- What You Can Do To Ensure Broadband Funding Supports Jobs for CWA Members Instead of Low-Road Contracting Companies
- Organizing Update
- Bargaining Update
- Worker Power Update
- New Report Exposes Contractors, Reinforces Union Workers as the Safest Option
- Workers at New Flyer Will Benefit From New Landmark Community Benefits Agreement
What You Can Do To Ensure Broadband Funding Supports Jobs for CWA Members Instead of Low-Road Contracting Companies
Too often, funding for broadband buildout ends up in the pockets of low-road contracting companies. Next Thursday, June 9th, at 8 pm ET, join President Shelton and members of CWA’s Broadband Brigade for a virtual meeting to find out how you can get involved and ensure that the federal broadband buildout funds from the bipartisan infrastructure bill are used to support good jobs for CWA members.
Thanks to the hard work of our members, federal guidelines require states to consult with unions as they develop plans to award these funds to providers. This is a major win but it’s only the first step. In order to ensure that states meet the requirements as outlined by the Biden Administration, CWAers must continue to actively engage at the state level with governors and state legislatures. Register for the virtual meeting at cwa.org/broadbandmeeting to learn more about how you can get involved.
AT&T In Home Experts
Last week, a majority of AT&T In Home Expert (IHX) workers in Washington voted to join CWA. They join IHX workers in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Michigan, Illinois, Nevada, and Arkansas in building power with hundreds of thousands of workers at AT&T to bargain for good jobs and strong contracts.
Tower Climbers Union/CWA
Wireless tower technicians organizing to form a union with CWA released a powerful video describing the struggles faced by workers in the industry and calling on tower climbers, everywhere, to come together, join the union, and take action.
The video, featuring members of the Tower Climbers Union/CWA, provides a vivid window into the lives of tower climbers who take pride in the work they do connecting millions of Americans, but often have to make the difficult choice between risking their safety and lives or taking on jobs under dangerous conditions. The workers discuss the difficulties of living paycheck to paycheck while major carriers at the top, who farm out the work to subcontractors, reel in record level profits.
The video also features Kathy Pierce, a mother who courageously shares the story of her son, Chad, who fell 180 feet to his death after expressing his reservations about the climbing conditions. “They said he should have never been up there that day. There was ice on top of the tower. He thought he's gonna lose his job and that's why he climbed. The carrier didn't do anything. They said they weren't responsible,” shares Pierce. She adds, “I just hope that the tower climbers go union in the memory of my son.” Read more here.
Integral Care (Austin-Travis County Mental Health Authority)
After organizing for a year and a half, 900 workers at Integral Care, the Austin-Travis County Mental Health Authority, won their fight to join CWA. Last Thursday, the Integral Care Board of Trustees voted to officially recognize the union. Workers were motivated to organize a union by key issues including staffing levels, pay, safety, and a voice on the job.
Despite management's attempts to weaken the union, the workers, led by a strong and incredibly hard-working organizing committee, actively organized their co-workers and leveraged their political power to successfully pressure agency leadership. Their success provides a blueprint for future organizing at similar agencies such as the Harris County Mental Health Authority.
Last week, CWA members at Frontier Communications in California participated in an unfair labor practice strike to protest the abusive actions of a Frontier Communications supervisor who retaliated against workers for union related activities, in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, as well as state and federal laws and the company’s code of ethics. After repeated incidents and multiple grievance filings, the members walked off the job in protest. As a result of the strike, the supervisor has been temporarily suspended.
The workers are continuing to bargain with Frontier for a fair contract. Despite entering into federal mediation, the company refused to make progress on several key issues including wages, job security, affordable healthcare, and issues related to working from home.
“In the coming weeks, CWA members at Frontier across the state must ramp up mobilization to make our demands loud and clear and win the contract they deserve,” said Frank Arce, CWA District 9 Vice President. “We must show the company that we will not back down until we get a contract that values the contributions we make to the success of the company and the telecom industry as a whole. I am confident that the members are ready to do what it takes to bring this contract over the finish line.”
CWA members at Frontier Communications in California participated in an unfair labor practice strike.
City of Camden, New Jersey
Members of CWA Local 1014 in Camden, N.J., reached tentative agreements on three contracts for the supervisory, non-supervisory, and crossing guard employees of the City of Camden. The agreements include across the board raises; a more affordable, quality healthcare option that significantly reduces employee contributions; strong health and safety protections for the city crossing guards; recognition of Juneteenth as a paid holiday; and more. The members celebrated this win at a press conference at City Hall last Thursday with Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen. In addition, Mayor Carstarphen simultaneously announced the city will use funds from its federal COVID-19 bailout fund to provide “premium pay” to CWA Local 1014 members employed with the City.
CWA Local 1014 members in Camden, N.J., celebrated their contract win with a rally at City Hall last Thursday with Mayor Vic Carstarphen.
OFS Fitel, LLC
Last Friday, CWA members at OFS Fitel, LLC, a company that manufactures telecommunications and fiber optic products, held an informational picket demanding a fair contract. Workers covered by the current contract at two OFS locations in Norcross, Ga. (CWA Local 3263), and Sturbridge, Mass. (CWA Local 1400), have been bargaining for a fair contract for weeks. However, the company refuses to raise the starting wage above $16 per hour for their highly skilled and dangerous work. In addition, the workers are seeking a contract that will address deteriorating warehouse conditions, grueling hours, low pay, and a high turnover rate.
“This bargaining is an opportunity for OFS to recognize the value of our members' contributions to the company and our broadband infrastructure. Instead, they have chosen to ignore the workers’ demands and continue to undermine their rights on the job,” said Lisa Bolton, Vice President of CWA’s Telecommunications and Technologies sector.
“These workers do grueling, highly skilled work that is essential to the broadband build-out taking place across the country,” said Richard Honeycutt, CWA District 3 Vice President. “There is no excuse for OFS to refuse to give them the contract they deserve.”
“Putting workers in harm's way is never acceptable and after everything our essential workforce has been through in these past years, it’s time that employers are serious about putting safety first,” said Dennis Trainor, CWA District 1 Vice President.
CWA members at fiber optic manufacturer OFS Fitel, LLC, held an informational picket demanding a fair contract.
Workers at four McClatchy-owned publications in Washington – the Bellingham Herald, Tri-City Herald, Tacoma News Tribune, and Olympian – reached a tentative agreement with management on a first contract. The workers, who are members of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild (TNG-CWA Local 37082), fought for a contract that includes a minimum salary and an end to two-tiered salary floors, guaranteed raises in second and third years of the agreement, protections against outsourcing, a return to a 40-hour work week, a large restoration of pay for union members, and more.
Worker Power Update
CWA Members Building Political Power in Louisiana
Last week, CWA local leaders and political activists attended the first ever Louisiana Legislative/Political State Conference in Baton Rouge. CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt and political, labor, and community leaders including Luke Mixon, candidate for the U.S. Senate; Katie Bernhardt, Louisiana Democratic Party Chair; and Louis Reine, President of the Louisiana AFL-CIO addressed participants at the event.
Louisiana State Governor John Bel Edwards joined the group for a discussion on CWA priorities including building broadband better by ensuring taxpayer funds support good, union jobs and equitable broadband expansion. Governor Edwards applauded CWA’s campaign and highlighted the leadership of Matt Wood, CWA State Legislative/Political Coordinator, who represents labor on the State of Louisiana Broadband for All Commission. The members also met with their representatives at the state capitol to advocate for CWA’s legislative priorities.
CWA local leaders and political activists met with Louisiana State Governor John Bel Edwards during the first ever Louisiana Legislative/Political State Conference in Baton Rouge.
Texas Election Update
CWA members rallied behind labor champion Jessica Cisneros in her Texas primary runoff election for the 28th Congressional District against anti-labor incumbent Henry Cuellar. CWA Local 6143 turned out hundreds of volunteers to make calls and knock on doors to turn out voters. CWA District 6 also led an independent expenditure campaign that raised $1 million alongside labor partners and community allies including TX AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, AFT, Texas Organizing Project, Working Families Party, and Way to Win.
Currently, Jessica is behind by 168 votes but the race isn't over yet! This race was heavily contested and there will be a recount to make sure every vote counts. CWAers in Texas will continue to support Jessica Cisneros and send her to Washington, D.C., as the next member of Congress for Texas' 28th Congressional District.
CWA Members in Texas with Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) during a rally to turn out voters in support of labor champion Jessica Cisneros in the Texas primary runoff election for the 28th Congressional District.
New Report Exposes Contractors, Reinforces Union Workers as the Safest Option
The Texas Climate Jobs Project (TCJP), partnering with CWA, released a new report that highlights the impact low-road contractors in the broadband industry have on workers and consumers. The report entitled, “What Lies Beneath” focuses on Google Fiber, a high-profile company that relies heavily on contractors, and offers a deep dive into contracted out work. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations, low wages, lack of safety enforcement, and damage to customer property and public utilities are among the characteristics the report found dominated contracted out work.
With interviews and videos from 14 CWA members, the report lays out why union members are the best option to safely and effectively build out our broadband infrastructure. The report will help CWA members educate relevant policy makers as they continue their work to Build Broadband Better, bridge the digital divide, and fight for good union jobs.
Workers at New Flyer Will Benefit From New Landmark Community Benefits Agreement
Last week, Jobs to Move America, Greater Birmingham Ministries, and New Flyer of America announced a community benefits agreement covering New Flyer’s facilities in Anniston, Ala., and Ontario, Calif. CWA currently represents workers at two New Flyer facilities in Minnesota.
IUE-CWA members have taken an active role in the coalition to ensure the workers and communities surrounding these manufacturing facilities benefit from the companies’ presence in the area. We will continue to work with the coalition to expand similar agreements and programs to other New Flyer facilities.
“This historic agreement lays the groundwork for a transformational partnership between New Flyer and its workers, and their communities,” said IUE-CWA President and Jobs to Move America Board Member Carl Kennebrew. “New Flyer has shown that it understands that offering good jobs and a career path to a diverse workforce will make the company even stronger. Together we are setting a new standard for the revitalization of manufacturing in North America.”