CWA is fighting AT&T's proposed layoff of more than a thousand workers, a betrayal of the company's promise to create thousands of good, middle class jobs.
Since AT&T announced plans just before Christmas to lay off technicians and customer service representatives in every district, CWA has been working on several fronts to block this action.
A recent series of round-the-clock discussions with the company delayed the effective date of the earliest layoffs to this week. We have been able to stop some layoffs in District 6, but so far haven’t been able to completely stop this surplus.
AT&T has put forward a proposal to cut thousands of work hours from employees' schedules, while continuing to contract out work and send good jobs overseas. The contracting out of this work and AT&T's offshoring of good jobs is the real issue. AT&T must stop hiring contractors to do the same work that employees are qualified and trained to do.
CWA members are frustrated, especially in light of AT&T's statements and pledge to invest at least $1 billion and create at least 7,000 good, middle class jobs, as CEO Randall Stephenson promised last year. CWA will continue to fight back against these job cuts and to demand that contracted work be performed by AT&T employees.
CWA District 6 filed a federal lawsuit and National Labor Relations Board charges asserting that the company is violating the AT&T Southwest collective bargaining agreement by laying off workers while at the same time using contract employees to do work that CWA members are trained and qualified to perform.
CWA District 4 disputed the company’s convoluted surplus process and is working to keep as many workers on payroll as possible.
Other districts where AT&T is proposing to lay off workers later this month and in February and March have filed executive grievances challenging the layoffs and the company's use of contractors. CWA will pursue every possible avenue and take whatever action is necessary to stop these layoffs and keep good middle class jobs in our communities.
CWA to American Airlines: Bonus No Substitute for Fair Wages
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CWA passenger service agents at American Airlines, Piedmont, and Envoy and AFA-CWA Flight Attendants who fly with the American Airlines brand will be receiving a $1,000 bonus this month. The bonuses came after CWA President Chris Shelton contacted the CEOs of some of the largest corporations where CWA members work, including American Airlines, to ask them to guarantee the $4,000 wage increase and new jobs promised by the Republican corporate tax cut.
While CWA is pleased that the request has prompted American to pay employees a one-time $1,000 bonus, it falls short of the permanent wage increase that working families were promised.
American continues to pay poverty-level wages to passenger service agents at its Envoy and Piedmont subsidiaries. Passenger service agents play a critical role in ensuring the safety of thousands of passengers each day, yet many agents at these airlines earn less than $11 an hour and qualify for food stamps and other public assistance.
These agents, represented by CWA, are currently in contract negotiations. Despite American's continued profitability and the massive windfall from the tax bill, Envoy and Piedmont are refusing to offer fair wages as part of these negotiations.
"Passenger service agents at Envoy and Piedmont serve passengers in communities across this country, from big airports like Dallas-Fort Worth to smaller locations like Knoxville, TN," said Richard Honeycutt, CWA District 3 Vice President and Chair of CWA's Passenger Service Airline Council. "It's time for American to invest in these communities by increasing wages so that working people at Envoy and Piedmont can have family-supporting and community-building careers, instead of living paycheck to paycheck."
"The White House and GOP leaders have said the tax plan will unleash 'growth of jobs and paychecks' in the U.S.," said Sara Nelson, president of AFA-CWA. "Some corporations have started to respond following adoption of the new tax law and it seems the 'going rate' for investment in employees is a one-time bonus of $1,000. If the airline is benefiting from the new tax law, workers should share in that gain. Any long-term gain for the airline should result in negotiations for improvements for the workers. These improvements should be ongoing, long-term contractual improvements just like the corporate tax cuts. That's how workers know the promise of good jobs and wages will be fulfilled."
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After two years of negotiations, English-as-a-second-language teachers at EF Education First in Brighton, MA, members of TNG-CWA local 31245, voted unanimously this week to ratify a first-ever contract with the company providing improvements in pay, a path to full-time employment, scheduling, disciplinary processes, and more.
EF is one of the world's largest education companies with 46,500 employees in 116 countries, but the 24 EF teachers in Brighton are the first U.S.-based employees to organize at the company. Their success may pave the way for more U.S.-based EF employees to gain workplace representation.
The Boston Globe featured a story on the teachers' fight for a fair contract:
The local starting rate for teachers at EF is $26-$29 per 80-minute class, plus $3.50 for 15 minutes of prep time, according to the teachers. They aren’t paid for the 10-minute breaks between classes, which are frequently filled with questions from students, or for the additional time it takes to grade papers, create tests, answer e-mails, or make photocopies. Teachers who work a full schedule start off making roughly $33,000 to $37,000 a year, with no pay during six weeks of school break, though they do get paid holidays. Some have second jobs as bartenders, tutors, or Uber drivers to make ends meet.
CWA Families: Apply for 2018-2019 Union Scholarships
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Union Plus Scholarship
Since 1991, the Union Plus Scholarship Program has awarded more than $4.2 million to students of working families who want to begin or continue their post-secondary education. This scholarship program is available for union members and their children. The deadline to apply for the 2018 Union Plus Scholarship is January 31.
The CWA Joe Beirne Foundation will award 16 partial college scholarships of $4,000 each for two years for the 2018-2019 academic year. Eligible for the scholarships are CWA members, their spouses, children, and grandchildren, including the dependents of retired, laid-off, or deceased members. Applications are available only online at the Foundation's website. The final deadline for the 2018-2019 school year is April 30, 2018.
IUE-CWA applications for 2018-2019 scholarships will be accepted online through midnight March 31, 2018. (EST). Find out more and apply here.
District 2-13 Scholarship
The District 2-13 2018-2019 Maisano Scholarship applications are now open. Submit your application by March 31, 2018. Apply here.
Voting Rights Under Attack
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The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments this week on a crucial case, Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, in which more than 500,000 Ohio voters were purged from voter rolls for infrequent voting. Many of the voters affected were seniors, students, and veterans.
Voters were removed for not voting in recent elections even though federal law protects voters from being removed for this reason. Voting is a federally protected right – not a "use it or lose it" privilege that can be arbitrarily stripped away.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is attempting to shrink the power of the grassroots to advocate on issues that matter in their community – from local policies to holding elected leaders accountable. The A. Philip Randolph Institute, an AFL-CIO labor group advocating for social, labor, and economic change, says that Ohio's voter purging violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Approximately 50 million eligible citizens are not registered to vote in the U.S. And millions of voters could be targets of purging because they are infrequent voters, in many cases due to military service, illness, work, or school.
"You have a right not to vote," Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out in the oral arguments. "[This policy] results in disenfranchising disproportionately certain cities where large groups of minorities live, where large groups of homeless people live, and across the country they're the group that votes the least, in—in large measure because many of them work very long hours. There's a strong argument this is, at least in impact, discriminatory."
Cummings: CWA Members Remain Committed to Preserving, Protecting and Expanding our Democracy
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CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings, who heads CWA's Human Rights Program, issued this statement as part of the observation of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Each year, Americans across the country observe the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by engaging in community service. This year, I am honored to serve as co-chair of the AFL-CIO's annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference, which will be held in my home town, Houston, TX.
Our theme is "Reclaiming Our Dream: Strategize, Organize, Mobilize." At this critical time for our country, activists and community leaders are joining together to use our collective power to ensure that working communities can thrive and families can enjoy the fruits of their labor.
I am proud that CWA members have continued to lead this fight for economic and social justice. Through our Fight Forward program, CWA members are learning how they can be agents of change, then joining with allies to tackle the most pressing issues facing their communities. At a time when national political leaders are trying to roll back the clock and undo decades of progress, we remain committed to preserving, protecting, and expanding our democracy.
We're fighting to hold elected officials accountable to the people, not large corporations, by supporting public and small donor financing initiatives, like the one we helped pass in Howard County, MD, last year.
We're fighting to make sure everyone is treated fairly at work, negotiating contracts like the one at AT&T Mobility that protects working people against discrimination based on gender identity, even in 16 states where no non-discrimination law covering this category exists.
We're fighting for the right to vote, serving on the voting rights task force of the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights to challenge voter suppression legislation and successfully suing to ensure that state workers in New Mexico have paid time off to vote in municipal elections.
We're fighting for paid family leave, joining the Work & Family Coalition to win expanded family leave in California that includes employees working for small businesses.
We're fighting to protect working people from the threat of deportation by urging Congress to pass legislation that provides a path to citizenship for immigrants.
We're fighting for good, family- and community-supporting jobs, which is why CWA recently filed suit to prevent AT&T from laying off workers in their southwest region while continuing to outsource and offshore jobs.
Last year Houston and southeastern Texas were devastated by Hurricane Harvey. In the aftermath of the storm, I stood shoulder to shoulder with people from all walks of life, as we distributed supplies and started the long process of rebuilding our communities. In that moment, I was reminded of Dr. King’s words, "Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve."
Let's strive for greatness as we work together to reclaim Dr. King's dream.