- Striking CWA Member Attends State of the Union, Joe Biden Doubles Down on Support for Workers
- Bargaining Update
- New Report by CWA Highlights the Harms of Outsourcing to Authorized Retailers in the Wireless Industry
- Worker Power Update
- Organizing Update
- CWA National Women’s and Civil Rights and Equity Committee Members Build Power at Annual Meeting
- CWA Member Honored For Black History Month
- Flower Discounts for CWA Members
Striking CWA Member Attends State of the Union, Joe Biden Doubles Down on Support for Workers
James “Hutchie” VanLandingham, a CWA member who has been on strike from his job as a mailer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since early October, attended President Biden’s second State of the Union address as the guest of Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania Chris Deluzio. VanLandingham is a third-generation employee of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and has worked as a mailer at the Post-Gazette for 28 years. “I am here to tell the millionaire Block Family that we are not backing down, and that we are bringing our strike to the highest level,” said VanLandingham. Congressman Deluzio reiterated the significance of Hutchie’s attendance as a show of solidarity for the Post-Gazette workers, whose strike is stretching into its fourth month. “His story is one about hard work and how a union job can uplift and be a source of pride for families. It is also a story about how a company’s owners, despite generations of worker loyalty to that newspaper, have put their greed and lust for profits above all else,” said Deluzio.
“As my Dad used to say, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect,” said President Biden, near the beginning of his second State of the Union address. Calling on Congress to take action to fix our broken labor laws and ensure that every worker must have a free and fair choice to organize or join a union, Biden added, “I’m so sick and tired of companies breaking the law by preventing workers from organizing. Pass the PRO Act because workers have a right to form a union. And let’s guarantee all workers a living wage.”
He reviewed his administration's major accomplishments in the last two years, including legislative victories that directly impact CWA members such as the CHIPS and Science Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. He highlighted his administration’s success in expanding Medicare access, bringing down prescription drug costs, and capping the cost of insulin at $35 a month for seniors on Medicare and called on Congress to “finish the job” and cap the cost of insulin for every American who needs it.
Biden also made a strong case for corporations and wealthy Americans to pay their fair share in taxes. He was firm in his commitment to block any attempt to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.
CWA members have been actively mobilizing to help advance the President’s agenda on creating jobs through investment in our country’s infrastructure and empowering workers. As many of the federal pieces of legislation continue to be implemented, we will continue to mobilize to ensure that state and local governments are using the funds as intended, to create more good union jobs. Read CWA’s statement here.
AT&T Mobility and DirecTV (Black)
Contract negotiations for the AT&T Mobility and DirecTV Black contracts are continuing. The bargaining committee is fighting to ensure that members’ concerns about critical issues that impact them and their families such as wages, healthcare, benefits, work/life balance, and job security are being addressed at the table. In particular, the committee is negotiating for a fair contract that includes flexible vacation schedules, addresses work-from-home related issues for call center employees, improved parental leave, title upgrades for customer service members, limits the amount of corporate-owned retail stores being converted to third party authorized retail stores, and ensures job security for all members. The committee is also working hard to include protection in areas such as quota relief, pay, and benefits for In Home Expert (IHX) workers. Key issues for DirecTV workers include job security, severance pay, call percentages, and work-from-home benefits. In addition, the committee is determined to address the rising costs in our economy by securing increases to help offset the impact on members.
The workers have been actively mobilizing to build power at the bargaining table and show support for their bargaining team. Last week, to recognize the first day of Black History Month and show their solidarity, workers, including the bargaining committee, wore all black and posted photos on social media. Workers throughout the District are preparing to ramp up their mobilization efforts as they get close to the contract’s expiration on February 10. Learn more and sign up for updates. For AT&T Mobility click here. For DirecTV click here.
AT&T Mobility and DirecTV workers in CWA District 3 continue to mobilize and build power for a fair contract.
New Report by CWA Highlights the Harms of Outsourcing to Authorized Retailers in the Wireless Industry
CWA and the National Employment Law Project released a new report that provides a first-of-its-kind look at the effects of outsourcing in the wireless telecom industry. The report, “Broken Network: Workers Expose Harms of Wireless Telecom Carriers’ Outsourcing to ‘Authorized Retailers',” includes a survey of over 200 workers from nearly 45 states at “authorized retailers” for the industry’s three dominant carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Wireless carriers currently outsource 60 to 80 percent of their branded retail locations to authorized retailers. AT&T alone has closed nearly 600 of its corporate-owned stores since 2018 in favor of using authorized retailers.
“Outsourcing is a tactic that cuts corners and falls directly in line with the profit-boosting strategies of vulture capitalist firms like Elliott Management. It is not sustainable, and it comes at the cost of workers and customer service. It’s time companies like AT&T and Verizon adjust their game plan and start putting their workforce and the needs of customers first,” said CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt.
Unlike workers at corporate stores, workers at authorized retail stores do not have the ability to form a union and bargain directly with the wireless company that holds power over their wages and working conditions. As a result, workers at authorized retail stores face significant disadvantages when it comes to pay, benefits, and working conditions. The practice of outsourcing to authorized retailers also shields the wireless carriers from accountability for the treatment of their workers while still exerting a significant level of control over the operations of the authorized retail stores. The report includes several solutions to curtail the impact of outsourcing including passing several key pieces of legislation such as the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. Read more here.
Worker Power Update
CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens Visits the White House for FMLA’s 30th Anniversary
Last week, CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens attended a White House event marking the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Since its passage, the legislation has given American workers the right to take time to care for themselves and their loved ones without losing their jobs. In the early 1990’s, CWA members and coalition partners mobilized to build support for the legislation. The original FMLA was passed in 1993 by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
Flight Attendants originally rarely qualified for FMLA due to their unique schedules. Since the way they are paid for hours of work is particular to the airline industry, their schedules don’t equate to a traditional 40-hour work week. Therefore, it was virtually impossible to meet the minimum number of hours originally established under the FMLA. From 2007 through 2009, AFA-CWA activists and their supporters embarked on a massive grassroots campaign to change that. Thousands of members wrote letters, made calls, rallied, and participated in other actions to demand lawmakers support the legislation that would correct this oversight. Due to their actions, the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act was passed in Congress and signed into law by President Obama. Last year, the law was further solidified when a Federal Court ruled that FMLA eligibility for Flight Attendants is based on hours worked or paid and not just flight hours.
Unfortunately, FMLA still does not cover all workers and it is not paid leave. The United States is one of the few countries in the world with zero national paid leave. Send a letter to Congress telling them that we need national paid leave for all and to pass the Job Protection Act to expand job-protected leave to more workers.
CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens (left) attended a White House event marking the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Workers at the New Flyer facility in Shepherdsville, Ky., have overwhelmingly chosen to join IUE-CWA. Their union of 283 workers was certified after an arbitrator confirmed that a majority of the workers had signed union representation cards. Member-organizers from IUE-CWA Locals 84755, 83761, 84901, 81495, 81500, and CWA Local 7304 supported the organizing effort in Kentucky.
"This is a historic campaign for IUE-CWA," said IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew. "Workers across this country are organizing and growing their power, and IUE-CWA is committed to building momentum in manufacturing organizing across this country."
"Being on the organizing committee to unionize our facility has been both exciting and educational," said Michelle Hopwood, a router room machine operator at the plant. "I'm looking forward to the changes we are making not just for today's employees but for the future ones also."
Our partners at Jobs to Move America (JMA) joined IUE-CWA in this historic organizing campaign, which comes on the heels of another successful campaign at the New Flyer plant in Jamestown, N.Y., last summer.
Workers at the New Flyer facility in Shepherdsville, Ky., joined IUE-CWA after an overwhelming majority signed union representation cards.
Last week, Alphabet Workers Union-CWA (CWA Local 1400) members and other workers at Google and YouTube joined together in a series of actions to draw attention to layoffs and unfair working conditions at the company.
On Wednesday, dozens of Google “raters,” who train, test, and evaluate search algorithms, delivered a petition and held a press conference at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., calling on Google executives to pay workers the fair wages and benefits they are owed. Raters are currently excluded from Google’s own minimum standards and benefits that the company has set for its extended workforce.
On Thursday, workers rallied at a Google store in New York City to protest the recent layoffs of 12,000 workers. Workers read anonymous testimonials from their laid off colleagues, while current workers spoke out against the company’s recent layoffs. Additionally, workers of the New York Tech Guild (TNG-CWA Local 31003) and other labor allies spoke in solidarity with Google workers.
On Friday, over 40 YouTube Music workers with Cognizant, a subcontractor of Alphabet, went on a historic unfair labor practice strike. This is believed to be the first time a group of Google workers have gone on strike. The workers filed a union recognition petition with the National Labor Relations Board last year. They are demanding that Cognizant and Google management meet with workers to establish a new return to office policy that is fair, flexible, and does not threaten the safety and livelihoods of workers. The workers were inspired by the actions of Google Maps workers at Cognizant, who successfully pushed back against an unfair return to office policy last year by threatening to strike with the support of AWU-CWA. A strike fund has been set up to offer additional support to striking YouTube Music workers.
As part of a series of actions to draw attention to layoffs and unfair working conditions at Google, Alphabet Workers Union-CWA (CWA Local 1400) members organized a rally and petition delivery at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.
Lake Michigan Credit Union
CWA has filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Lake Michigan Credit Union (LMCU) for illegally firing Ivan Diaz, a member services representative who worked at LMCU’s South Division branch and served as a lead organizer of the LMCU Workers Alliance. South Division branch workers at LMCU in Grand Rapids, Mich., voted last month in favor of forming a union with CWA in an official NLRB election. The ULP charges LMCU with terminating Ivan for his participation in the labor union “in order to discourage union activities and/or membership.” Workers at the South Branch are demanding that LMCU branch management revoke Diaz’s termination and ensure other employees won’t be fired for their involvement in union organizing. “My termination proves just how critical a union is for LMCU workers. LMCU’s move to terminate me was a weak attempt at a scare tactic targeting my colleagues and comes right out of the union-busting playbook. This is not the first time LMCU has singled me out for union organizing, and I am confident that the NLRB will recognize that and hold the credit union accountable for its illegal action,” said Diaz.
The organizing committee for TCGunion-CWA, representing workers at TCGPlayer, an online marketplace for trading card games and subsidiary of eBay, delivered a letter to eBay's Board of Directors this week demanding the company commit to a labor neutrality agreement. The union urged the company to adhere to its Human Rights Policy which states eBay “...respects workers’ rights to unionize, and commits to bargain in good faith with any relevant associations or labor unions” by encouraging CEO Chedy Hampson to respect the rights of the workers by recognizing their union. CWA has also filed a second unfair labor practice charge against TCGPlayer for illegally forcing employees to attend mandatory anti-union meetings to influence their decision about whether or not to join a union. Last month, TCGunion-CWA became the first group of eBay workers to file for a union representation election with CWA.
CWA National Women’s and Civil Rights and Equity Committee Members Build Power at Annual Meeting
The National Women’s and Civil Rights and Equity Committee members convened in Washington, D.C., for their annual Face to Face meeting to discuss critical issues, strategize for the coming year, and prepare for the upcoming CWA Convention. During the convening, the committee members participated in and reviewed the Human Right Department’s updated Gender Justice Training.
The committee members received a warm welcome and calls to action from President Chris Shelton, Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens, District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings, Jr., IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew, District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton, Public, Health Care and Education Workers Vice President Margaret Cook, AFA-CWA International Vice President Keturah Johnson, AFA-CWA International Secretary-Treasurer Dante Harris, Southeast Region At-Large Executive Board Member Vera Mikell, Northeast Region At-Large Executive Board Member Gloria Middleton, and Western Region At-Large Executive Board Member Keith Gibbs.
CWA Member Honored For Black History Month
February is Black History Month. The AFL-CIO featured CWA Local 6016 Shop Steward Shawanda Rankin as part of its yearly Black History Month celebration honoring leaders who are actively making Black history across the labor movement and beyond. Rankin lives in Oklahoma City and has worked at Avaya Communications, Inc. for 27 years. She is currently a Customer Facilitation Representative and has been a member of CWA the entire length of her employment. She also serves as the Legislative Director of CWA Local 6016 and actively participates in several political and legislative campaigns throughout CWA District 6. In addition, she serves on the Board of the Oklahoma AFL-CIO and is a proud graduate of the 2021 CWA Minority Leadership Institute. In her spare time, she enjoys watching sports on TV with her family and supports unhoused communities in her city.
This year, the CWA Human Rights Department will honor Black History Month by focusing on Black Health and Wellness with newsletters covering mental, physical, and social health that you will hopefully find informative and motivational. Click here for this week’s installment.
Flower Discounts for CWA Members
Union members, use your @UnionPlus discount to save 30% off all Teleflora Valentine’s Day bouquets, chocolate covered treats, and gift baskets. Hurry – offer ends Feb. 14. Click here.