Quality Assurance testers at Activision Blizzard in Albany, N.Y., formerly Vicarious Visions, became the second group of Activision Blizzard workers to form a union with CWA. On Tuesday, a supermajority of the workers announced the formation of the Albany Game Workers Alliance/CWA and filed for a union representation election with the National Labor Relations Board after requesting voluntary recognition last week.
“There is absolutely no reason for Activision Blizzard to refuse to recognize the Blizzard Albany workers’ union,” said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. “There is no doubt about what the workers want. Over 95% of the quality assurance testers have signed onto a vision statement requesting union recognition. Recognizing the union will show that Activision Blizzard’s management is serious about improving the company’s work environment. Engaging in a protracted union election fight would further undermine morale and cement management’s legacy as enablers of a toxic, hostile work environment.”
Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard, and has entered into a legally binding agreement with CWA to remain neutral when workers want to organize a union, which includes a streamlined process for choosing union representation. In May, quality assurance workers at Activision’s Raven Software studio in Wisconsin made history as the first major video game studio workers to win their union election. Read more here.
America’s Test Kitchen
An overwhelming majority of workers at America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) have voted for union representation with CWA in a National Labor Relations Board election. The workers, members of ATK United (CWA Local 1400), requested voluntary recognition from the company in May. The members, who help produce and support ATK’s award winning content in multiple ways, will now seek to bargain a contract that includes competitive salaries, affordable healthcare, better benefits, transparent and consistent processes for hiring, performance reviews, promotions, and pay raises, as well as a sincere commitment to diversity at all levels, a continuation of remote work flexibility, and a say in the decisions being made that impact workers. Read more here.
Wise Connect (Lumen)
Technicians in Colorado who work for Wise Connect, a contractor for Lumen, have been organizing for a union with CWA to fight for better working conditions. The workers are facing various challenges including low pay, unsafe working conditions, lack of supplies, and a lack of dignity and respect on the job. They recently won an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) case which galvanized many of the workers to join the organizing effort. The ULP charge was regarding unfair surveillance and a veiled threat by the company to shut down the contract if workers join the union. The technicians who are organizing firmly believe that, by doing so, they can create a better environment for themselves and provide a better path for future contract technicians at Lumen.
Workers at The Hill, a Washington-based political publication, voted to join NewsGuild-CWA. Their union, The Hill Guild, part of Washington-Baltimore News Guild (TNG-CWA Local 32035), wants to improve diversity in the newsroom and work on improving benefits to keep people at The Hill. The unit of about 100 staff writers, designers, video producers, and members of the social media and events teams is also interested in protecting abortion rights, securing gender-affirming care, and lowering high prescription fees.
CWA members at DirecTV covered by the Orange Mobility contract in Eden Prairie, Minn.; Huntington, W.Va.; and Englewood, Colo., continue to mobilize for a fair contract. On Wednesday, workers at all three call centers held simultaneous informational pickets, calling on AT&T and TPG Capital – the owners of DirecTV – to meet their demands for affordable healthcare and adequate wage increases in a new contract. TPG says that it cares about the social impact of its investments, but one of the first things the TPG-approved management team has done since taking over is demanding huge cuts to healthcare and sick leave. “AT&T and TPG are more interested in pocketing profits than supporting workers like us,” said Rose Alvarado, Customer Service Representative at DirecTV and member of CWA Local 7750 in Englewood, Colo. “We are the people that DirecTV customers contact when they have problems using the service. If they truly cared about their customers, they would make sure that we had the support we needed to stay healthy and take care of our families.”
In the past, TPG has faced criticism for loading companies with debt and forcing them to cut jobs and sell off assets to survive. Sometimes TPG’s debt-driven deals and extraction of fees have caused companies to file for bankruptcy. “TPG Capital didn’t get DirecTV through the pandemic, but our members did. It’s time the workers were given the respect they deserve,” said Kieran Knutson, President of CWA Local 7250 in Eden Prairie, Minn.
The workers refuse to stand by as TPG and AT&T maximize profits at their expense. They are fighting back and demanding a fair contract that recognizes the value they bring to the company and the customers. Monica King, Customer Service Representative at DirecTV and member of CWA Local 2009 in Huntington, W.Va., said, “I work hard every day to make sure our customers are satisfied with their service. I shouldn’t have to struggle to put food on the table or worry about paying the bills while an investment firm benefits from my hard work and the hard work of my coworkers. Inflation and cost of living have skyrocketed since our last contract. We need adequate raises that keep up with inflation and will allow us to take care of our families. Workers, not private equity firms, are responsible for the company’s success. It’s time we receive our fair share of the profits.”
On Wednesday, CWA members at DirecTV covered by the Orange Mobility contract in Eden Prairie, Minn.; Huntington, W.Va.; and Englewood, Colo., held simultaneous informational pickets calling on AT&T and TPG Capital – the owners of DirecTV – to meet their demands for affordable healthcare and adequate wage increases in a new contract.
CWA members at Frontier Communications in California are continuing their mobilization efforts to build their strength at the bargaining table as they negotiate a fair contract with the company. On Sunday, members and supporters gathered in Camarillo, Calif., for a rally hosted by CWA Local 9575, to make their demands heard loud and clear.
OFS Fitel, LLC
CWA members at OFS Fitel, LLC, a company that manufactures telecommunications and fiber optic products, overwhelmingly ratified a new contract. The members at OFS locations in Norcross, Ga. (CWA Local 3263), and Sturbridge, Mass. (CWA Local 1400), have been mobilizing for months to build their power at the bargaining table. Most notably, the workers held regular workplace actions including pickets to demand a fair contract, passed a strike authorization vote, and applied pressure on the company by engaging the public. The new contract includes significant wage increases and a ratification bonus, an end to the two-tier wage system that created different pay and benefit structures for long-term employees and new hires, no changes to medical benefits, and more. “I am proud of the incredible mobilizing our members at OFS engaged in over the last few months. It was not easy but the workers did not let up on their commitment to fight for what they deserve and reach a contract that reflects their value as the backbone of the broadband industry,” said Lisa Bolton, Vice President of CWA’s Telecommunications and Technologies sector.
Worker Power Update
CWA Members Continue to Build Support for the Protecting the Right to Organize Act
Last Wednesday, CWA District 4 and IUE-CWA members in Dayton, Ohio, organized a national call-in day and held a rally in support of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act with IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew and CWA-endorsed U.S. Senate candidate and Democratic Congressman from Ohio Tim Ryan. "America's not here without labor. Dayton, Ohio, is not here without labor. It is ridiculous that we have to beg the very people we put in office to protect our rights to organize, bargain, and strike. We're tired of asking. We're tired of begging. We're demanding – we need a vote now. We need a vote on the PRO Act so we can see who is really on our side. Not in a speech, not in a campaign ad, but when it's time to vote, we want to know who is really with us," said President Kennebrew.
Rep. Ryan added, "We need to bring back the value of respect: respecting workers, respecting each other, and respecting the jobs that Ohioans do every single day. That means putting workers first and passing the PRO Act."
Members from across the country also participated in the national call-in day urging their Senators to support the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and pressure leadership for a vote this summer.
IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew (above) and CWA-endorsed U.S. Senate candidate and Democratic Congressman from Ohio Tim Ryan (below), spoke at a rally in support of the PRO Act.
Union Leaders, Members, and Community Activists Support IUE-CWA Members Running for Office
Last weekend, IUE-CWA Local 81776 President Terri Tauro and IUE-CWA Local 83761 member Willie Roberts held campaign events joined by labor leaders, union members, and community activists.
Tauro (pictured above) is running for State Representative in the 8th Essex District, Mass., and if elected, would be the second IUE-CWA member in the Massachusetts State House. She was joined by AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, IUE-CWA Local 81201 members, and other union members in Lynn, Mass., in support of her campaign.
Roberts (pictured above, third from left, back) hosted his first canvass to build support for his campaign for Shelbyville City Council in Kentucky. If elected, he would be the only union member, as well as the only person of color on the council.
CWA Public Education Workers in Kansas Advocate for More School Funding
CWA members who work for the Lawrence, Kan., public school system attended a meeting with Democratic Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and top officials in her administration late last month. They discussed school financing laws in the state and how they are affecting the school districts and members of the Personnel Association of Lawrence (PAL-CWA Local 6400). The Governor expressed her position on the issue and encouraged members to get more engaged on the federal level to ensure that Congress fully allocates funds for public education. Part of the discussion also centered around the Governor’s upcoming reelection campaign and how critical union members will be turning out voters and ensuring that the Governor’s office continues to support working families.
Members of PAL-CWA Local 6400 met with Democratic Kansas Governor Laura Kelly to discuss school funding and her support for her upcoming reelection campaign.
Join Our Phone Bank to Build Support for CWA-Endorsed Michigan Congressman Andy Levin
Next Wednesday, CWA District 4 political activists will be hosting a phone bank to build support for CWA-endorsed Democratic Congressman from Michigan Andy Levin in the upcoming election. Rep. Levin is a long-time union member, labor organizer, human rights activist, workforce policy expert, and green energy entrepreneur. Since he has been in office, he has been a champion on workers’ rights issues and has supported CWA members through picket lines, bargaining tables, organizing drives, and beyond.
The phone bank will be held on Wednesday, July 27, at 6 p.m. ET. Join your fellow CWAers and fight for pro-worker and pro-democracy candidates. You don’t have to be a Michigan resident to participate. Click here to RSVP.
United Campus Workers in Louisiana Secure a Big Win for Graduate Students
Last Thursday, in a win for members of United Campus Workers at Louisiana State University (UCW-CWA Local 3465), Governor John Bel Edwards signed a bill into law that requires universities to provide payment or waivers for mandatory graduate fees for graduate students that have research assistantships, teaching assistantships, or curator assistantships. At Louisiana State University, mandatory fees for graduate students for the 2022-2023 school year are almost $2,000 per semester depending on how many hours the student takes. “We have to pay the university a pretty sizable percentage of our pay in order to have the privilege of working for them...students are not supposed to be customers at a public university,” said United Campus Workers of Louisiana member Adam Dohrenwend. This is the latest win for United Campus Workers who have successfully mobilized to eliminate burdensome student fees in other states including Tennessee and Georgia.
CWA New Jersey Public Workers Fight for Equity and Respect
Workers at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in Trenton, N.J., members of CWA Local 1037, delivered over 1,400 letters to Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer urging the state to include clerical staff in the telework pilot program. Currently, the pilot program excludes 300 clerical staff who have an average of 16 years of service and are disproportionately women and people of color. “We already did telework during the pandemic, and we got the job done. Clerical staff was praised and told we were the backbone of the agency, that they couldn’t do the work without us. But now we are being excluded from the telework option. This shows a lack of respect for us, and tells us the work we did during the height of the pandemic is irrelevant,” said Janette Quiñones, head clerk in the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. The Commissioner did not meet with the workers, but workers promised to continue the fight for equity and respect.