CWA and Microsoft Announce Historic Labor Neutrality Agreement
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Thanks to an unprecedented neutrality agreement between CWA and Microsoft, if Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is approved, workers at Activision will be able to freely and fairly make a choice about union representation.
CWA President Chris Shelton announced the agreement at the CWA Presidents Meeting on Monday. “Under this agreement, Microsoft will remain absolutely neutral if the employees covered by the agreement express interest in joining CWA,” Shelton told the group. “CWA organizers will have onsite access. Instead of an NLRB election, we will use a hybrid approach overseen by a neutral third party. Each worker will be able to either sign a card or participate in a confidential balloting process to choose union representation.”
“I want to congratulate President Shelton and the CWA on the historic agreement you announced with Microsoft this week,” Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said to activists gathered at the CWA Legislative Political Conference. “This is an important milestone in our economy. Working people have used their power, and a major employer has pledged to take the high road, and respect the free choice to join a union. This is the kind of vision, conversation, and action we need.”
Quality Assurance testers at Activision’s Raven Software studio voted to join CWA last month, after Activision repeatedly tried to delay the election.
This groundbreaking agreement made headlines in the New York Times and Washington Post and is yet another major milestone in CODE-CWA’s continued campaign to support tech and game worker organizing.
Pelosi and Walsh Headline the 2022 CWA Legislative and Political Conference
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CWA members from across the country met this week in Washington, D.C., for the 2022 CWA Legislative and Political Conference. During the two-day conference, attendees heard from CWA leaders, political powerhouses, and other guest speakers. This year’s conference focused on CWA’s efforts to secure legislative and political gains that protect our members’ rights and promote worker organizing.
CWA President Chris Shelton, who, at the CWA President’s Meeting held a day prior, announced the historic neutrality agreement with Microsoft, delivered a keynote address on the first day of the conference. He highlighted the resilience CWA members have shown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “Despite all of the obstacles put in our way, despite all of the crises we have faced and the losses we have suffered, we have continued over the last two years to be CWA STRONG,” he said.
Shelton praised President Biden for staying true to his commitment to workers. “Without a doubt, Joe Biden is the most pro-labor President in my long, long career in the labor movement.” From protecting workers’ right to organize and promoting worker organizing, to raising wages and standards for workers, and advancing landmark legislation with unprecedented labor rights protections, Shelton reviewed what CWA members and the labor movement as a whole have achieved by working closely with the Biden Administration. He also highlighted CWA’s organizing wins and referenced the surge of worker resistance happening across the country. Shelton added, “The entire labor movement must focus all its energy and resources on organizing the unorganized to capitalize on this moment and expand the ranks of labor.”
CWA President Chris Shelton delivered a keynote address on the first day of the conference.
CWA Secretary Treasurer Sara Steffens led a powerful panel discussion with CWA women who hold elected office. The women shared moving stories about how they got inspired to serve and the various challenges women face as public officials, and they urged other women to get involved in politics.
Following the panel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the conference attendees and stressed the need to keep the labor movement strong by ensuring that every worker who wants to join a union has the chance to join one. Pelosi also commended CWA’s active involvement in advancing key legislation that benefits working people from the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill to the American Rescue Plan, the PRO Act, U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, America COMPETES Act, and more. “President Biden and the Congress proudly delivered $65 billion to build out our broadband infrastructure. Thanks to your advocacy, this funding also includes unprecedented labor standards prioritizing high-quality, union workers and ensuring safer working conditions,” said Speaker Pelosi.
Former Secretary of Labor and current Maryland Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Perez, who played a key role in CWA’s victory during the 2016 strike at Verizon, gave an impassioned speech about how elected representatives can strengthen organized labor by uplifting all workers. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), and Al Green (D-Texas) talked about what the union movement means to them and their commitment to protect workers’ rights and our democracy.
A panel of CWA’s Broadband Brigade members discussed the work our members’ are doing to secure good union jobs and high speed internet connectivity for all communities.
Left: CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens and panelists on the CWA Women in Office Panel. Right: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
From left: Maryland Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Perez, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
On the second day, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh delivered a rousing speech focused on the Administration’s priorities to support workers who are facing challenges from anti-worker employers, to rising inflation, climate change, and more. During his remarks, Secretary Walsh, who is the first union member to become labor secretary in more than four decades, announced the launch of a new U.S. Department of Labor worker organizing resource website to help workers, especially young workers, get the information they need to form a union.
“People are looking for opportunities to thrive and care for their families and live the American Dream. That is what families want. Those are the opportunities we are working to build together. Brothers and sisters, those are the opportunities a union provides. I have lived it my whole life,” said Walsh.
During their remarks, Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa) and Representatives Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.), and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) pledged to continue their work in Congress to stand in solidarity with, and advance the interests of, working people. White House Senior Advisor for Infrastructure Mitch Landrieu reiterated the Biden Administration's commitment to work closely with CWA to bring high speed internet to every household in America using experienced union labor.
Representative Susan Wild (D-Pa.), who introduced legislation to protect the rights of Filipino workers, participated in a panel moderated by CWA District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton on call center workers fighting back against the targeted oppression of union organizers. The panel, promoting international solidarity with workers, featured two call center workers from the Philippines who faced retaliation for organizing to form a union.
From left: Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa), Congressman Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.), and White House Senior Advisor for Infrastructure Mitch Landrieu.
From left: Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), CWA District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton (far left) moderated a panel call center workers fighting back against oppression, “Building Skills to Win'' panel moderated by CWA National Political Field Director Yolanda Bejarano (far left).
In addition, a panel entitled “Building Skills to Win'' featured a group of CWA political activists who are actively engaged in our efforts to build independent political power. CWAers at the conference met with elected officials on Capitol Hill, wrote postcards in support of Tom Perez’s campaign for Governor in Maryland, and had an opportunity to hone their communication skills.
You can also check out the conference photo gallery here.
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The human operators behind AppFolio’s award-winning artificial intelligence software, Lisa, became the latest CODE-CWA tech workers to form a union after winning their National Labor Relations Board election last week. Their union, Lisa Operators United-CWA (CWA Local 7026) includes 75 Lisa Operators and Senior Operators as well as a group of artists, actors, and musicians who work on the property management software. The workers, who had to overcome an astronomical turnover rate in order to reach a super-majority, organized for nine months before requesting voluntary recognition. In addition, the workers launched their “Not a Bot” campaign in response to the company obnoxiously naming the Lisa bot as Employee of the Year in 2021, totally disregarding the value of the workers’ contributions. Check out their inspiring campaign here.
New York Film and Television Post Production Coordinators
A group of freelance post production coordinators in New York unanimously voted for union representation to join CWA Local 1101, becoming the first post production coordinators in New York’s motion picture industry to win formal union representation. The workers filed for separate National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) elections at eight major studios including Apple, Netflix, CBS, HBO, and Universal Television. This victory marks the first time workers employed by Apple, which has launched an anti-union campaign at its retail stores, have won an NLRB election for union representation. Post production coordinators in New York’s scripted film and TV industry have consistently delivered superior work, contributing to the delivery of high-quality content for some of the most esteemed and established studios. Until now, they have lacked union benefits and protections, in an industry where an overwhelming majority of their colleagues have collective bargaining agreements.
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CWA District 7 members at Lumen (formerly known as CenturyLink) are mobilizing in preparation for bargaining their next contract, which expires in less than a year. Last week, Lumen management proposed early bargaining for the contract. The bargaining committee has accepted, and will meet with the company later this month.
The members have been clear about what their priorities are in an early agreement: improved wages and job security. They have already begun building a strong mobilization plan via the Fight Forward at Lumen campaign for 2023 bargaining, and they will continue to build power on and off the bargaining table until the company meets their demands.
New York Film and Television Parking Production Assistants and Coordinators
New York City area film and television Parking Production Assistants and Parking Coordinators, represented by CWA Local 1101, have ratified a new contract with significant improvements to wages and standards. The parking assistants and coordinators, who previously won a remarkable organizing campaign and standard-setting first contract, successfully negotiated a second collective bargaining agreement that includes a significant pay hike with additional raises each year of the three-year contract, a stipend for Lead Parking Production Assistants, pension and medical benefits, equipment allowance, and an additional paid holiday. For the first time, the workers will have paid sick time. The workers are employed by major studios with New York-based productions such as Apple, Netflix, HBO, Universal, and others. Their win, coupled with the Post Production Coordinators’ unanimous vote to join CWA Local 1101, further reaffirm CWA’s commitment to support worker organizing in the creative arts and cultural sectors, as well as the tech and game industries.
Worker Power Update
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Supporting Pro-Worker Candidates in Colorado
Ahead of the upcoming 2022 primary elections on June 28, the CWA State Council for Colorado and Wyoming has released its endorsement list of pro-worker candidates. The list includes candidates who have gone through a rigorous evaluation process conducted by the State Council, made up of CWA local leaders, in partnership with the Colorado AFL-CIO and regional affiliated bodies. “Our local unions are building independent worker power. We work for workers, not for political parties. Elections matter. The right elected leaders can set the stage for us to win organizing victories, protect our safety and security on the job, and pass policies like paid sick leave and whistleblower protections for all workers,” reads the letter by the State Council announcing the endorsements.
Notable CWA-endorsed candidates include Diana DeGette, Sol Sandoval, and Brittany Pettersen, who are Democrats running for the first, third, and seventh congressional districts, respectively. CWA has also endorsed Democrat Phil Weiser for Attorney General and a number of other candidates running for local elections. The candidates have demonstrated their commitment to CWA members and their families by supporting expanded collective bargaining rights, raising wages, and making our workplaces safer.
CWA Fights Back Against Lumen’s Attempt to Weaken Regulations in New Mexico
In a major win for CWA members, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled against Lumen’s attempt to be exempt from regulation and avoid its responsibility to provide quality residential telecommunications service to all New Mexicans. The Court affirmed the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission’s (NMPRC) previous decision to deny the company’s deregulation attempt. CWA played a major role at every turn by providing expert testimony and extensive briefs rebutting the company’s claims. CWA’s engagement helped ensure Lumen did not succeed in its bid to weaken regulations that are meant to protect workers and consumers. This is a major win for CWA District 7 members at Lumen and the over 100,000 New Mexicans who rely on the company for residential phone service, particularly in rural areas. Read more here.
Join Us for Our Juneteenth Celebration
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Join CWA’s annual Juneteenth Celebration premiering on Facebook on Sunday, June 19, at 6 p.m., EDT. The program will feature powerful stories and experiences from organizers and activists at the forefront of transformational movements within their workplaces and communities. The program will also highlight ways the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act will help to address systemic racism for Black workers in the private and public sectors.
The only way we can build real power for all working people is by standing in solidarity with all workers. Save the date and be part of the working people's movement for Black lives! Tune in at: https://www.facebook.com/CWAUnion.