CWA Rideshare Workers Strike for Safety and Better Working Conditions
Over 250 rideshare and taxi drivers went on strike at the Denver International Airport last Thursday to raise wages, stop unfair terminations, and create safer conditions for drivers. The strike was organized by Colorado Independent Drivers United (CIDU), CWA Local 7777, and was led by a strike committee composed of 18 drivers. The strikers effectively shut down the holding lot at the airport, where drivers are required to wait for trip requests. Community allies, including elected officials and candidates for elected office, religious leaders, and leaders in the Black community joined the strikers. The Denver strike was part of a national day of action by Uber and Lyft drivers coordinated by PowerSwitch Action that included other driver actions in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Two days before the strike, the Colorado Senate Finance Committee voted down the CIDU-sponsored “Gig Work Transparency” legislation. The bill would have required gig companies to disclose the amount they take from fares to drivers and passengers, as well as set up a grievance system in which drivers who were unjustly terminated would have a path back to reinstatement.
Throughout the one month blitz period, which included the day of the strike, CIDU increased its driver network by 260 drivers, and 26 new members joined the union.
Last Thursday, Colorado Independent Drivers United (CIDU), CWA Local 7777, organized a strike at the Denver International Airport to raise wages, stop unfair terminations, and create safer conditions for drivers.
Worker Power Update
CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens To Serve on U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council Talent for Growth Task Force
Late last month, CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens was appointed to the U.S.-European Union (EU) Trade and Technology Council Talent for Growth Task Force. The task force, which is co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, is intended to encourage public and private sector initiatives to drive development of the talent and skills needed for emerging and existing technologies. The individuals serving on the task force will make recommendations on how to expand innovative, employer-based training in the United States and the EU, address shortages in skilled workers, and prepare the workforce of the future.
“As companies continue to deploy technology in the workplace, it is critical that our union and our labor movement have a meaningful say in promoting policies and regulation that protect and address workers’ interests and needs. Building international solidarity and cultivating common strategies through initiatives like this task force will help protect workers against exploitation and put us in a better position to build sustainable careers, with dignity, respect, and a voice on the job. I am honored to be representing CWA members and the broader labor movement on this task force and look forward to working with my colleagues to promote workers’ rights on a global scale,” said Steffens.
CWA Activists in California Attend Annual Legislative Conference and Lobby Lawmakers on CWA Priorities
CWA activists from across District 9 attended the 2023 California Labor Federation Joint Legislative Conference in Sacramento this week. CWA District 9 Vice President Frank Arce opened the pre-conference CWA meeting and spoke to the attendees. The activists also received training on lobbying best practices and participated in a lobby day to promote CWA’s legislative priorities in California, including the expansion of broadband to rural and tribal communities in the state using experienced union workers and the inclusion of strong labor protections in the state budget. As part of their ongoing fight against the subcontracting of good jobs to low-road, non-union contracting companies, the activists also advocated for legislation that would help curb the impacts of subcontracting and bring call center work back to California, as well as legislation that will ban mandatory anti-union captive audience meetings.
CWAers in Michigan Hold Annual Legislative Reception
The CWA Michigan Unified Council held a legislative reception in Lansing, Mich., last week to address some of the most pressing issues facing workers and union members in the state. The event focused on the crucial need for improved broadband access in Michigan, as well as measures to protect call center jobs and other worker-related issues. Several state senators and representatives attended the reception, including Senators John Cherry, Kevin Hertel, Sue Shink, and Sam Singh, and Representatives Brenda Carter, Amos O'Neal, Lori Stone, and Jason Hoskins. The gathering provided a valuable opportunity for lawmakers and labor leaders to collaborate and develop policies that support Michigan workers and their families.
State Representative Amos O'Neal (middle) with CWA activists in Michigan at the annual legislative reception hosted by the CWA Michigan Unified Council.
CWA Leaders in Arizona Appointed to Key Leadership Roles
Cecilia Valdez, Secretary-Treasurer of CWA Local 7026, was appointed as the newest commissioner on the Arizona Industrial Commission by Governor Katie Hobbs. The five member Commission administers and enforces state laws relating to the protection of the life, health, safety, and welfare of Arizona's employees. This includes laws relating to workers' compensation, occupational safety and health, payment of wages, and child labor. Valdez is a long time union member and activist with a wealth of experience and commitment to fighting for workers’ rights.
CWA Local 7019 member and Arizona Legislative and Political Coordinator Ginger Lane was appointed to serve on the Phoenix Business and Workforce Development Board by Mayor Kate Gallego. Lane and the other new appointees were sworn in earlier this month. The Board plays a key role in policy-making decisions that impact workers and businesses by identifying and promoting proven and promising strategies and initiatives for meeting the needs of employers, workers, and jobseekers. Lane’s appointment to this position is a reflection of her years of activism to build and strengthen worker power in Arizona and beyond.
Public, Healthcare and Education Workers Find “Power In Unity” at Annual Conference
Hundreds of CWA members from across the union gathered in Atlanta last week for the first in-person Public, Healthcare & Education Workers conference in four years. The CWAers met to exchange ideas, learn essential union-building skills, and celebrate solidarity.
In a video address, CWA President Chris Shelton highlighted recent mobilization efforts and important wins for public workers in New Jersey, California, and Michigan, and ongoing battles in Florida, Texas, and Minnesota. Shelton also congratulated United Campus Workers-CWA members for an amazing 20 years of defending campus workers’ rights across the country.
During his remarks, he called out corporate executives and anti-worker politicians for pursuing their agenda of privatizing and eliminating public services, saying, “They are committed to exploiting every opportunity, including the pandemic, to pursue their agenda” and are blocking federal legislation to give all public sector workers the right to form a union and collectively bargain. “I am counting on each and every one of you to ensure that we are building power by consistently strengthening our mobilization in every workplace, every local, and every district.”
Addressing the meeting, CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens uplifted the various organizing, bargaining, and political victories in the public sector and across the union. She also referenced the significance of seizing the momentum workers are building by increasingly taking collective action to demand better. “Sisters and brothers, union siblings, the balance of power is swinging our way. The old limits no longer apply. There is a lot of work before us. None of it is easy, but all of it is worthy of our full-hearted efforts. This is a year where every day matters. Every day is full of promise for our CWA members and our labor movement,” she said.
CWA-PHEW Vice President Margaret Cook opened the meeting with remarks on the conference theme of “Power in Unity,” saying, “In every corner of this sector, in every single one of our Districts, we aren’t just talking about solidarity—we’re acting on it. We’re taking on the fights, together. Standing in unity. And winning.” Cook also warned of looming threats to democracy that union members will defeat only through solidarity.
Conference plenary sessions included discussions of new challenges for public workers in Florida, racial and gender justice in public sector organizing, how to build solidarity across the union, and the need to support the wellbeing of members. Conference workshops addressed practical ways to build worker power to advance workers’ interests at the bargaining table and in state and national legislatures.
Attendees heard inspiring words from Georgia Senators Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff, as well as an invocation from IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew and messages from District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney, CWA District 3 Vice President Richard Honeycutt, CWA District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton, District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings Jr., District 7 Vice President Susie McAllister, District 9 Vice President Frank Arce, and AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson.
CWA Public, Healthcare and Education Workers Vice President Margaret Cook (left of center) with CWAers at the 2023 PHEW annual conference.
Brightspeed (formerly Lumen Technologies)
Workers at Brightspeed of Texas, members of CWA Local 6174, overwhelmingly ratified a new five-year contract last month that provides a 14 percent pay raise over that period for all employees. The contract also includes improvements to paid time off with two new fixed holidays, improved pay for employees on standby time, the addition of a new job title, as well as additional protections for schedules and seniority. The bargaining team, with the support of the members, was able to successfully negotiate these gains without agreeing to any retrogressive demands or givebacks.
Workers at Brightspeed of Missouri also reached a tentative agreement for a new five-year contract that includes an over 15 percent pay increase over the life of the contract and additional improvements to benefits and working conditions. The contract was overwhelmingly ratified by members of CWA Locals 6312, 6300, 6311, and 6373.
Smithville Telephone Company, Inc.
Members of CWA Local 4818, employed by Smithville Telephone Company, Inc. in Indiana, have been mobilizing to gain a fair contract. The members are hardworking employees who continued to provide essential services throughout the pandemic and have been there every step of the way to ensure the success of Smithville. They have held informational pickets before and after work to take a stand together, demanding a fair contract with good benefits, competitive wages, and safe working conditions. The bargaining team is committed to negotiating a contract that addresses the concerns the workers have clearly expressed. Although there has been some progress at the table, the parties are continuing to bargain over critical issues that will impact the workers’ livelihood.