Striking NewsGuild-CWA members at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and their supporters held a rally outside of the C-SPAN office in Washington, D.C., demanding the immediate removal of Allan Block, Chairman and CEO of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s parent company, Block Communications, from C-SPAN’s Board of Directors. Last December, CWA’s Executive Board sent a letter to C-SPAN calling on the company to eject Block from its Board, citing his union-busting activities, including his refusal to provide workers at the Post-Gazette with basic necessities like healthcare and raises, as well as swearing at and slapping a union representative with a bag of food after being asked why he refuses to negotiate in good faith. His behavior also includes supporting the January 6 insurrection and attempting to sway reporting to be pro-Trump.
Representative Summer Lee (D-Pa.), who was one of the first to show solidarity with the strikers by refusing to speak with the Post-Gazette, addressed the crowd. “If you have been paying attention, if you have been listening to what’s going on when we talk about threats to democracy, as we stand out here in front of C-SPAN…we know that the press is the cornerstone of democracy,” Lee said. “But if our workers are being mistreated in that process, then who’s going to be there on the front lines to uncover so much of what happens in [Congress] if we can’t count on our sisters and brothers in labor to be there on the spot day in and day out?”
“I am really awed and inspired by our Pittsburgh strikers. You all have been so brave and so courageous standing up for community journalism, standing up for the news that your communities need and standing up for your rights, the rights that every worker has in the United States,” said CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens, who attended the rally.
“[T]oday, we are sending C-SPAN a message loud and clear: if you want to remain ethically appropriate, if you want to keep your respected profile, if you want to continue to do the work of getting every American insight into how our federal government runs – drop the Block,” added NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss, who also participated in the rally. The workers, who have been on strike for more than four months and launched a petition demanding Block’s removal from C-SPAN’s Board, were joined by CWA leaders including AFA-CWA International Vice President Keturah Johnson and other supporters.
Rep. Summer Lee with striking CWA Pittsburgh Post-Gazette members and supporters at a rally outside of the C-SPAN office in Washington, D.C. (Photo/Alexandra Wimley, Pittsburgh Union Progress)
Comic Book Workers United
Workers at Image Comics, members of Comic Book Workers United (CWA Local 7901), ratified their first contract on March 1 after a year of negotiations. The new contract includes a formal procedure to address issues at the workplace and structured annual wages which provide more transparency, a key goal for the bargaining team. The workers, who became the first comic book workers to form a union in the U.S. last January, are proud of their solidarity in the face of the company’s stalling tactics during negotiations and see this contract as the next step in their journey as a union. They intend to continue to build power and raise standards at Image Comics and across the industry.
ARC of Essex County
Public workers at ARC of Essex County, members of CWA Local 1037, who advocate for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, overwhelmingly ratified a new contract. The new three-year contract includes higher wages, higher longevity bonuses, increased carryover vacation time and sick time, increased clothing allowance, and more. Click here for more details.
After almost a year of negotiations, CWA District 1 and 2-13 members at Thryv, Inc. (formerly Dex Media), a small business management platform, reached a tentative agreement for a new contract. The contract includes improvements to wages and working conditions, such as base salary increases, locality upgrades including a promotional base salary increase, a stock purchase plan, and the addition of Juneteenth as a recognized holiday. Read more here.
CWA Local 13000 members at Breezeline (formerly Atlantic Broadband) have reached a tentative agreement for a new contract that includes annual wage increases, improved standby and vacation allowances, an additional floating holiday, and more. The bargaining team also successfully fought back against several harmful proposals from the company. Read more here.
Deadlines Approaching to Apply for CWA 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. Find out more and apply here.
The AFA-CWA scholarship fund provides financial assistance to dependents of AFA-CWA members who will be attending a college or university. Applications must be postmarked by April 10, 2023. Find out more and apply here.
IUE-CWA offers two scholarship programs. Five James B. Carey Scholarships of $4,000 each are available for children and grandchildren of all IUE-CWA members and IUE-CWA employees (including retired or deceased IUE-CWA members or employees). The Furniture Workers Willie Rudd Scholarship offers one $2,500 scholarship for members and family members of IUE-CWA furniture workers locals. The application deadline is April 30, 2023. Find out more and apply here.
Worker Power Update
Protecting the Right to Strike
This week, Democratic Pennsylvania Congressman Chris Deluzio and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown introduced CWA-endorsed legislation that would penalize employers who terminate or change access to healthcare benefits for workers during a strike. The legislation, called the Striking and Locked Out Workers Healthcare Protection Act, would make it an unfair labor practice for employers to cut off or alter the health care insurance of workers involved in a strike or a lock out. Employers violating the law would be subject to monetary penalties.
“Protecting the right to strike means protecting workers from unfair strike-breaking tactics. No company should be able to hold a worker’s health—or the well-being of their family—hostage during a labor dispute,” said Deluzio in an exclusive article in the Pittsburgh Union Progress, which is published by striking CWA members at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This legislation would put an end to the abuse of power by companies like Block Communications, the owners of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who made unilateral changes to the healthcare of workers involved in the printing, mailing, and distribution of the paper, and subsequently terminated striking journalists’ healthcare altogether.
CWAers Mobilize to Secure a Pro-Worker Seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court
CWA members, along with a coalition of other pro-labor and pro-democracy activists, are continuing to mobilize to build support for Judge Janet Protasiewicz, a CWA-endorsed candidate for the open Wisconsin Supreme Court seat who won her primary election last month. This is a critical election that will determine how the court will rule on issues like worker protections, voting rights, and even how legislative district maps are drawn. Every vote counts to fight back against the anti-labor groups who are spending millions of dollars on this race. Click here to register for upcoming phone banking opportunities and to help turn out the vote.
Panel Highlights CWA’s Efforts to Hold Big Tech Companies Accountable to Their Entire Workforce
Alphabet Workers Union-CWA Executive Committee member Chris Schmidt spoke on a panel about risks facing tech companies at the spring conference of the Council of Institutional Investors. Schmidt spoke about how Alphabet’s dual-class employment structure and recent layoffs undermine worker morale and loyalty. He pointed to the National Labor Relation Board’s recent decision that Alphabet is a joint employer with Cognizant as a positive development that paves the way towards collective bargaining. The panel highlighted CWA’s groundbreaking agreement with Microsoft as a positive model for tech companies to reduce risk by adopting a policy of neutrality towards worker organizing.
CWAers Kick Off Women’s History Month
March is Women’s History Month. As part of the celebration, a group of CWA activists attended the International Women’s Alliance (IWA) Political Conference in Washington, D.C. They joined hundreds of people representing organizations across IWA. The participants engaged in discussions on advancing the working women's agenda and the global women's rights movement and marched together to take a stand against economic exploitation.
In honor of Women’s History Month, the CWA Human Rights Department is hosting a special virtual event on Tuesday, March 21, at 7pm EST, with Ellen Cassedy, a labor leader of the renowned 9to5 Movement. The 9to5 Movement was not only the inspiration for the iconic film and song, 9 to 5, but it is a testament to the fact that anyone can organize—and win. Click here to register.
In addition to the town hall, you can take a deeper dive into learning about the compelling organizing of these women through Ellen’s new book, Working 9 to 5: A women’s movement, a labor union, and the iconic movie. For 25% off, enter the promotional code WORKING25 at checkout.
Car Rental Discounts for CWA Members
Union members and family members save up to 35% off Avis or Budget base rates for spring travel with @UnionPlus. Terms apply. Click here for more details.