, he failed to make full pension payments which resulted in 11 credit downgrades for the state of New Jersey. CWA represents 35,000 active New Jersey state workers and tens of thousands of retirees who risked losing their pensions due to chronic underfunding.
Democrat Phil Murphy, who won the gubernatorial election in 2017 with the support of CWA members and was re-elected last year, campaigned on a promise to fully fund public employee pensions. He has followed through. His 2023 budget proposal includes $6.82 billion to fully fund the pensions for public employees.
“We applaud the Governor’s proposal to fulfill the state’s obligation to fully fund the public employee pension for a second year in a row. We urge the state legislature to pass a budget that includes the full pension payment,” said Ken McNamara, CWA Local 1037 President.
CWA Activists in Alabama Rally for Voting Rights
Last week, members of CWA Locals 3902 and 3905 participated in a "Fight for the Vote" rally for justice and democracy at the state capitol in Montgomery, Ala. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond helped lead the rally along with civil rights icon Jesse Jackson and Rev. William Barber II of the Poor People's Campaign.
CWA Public Workers in Texas Defend Workers and Families Against Retaliation and Abuse
The Texas State Employees Union (TSEU)/CWA Local 6186 Executive Board passed a resolution opposing Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s directive to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to “conduct a prompt and thorough investigation” of families who chose gender affirming care for their children.
The resolution states, “[t]he Texas State Employees Union is outraged. Our members who are charged with protecting children and families are being ordered to violate long-standing codes of ethics that includes provision of gender affirming care supported by the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and others. Governor Abbott’s letter violates the civil rights and privacy of children and their families that already experience illegal discrimination. It exposes Texas Department of Family and Protective Services workers to moral injury and professional censure by demanding that they go against their moral beliefs and the standards of their professions.”
The resolution further states that the union will support and defend workers and families who make the hard choice to stand up to the directive against any retaliation and abuse. TSEU-CWA, other unions, and advocacy groups have been mobilizing and encouraging all Texans to stand up to the cruel and illegal orders.
CWA Releases New Report Exposing Maximus’ Widespread Failure and Abuse in Handling Student Loans
CWA and the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) released the results of an investigation into Maximus, the world’s largest student loan company, uncovering new evidence of systemic mismanagement, failure, and abuse. Workers at Maximus are organizing with CWA to form a union and improve their working conditions.
“CWA has been raising concerns about Maximus for years, including the harm it has done to its workers and to people who need to access government services,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “We owe it to student loan borrowers, including thousands of CWA members, to hold the company accountable for the troubling findings released in today's report. Government officials who administer these programs should take a closer look at the problems at Maximus when awarding and renewing contracts.”
Maximus, under the brand name Aidvantage, directly manages student debt held by nearly 13 million borrowers and indirectly serves millions of others, many of whom struggle to make ends meet. In response to the report, CWA and SBPC launched AidvantageWatch – a new project to ensure fair treatment for millions of people with student debt whose loans are now managed by Aidvantage.