2016 was a big year for CWA! Thousands of CWA and IBEW members at Verizon went on strike for a fair contract against corporate greed; City workers in East Orange, New Jersey won a contract securing a $15 minimum wage for workers; workers and community members defeated the privatization of county jobs in Salem County, New Jersey. As we enter the new year and prepare to meet our challenges with a renewed sense of solidarity, we’re taking a look back our movement moments— our top ‘stand up, fight back’ stories that defined our collective action as a union.
Better Beginnings: Child Care Workers Vote “CWA Union Yes”!
In 2016, the organizing wave continued among early childhood education workers in Newark and beyond as the staff at La Casa de Don Pedro, The Leaguers, Inc. and Unified Vailsburg Services Organization (UVSO) voted overwhelmingly to join CWA Local 1037. This organizing effort joined 225 workers at The Leaguers, 60 La Casa workers at La Casa and 113 UVSO workers with 1,000 other child care providers and 10,000 workers all together already represented by CWA Local 1037.
The Union organizing effort at La Casa, UVSO and The Leaguers grew out of the Better Beginnings campaign – a partnership between New Jersey Communities United and CWA – which seeks to organize child care professionals, working parents, and early childhood development specialists around fights for expanded resources and increased funding for early childhood development.
CWA 1085 Defeats Privatization Scheme in Salem County
In June, CWA Local 1085 members in Salem County, NJ declared victory after county officials announced they will no longer consider proposals to privatize the county’s dispatching services and jail nursing jobs. By building a robust grassroots campaign alongside first-responders and community supporters, Local 1085 was able to successfully defeat the proposal that would have affected 35 emergency call center operators and 15 county jail nurses.
Union=Family: CWA Local 1031 Raises Thousands to Help Member Displaced by a Fire
When CWA Local 1031 member Ida Masa lost her home in a fire, CWA members stepped in to help their union sister get back on her feet. In an event headlined by former New York Giant player Leonard Marshall, Local 1031 raised over $10,000 to help Ida and her family. With the genrous support of the community and CWA members, Ida was able to use the money for new furniture, clothes for her and her daughters, and a security deposit her new home.
#StandUp2vZ: Verizon Strikers Take on Corporate Greed and Win!
After 45 days of the largest strike in recent history, striking CWA members at Verizon achieved our major goals of improving working families’ standard of living, creating good union jobs in our communities and achieving the first contract for wireless retail store workers in Brooklyn, NY and Everett, MA.
Disbanded: N.J. Court Rejects Christie Administration Job Banding Rule
In a December 1st decision, a New Jersey appeals court rightfully rejected Governor Christie’s far-reaching changes to the state’s promotion process for certain state employees. The NJ Civil Service Commission implemented a job banding rule— which would group a series of job titles into one band, allowing management to freely appoint and promote workers from lower to high titles in these bands regardless of requirements for civil service tests and veteran preference.
The court’s ruling comes after two-and-a-half years of relentless work by CWA. The measures the Civil Service Commission sought to go around had been a part of New Jersey’s civil service system for decades. The court’s ruling denies the Christie Administration’s attempts to gut objective standards for hiring & promotion and rightfully recognizes the state Legislature’s authority to ensure public jobs are not based on political connections and favoritism, but merit and fitness.
#Fightfor15! CWA Local 1077 Wins $15 an Hour
CWA Local 1077 kicked off 2016 with a big contract win. In February, East Orange city workers ratified a new contract that raised the minimum wage for a majority of workers to $15 an hour, with the remaining workers to receive an increase to $15 by 2018.
Local 1077 has worked with the administration for many years through several budgetary shortfalls and times of economic hardship, inclusive of several givebacks and deferrals of compensation. Nevertheless, Local 1077 President, Bennie Brantley, along with several CWA members, attended a council meeting in December 2015 to speak about the impact layoffs would have on the services to East Orange. When negotiations were deadlocked, East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor called a meeting with the CWA negotiating team personally and CWA was able to reach an agreement. We are thankful for Mayor Lester Taylor’s personal involvement with negotiations in order to reach an equitable contract.
Hedges Clipped: Unions Win Campaign to Slash Pension Investments in Wall Street Hedge Funds by Half
After a year-long campaign, CWA and fellow public-sector labor unions succeeded in achieving the largest reductions in Wall Street hedge fund investments and fees in the history of the New Jersey pension fund. In August, the State Investment Council (SIC) unanimously approved to reduce the plan’s hedge fund allocation by more than half from the current 12.5% to 6%. The decision also reduced the total alternative investment allocation from 32% to 26% of the pension fund.
While CWA and fellow public-sector unions had a landmark victory in forcing the State Investment Council to cut hedge fund allocations in half for 2017, we will be looking for more divestment in the future.
Unions Defeat TPP
After five years of grassroots activism, including protests in nearly every state, lobbying members of Congress on Capitol Hill and in home districts, and generating tens of thousands of calls, emails and letters, CWA activists and our broad coalition defeated the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.