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Dec 15, 2022 - Victory Against Third Party Contractors in New York and other news

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Organizing Update

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Wells Fargo

A new Bloomberg Law article highlights some of the reasons why Wells Fargo workers are organizing for a voice in their workplace, including the impacts of unrealistic sales goals, unfair wages, and inadequate staffing. The article features workers who are organizing as Wells Fargo United, a campaign with the Committee for Better Banks-CWA. The article also includes comments from financial and labor experts, as well as lawmakers such as Senator Sherrod Brown. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Brown has led the charge in the Senate to hold financial institutions like Wells Fargo accountable. “We’re going to keep holding Wells Fargo accountable and defending its workers’ legal right to unionize, including by continuing to hold our annual big bank oversight hearings,” said Brown.

Bargaining Update

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Saint Barnabas Medical Center

After months of bargaining and mobilizing to stand united and firm in their demands for better working conditions, healthcare workers at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center (CBMC) in Livingston, N.J., members of New Jersey Nurses Union (CWA Local 1091), have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with significant wage increases and improvements to increase safe staffing that will help the hospital attract and retain nurses amid a nationwide nursing shortage.

The new agreement will cover more than 1,350 registered nurses at CBMC who work in various critical units. Under the new agreement, nurses who are working night shifts, which are often difficult to fill, will be eligible to receive additional wages during those hours. Preceptor nurses—those training and evaluating new nurses to ensure they are equipped to properly care for patients—will also be compensated for that important added responsibility. Additionally, new language in the agreement will allow the union’s staffing committee to regularly and directly address workloads with hospital management.


United Airlines Union Coalition

AFA-CWA, along with the other unions representing workers at United Airlines, announced the formation of the United Airlines Union Coalition to coordinate closely on bargaining and other issues. Four of the five unions in the coalition, including AFA-CWA, are currently in negotiations for fair contracts. “None of us can do our jobs without each other. We have each other's backs in bargaining and we will stand together until all of us have ratified contracts that reflect the world-class airline United should be,” said the coalition leaders in a statement. Following the announcement, AFA-CWA Flight Attendants joined hundreds of other union members and supporters to participate in a picket hosted by United Pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, during the United Airlines Board of Directors Meeting in Houston.


National Audubon Society

One year after forming a union, workers at the National Audubon Society have yet to negotiate a fair contract due to the organization leadership’s continued aggressive anti-union stance and stalling tactics. Recently, Audubon leadership unilaterally cut workers’ healthcare benefits, pushing costs onto the organization’s most vulnerable staff, while rejecting more equitable proposals from the union. In addition, Audubon’s leadership is refusing to bargain in good faith and is repeatedly insulting and undermining their own workforce, leading to high staff turnover and worker dissatisfaction.

In response, Audubon workers filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging Audubon leadership broke federal law. They have also launched a petition to put pressure on Audubon CEO Dr. Elizabeth Gray and the Audubon Board to reinstate their healthcare plan and negotiate a fair contract. Click here to sign their petition.

Worker Power Update

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CWAers Continue to Fight to Fully Fund the NLRB

On Tuesday, CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens joined prominent Democratic lawmakers and leaders of other unions to participate in a press conference organized by the Worker Power Coalition calling on Congress to fully fund the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Steffens, who also serves as Co-Chair of the Worker Power Coalition, said, “As someone who was fired for union organizing, I know firsthand how dangerous it is to leave union-busting CEOs unchecked. Whether it’s Starbucks workers in Memphis, an Amazon warehouse worker in New York, or a Verizon retail worker in Seattle, the fact is that far too many workers are being fired for exercising their right to form a union and demand the better working conditions they have earned. The NLRB must receive the full funding it needs to hold these billionaire CEOs accountable.” Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), and Andy Levin (Mich.), as well as International Union of Painters and Allied Trades President Jimmy Williams, were among the other speakers at the press conference.

The NLRB has seen a huge uptick in the number of filings for union elections and investigations into labor law violations, but has not seen a funding increase since 2014. Unless Congress steps in to give the NLRB the funding it needs to function, its ability to protect workers is in danger. That is why CWAers across the country are raising awareness about this gap in funding and calling on Congress to act.

The same day as the press conference, Jesse Mason, a former Specialist at Verizon Wireless, who was illegally fired after joining with his coworkers at Seattle’s Northgate and Aurora Village stores to organize a union with CWA, spoke about his experience during the Congressional Labor Caucus’ briefing on funding the NLRB. “If the NLRB was properly funded, workers like myself would not have to wait around for our cases to be heard. There needs to be real repercussions for companies who purposefully break the law. Congress must ensure the NLRB is properly funded in the upcoming budget so it has the resources it needs to hold companies accountable and ensure workers can organize,” said Mason.

Workers across the country are taking action by sending a message to their Senators and Member of Congress. Click here to send your own message.

Fund the NLRB Press Conference
CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens joined prominent Democratic lawmakers and leaders of other unions to participate in a press conference organized by the Worker Power Coalition calling on Congress to fully fund the NLRB.


CWA Airport Workers Rally for Better Working Conditions

CWA airport workers joined thousands of their colleagues and supporters to participate in a national day of action to raise awareness about their current working conditions and build support for legislation that will improve them. CWA members, members of other unions including the Service Employees International Union and UNITE HERE, community supporters, elected officials, and other workers participated in rallies and demonstrations at 15 airports across the country including in Dallas, Miami, Charlotte, and Chicago.

The workers, who are fed up with ongoing challenges, took this bold action to demand Congress pass the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act. The bill is the first legislative proposal of its kind that will set national wage and benefit standards for essential airport and airline workers. On Capitol Hill, Democratic members of Congress including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Ed Markey (Mass.), Senator Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Congressman Chuy García (Ill.), and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) joined union leaders, airport workers, and allies for a live-streamed press conference in front of the U.S. Capitol Building, echoing their demands for better jobs through the passage of the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act.

Other prominent lawmakers and union and community leaders showed their support online while over 7,000 activists, including hundreds of CWAers, sent emails to their representatives in Congress urging them to support the legislation. “Whether you work for an airline or you work for a company like Swissport, we are here to keep O’Hare running. We all deserve good wages and benefits. Keep up the fight,” said CWA Local 4201 member Carolyn Marsalek, an American Airlines customer service agent at Chicago's O’Hare Airport. “It is time to step up. Contact the people that you have elected to office. We need to support the legislation and we need to act immediately,” added Deborah Johnson, President of CWA Local 6001 in Texas.

Rally for Good Airport Jobs
CWA airport workers joined thousands of their colleagues and supporters to participate in a national day of action to raise awareness about their current working conditions and build support for the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act.


CWAers in New York Win Major Legislative Victory

In a major victory for CWA members, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed CWA-supported legislation that will protect good union jobs by preventing companies from shifting work to non-union third party contractors.​ The bill requires the Public Service Commission to respect current collective bargaining agreements relating to pole attachment work between telecommunications, utility, and cable companies and their employees.

The newly signed legislation puts a stop to the harmful, anti-union “One Touch, Make Ready” rule, which allows companies to attach new equipment to utility poles or move existing equipment in a rushed timeframe and without sufficient oversight from utility pole owners. If done improperly, pole attachments can cause facility damage, service interruption, and hazardous circumstances for workers and the public.

The bill couldn’t have come at a more critical time, as the state is investing to expand broadband access to all residents. Earlier this year, CWAers throughout New York held meetings with and sent thousands of emails to their representatives in the New York State Senate and Assembly to advocate for this bill.


Promoting U.S. Manufacturing and Good Jobs Through the CHIPS Act

CWA Local 7026 Secretary-Treasurer Cecilia Valdez represented CWA at an event marking the unveiling of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) new $40 billion investment to upgrade its capabilities in Phoenix and build a second facility nearby. President Biden, who has been visiting semiconductor plants since the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, was in attendance and touted the investment as a product of the legislation. CWA played an instrumental role in the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, which 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. Valdez had an opportunity to speak to President Biden and discuss the significance of organizing in the semiconductor and the entire American manufacturing industry.

District 1 and 2-13 Members Build Power at Annual Meetings

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Late last month, CWAers from across District 1 gathered for their annual meeting, held for the first time in person since the pandemic. In the same week, CWAers in District 2-13 gathered virtually for their annual meeting.

Each of the District meetings brought together hundreds of members to participate in workshops and committee meetings, as well as hear from union leaders and guest speakers, including CWA President Chris Shelton and Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. Here are the highlights from the District meetings.

CWA District 1

Addressing the crowd, Shelton applauded the activists in District 1 and throughout the union for their hard work engaging in our grassroots efforts to build support for pro-worker candidates leading up to the critical midterm elections. “Building a strong political program has long been a priority for District 1 and this election cycle we saw the difference your engagement can make,” said Shelton. He highlighted some of the key races in the District where our efforts paid off and stressed the need to continue this great work. He also uplifted the outstanding work District 1 members have been engaged in to win legislative victories and congratulated them on holding the record for passing the CWA-endorsed Call Center Bill in more states than any other District in CWA. Using the ascendancy of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to House Majority Leader as an example, Shelton also highlighted the importance of building relationships with candidates and lawmakers from the very beginning. CWA was the first union to endorse Rep. Jeffries in 2006 when he decided to run for a seat in the New York State Assembly.

Shelton spoke about the incredible organizing and bargaining successes in District 1, including in the tech industry through the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA Local 1400 (AWU-CWA). In addition, Shelton highlighted the resilience District 1 members demonstrated negotiating strong contracts, such as the groundbreaking contract healthcare workers at Catholic Health in Buffalo, N.Y., won after a historic 5-week strike.

CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens uplifted the District’s organizing victories and spoke about the need to continue to take advantage of this moment when approval for unions is at an all time high. “We have been hoping and working for a long time for this wave of organizing. This flurry of wins at CWA and our fellow unions is shifting our understanding of what’s possible for our organizing program, our labor movement, and our democracy itself,” said Steffens.

CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor gave a detailed and impassioned speech thanking the dedicated team of staff and member leaders for their continued hard work, highlighting the various wins members secured in the District over the last four years, discussing the current challenges CWAers are facing, and motivating District 1 members to keep the fight going. “We have to be crystal clear about who the real enemy is – the 1%. And we have to be clear about the fact that they are trying to divide us. We can’t let them do it,” said Trainor. He added, “The labor movement has survived way worse. We’ve been through tough times before. But we are not giving up. We will never give up on building worker power.”

Conference participants also heard from CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney; CWA Public, Healthcare and Education Sector Vice President Margaret Cook; and Northeast Region At-Large Executive Board Member Gloria Middleton.

CWA District 2-13

In his remarks to the virtual District 2-13 meeting, President Shelton expressed his deep pride and support for the striking CWA members at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. “I am proud of each and every one of them. They have shown immense courage, leadership, and determination to win this fight. Make no mistake, this fight isn’t just about a fair contract. It is our response to the increasingly shameful acts of corporate greed that are destroying good jobs and local media in our country. These are the same forces that seek to threaten our democracy and weaken our union. But we will not let them. Workers are rising up across the nation to push back and the actions of the striking Post Gazette workers are undoubtedly inspiring more workers to join the fight,” said Shelton.

He also congratulated the members in securing key wins during the 2022 midterm elections, including flipping the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat to pro-worker Democrat John Fetterman. In addition, Shelton highlighted the various bargaining and organizing victories in the District and motivated the members to stay mobilized and engaged for upcoming statewide elections, contract battles, and more.

As a CWA leader and a former journalist who led a successful campaign to organize her workplace – and was fired because of it – CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens also expressed her solidarity and support for the striking workers at the Post Gazette. She encouraged the members to take actions, to mobilize, and organize to strengthen and grow our union and the labor movement as a whole. “There is only one thing that outweighs the corrupting influence of money in our democracy, and that’s when massive numbers of people unite in strategy and act in unity,” said Steffens.

CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney praised and expressed his support for the Post Gazette workers striking in his District. He highlighted their tenacity and commitment to not settle for anything less than what they deserve. He also thanked the staff, member leaders, and allies who have been supporting the striking members, as well as the dedicated team representing members in the District.

Conference participants also heard from CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor, IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew, and other guest speakers. 

CWA District 2-13 Scholarship Applications Now Open

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The 2023 Maisano Scholarship applications are now open. Applications are due in the CWA District 2-13 Philadelphia office by Friday, March 31, 2023. CWA District 2-13 members, as well as the children and grandchildren of members, are eligible. Two recipients will be chosen: one from the Potomac region and one from the Pennsylvania/Delaware region. Each recipient will receive $1,000. To find out more about the scholarship history and download the application, click here.

Scholarship programs open to all CWA families include the CWA Joe Beirne Scholarship (more information here) and the Union Plus Scholarship Program (more information here).