CWA News

Bargaining Update

1 day 21 hours ago
AT&T West

CWA AT&T West members ratified a contract covering 17,000 workers in California and Nevada by a 58 to 42 percent vote.

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AT&T Mobility

Workers at AT&T Mobility have gained media attention in the recent weeks as their fight for a fair contract continues.

Cornell Professor Rose Blatt wrote about AT&T’s harmful offshoring practices for the Dallas Morning News:

Six months ago, Kanika Holloway, a mother of three in Ridgeland, Miss., lost her job after AT&T closed the call center where she had worked for more than 15 years. Since then, Holloway has struggled to find a job where she can still keep up rent payments and stay in-network with her kids' pediatrician.

Her story is not unique. In the last six years, AT&T has cut more than 12,000 jobs and sent them offshore. It is a leader in the pack of corporations that continue to offshore lower- and middle-income American jobs, even at a time when Americans are paying close attention to who creates and maintains U.S jobs. By choosing to shutter more than 30 call centers in the U.S., AT&T has pulled hundreds of jobs from small rural communities and urban centers.

Read the full piece here.

The Niagara Gazette wrote about how elected officials in New York are supporting AT&T Mobility workers. Read it here.


Tennessee State Reps. Darren Jernigan (D) and Bud Hulsey (R) visited an AT&T Mobility call center in Johnson City, Tennessee to show their support for the workers.

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AT&T Southwest

As part of the AT&T Southwest contract that CWA negotiated and members ratified earlier this year, AT&T agreed to bring back 3,000 jobs to the district. CWA and other unions bargain and work hard to keep good union jobs in the U.S. and to press employers to expand those jobs here. It takes a lot more than talk.

Read more about new jobs coming to an AT&T call center in Springfield, Ky.

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Mesa Airlines

AFA-CWA Flight Attendants and supporters leafleted outside more than 13 airports last week in support of Mesa Airlines Flight Attendants. Their goal: to let passengers know that Mesa operates many regional flights for American Airlines and United Airlines, but that Mesa Flight Attendants who do the same work as at mainline carriers earn close to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, while Mesa pockets the difference.

Negotiations for a fair contract for Mesa Flight Attendants are being overseen by the National Mediation Board.

Tailor White

CWA President Shelton: Here's How to Keep Good Call Center Jobs in the U.S.

1 day 21 hours ago

CWA President Chris Shelton wrote for The Hill about how Congress can act to keep good call center jobs here in the U.S:

The offshoring of U.S. call center jobs has climbed sharply in recent years. Companies marketing products and services to U.S. residents too often are sending good call center jobs overseas. While the U.S. has been swiftly losing call center jobs, the amount of off-shore call center jobs servicing the U.S. has skyrocketed.

The loss of a call center means the loss of a pillar of the local economy for many communities. Lost jobs mean lower tax revenues to fund important public services. And when companies offshore U.S. jobs, it puts more pressure on workers at home to accept lower wages and benefits, and poorer working conditions. U.S. workers shouldn’t have to compete with overseas operations paying around a dollar an hour and forcing employees to work 12-hour days, or longer.

There is a solution. Last week, Congressional Democrats unveiled policy details of their “Better Deal” agenda, including support for crucial legislation, the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, which would help rein in the practice of offshoring call center jobs from America.

Read the full piece here.

Tailor White

Heat Illness Prevention Training Saves Lives

1 day 21 hours ago

CWA’s Occupational Safety and Health Department provided a two-day training session for members of CWA Locals 6215 and 6210 in Dallas, Tex. The training, conducted by Randy Rodriguez, Local 6222 occupational safety and health chair, and Mary Ann Hopkins, president, Local 6502, took up topics including Working in Extreme Temperatures (Heat Illness Prevention) and hazardous materials. The heat stress training helps members identify and respond to the symptoms of heat illness, and emphasizes employer responsibilities for providing adequate training and personal protective equipment and properly responding to members.

Just one week after the session, a member of Local 6210 was working alone in an attic and then outdoors for several hours. The average temperature for the day was 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The member initially reported feeling hot and nauseous to management, but continued working while again notifying management that his symptoms were not going away and assistance was needed.

The member contacted the steward who attended the safety and health training, who advised the member to seek water, rest and shade. On arrival, the steward determined that emergency services were needed and called 911; the member was hospitalized and hasn’t yet been authorized to return to work.

Local 6219 President Dwayne Webb encouraged all CWA members to participate in safety and health training, stressing that his member’s life was saved as a result of the session.

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Save the Date for Health, Safety, and Environment Conference

The CWA/USW Health, Safety and Environment Conference will be held March 26-30, 2018 at the Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Tailor White

CWAers Make Presentation at Netroots Nation

1 day 21 hours ago

At this year’s Netroots Nation conference in Atlanta, Ga., progressive activists from across the country met for four days of organizing, brainstorming, and great speakers.

Angie Wells, CWA Senior Campaign Lead, Human Rights, moderated a panel of CWAers and activists from the Democracy Initiative and Demos, talking about “How Do Progressives Win in the Trump Era?” The panel included Wells, Rodney McKenzie, Demos; Rita Scott, CWA District 3 Retired Members Council President; Cesar Leyva, CWA North Carolina, and Michelle Whittaker, Democracy Initiative.

Watch the presentation here.

Tailor White

CWA: We Reject the Hatred and Bigotry of White Supremacists

5 days 21 hours ago

Members of the Communications Workers of America reject the vile actions and rhetoric of the white supremacists who paraded their hatred and bigotry this weekend in Charlottesville, Va. These evil actions, which President Trump couldn’t be bothered to condemn, instead offering a weak “violence on many sides” throwaway line, resulted in the tragic death of a young woman and injuries to many more.

Our government’s failure to condemn these evil people emboldens them, and sets us back in our determination to realize our goal of a nation where all people are respected, all have opportunity and all are full participants in our democracy.

CWA members are determined to bring about that nation, and we will continue to work with our allies to ensure that hatred, racism and bigotry have no place in our nation. We also commend the law enforcement officers who stood together to end this demonstration of hate.

Candice Johnson

CWA: We Reject the Hatred and Bigotry of White Supremacists

5 days 21 hours ago

Members of the Communications Workers of America reject the vile actions and rhetoric of the white supremacists who paraded their hatred and bigotry this weekend in Charlottesville, Va. These evil actions, which President Trump couldn’t be bothered to condemn, instead offering a weak “violence on many sides” throwaway line, resulted in the tragic death of a young woman and injuries to many more.

Our government’s failure to condemn these evil people emboldens them, and sets us back in our determination to realize our goal of a nation where all people are respected, all have opportunity and all are full participants in our democracy.

CWA members are determined to bring about that nation, and we will continue to work with our allies to ensure that hatred, racism and bigotry have no place in our nation. We also commend the law enforcement officers who stood together to end this demonstration of hate.

Candice Johnson

CWA Statement on AT&T West Contract Vote

1 week 1 day ago

Today, members of the Communications Workers of America in District 9 (representing workers in California and Nevada) participated in counting the votes on the tentative agreement reached with AT&T West covering 17,000 workers.

CWA members ratified the agreement by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent.

CWA has notified the Company of the results and will be working with AT&T on implementation.

 

Candice Johnson

CWA President Chris Shelton: When We Fight, We Win

1 week 2 days ago

CWA President Chris Shelton.

In his keynote address to the 76th CWA convention in Pittsburgh, CWA President Chris Shelton laid out the intensifying attacks facing workers and the labor movement, but reminded delegates that "always, always, always, working people have risen up to fight for what is right."

"Our work is cut out for us. But let me tell you this: I am 100 percent confident that we are up to the task. I have spent my entire adult life building this union. I know what CWA is made of. I know that every one of you will do whatever we have to do to save our union and to save our labor movement. I know that we are CWA STRONG and that nothing, nothing can break us!"


President Shelton hits the convention floor after his keynote speech.

Shelton outlined the CWA STRONG program and noted that locals already are putting this plan into action. "Step 1 for CWA STRONG is increasing membership levels. Step 2 is more mobilization and member engagement. Across this union we must renew our commitment to building our union from the bottom up. At the same time, we must continue to reach out to our community allies who will stand with us against our enemies. A stronger CWA means a stronger foundation for a progressive movement. Locals, large and small, are working hard to sign up agency fee payers and non-members in both the public and private sectors."

Watch the CWA STRONG convention video here

He recognized CWA members and activists who walked picket lines and stood with striking workers at AT&T, AT&T Mobility and Verizon, and at Momentive.

"The labor movement will not grow; the labor movement will not survive, if it forgets how to fight. CWA will never forget how to fight! These strikers set an example for – and sent a message to – the entire labor movement. When we fight, we win. More than anything else, this is what makes us CWA STRONG."

Read the full speech here.

For a full video of the speech, click here.

Sarah Splitt

CWA STRONG

1 week 2 days ago

CWAers from more than 371 locals at the CWA Convention took the pledge to make locals CWA STRONG, with more signing up every day. Convention delegates adopted the far-reaching CWA STRONG plan to strengthen our union at all levels and build our capacity to survive and fight back.

Under the CWA STRONG program, locals and activists are building our union by talking with and signing up non-members, stronger organizing committees, recruiting new stewards and activists, participation in political boot camps, and more.

The plan calls for CWA locals at or below 80 percent organized, with support from the districts and the national union, to increase membership by 10 percentage points this year; for all locals to have active and effective organizing, legislative-political, and human rights committees and participate in boot camps and other trainings, and to build and strengthen the workplace mobilization structure, among other actions.

Read the full resolution here.


CWAers from more than 371 locals at the CWA Convention took the pledge to make locals CWA STRONG. More are signing up every day.

 

Sarah Splitt

Convention Resolutions and Actions

1 week 2 days ago

In addition to CWA STRONG, delegates to the 76th convention adopted several resolutions – putting the Trump administration on notice that working families and CWAers are holding negotiators accountable for the promises made about NAFTA; calling for the increased engagement and mobilization of call center members; standing for equitable tax policies that make the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, affirming CWA opposition to Islamophobia and all discrimination, and other critical issues.

Read all the adopted resolutions here.

Delegates also adopted policies, reports, and actions to keep our union moving forward, including reports from the National Committee on Civil Rights and Equity and the National Women's Committee.

See photos from the convention here.

The site will be updated, so check back often.

Sarah Splitt

More CWA Convention Action

1 week 2 days ago

CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens told delegates that "the Secretary-Treasurer's office is working hard to protect our resources, not only our financial and physical assets but also the unity that binds and sustains us." Read her full remarks here.  

Delegates also heard from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) and Andreas Franke of ver.di, whose members are standing with T-Mobile US workers in the fight for a CWA voice, among other speakers.

Locals were recognized for their support for CWA's Political Action Fund and for fund-raising on behalf of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.


Clockwise, from top left: CWA locals honored for organizing more than 100 members; bagpipers from Fire Fighters Local #1 open the convention; delegates applaud convention actions; Jackson, Miss., Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, addressed delegates at the Public, Health Care, and Education Workers Sector meeting; CWAers gathered at the 76th convention; delegates vote and (next photo) show their support for convention reports; Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf and (right) CWA Sec.-Treas. Sara Steffens.

Sarah Splitt

Local 3905 Wins President's Award for DIRECTV Organizing

1 week 2 days ago

The CWA President's "Hat" Award, honoring outstanding achievements in organizing, was presented to CWA Local 3905 for their work building a strong, statewide unit of DIRECTV workers.

President David Betts accepted the award on behalf of all his members, especially the DIRECTV workers who stepped forward to meet the challenge of building a new unit, and thanked District 3 for its strong support. Local 3905 coordinated efforts with other Alabama locals to organize a statewide unit of 240 technicians.

The Hat Award is named for CWA's founding president, Joe Beirne, and is CWA's highest honor.


On behalf of his members, Local 3905 President David Betts accepts the Hat Award for organizing DIRECTV in Alabama.

CWA Organizing Director Sandy Rusher reported that since the last convention in 2015, more than 17,000 new members have joined our union through external organizing efforts.

Despite the fact that many of our largest employers have been shrinking our bargaining units, our union has grown over the past two years because of the organizing our locals have done, she said.

Carolyn Wade, at-large executive board member and president of CWA Local 1040, recognized the 41 locals that organized at least 100 workers in either one or both of the past two years. Each local will receive a $1,000 organizing subsidy; five time winners will receive $5,000.

Local 1037, Newark, N.J.; Local 1101, New York City; Local 1180, New York City; Local 30213, Toronto, Ontario; Local 31003, New York City; Local 2009, Huntington, W.Va.; Local 3010, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Local 3108, Orlando, Fla.; Local 3109, Pensacola, Fla.; Local 3212, Columbus, Ga.; Local 3808, Nashville, Tenn.; Local 3902, Birmingham, Ala.; Local 3905, Huntsville, Ala.

Local 4320, Columbus, Ohio; Local 6012, Tulsa, Okla.; Local 6016, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Local 6222, Houston; Local 6300, St. Louis, Mo.; Local 6327, Kansas City, Mo.; Local 6360 Kansas City, Mo.; Local 7011, Albuquerque, N.M.; Local 7019, Phoenix, Ariz.; Local 7026, Tucson, Ariz.; Local 7103, Sioux City, Iowa; Local 7750, Denver; Local 7777, Englewood, Colo.; Local 7906, Salem, Ore.

Local 9003, Burbank, Calif.; Local 9400, Paramount, Calif.; Local 9408, Fresno, Calif.; Local 9413, Sparks, Nev.; Local 9417, Stockton, Calif.; Local 9421, Sacramento; Local 9423, San Jose, Calif.; Local 9504, Simi Valley, Calif.; Local 9505, Los Angeles; Local 9509, San Diego; Local 9510, Orange, Calif.; Local 23004, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Local 24031, St. Louis, Mo.; Local 29032, San Francisco.

Sarah Splitt

Bargaining Update

1 week 2 days ago

Halifax Chronicle Herald

CWA Canada President Martin O'Hanlon announced to CWA delegates that CWA Canada Local 30130 bargainers have reached a tentative agreement covering the 50 newspaper workers who have been on strike at the Halifax Chronicle Herald for 18 months.

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CNN

The 110 news workers at Team Video Services and CNN who have been fighting for their jobs and union rights since 2003 just won a big legal victory. The federal appeals court for the D.C. circuit upheld the NLRB’s decision that CNN discriminated against TVS employees when it instituted a new hiring process and hired only non-union workers. The court also ruled that CNN is a successor employer and obligated to recognize NABET-CWA Locals 51011 and 52031 in New York and Washington, D.C., as the workers’ bargaining representative. NABET-CWA President Charlie Braico told delegates that it might take time, but "when we fight we win."

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President Shelton and Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens joined CWAers at the "Our Jobs are Not for Sale" rally at JLL.

University of Tennessee

In Pittsburgh, CWA delegates joined members of United Campus Workers Local 3865 outside the Pittsburgh headquarters of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a real estate company that Tennessee Governor Haslam secretly signed a contract with to privatize thousands of state jobs, including jobs at the University of Tennessee. CWA President Chris Shelton and Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens joined the "Our Jobs are Not for Sale" rally.

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Avaya

CWA Vice President Lisa Bolton, Telecommunications and Technologies, reported that CWA members and retirees at Avaya have some breathing room in their fight to keep the secure retirement at Avaya that they've bargained for over decades.

On July 25, Avaya announced that it had reached a deal with the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corp., a federal agency, in connection with the pension plan covering salaried (non-union-represented) workers. A bankruptcy court hearing will be held on Aug. 15 to approve this step. The plan covering CWA members is not affected by this agreement and remains in force.

Sarah Splitt

AT&T’s Use of Authorized Dealers Raises Concerns for Workers and Customers

1 week 2 days ago

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote about how AT&T's use of third-party dealers is harming workers and lowering customer service quality for consumers. Some highlights of the article:

AT&T and Verizon, along with rivals Sprint and T-Mobile, have increased their sales in recent years by appointing third-party dealers to open new retail locations selling their cell phones and other products.

In the case of telecom companies, the system is confusing some customers and drawing barbs from unions who see authorized retailers as rogue entities with little accountability for customer service and worker standards.

Because of different sales systems, it is possible that a phone purchased at an authorized retailer can not be returned to a corporate store or another authorized retailer. But because the stores are often set up to look similar, some customers don't know they are talking to another company’s employee.

For the union representing AT&T workers, the debate — which has gone on for years — gets a little more heated during contract negotiations like the ones going on now. The Communication Workers of America is bargaining for a new contract on behalf of 21,000 AT&T wireless employees, who see authorized retailers as an existential threat to their jobs in corporate stores.

A few weeks ago, the union released a report and set up a "consumer alert" website highlighting the issue of authorized retailers offering different levels of service.

In a poll of its members who work at corporate stores and call centers, 76 percent reported that customers came to them with "problems caused by third-party stores multiple times per week." In addition, 83 percent responded that third-party stores are referring their customers to corporate-owned stores when a service issue arises.

"There's no standardized training method, there’s no accountability from the AT&T side," said James Stiffey, a retail sales consultant for AT&T for six years who works in the Cranberry corporate store. He said he sees several customers a week who are upset or confused at the nearby Wexford store, operated by an authorized retailer.

Read the full piece here.

 

Sarah Splitt

CWA President Chris Shelton's Address to the 76th CWA Convention

1 week 5 days ago

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Good morning Brothers and Sisters.

Welcome to the 76th International Convention of the Communications Workers of America. It is great to be with all of you here in Pittsburgh.

I want to start by thanking Sara Steffens, our Secretary-Treasurer, who is doing an amazing job making sure that our accounting and membership systems are state-of-the-art, and that the Secretary-Treasurer’s office is meeting the needs of all of our members and locals.

I also want to thank all of my colleagues on the Executive Board. Each and every one of these brothers and sisters is out there fighting for you every day. I am lucky to have such a great team working alongside me.

And I want to thank each and every one of you. CWA is the greatest union in the world because of the sacrifices and commitments you make every day. I could not be prouder or more humbled to be your President.

I’m not going to waste any time beating around the bush. These are hard times for working people. As hard as I have ever seen things in my entire career in the labor movement.

Private sector union density is down to 6.4 percent--the lowest level it’s been since 1910. 1910. 107 years ago. Now, they’re coming after the public sector, the last remaining bastion of union strength in America.

Corporate America smells blood. The Koch Brothers smell blood. And with the Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, with Neil Gorsuch entrenched on the Supreme Court, and with that nitwit Donald Trump tweeting in the White House….well, I can see why Corporate America thinks it’s time to go in for the kill.

This attack is not just on unions and working people. It is an attack on democracy itself. At every level. Because the union movement is not just about wages and benefits, though it IS about that. The union movement is not just about decent working conditions, though it absolutely IS about that, too.

More than anything else, the union movement is about DEMOCRACY—the rights of regular people to have a say in their daily lives. The union movement is all that stands in the way of every corporate bully imposing tyranny in the workplace. Without unions, the workplace is little better than a fascist dictatorship, with the bosses free to do whatever they want, whenever they want. 

And it’s not just that unions give workers a voice in the workplace. The labor movement is the key to a democratic society. Unions give regular people a collective voice in the political decision-making process which determines the quality of all of our lives. 

And since Corporate America does not want the concerns of regular people to get in its way, it is laser-focused on destroying us. 

The attacks on the labor movement are intensifying. There is an entrenched anti-labor majority on the Supreme Court. Our political system is drenched in corporate money. Republicans have gerrymandered their way to power in State Houses across the country. 

Right-to-work for less laws have passed in former union strongholds like Michigan and Wisconsin.

But Brothers and Sisters, let me say this to you and I hope you will not forget it: Working people have faced even worse before. We have been knocked down, beaten up, even killed for what we believe in. And always, always, always, working people have risen up to fight for what is right.

And we will do it again!

Think about this: 125 years ago, in 1892, just about six miles from where we are meeting right now, a literal war took place during the strike at Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead Steel Works. The workers had gone on strike against a 20 percent pay cut. Henry Frick, Carnegie’s right hand man, brought in river barges filled with 300 armed Pinkerton guards. But the strikers had guns, too; they even had a cannon. 

In the early morning of July 6th, when Frick’s barges landed on the banks of the Monongahela River in an attempt to break the strike lines, gunfire erupted. Nine strikers and seven Pinkertons were killed. Within a week, the Governor of Pennsylvania had called in thousands of state militia, and the strike was broken, destroying unionism in the steel industry for another 40 years.

Yes, times today are tough. But our grandparents and our great grandparents suffered through much worse in order to build this movement. We stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. 

And the question for us is, are we up to meeting the challenge of preserving the workers movement in this time of great attack? I ask you, Brothers and Sisters, are we up to that challenge?

Are you ready to do what has to be done?

Donald Trump got elected President for a lot of different reasons. We need to be brutally honest with ourselves about those reasons. For starters, Trump tapped into a vein of racism and sexism and xenophobia that has no place in our society. 

He pandered to those animosities; he whipped them up, and unleashed some of the ugliest, most hateful forces in our society. People Tweeting Swastikas; people parading in white hoods and robes. We reject racism and sexism and xenophobia; we will fight those sentiments in our ranks and throughout American society.

Donald Trump also won because there are whole sections of this country that have been economically hollowed out, where all the good jobs are long gone, where NAFTA is a four letter word, where young people are overdosing on opioids, where life expectancy is actually falling. These people voted for change, even if the change Donald Trump was peddling was just a bunch of BS.

And Donald Trump won because too many Americans—even, I suspect, a lot of our members—see the big divide in this country as not between working people and the one percent, not between working people and corporate CEOs, but between themselves and politicians. They see politicians as self-interested, self-dealing elitists who don’t care about people like them.

And to these misguided voters, Donald Trump was the anti-politician, the person who could shake things up, the person who would “drain the swamp.”

Well, now we are all in the swamp, and it is starting to feel more like quicksand. Trump didn’t eliminate crony capitalism. He raised it to a fine art.

He’s personally profiting from the foreign delegations booking rooms at his hotels. His cabinet is filled with Goldman Sachs executives. Scores of industry lobbyists—from chemical companies, and big banks, oil companies, coal companies and telecom companies—are now rewriting regulations to put smiles on the faces of their old bosses. A Verizon lawyer is running the FCC. OSHA regulations two decades in the making are being rolled back. The NLRB is being gutted. The Department of Labor should be renamed the Department of Union-Busting. And with Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, we can expect public sector agency fees to be outlawed within the next year.

Our work is cut out for us. But let me tell you this: I am 100 percent confident that we are up to the task. I have spent my entire adult life building this union. I know what CWA is made of. I know that every one of you will do whatever we have to do to save our union and to save our labor movement. I know that we are CWA STRONG and that nothing, nothing can break us!

My confidence comes from what I see already happening in our CWA STRONG program. Step 1 for CWA STRONG is increasing membership levels. Step 2 is more mobilization and member engagement. Across this union we must renew our commitment to building our union from the bottom up. At the same time, we must continue to reach out to our community allies who will stand with us against our enemies. A stronger CWA means a stronger foundation for a progressive movement.

Locals, large and small, are working hard to sign up agency fee payers and non-members in both the public and private sectors.

Take Local 6137 in Corpus Christie, Texas. On the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, almost as far south as you can go in the continental United States, this Local represents 472 AT&T employees, and 463 of them are CWA members – 98 percent!

Local President Kristie Moeller Veit says the key to keeping the union strong is simple—you actually have to talk to workers. "In this social media driven world,” she said,” it's more important than ever to develop real and personal relationships. It's the best way to get people involved."

In our biggest public sector unit, in the State of New Jersey, every one of the eight locals has an organizing plan with specific goals. There have been staff trainings and stewards’ trainings. And despite political warfare with outgoing Governor Christie, a huge budget fight and a three day government shutdown—when Christie infamously went to a “closed to the public” beach ― our organizing efforts are paying off.

Statewide, the number of agency fee payers has been cut by 21 percent. All the locals are moving forward but Local 1040, led by President Carolyn Wade, has been exceptional, reducing the number of agency fee payers from 1300 to 600—more than 50 percent. The local set up an Organizing Rapid Response Team composed of 30 stewards who went through an organizing training and then went right into the field and signed up 300 members in two days. Local 1037 has pushed its membership to over 90 percent by signing up over 500 of their 1350 agency fee payers, and Local 1036 pushed its membership up by seven percent to 74 percent.

Statewide, CWA public sector membership has gone from just over 70 percent to just under 80 percent, and our state and local government locals are determined to get to 90 percent before the Supreme Court eliminates agency fee payers in the public sector. 

Building membership levels is the foundation of CWA STRONG.

Across the South, and in every other “right to work for less “state,” our Locals are working every day to make CWA STRONG. Take Local 3603 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since our launch of the CWA Strong Campaign, their organizing committee has signed up 95 non-members in 5 bargaining units. 

At their monthly organizing committee meetings, they make plans to ensure that they:

  • sign all new hires to membership,
  • ask all non-members to join, and
  • update Orion records so we know who those members are.

Committee member Michael Roberts says “Our more frequent presence on job sites has been huge. Our members are getting to engage with us one-on-one about concerns and issues on the job and our non-members are seeing this and signing up. In an 18 week period, Local 3603 has grown from 61.1 percent to 79.21 percent organized. Local President, Bonnie Overman, thank you for your leadership and making CWA Strong in North Carolina.

Membership levels is one measure of the strength of our union. The number of activists and leaders is another. Across District 7, more and more local activists are being trained and recruited. For example, Local 7076, a public sector local, knew that it was only a matter of time before the Supreme Court eliminated agency fee payers. Through CWA Strong, they added 29 stewards, doubled the number of activists, and have added 700 members to the Local. 

We are CWA STRONG when it comes to legislation and politics, too. Take, for example, what happened last year in Arizona. 

As we did everywhere across the country, our activists there worked their butts off for Bernie Sanders for President. But when the Arizona primary arrived last March, the Maricopa County Registrar had slashed the number of polling places from 200 to 60.

Tens of thousands of Bernie supporters had to wait up to four hours to vote, and tens of thousands more just gave up.

But rather than getting bitter, CWA local union activist Yolanda Bejerano, with the support of Local 7019 President Irene Robles, decided to get even.

That night she told long-time Phoenix civil rights lawyer Adrian Fontes that he simply had to mount a challenge to the incumbent registrar. And at the same time, CWA became involved in the general election campaign to take out the notorious anti-immigrant sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Mobilizing like never before, and working in a broad progressive coalition of community organizations and unions, Yoli and the local played a key role in winning both of those races—kicking out both Arpaio and the 28-year incumbent County Registrar. That is political movement-building at its best.

That’s just one story of dozens. All across the country, we are training more activists at Boot Camps, recruiting more volunteers, and signing up more members to PAF -- our political action fund program. In some places, like in Texas, we are combining PAF drives with our campaigns to sign up public sector agency fee payers, and doing a fantastic job.

Likewise, our legislative work is second to none. After the shock of Trump’s victory sank in, we decided that we shouldn’t attack him personally, but we should focus on opposing his policies and nominations that were bad for working people. Now that turned out to be a target-rich environment.

Thanks to the respect CWA has earned from the progressive community because of our past leadership on fights to reform the Senate rules and stopping TPP, we were able to galvanize a coalition of progressive opposition to Trump’s nominees.

We didn’t stop all of them, by any stretch of the imagination. But we did defeat the nominee for Secretary of Labor—Andrew Puzder—who didn’t believe in the NLRB, overtime pay, or the minimum wage. By fighting these nominees aggressively, we helped slow the momentum for the rest of the President’s anti-worker agenda, including giant tax cuts for the rich, and his bogus infrastructure give-away to Wall Street. 

We accomplished this because of the thousands and thousands of calls our members made against these nominees. We accomplished this because we are CWA STRONG and our members are engaged and our activists are leaders.

And perhaps most important of all, CWA was a major player in the incredible fight to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Together, we protected health insurance for tens of millions of people and stopped them from shifting the costs of the uninsured onto our plans. Together, we literally prevented the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans who would have died without their health coverage. 

The fight against ACA repeal proves once again that when we fight, we win, and in the process we can make a difference in the lives of millions.

Now CWA is taking the lead on the fight to rein in Wall Street. Wall Street plays the tune that every CEO must dance to. The one percent and Wall Street are the reasons our bargaining grows harder with each round. And we have launched a multi-year fight to rebuild our Main Streets and stop Wall Street from wrecking our communities.

We are going to fight to make sure that Democrats in Congress support a real infrastructure bill that rebuilds roads, bridges and schools, and creates millions of good union jobs, not a bunch of trickle down tax cuts for Wall Street investment in privatized roads and bridges. 

We are going to mobilize like hell to maintain Wall Street regulations and stop mega tax-giveaways to the one percent. We are going to mobilize to insist that Wall Street pay its fair share of taxes.

And we are going to continue spreading our Runaway Inequality Training program, through which we’ve trained 50 CWA local activists to lead trainings, conducted 66 workshops in 10 states and trained nearly 1,000 people. Now Runaway Inequality is spreading to our allies, like the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Citizen Action, the UAW, Jobs with Justice, and local allies like the NAACP and the Sierra Club in Michigan.

We have a lot to be proud of. We are CWA STRONG in all of these critically important areas —organizing, political, legislative, and educational. 

But the bedrock of our work remains the day-to-day fight to improve the wages, benefits, and working conditions of our members, at the bargaining table or in the streets, if necessary. That’s why day-to-day representation and collective bargaining has always been the base of the CWA Triangle.

And when it comes to fighting for members, and winning good contracts, the record of CWA is second to none!

Over the last 16 months, nearly 70,000 CWA members in the telecommunications industry — well over 15 percent of our total membership — have walked picket lines anywhere from three days to seven weeks. 

We have taken on two of the 15 largest corporations in America. If you walked on an AT&T picket line—stand up; if you walked on a Verizon picket line—stand up; if you are the leader of a local where Verizon or AT&T or AT&T Mobility workers went on strike—stand up; if you picketed in support of these striking workers—stand up, stand up, stand up—and give yourselves a round of applause. The labor movement will not grow; the labor movement will not survive, if it forgets how to fight. 

Brothers and sisters, you have not forgotten how to fight! CWA will never forget how to fight! These strikers set an example for – and sent a message to – the entire labor movement. When we fight, we win.

More than anything else, this is what makes us CWA STRONG.

Brothers and Sisters, as President, it is my responsibility to set strike dates. This is a heavy decision; one which requires me to measure our will, the strength of our potential strike issues, and the level of our membership’s readiness and mobilization. I want to be clear with you − I will never call a strike where we are not prepared or one where we do not have a strategy to win.

We won a magnificent victory last year at Verizon, and I want to congratulate everyone who made that victory possible. We are still in a battle with AT&T and AT&T Mobility, and we will keep up that fight until we’ve won contracts we can be proud of.

Of course, these are not the only collective bargaining fights in our union and not every round of bargaining ends in a strike. We’ve bargained great contracts at United Airlines for flight attendants, at hospitals for nurses in Buffalo; for Passenger Service Workers at American; for telephone workers at CenturyLink; for broadcast technicians at NBC and ABC; for reporters at Digital First media; and for manufacturing workers at GE.

I am especially proud of the 700 members of IUE-CWA who walked the picket line, through the rain and snow and freezing cold, at Momentive Materials in upstate New York for 105 days until we were able to get Governor Cuomo involved to help us win that strike.

I am proud of our union. I am proud of all the work we are doing. But Brothers and Sisters, let’s not kid ourselves. We are at war—a war to save the labor movement. In a war, there are no neutrals. To paraphrase the old union song, in times like these, every working person must decide: which side are you on? Are you a union activist, a union militant, or are you a scab for the bosses? No middle ground. No bystanders.

That means we must build CWA STRONG, in every workplace, in every community, in the streets, at the ballot box, from the bottom up. 

Every work location must have a trained, effective steward. Every local officer must redouble his or her efforts to talk to members, to listen to members, to explain what is at stake in this war. We must, must, must make it clear to members that we need to mobilize in every arena—the bargaining table, the State Houses and Congress, on the campaign trail, alongside our brothers and sisters in the civil rights, environmental, women’s, and other social justice movements. There are no neutrals. There can be no bystanders. It is time for all hands on deck.

Fifteen months from now, the midterm elections will take place. State Houses now dominated by union-busting Republicans will be up for grabs. Control of both Houses of Congress will be at stake. This will be our most important opportunity to stop the national union-busting movement in its tracks. This will be our best chance to stop the anti-worker Trump agenda. We have to win back at least one House of Congress. It is the key to surviving 39 more months of the Donald Trump attack on working families. It could be the key to the survival of the labor movement.

Yes. The survival of the labor movement.

I want everybody in this room to take a minute to think about what that really means. I mean, really think about it. Think about what it would mean to live in the union-free society that Corporate America has been dreaming of for the last 40 years.

Imagine in your mind’s eye what it would mean to go to work every day, without a union, without a contract, without a grievance procedure, without a shop steward. With no rights whatsoever. Every employee an at-will employee. Working whatever shift the boss tells you to, transferred wherever he wants at the drop of a hat, your pay and benefits slashed without recourse, without any say from you or your fellow workers. 

This is the non-union Nirvana that the Koch Brothers, and Trump, and Ryan and McConnell are all dreaming of.

We in this room did not ask for this fight. We did not ask for the responsibility of saving the American labor movement. But now we have that responsibility, and we better not screw it up, for the sake of ourselves, for the sake of our children, for the sake of generations of working people in decades to come.

I am asking each and every one of you to make the commitment to join this fight. Sitting on your tables are our CWA STRONG pledge cards. 

They commit your local to building up your shop stewards structure, to bring membership levels up to at least 80 percent, to putting a mobilization structure in place. They commit your local to mobilizing for contract fights, for legislative fights, and fights for social and racial and economic justice. Right now, I want you to fill out that card and give it to a sergeant of arms. Commit right now, right here to this fight. Is everyone doing that? 

But filling out the card is the easy part. I want you to do more. I want you to commit that you are going to go back to your locals, to wherever you came from, all across this great country, and you are going to do whatever it takes to save this labor movement, to ensure that future generations of working people have the chance to enjoy the opportunities you have had, to stop the corporate bastards and the right-wing union busters from destroying what it took generations of workers to build. 

Can I count on you to make that commitment? Are you willing to go to war to save the labor movement? Are you clear which side you are on?

One hundred and fifteen years ago, a tremendous strike broke out across the coalfields of Pennsylvania, including the area where we are meeting today. In an unprecedented move in that era, President Theodore Roosevelt intervened in the strike and forced the coal operators into arbitration with the United Mine Workers of America. 

In his summation of the Mine Workers case, the famous labor attorney Clarence Darrow told the judges: “The blunders are theirs,” referring to the coal operators, who had relied on child labor, starvation wages and deadly working conditions as their path to profits. He said:

The blunders are theirs because, in this old, old strife, they are fighting for slavery while we are fighting for freedom. They are fighting for the rule of man over man, for despotism, for darkness, for the past. We are striving to build up man. We are working for democracy, for humanity, for the future.

Brothers and Sisters, we are still, to this day, working for democracy, for humanity, for the future. We are still fighting for democracy, in the workplace and in the society. We are still fighting for a more humane life for every working person. 

We are still fighting for a better future for all working women and men.

This is what’s at stake at this moment. This is the challenge we face. This is the task that lies ahead. And I know this: when we are united, when we are committed, when we have a vision, there is no power greater anywhere beneath the sun.

I know that the union makes us strong, CWA STRONG, and that together, we will prevail.

We will win. Brothers and sisters, join me in this struggle, take the pledge, stand at my side, and together we shall overcome all our obstacles.

Thank you.

Beth Allen

Working People Need Protections for U.S. Call Center Jobs and a "Better Deal"

2 weeks 2 days ago

Democrats' plan for a better deal on trade and jobs outlines real policies to help working families fight back against corporations that want to shift more jobs overseas and cut wages and benefits for working Americans.

Lawmakers are recognizing the impact of the tens of thousands of U.S. customer service jobs that have disappeared over past years, as corporations ship good call center jobs to Mexico, India, the Philippines and other countries.

CWA has been pressing Congress to stop this flood of jobs overseas. Corporations are boosting their profits and enriching their investors at the expense of working Americans, and communities are devastated when these good service jobs disappear. And as more jobs are sent offshore, more pressure is brought to bear on U.S. workers to accept lower wages and benefits as the price for keeping any job at all.

The Democratic "Better Deal" plan includes crucial legislation introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) that would help restrict call center offshoring and reverse the loss of thousands of good customer service jobs in the U.S. It also would provide important consumer safeguards.

Overall, the "Better Deal" plan will give working people a long overdue voice in what happens to their jobs and their communities. It ends the tax incentives and other rewards that corporations now get for sending jobs overseas; encourages companies to bring jobs back to the U.S. with financial incentives; fully restores "Buy America" requirements for all taxpayer-funded projects, and makes improving U.S. wages and good jobs a key objective of our trade policy.

The "Better Deal" plan would require companies that handle sensitive U.S. consumer data abroad, including call centers, to disclose to customers in what country they are physically located and the level of data protection in that country. 

U.S. trade deals should benefit working families, consumers and communities, not just investors and big corporations. The "Better Deal" plan provides real solutions to do just that.

Sarah Splitt

New Jersey CWAers Win Back Pay for State Workers

2 weeks 2 days ago

The New Jersey State Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to pass a bill requiring back pay for state workers locked out during the state shutdown, and the Governor signed the bill into law.

"We applaud Speaker Vincent Prieto and all those legislators who voted to pass a clean budget," said CWA New Jersey State Director Hetty Rosenstein. "We thank them for doing their job by standing up for the integrity of the New Jersey State budget, as well as the process. We also thank the legislative leaders – from both houses – for making sure our members, who were locked out during the shutdown, are paid."

Sarah Splitt

Organizing Update

2 weeks 2 days ago

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)

Staffers at the largest socialist organization in the United States, Democratic Socialists of America, joined NewsGuild-CWA Local 32035. Read more here.

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Real News Network

Employees at Real News Network, a nonprofit news organization, joined NewsGuild-CWA.

Sarah Splitt

Solidarity at American Airlines

2 weeks 2 days ago

 

CWA airport and reservations agents at American Airlines joined more than a thousand union members outside Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to show support for the fight for a fair contract for fleet service and maintenance workers, members of the Transport Workers Union. At right, CWA Local 6001 leaders Renee de la Garza, secretary, left, and Donna Bryant, vice president, joined the protest. Others included Chris Kress and Debra Johnson, members of Local 6001's organizing and political action committee.

Sarah Splitt
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29 minutes 57 seconds ago
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