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Worker Power Update

March 16, 2023

Repealing Right to Work and Restoring Worker Freedom in Michigan

Thanks to the hard work and commitment of CWA activists and other labor activists in Michigan and across the country, on Tuesday, the Michigan Senate voted to repeal the state’s decade old so-called “right-to-work” law that has weakened workers’ power. “Right-to-work” laws prohibit agreements that ensure workers covered by a contract pay for their share of the costs of work done on their behalf by the union. That means that some workers reap the benefits the union provides without paying dues.

CWA activists have been on the forefront of the fight to repeal this law and restore workers’ freedom and power. During the 2022 midterm elections, CWAers mobilized with the rest of the labor movement to re-elect labor champion Governor Gretchen Whitmer and ensure that pro-worker Democrats held the majority of the seats in the state legislature. Following the election, CWA activists continued to participate in phone banks and lobby meetings and actively mobilize to get their state representatives to support the repeal of the state’s “right-to-work” law.

Last week, CWA District 4 held a virtual town hall where over a hundred participants tuned in to hear from state lawmakers and CWA leaders. CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens and CWA District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton, who spoke during the townhall, thanked and acknowledged State Representative Regina Weiss and State Senator Darrin Camilleri for their leadership in sponsoring the repeal legislation.

Michigan Activists
CWA activists in the gallery of the Michigan State Legislature during the vote to repeal the “right-to-work” law.


Building Broadband Better in Connecticut

Last Thursday, David Weidlich, president of CWA Local 1298, testified at a Connecticut House Labor and Public Employees Committee hearing in support of legislation introduced by Senator Julie Kushner and State Rep. Manny Sanchez to attach strong labor standards language to Connecticut’s broadband funding budget. The measure would ensure that public dollars benefit the public good by requiring that all federally-funded broadband deployment across the state be subject to prevailing wage requirements and carried out by high-road employers and a directly employed workforce. During the hearing, Weidlich encouraged the committee to support the bill, underscoring the importance of using local, highly-trained workers to ensure the state maximizes this historic investment. Upholding high standards in broadband deployment and supporting good jobs across the state, Weidlich explained, would curb hiring of out-of-state subcontractors, whose subpar work not only results in poor-quality internet service, but also threatens the safety of workers and communities.

“Public dollars should be used to fund high-quality networks – which require the use of a well-trained workforce,” Weidlich said. “Typically, these [low-road] contractors are non-union, lack adequate safety training, have very high turnover, and undermine the wages and standards established by union-represented telecom employees through collective bargaining agreements. The result is a disturbing record of accidents that cause damage to utilities, public property, and homes while presenting serious risks to workers and public safety.”


CWA Member Participates in White House Roundtable Highlighting the Importance of Respecting Workers’ Right to Organize

On Friday, CWA Local 2108 member Autumn Mitchell, a Quality Assurance tester from Microsoft’s Zenimax studio, participated in a White House roundtable hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. The roundtable highlighted forward-looking companies that are respecting their workers’ right to form unions and included union members and executives from Microsoft, Ford, Orstead, and Siemens. “When Quality Assurance workers at Activision announced they were joining CWA, they were threatened, intimidated, and illegally denied raises. Nothing like that happened when we decided to organize at Zenimax. I have a lot of respect for Microsoft’s leadership for taking a different approach and continuously working with us in good faith. I’m sure there’s a lot of pressure on them to act just like all of the other tech and video game companies. But they made a commitment to trust us to make the decision that was best for us and they stood by that commitment,” said Mitchell.

Autumn Mitchell at White House Roundtable
CWA Local 2108 member Autumn Mitchell (left), a Quality Assurance tester from Microsoft’s Zenimax studio, participated in a White House roundtable hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.


CWA Airport Workers Fight for Good Jobs

Last week, CWA airport workers, members of other unions including the Service Employees International Union and UNITE HERE, and supporters joined Senator Ed Markey and Rep. Chuy Garcia at a press conference on Capitol Hill announcing the reintroduction of 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. “Miami International Airport is one of the largest economic centers in the state and yet my members must take extraordinary measures to support themselves,” said James McKnight, President of CWA Local 3146, during the press conference. “Passing the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act would improve wages for my members and improve their quality of life as they continue to serve on the front lines of the aviation industry.”

Good Jobs for Good Airports Press Conference
CWA Local 3146 President James McKnight spoke at a press conference announcing the reintroduction of the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act.


Good Jobs for Good Airports Lobbying

The bill's introduction capped off a powerful week on Capitol Hill that included a gathering of activists such as CWA Local 3645 President Donielle Prophet (second from right) to lobby members of Congress in support of the legislation.


AFA-CWA Activists Fight for FAA Reauthorization on Capitol Hill

FAA Reauthorization

Over 60 AFA-CWA activists gathered in Washington, D.C., last week for Government Affairs 101 training and meetings with lawmakers. Flight Attendants urged members of Congress to work swiftly to support Flight Attendant priorities in the upcoming FAA Reauthorization Bill, which include establishing a national banned passenger list for violent passengers, improving cabin air quality, establishing cabin temperature standards, stopping flags of convenience carriers, updating aircraft emergency evacuation standards, seatbelts for all ticketed passengers, and more.