On Monday, call center workers at federal contractor Maximus, who answer Medicare and Affordable Care Act marketplace lines, went on strike at four different call centers in Bogalusa, La.; London, Ky,; Chester, Va.; and Hattiesburg, Miss. The Maximus call center workers, who are organizing to form a union with CWA, went on strike to protest poor working conditions, including unfair attendance and restrictive bathroom break policies.
In conjunction with the strike, workers across the country hosted a virtual town hall to discuss the impacts of Maximus’ policies and practices on its workforce and steps the company must take to ensure justice and fairness for its employees. Labor leaders, elected officials, and community allies, including CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, Rev. William Barber, Rep. Don McEachin (D-Va.), and Rep. Troy Carter (D-La.), participated in the town hall in support of the workers. Watch the recording of the virtual town hall here.
“Inspired by their co-workers who have stood up to Maximus in the past, more and more workers are joining the fight by taking direct action in protest of unfair working conditions. Have no doubt that your actions today will inspire more of your colleagues across the country to fight for a voice on the job,” said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens.
AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler added, “You deserve a fair share. And you deserve to have your jobs be good union jobs. A multibillion dollar corporation like Maximus has the resources to treat you better. And we're going to make sure that they do. Hold firm. I know you're spread out across communities all across the country but you are not alone. You have each other and you have all of us at the AFL-CIO standing with you.”
Workers were also joined by community activists and supporters at the strike locations and received overwhelming support online from other unions, community organizations, and labor leaders. In addition, supporters from coast to coast across 40 states, seven countries, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico showed their support by donating to the workers’ solidarity fund that was launched late last month.
On Monday, call center workers at federal contractor Maximus, organizing to form a union with CWA, went on strike at four different call centers in Bogalusa, La.; London, Ky,; Chester, Va.; and Hattiesburg, Miss.
National Domestic Workers Alliance
Workers at the National Domestic Workers Alliance, members of CWA Local 1180, unanimously ratified their first union contract. This is a huge victory for the workers, who have been mobilizing virtually and in person to build power during the negotiations. The contract includes big improvements including significant wage raises, disability and retirement benefits, the addition or expansion of several types of leave, a progressive remote work policy, language providing support for workers who are going through the immigration process, and more. The workers are looking forward to working with management to make the improvements in this contract a reality.
Nearly 300 workers at the global news agency Reuters walked off the job last week for 24 hours in protest of management’s slow-walking contract renewal negotiations. This was the first major labor action by workers at the news agency in more than 30 years. The workers participated in this action to protest management’s offer of a guaranteed annual wage increase of only 1 percent, which would effectively mean a pay cut given the soaring cost of living. The company’s profits are at a record high and the company’s majority owner and billionaire chairperson, David Thomson, is one of the world’s richest people. Yet management’s latest miserly pay offer, coupled with their failure to engage with workers and use of stalling tactics in contract negotiations, represents how little the company values its workers and their contributions. The action is the latest in a series of increasingly tough actions journalists and other workers in media have taken in recent years to press management for a fair share. The unit, which includes journalists, photographers, videographers, copy editors, producers, and technicians, is part of the NewsGuild of New York (TNG-CWA Local 31003). Read more here.
Nearly 300 workers at Reuters, members of the NewsGuild of New York (TNG-CWA Local 31003), walked off the job last week for 24 hours in protest of management’s failure to negotiate a fair contract.
Worker Power Update
CWA Leaders Join President Biden as the CHIPS Act is Signed into Law
CWA President Chris Shelton and IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew joined President Biden at the White House as he signed the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) Act into law. The CHIPS Act promotes domestic production of semiconductors and creates good jobs in the United States. IUE-CWA represents workers at onsemi, a semiconductor manufacturer in Mountain Top, Penn., which is currently the only union-represented final assembly semiconductor manufacturing workforce in the United States. Jane Stein, president of IUE-CWA Local 88177 in Mountain Top, also joined President Shelton and Kennebrew at the White House for the bill signing.
“The signing of the CHIPS Act into law marks a historic win for American workers and will be critical to rebuilding our country’s manufacturing sector and fortifying American supply chains. For too long, the U.S. failed to ambitiously invest in critical chip manufacturing, leaving global trade at the mercy of China’s unfair trade practices. As the only union representing American semiconductor manufacturing and final assembly workers, we understand the need for more investment in U.S. manufacturing and wide-scale competition,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “This legislation is a significant step towards getting U.S. manufacturing back on the map, while creating sustainable, competitive jobs in the process.”
“I am proud to stand alongside President Biden as he signs into law the CHIPS Act, legislation that will ensure critical investment in semiconductor manufacturing across the country and improve the lives of our country’s essential manufacturing workers,” said IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Biden Administration to ensure there are labor protections tied to these federal dollars that will help create good, family-sustaining jobs.”
CWA President Chris Shelton, IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew, and Jane Stein, president of IUE-CWA Local 88177, joined President Biden at the White House as he signed the CHIPS Act into law.
Senate Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act Improves Working People’s Lives
CWA applauds the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) by the Senate on Monday. The legislation will improve working people’s lives by lowering the cost of prescription drugs for seniors on Medicare and cap their out-of-pocket expenses for medication. The IRA will extend the Affordable Care Act health insurance subsidies to prevent millions of Americans from seeing substantial increases in health insurance costs. It also invests in our green energy future, creating hundreds of thousands of good, green manufacturing and construction jobs that will lower energy costs and help save our climate.
The Inflation Reduction Act begins to bring more balance to our tax code through a 15% minimum tax on large corporations to ensure that instead of gaming the system to boost profits, they will pay their fair share. It also establishes a one percent tax on stock buybacks, which corporations use to inflate the profits of wealthy shareholders instead of investing in their products and their workers.
These changes are welcome and long overdue, and are only possible because of the persistence of pro-worker legislators and activists, including CWA members, who have been mobilizing to build power and make progress despite the bureaucratic roadblocks.
CWA Supports the Commerce Department’s New Job Quality Toolkit to Promote Worker Power
CWA Government Affairs Director Dan Mauer joined U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, and other labor, business, and nonprofit leaders at a roundtable unveiling the Commerce Department’s new Job Quality Toolkit. As part of the framework to create good jobs and a more accessible workforce, the toolkit encourages employers to remain neutral during union organizing campaigns and provide paid leave, quality and affordable healthcare, and other benefits. During the roundtable, Mauer applauded the launch of the toolkit and highlighted how it pairs well with the Commerce Department’s strong pro-worker rules on broadband deployment, which will protect against low-road employers undercutting the companies that are doing the right thing.
CWA Government Affairs Director Dan Mauer (right) joined U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh at a roundtable unveiling the Commerce Department’s new Job Quality Toolkit.
CWA Activists Gear up for 2022 Midterm Elections
Last week, CWA legislative and political activists from across the country participated in the CWA 2022 Midterm Kick-Off virtual event to plan and strategize CWA’s mobilization for the upcoming midterm elections. CWA President Chris Shelton, District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton, and various other CWA local leaders spoke to participants during the event and stressed the importance of electing pro-worker candidates. CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor, IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew, CWA District 7 Vice President Susie McAllister, and CWA Vice President for Public, Healthcare and Education Workers Margaret Cook also participated in the event. In addition, Democratic Congressman from Ohio and CWA-endorsed candidate for U.S. Senate Tim Ryan spoke at the event and encouraged members to continue to mobilize and secure a pro-worker majority in the U.S. Senate. “This election could define the fate of many of our rights,” said Glenda Abicht, CWA Local 3122. “We need pro-labor champions who believe that passing the PRO Act would lift people out of desperate working conditions. That is why we're fighting for them, because they fight for us. We need to get involved in this election, whether that is by joining a phone bank, text bank, or labor walk. This moment calls on us to act,” Abicht added.
CWA legislative and political activists from across the country participated in the CWA 2022 Midterm Kick-Off virtual event to plan and strategize CWA’s mobilization for the upcoming midterm elections.
CWA Members Fight Against Injustice at the 2022 Human Rights Conference
CWA members from across the country gathered in Phoenix, Ariz., for the 2022 CWA Human Rights Conference, presented by CWA's Women's Committee and Civil Rights and Equity Committee. The four-day conference, themed “Where There is Injustice, You Will Find Us!”, focused on CWA’s efforts to fight against racism, sexism, religious intolerance, nationalism, and other biases that have systematically held communities back.
CWAers heard from speakers including CWA President Chris Shelton; Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens; District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings, Jr., and IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew, who head CWA's Human Rights Program; District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton; District 7 Vice President Susie McAllister; and AFA-CWA International Vice President Keturah Johnson.
“Our union’s power comes from representing our members on the job, organizing new people into our ranks, and building solidarity with other movements for social and economic justice through politics and movement building. This work can’t stop when our members clock out for the day. This understanding is what has been driving our work to combat racism and other injustices wherever they exist, including in our union,” said President Shelton. He also highlighted the the work CWA has done as an organization and the work CWAers do every day to fight for justice and equity in the workplace and the community. Stressing the importance of electing pro-worker candidates into office, Shelton added, “I have said it many times before and I will say it again: elections matter! Every election matters! The upcoming elections this year and in 2024 are an opportunity for us to say enough is enough.”
Vice President Cummings and President Kennebrew gave powerful remarks about the significance of protecting our voting rights and using our power to elect pro-labor representatives. Southeast Region At-Large Executive Board Member Vera Mikell moderated a panel discussion on women in politics, featuring CWA Local 6300 member and Missouri State Senator Karla May; Robin Mouton, mayor of Beaumont, Texas; and Phoenix Councilwoman and member of CWA Local 6139 Betty Guardado.
The high point of the conference was the Interactive Activist Mall, where members participated in activities in support of CWA-endorsed candidates and legislation. The activities served as real time examples of actions members can replicate at their locals. Participants of the conference also had the opportunity to attend several workshops focused on voting rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and voter mobilization.
During the conference, President Shelton swore in Keith Gibbs, President of Local 9412, who had been appointed as the Western Region, Diversity at Large Executive Board Member. Gibbs was appointed to fill in the vacancy on the Executive Board after Dante Harris was elected as Secretary Treasurer of AFA-CWA. In addition, Timmia Wiley McIlwaine, Area Vice President of CWA Local 3640, received the Mary Mays-Carrol Award and District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton received the Women’s Committee Award for Excellence in Women’s Rights.
CWA members from across the country gathered in Phoenix, Ariz. for the 2022 CWA Human Rights Conference. presented by CWA's Women's Committee and Civil Rights and Equity Committee.
CWA Members in New Jersey Fight to Protect Public Service Jobs
CWA Local 1081 members at the Essex County Division of Family Assistance and Benefits in New Jersey have been fighting against the newly added social worker trainee title, which circumvents the civil service regulations put in place to ensure equity in hiring and promotions. The new title threatens the value of public service by allowing new trainee hires, who can be promoted to permanent hires after a year, to bypass the merit based process that guarantees equity and fairness in hiring decisions. The workers, supported by other CWA members including members of CWA Local 1037, have been holding demonstrations, gathering petition signatures, and building solidarity with community members to protect their jobs.
IUE-CWA Scholarships Awarded for 2022-2023
IUE-CWA offers two academic scholarships for members, their families, and staff members. The James B. Carey Scholarship offers five $4,000 scholarships. Eligible for the awards are children and grandchildren of all current, retired, or deceased IUE-CWA members and IUE-CWA employees. The Furniture Workers Willie Rudd Scholarship offers one $2,500 scholarship. Eligible for the award are IUE-CWA members from furniture workers’ locals and their families.
Willie Rudd Scholarship Winner:
Uchenna Egoro, member of IUE-CWA Local 82075
James B. Carey Scholarship Winners:
Bryan Caskey, son of Joseph Caskey, IUE-CWA Local 88502
Ronia Grubbs, daughter of Ron Grubbs, IUE-CWA Local 84717
Henstridge Henry, daughter of Murielle Etienne, IUE-CWA Local 83761
Dana Mackin, daughter of David Mackin, IUE-CWA Local 88177
Jacey Wolfe, daughter of Kevin Wolfe, IUE-CWA Local 81301