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Contracts, Contracts, Contracts
It’s been busy on the contract front at CWA Local 1101. AT&T Mobility, Citizen, Mobilize, Parking Production Assistants and Parking Coordinators, Sole Strategies, Verizon, and Verizon Wireless workers all ratified first contracts, new contracts, or contract extensions this year.
CWA Local 1101 members - retail and call center workers and technicians - at AT&T Mobility ratified a 4 year contract in July, 2022 that will be in effect until 2026. The Orange Contract covers 13,000 AT&T Mobility members from Districts 1, 2-13, 7 and 9. The agreement includes substantial improvements in wages and working conditions and adjustments for inflation. It limits mandatory overtime, curtails the outsourcing of jobs to authorized retailers, and adds privacy protections for call center representatives who are working from home. It increases parental leave, extends job security protections and adds Martin Luther King Jr Day as a paid holiday.
"The Orange Bargaining Team met with the company almost daily for six months and with the support and mobilization of our members, we secured a contract that has major improvements for every group covered by the Orange Contract,” Local 1101 Vice President Mike Baxter, who was on the national Bargaining Committee said. “This contract addresses issues such as overtime, safety, scheduling, privacy and wages that are so important to union workers at AT&T. The union met or exceeded just about every goal that was set going into bargaining,”
Verizon workers ratified a three year contract extension that extends to Aug, 2026; the current extension goes until 2023. The contract extension includes raises, increased pension benefits, a new, extended Work from Home agreement, and adds 900 new CWA-represented jobs. It allows post-2008 hires to use their retiree health care stipend to purchase health care on the open market or on the ACA exchange for the first time, rather than being limited to purchasing only a Verizon plan. You can find the Memorandum of Understanding here.
Verizon Wireless technicians ratified a three year contract extension that preserves all of the protections of the 2016 contract and the 2018 MOU. It includes yearly wage increases, and for the first time a wage increase on top of the increase we already bargained for in our existing contract extension. It also includes a ratification bonus, new jobs, an increase in stand-by pay, and a Work from Home agreement. The summary can be found here. and the Memorandum of Understanding here.
Local 1101 President Keith Purce and Executive Vice President Al Russo were on the National Bargaining Team which bargained the Verizon contract for New York and New England. “We struck in 2016 and showed the company we wouldn’t back down. In 2019 we negotiated a three year extension, and with this agreement extended our contract gains to 2026. The security and benefits of this extension are due to the hard work and sacrifice our members made with the 2016 strike,” said Keith Purce.
New York City area film and television Parking Production Assistants and Parking Coordinators ratified a new three year contract in June, 2022 with significant improvements to wages and working conditions. This is their second collective bargaining agreement, and includes a significant pay hike, a stipend for Lead Parking Production Assistants, pension and medical benefits, equipment allowance, and an additional paid holiday. For the first time, the workers will have paid sick time. PPAs and PCs are employed by major studios with New York-based productions such as Apple, Netflix, HBO, Universal, and others.
“PPAs and the Parking Coordinators play a vital role in the entertainment industry and they fought hard to get a contract that begins to recognize the role they play,” said Business Agent Afori Bobb. “We still have a lot of work to do toward that goal, and this contract is an important step toward that recognition.”
Click here for the contract highlights. The bargaining team included 1101 VP Mike Baxter, BA Afori Bobb, Shop Steward/Lead PPA Derek Lawrence, Shop Steward Lanere Rollins, PPA/Lead PPA Corey Leach, Parking Coordinator Jon Johnson, Parking Coordinator Leo Driver, 1101 Staff Rep Tamiko Jackson, 1101 Lead Organizer Keith Hogarty, CWA District 1 Staff Rep John Dempsey.
In March, 2022 workers at the tech company Mobilize ratified their first contract. Mobilize works with progressive campaigns and nonprofits to help people find events on issues that are important to them. Joann Chandler, a new member of CWA Local 1101, is on the client success team at Mobilize and part of the bargaining committee.
Joann described big changes at Mobilize, as the company was acquired first by EveryAction in 2020 and then by the bigger company Bontera, with 1000 employees, in 2021. “With the acquisition, the Mobilize business unit suddenly became a small part of a much bigger workforce,” Joann said. “We wanted to make sure employees weren’t having individual conversations and reaching individual agreements with management. We wanted to ensure we were all on the same footing and have the ability to protect each other.”
Joann was voted onto the bargaining committee by co-workers. “I loved that experience, working with Keith (Hogarty), Maureen (Hennessy), Heather (Trainor), and Tanya (Hodges) at the national. I was the first non-software engineer on the committee, and I was happy to bring that different perspective to the table. Keith and another member, Kayvon Seif-naraghi, were the only men on the bargaining calls. I enjoyed seeing Tanya, Heather and Maureen negotiating with management; they were really supportive of the issues we were bringing to the table. Those weren’t casual conversations. But I learned that because something is uncomfortable doesn’t mean it’s bad. That discomfort is ultimately what got us to a contract that’s great for all our members.”
The Mobilize contract includes just cause protection, a 3% raise each year, layoff protection and recall rights, limits to contracting out bargaining work, increased paid parental leave, a 40-hour work week, and flexible scheduling for employees who work long hours.
Holding their own in the face of major company changes was also a big win. “Being able to maintain the amount of work we had previously was our biggest win in bargaining,” Joann said. “That could have gone a million different ways. We could have ended up with no work, but we didn’t because we had guarantees,” Joann said.
Mobilize is just one of many tech groups organizing across the country. “It’s been great to see Mobilize become part of a larger movement,” Joann said. “Being part of that is something I’m very proud of and it’s changed the way I think about work. It makes me feel more secure and excited to collaborate with my co-workers because we have this common ground.”
The Bargaining Team included 1101 VP Maureen Hennessy, BA Heather Trainor, Lead Organizer Keith Hogarty, Mobilize workers Joann Chandler and Kayvon Seif-naraghi, and CWA Staff Representative Tonya Hodges.
Workers at the tech company Sole Strategies also ratified their first contract in March, 2022. The one year agreement contains a 4% pay increase, new pay scales, just cause, and grievance procedure, increased Paid Time Off, paid sick time, increased holidays, layoff protection, medical benefits. Click here for the Bargaining Agreement. “It was refreshing to deal with an employer who was willing to negotiate a fair and equitable contract from the get-go,” said BA Bill Stefandel. “We had a lot of back and forth, of course, but from the beginning Sole Strategies owners were looking to reach an agreement that benefited their employees, and that was pretty unusual.”
The Sole Strategies Bargaining Team included 1101 EVP Al Russo, BA Bill Stefandel, and 1101 Lead Organizer Keith Hogarty.
Citizen is a safety alert app. Workers monitor police dispatches, first responder calls, and news stories across the country and inform users about what’s happening live in their area. The analysts behind the scenes making the app run are now CWA Local 1101 members. Citizen workers joined CWA Local 1101 in 2021 and recently ratified their first contract.
Ena Lee, an analyst at Citizen, was instrumental in the union organizing drive, and on the bargaining team. “We won the essential pillars of a union contract, including just cause, a grievance procedure, and raises in this process” Ena said. “People don’t get fired anymore. Workers can speak openly in shift meetings. We negotiated a monthly reimbursement for working from home. We established a policy discussion committee where people across shifts, with union reps present, will be able to discuss issues with management. Hopefully that will bring more democracy into our workplace.”
That contract didn’t come easily. Citizen workers faced down the company’s anti-union campaign during both the organizing drive and bargaining. Workers conducted multiple mobilizations to show the company they were united, including changing their slack status to the trans flag with the tag line ‘Support our non-binary and transgender co-workers’ after queer co-workers were targeted in anti-union meetings.
Management came out hard against union supporters. “At one point management brought Ena in to question them about something,” Local 1101 EVP Al Russo said. “The entire group was ready to walk out if Ena was disciplined. That took tremendous unity and courage, since they didn’t even have a union contract yet.”
Bargaining wasn’t easy. “At some point it became clear the company was surface bargaining and not making sincere proposals,” Russo said. “The workers started organizing for a strike. The company must have gotten word they were serious, and had the backing of the entire group, because management came back to the table and two days later we had a contract. That was phenomenal.”
Ena’s excited about continuing to build the union at Citizen, where members will hold steward elections soon. “We’re a fully remote workplace, with members across the country. We have strong union support in right to work states in the south, with new stewards in Missouri, Georgia, Texas, and Louisiana, as well as New York and New Jersey. We’re part of the labor wave crashing across the country, and that’s exciting.
Have you watched a movie or TV show recently and marveled at how great it looked and sounded? Post Production Coordinators play a vital role in the post production process. They assist in providing resources and workflows so the post production team can turn thousands of hours of raw footage into a polished final product including sound effects, color correction, music, visual effects, and other finished elements that moviegoers expect from the cinematic experience. And now Post Production Coordinators in New York City are members of CWA Local 1101. The approximately 150 freelancers won NLRB elections at eight different production companies in June, including Apple, Netflix, CBS, HBO, and Universal Television. They’re now bargaining their first contract.
Jill Christiano is a Post Production Coordinator working on a Lionsgate/Starz series who’s back to freelancing after working in news and journalism for the past five years. Working for one company these past years she’s seen the downside of freelancing, many of which the Post Production Coordinators plan to address in bargaining. “One of the biggest drawbacks to freelancing is that there’s nothing in place for benefits, paid time off, standardized rates. I took a company job for several years because it provided health insurance, sick time, and overtime. I’m hopeful we can negotiate those benefits for freelancers. Already we’ve made so much headway. It’s a booming industry, with a lot of people coming in, and most of them are very supportive of the union.”
It’s no small feat to win a union election at eight different companies. To vote, Post Production Coordinators had to have worked for the companies in 2021-2022. “We talked to a lot of people,” Jill said. 'We saw that you worked on this film or this company. There’s going to be a union vote. Would you like to participate?' It took a lot of research and outreach to explain to everyone what we were doing and why.”
Keith Hogarty, CWA Local 1101 Lead Organizer worked on the organizing drive. “This was not an easy battle”, Keith said. “The Post Production Coordinators demanded recognition, and the production companies said no. So the Coordinators launched a year-long battle with the major studies, conducting letter writing campaigns and building support from the New York community. They ran a great campaign, and it showed in the unanimous vote they won. 100% yes - that’s not something you see very often in organizing drives.”
The member-to-member didn’t stop at the union election. “We’re surveying every Coordinator about what their needs and wants are regarding the bargaining process”, Jill said. “We want to have a voice in what we’re pursuing from bargaining.”
Jill ‘s excited about what being in the union will mean for Post Production Coordinators. “The industry is super busy and we’re the backbone of every film and TV show that people enjoy every day. It’s time that we were supported.”
Bargaining started at Arms Acres and Conifer Park in July, 2022. CWA Local 1101 members at the rehabilitative health centers in Carmel, Schenectady, Troy and other upstate locations are looking for pay increases, respect and recognition for experienced workers, safety precautions, safe staffing levels and improved benefits.
“Safety is the number one issue for us right now,” Jonathan Sutherland, Chief Steward at Arms Acres said. “There aren’t enough staff to cover the patients. That’s unsafe for the staff, and unsafe for the patients as well.”
Chris Pulley, Chief Steward at Conifer Park described the impact the staffing shortages are having in stark terms. “The staff to patient ratio is unconscionable. People get into this industry because they care. When you have too many patients you can’t do what you need to for them. That creates burnout and anxiety. Staff who should have 7 or 8 patients sometimes have 15.”
The other pressing issue for workers is pay. “Members at Arms Acres and Conifer Park worked throughout the pandemic under very tough conditions,” said Business Agent Ken Spatta. “When management came to us last year and asked for a contract extension, we agreed with the understanding it would be made up by gains this year. Management’s not keeping their end of the bargain,”
Both Chief Stewards reported members’ frustration with being underpaid and feeling unappreciated. “We want to see everyone brought up to the industry standard rate of pay,” said Pulley. “Liberty Health doesn’t want to reward the employees who stayed here through almost three years of Covid,” Sutherland said. “They should be investing in their employees and they’re not.”
Workers at Arms Acres and Conifer are fed up with the company’s unfulfilled promises. Many joined Local 1101 meetings last week to discuss mobilization plans. “Members are ramping up mobilization to show the company we’re serious about winning the contract Arms Acres and Conifer workers deserve,” Spatta said. “We have three choices,” Pulley said. We can leave, we can take what they give us, or we can fight. I think that members are ready to fight.”
The Bargaining Team includes Local 1101 Vice President Jerome Paredes, BA Ken Spatta, Chief Stewards Chris Pulley and Jonathan Sutherland, Steward Maureen Tremarzo and CWA District 1 Staff Rep Mike Garry.
Stewards are the backbone of our union. We held trainings with new stewards from Blue State, AT&T Mobility, and Liberty Health in January through March this year.
We launched a New Member Training for members from Blue State and Mobilize, covering Weingarten rights, the difference a union contract makes, the grievance procedure and Just Cause protections.
And we launched a new advanced steward training on Just Cause with retired CWA District Counsel Gay Semel, who represented CWA members in discipline and arbitration cases for more than 30 years.
The Local 1101 Women’s Committee hosted a meeting with CWA trailblazers Barbara Biggs-Glover and Denise Hawley. Barbara was one of the first female Chief Stewards in CWA Local 1101, at 5030 Broadway. Denise Hawley started in 1970 as a Representative. She was a Steward, a Chief Steward, and became a Business Agent for CWA Local 1105 in 1993, representing members throughout Manhattan. Barbara and Denise shared stories with us of some of their early battles with the phone company for women’s equal rights and equal pay.
The Women’s Committee is supporting a campaign to get the Equal Rights Amendment certified. You can learn more and sign the petition here. “Getting the ERA certified after so long is a really important issue. For centuries women have been considered second class citizens and our rights still take a backseat to men’s. With the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade it’s more important than ever that we solidify our legal equality,” said Liz Mercado, CWA Local 1101 Staff Representative. Liz is Chair of the CWA National Women’s Committee.
We’re gearing up for the 2022 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Sunday, October 23 in the Bronx. It’s a great opportunity to honor and remember those we’ve lost to breast cancer, lift up survivors, and support an important cause. And it’s fun! If you want to walk with us, or donate to our team CWA 1101 Warriors, click here or contact Foluke Robles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re interested in getting involved with the Women’s Committee, contact Co-Chairs Josey Diomede (email@example.com) or Heather Trainor (firstname.lastname@example.org). We welcome members and retirees of all genders and gender expressions to participate.
The annual CWA Local 1101 Scholarship Golf Tournament returned in May, after a two year COVID hiatus. Members hit the links at the Split Rock Golf Course and raised money to fund scholarships for 25 Local 1101 members and their families this year. A list of Scholarship winners can be found here.
Join CWA Local 1101. CWA District 1, CWA and other union members from across the region for the NYC Labor Day Parade on Saturday, September 10 at 11am on East 46 St and Madison Labor Rising is the theme, celebrating workers throughout New York City. Union t-shirts, food, and a lot of good people. Bring your family, show your union pride. Click here for the flier.
Join CWA Local 1101 at the African American Day Parade on Sunday, September 18. Come celebrate African American Culture and Harlem. This year’s parade theme is “Good Health is Essential”.
CWA Locals 1101, 1102, 1106, 1109, 1180 and, CWA District 1, will meet at 11am on West 112 Street between Seventh Ave and St Nicholas. Music, food, float, and more. Bring your family and friends. You won’t regret it! Click here for the flier.
CWA Local 1101’s Equity Committee spearheads the planning for CWA’s participation in the African American Day Parade. The Equity Committee has also organized family picnics, trips to the National Museum for African American History and Culture in Washington DC, and other events. If you’d like to get involved, contact Co-Chairs Afori Bobb (Abobb@local1101.org) or Susan Nicholas (email@example.com) All members and retirees are welcome to participate.
We had a number of big legislative wins in 2022 to protect our work and our future jobs. Nationally we called, emailed and visited legislators to gain their support for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to invest over $40 billion in broadband buildout, and included the first ever labor rights protections on federal broadband funding. And we won!
In NYS we fought for and won strong labor standards and a fiber preference for the 1.6 billion in broadband funding in the FY23 state budget. We won language for prevailing wages in the build-out so that good union employers, like ours, don’t get undercut by low-road subcontractors, and preference for companies that have strong workplace safety standards.
We helped secure billions of dollars in the FY2023 Budget for financially distressed and safety-net hospitals, plus more in discretionary funding. And helped secure up to $3,000 in bonuses for bonuses for frontline healthcare workers. Click here to see what we won this year.
For years, when Verizon or other telecom equipment has to be moved - what’s called make ready pole work - it's been done by CWA workers, to ensure the safety and quality of the work. “One Touch Make Ready” regulation would have allowed other companies (and their contractors) to move existing Verizon equipment, putting our jobs and our communities at risk. But we fought for - and won - legislation in New York to block One Touch Make Ready and protect our jobs! CWA members throughout New York sent over 2,200 emails to NYS legislators and held dozens of meetings to tell them that they must protect our jobs and stop One Touch Make Ready.
Johnny Pizarro, a Parking Production Assistant and CWA Local 1101 member was shot and killed in his car while working, on Tuesday, July 19. This horrible tragedy was a tremendous blow to the PPAs, Coordinators and the entire CWA Local 1101 community. We mourn his death, and ask for support for his family.
A GoFundMe page has been established for the six children of Johnny Pizarro II, who was shot to death early Tuesday while working as a parking production assistant on Law & Order: Organized Crime in Brooklyn. The fundraising page reads:
“Johnny Alberto Pizarro II was taken from his family and children too soon. An unknown individual took him away from his children in the most senseless way possible, while working and trying to earn a living for his family as a parking enforcer. The investigation is ongoing. Any information regarding funeral and memorial services shall be provided at a later time.
Johnny left behind six beautiful children, whose names are being withheld to respect their privacy as they are minors, and an amazing family,” the page adds. “Words cannot describe the emptiness his family and dearest friends feel. He was the bright light and heart of so many lives and his memory will be eternal.
This GoFundMe was created by The Grigoropoulos Law Group, who is representing Johnny’s estate and family, for the sole purpose of helping to provide financial support to his six beautiful children for their tremendous loss.”
Local 1101 retirees took the summer off and will regroup, in person, at the Labor Day Parade in Manhattan September 10. In June we held our first smoothly run hybrid membership meeting with retirees at the Manhattan Local and retirees on Zoom from all over.
This will be our format going forward so we can stay in touch with those who want to come to West 31st Street as well as those more comfortable staying at home, including retirees who have moved far away in retirement. Please join us in person or on the internet this fall and into 2023. Stay in the loop - sign up for our mailing list. Go to https://local1101.org/, "sign up for updates" and choose "retiree" from the drop-down menu.
Pat Welsh and Tom Smucker went to the Verizon Shareholders meeting in Dallas, Texas in May. Verizon tries to move these meetings as far from NYC as they can, but we catch them every year. Pat Welsh and Denise Hawley also attended the CWA legislative conference in DC in June in preparation for the elections this fall.
Chris Buonanno started at the phone company in 1970 as a repair tech in the Public Communications division - remember payphones? Chris was a Field Technician and worked across Manhattan, out of the 50 St, 36 St, and 18 St Central Offices. His last stop was Special Services until he retired in 2003. Prior to coming to the phone company Chris served in the marines for four years. "He always backed the union 100%," his long-time friend, now retired Business Agent John (Val) Valentino said. "He was on the picket line during the 1971 and 1989 strikes. He did his picket duty and then some. He helped build a good strong union, which we're still benefiting from today."
When you start in 1970 you see a lot of changes at the phone company, and some initiatives which didn’t work out the way the company hoped . “I was one of the first company employees to drive an electric truck. It was one of five trucks they had as trials. The trucks didn’t work in the winter time. There was no heat. You couldn’t accelerate out of a problem. We couldn’t get the trucks up the ramp at the 42nd Street garage.” After Chris retired from the phone company he went to work at the MTA on the Blue Light emergency telephone system.
Chris was working in lower Manhattan when the planes hit the World Trade Centers in 2001. He worked at Ground Zero as a first responder, and says that time inspired the idea for the book he wrote in retirement, “Red Dragon’s Gambit”. You can find Red Dragon’s Gambit through VanVelzer.com press, or wherever you buy your books.
More than 120 Local 1101 members retired in 2022 already. Thank you for your many years of hard work and dedication. Thank you for helping build our union into the force for working people that it is today.
We wish you all a healthy and happy retirement. And we hope you’ll stay involved. Please reach out to the Local Retired Members Council (RMC) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. To sign up for the RMC mailing list go to https://local1101.org/, "sign up for updates" and choose "retiree" from the drop-down menu. The RMC meets monthly, in person and via zoom. They are active in the union’s political and legislative work, support our strikes and mobilization efforts, and are a presence at union rallies and picket lines throughout the city. Once union, always union!