- CWA Member Demonstrates the Union Difference in Fiber Cable Splicing at a White House Event
- Organizing Update
- Bargaining Update
- Worker Power Update
- CWA and Microsoft Help Residents in New York and North Carolina “Get Connected” to No-Cost Internet Service
- CWA District 7 Members Build Power at Annual Meeting
- Apply for the Joe Beirne Scholarships
CWA Member Demonstrates the Union Difference in Fiber Cable Splicing at a White House Event
CWA Local 7212 member and splicing technician Jeremy Przybilla and CWA President Chris Shelton were guests of President Biden at a White House event to celebrate commitments made under the administration’s Talent Pipeline Challenge. Przybilla, who works for rural broadband coop CTC in Minnesota, demonstrated the care and skill required to ensure fiber cable is handled correctly, and talked about the highly trained union workforce that will be necessary to meet the broadband buildout needs funded in the bipartisan infrastructure bill championed by the President.
As part of the challenge, CWA announced a slate of new and expanded industry and employer partnerships this week to support technician training and good union jobs.
“With significant investment from the Biden Administration and strong commitments in place from our industry partners, we can make these highly skilled and technical careers within reach for many more workers, including former technicians who are on the sidelines due to years of job cuts,” said CWA President Chris Shelton.
CWA’s initiatives include a partnership with AT&T to explore efforts to attract, train, and retain employees, with a focus on current AT&T employees and recruitment from populations who have not traditionally worked in technician positions; a statewide expansion of fiber technician apprenticeship across California led by CWA District 9 in partnership with Chabot-Las Positas Community College District in San Jose; and a partnership with NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association to make apprenticeship programs accessible to NTCA member companies and offer companies the opportunity to have employees participate in an OSHA 10 training course delivered by OSHA-authorized CWA trainers who are broadband technicians themselves. Read more here.
CWA member and splicing technician Jeremy Przybilla joined CWA President Chris Shelton and CTC CEO Kristi Westbrook at the White House to demonstrate to attendees how to splice and test fiber cable as part of an event celebrating the Biden administration’s commitments to support good jobs and equitable workforce development within broadband and other infrastructure industries.
Over 450 workers at Maximus, a multi-billion dollar corporation and the largest federal call center contractor, went on strike on Tuesday, the first day of Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment, demanding higher wages and better working conditions. The workers, who answer calls for 1-800-Medicare and assist American consumers with ACA plans, have been organizing with CWA to win improvements in their workplace. The striking workers in Bogalusa, La.; Hattiesburg, Miss.; and Chester, Va., are calling for a minimum wage of $25 an hour, at least 30 minutes per shift of non-call time, and policies protecting them from abusive calls.
“We are being asked to go above and beyond during open enrollment, but our wages are not sufficient to support families with rising costs,” said Audrianna Lewis, who answers calls out of the Hattiesburg call center. “Addressing these problems will not only help us to do our jobs better, it will benefit the consumers we serve and ensure that all Americans seeking health care coverage get the quality support they deserve.”
In conjunction with the strike, Maximus 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. Starbucks and Apple employees, who have successfully won union victories across the country amidst their own organizing efforts, joined the virtual town hall in a show of solidarity for the Maximus workers. Representative Ro Khanna, National President of the NAACP Derrick Johnson, and Charles Taylor, Executive Director of the Mississippi NAACP, also joined the town hall and spoke to the workers. In addition, prominent civil rights leader Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, joined the striking workers in Hattiesburg and encouraged them to keep fighting. The workers were also joined by CWA members, other workers, local elected officials, allies from community organizations like Step Up Louisiana, and other supporters.
Earlier this month, CWA filed a series of unfair labor practice charges on behalf of workers at Maximus, alleging that the company unlawfully interfered with the right of employees to engage in protected union activities.
Check out this video featuring the striking workers at Maximus.
Noble Knight Games
A super majority of workers at Noble Knight Games, an online retailer of tabletop games, are seeking voluntary recognition and have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board, in case the company fails to recognize their union. The workers, who are employed at the company’s warehouse and storefront in Fitchburg, Wis., are organizing to join CWA, following in the footsteps of other game industry workers who have recently joined our union, including Raven Software and Paizo Publishing. The workers are fighting for improved compensation, affordable benefits, a healthy work-life balance, fair and transparent policies and procedures, and maintaining appropriate, viable workplace conditions and expectations.
University of New Orleans
United Campus Worker (UCW)-CWA members and organizers held a three-day organizing blitz at the University of New Orleans (UNO). CWA Public, Healthcare and Education Sector Vice President Margaret Cook joined campaign organizers and members from UCW-Louisiana (CWA Local 3465) and UCW-Virginia (CWA Local 2265) for the event . Over the three days, they had more than a hundred conversations, recruited 13 new members, and identified dozens of leads.
Author Sara Jaffe kicked off the blitz with a talk about her recent book, Work Won't Love You Back, in partnership with Step Up Louisiana, a community-based organization committed to building power to win education and economic justice for all. Cook emceed the event and took part in a tour of the campus led by members to see many of the problems that workers are dealing with. "Building our movement and talking to every worker about what they need, what their concerns are, and getting them to see that by joining together in a union they'll have a voice is what we're all about. It's the keystone to what we do. The workers at the University of New Orleans face a lot of challenges, from the urgent need for more state funding, to dealing with the ongoing effects of climate change. The union is the solution, and I was so glad to help go there and get to work,” said Cook.
The workers and students at UNO are still reeling from post-Katrina enrollment decline coupled with crumbling infrastructure and divestment from the state government. The members are currently leading a campaign to save the university and fighting for increased state investment, urgently needed repairs, and meaningful increases in pay.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Strike
Striking CWA members at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette launched a radio ad and video this week urging Post-Gazette readers to drop the newspaper by boycotting the website and canceling their subscriptions. The video features CWA Local 14827 member Kitsy Higgins and CWA Local 14842 members Renee Tatalovic and James “Hutchie” Van Landingham, who also voiced the radio ad.
Community support for the strike continues to build. On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh City Council issued a resolution supporting the strikers and condemning Block Communications, the owners of the paper. The Council called on Post-Gazette management to “recognize the value of their workers, end unfair labor practices, bargain in good faith and fashion a collective bargaining agreement now.”
On Monday, members of CWA Locals 13000, 13500, and the United Mine Workers of America joined the workers who are picketing the Butler Eagle, which has been printing the Post-Gazette during the strike.
To send a message of support to the striking workers or contribute to their strike fund, visit cwa.org/ppg.
Members of the United Mine Workers of America and CWA Locals 13000 and 13500 joined Pittsburgh Post-Gazette workers who are picketing the Butler Eagle, which has been printing the Post-Gazette during the strike.
Last month, as part of CWA’s nationwide campaign to expose Frontier Communications’ dangerous use of subcontractors, members from CWA Locals 9510 and 9588 participated in the latest "Stop Frontier Subcontracting" training held at the CWA District 9 office in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.
In a major victory for social workers in Rochester, N.Y., members of the Monroe County Federation of Social Workers, IUE-CWA Local 81381, bargained a new agreement for a 7% increase in pay for almost all members of the bargaining unit. The pay increase comes amidst major challenges the workers are dealing with, including underfunding and a high vacancy rate. “This is immoral, what we’ve been doing,” said County Executive Adam Bello at a press conference announcing the agreement. “This county has been underfunding the very people who are charged with protecting the most vulnerable people in our community. We can’t have that.”
The win follows several mobilization efforts by the members, including organizing a panel discussion about the vacancies and their effects on workloads and morale. The workers also held workplace actions and spoke out at County legislative meetings. “Over the last year, mobilization among our members has been at an all time high. Attending rallies, speaking out in public forums, coordinating workplace activities – all while working through the pandemic and ever increasing caseloads as our agency hit record vacancy rates. It is also important to note that we have a County Executive that our members worked very hard to get elected who is willing to hear our concerns and negotiate with us outside of the contract. It is very uncommon to receive one out of contract raise, much less two and three in a single year. Our achievements illustrate that political action is essential to victory and when we fight, we win,” said IUE-CWA Local 81381 President Christina Christman.
Worker Power Update
Join CWA’s National Day of Action to Re-Elect Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
Join CWAers for a National Day of Action today, November 3, at 6 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. CT/ 4 p.m. MT/ 3 p.m. PT, to phone bank for Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who is running for reelection. Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen will be joining the phone bank to encourage participants to keep fighting for a pro-worker majority in the Senate.
Senator Cortez Masto has been a long-time ally to CWA members. She is one of the lead sponsors of the Call Center Bill in the Senate. This bill will protect call center jobs from going overseas and hold corporations accountable for offshoring jobs. She also supports updated "Buy America" rules to strengthen our supply chain with goods manufactured in the United States, lowering prescription drug prices, and labor law reform to make it easier for workers to join unions and bargain strong contracts.
We need to reelect Senator Cortez Masto so she can continue to lift up America’s workers and fight to strengthen workers’ rights to join unions and bargain fair contracts. This race is going to be close and the control of the U.S. Senate is hanging in the balance. We need to get out the vote and make sure the Senate remains pro-worker.
Join your fellow CWAers on today's National Day of Action to phone bank together and reelect one of our labor champions.
CWAers are Getting Out the Vote Ahead of the Midterms
We are just five days away from the Midterm elections and our team of activists are getting out the vote for our CWA-endorsed candidates across the country.
In Minnesota, activists are continuing to phone and text bank to get out the vote for CWA's endorsed candidates.
In Florida, activists are hard at work getting out the vote for CWA's endorsed candidates. They met with U.S. Senate candidate Val Demings and Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, while door knocking to build support for their campaigns.
In Ohio, CWAers continue to push hard at the doors to get out the vote for our endorsed candidates.
In Pennsylvania, activists continued their worksite visits, door knocking, and phone banks to get out the vote for CWA-endorsed candidates.
Activists in California continue to phone bank, door knock, and visit worksites across the state to get out the vote for CWA-endorsed candidates.
In Georgia, activists continue to engage with voters through phone and text banks, knock doors, and attend rallies to get out the vote for CWA-endorsed candidates. They met with U.S. Senate candidate Raphael Warnock, Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, and former President Barack Obama on the campaign trail.
In Arizona, CWA activists, including retirees, continue to door knock and phone bank to make sure our members are turning out to vote for CWA's endorsed candidates. They met with U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly.
CWA and Microsoft Help Residents in New York and North Carolina “Get Connected” to No-Cost Internet Service
Volunteers from CWA and Microsoft hosted events at Howard Houses in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Salisbury Civic Center in Salisbury, N.C., to help residents who need it receive no-cost internet service as part of our "Get Connected" initiative to boost enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). More than one million people across the state of North Carolina, many in rural Appalachian counties, and one third of New Yorkers lack regular internet access.
CWA and Microsoft partnered with the NYCHA Howard Houses Tenants Association and the Salisbury Housing Authority to spread the word about the events and the opportunity for low-income residents to get online, at little to no cost, via the ACP. "We found there were a lot of families that didn't even have internet at home to begin with. So, now you're looking at telehealth options that didn't exist for some families, as well as homeschooling options,” said Keith Busby, CWA District 3 Broadband Lead, who helped organize the event in North Carolina.
The Halloween-themed event in New York was attended by elected officials including New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, State Senator Zellnor Myrie, Assemblymember Latrice Walker, and Councilmember Julie Menin. “CWA members have a longstanding commitment to making sure that every household in America has reliable, high-speed internet service, and we have been strong advocates for the Affordable Connectivity Program,” said CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor. Menin added, “Bridging the digital divide in [public housing] is a major step in tackling inequality across New York City and I was proud to launch a scalable pilot program in my New York City Council District with CWA to target broadband adoption for public housing residents through the Affordable Connectivity Program.”
Volunteers at both events guided residents through the registration process and Internet Service Providers that offer no-cost, high speed broadband plans to ACP enrollees were also available so that qualifying residents could sign up for service on-site. The events in N.Y. and N.C. follow similar events held recently in Memphis, Tenn., and Atlanta. The partnership between CWA and Microsoft builds on a groundbreaking labor neutrality agreement announced in June, which includes a commitment to collaborate on technology adoption and skill building programs.
Councilmember Julie Menin, State Senator Zellnor Myrie, Assemblymember Latrice Walker, NYC Comptroller Brad Lander and a representative from Congressman Hakeem Jeffries' office joined volunteers from Microsoft and CWA, including CWA District 1 Broadband Brigade Lead Nick Hoh and Hae-Lin Choi, CWA District 1 Political Director, to help Howard Houses residents in Brooklyn enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program and sign up for services from Verizon.
Volunteers from Microsoft and CWA, including CWA District 3 Broadband Lead Keith Busby and his family, helped Salisbury Housing Authority residents in Salisbury, N.C., enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program.
CWA District 7 Members Build Power at Annual Meeting
CWAers from across District 7 gathered for their annual meeting, held for the first time in person since the pandemic.
Hundreds of members met in Albuquerque, N.M., to participate in workshops and committee meetings and hear from union leaders and guest speakers. After CWA District 7 Vice President Susie McAllister shared opening remarks, CWA President Chris Shelton delivered a video message stressing the need for every member to mobilize to build support for pro-worker candidates in the last few days leading up to the critical midterm elections. He also applauded the members’ hard work organizing new members into our union, bargaining strong contracts under the difficult circumstances of the pandemic, and engaging CWAers on critical issues such as broadband expansion. “As tough as they have been, the challenges we faced since the pandemic have also given rise to this incredible moment we find ourselves in. This moment where workers like you all across the country are rising up and saying enough is enough. Polling data tells us that our members are united on issues of workers’ rights and democracy. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to build back stronger and it is on us to make the most of it,” said Shelton.
Vice President McAllister recognized the dedicated team of staff and member leaders who have navigated the difficulties of the pandemic to continue to represent CWAers and make our union stronger. She also stressed the need to take advantage of this moment where workers are rising for change, and expressed solidarity with the striking CWA members at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We have to mobilize workers to fight for the best contracts and workplaces – and organize the unorganized to meet this moment of the labor upsurge. We are fighting a 50-year class war and we need to fight it on all fronts,” said McAllister.
Conference participants also heard from CWA Public, Healthcare and Education Sector Vice President Margaret Cook, Western Region At-Large Executive Board Member Keith Gibbs, and other guest speakers.
Apply for the Joe Beirne Scholarships
The Joe Beirne Scholarship Program offers sixteen partial college scholarships of $4,000 each. CWA members and their spouses, children, and grandchildren, including those of retired or deceased members are eligible for the scholarship. The deadline to apply is April 30, 2023.
The Beirne scholarship program is made possible by funding from CWA locals. Read more about the program here.