Family Updates & Retirements

Congrats to Mike Phillips on his retirement

In Sympathy

Amy Fogg for the loss of her mother

Elden Tucker, loss of Mother in Law

Ricky Houck, loss of grandmother

The Family of John Whitehair

Marnetta Daniels and Calvin Daniels

Brian Casto for the loss of his father

Retiree Melanie Carpenter, loss of huband

Jeffrey Carpenter, loss of father

Jennifer Wooten loss of her grandfather

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus.

Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred on or after January 20, 2020.

Learn More

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Worker Power Update

Monday - June 05, 2023
Reward Work Act

Reward Work Act

Last year, corporations spent $1.2 trillion buying back their own stock. CWA members have spoken out for many years about the importance of ending this practice, which diverts money that could be used to raise wages or invest in better equipment or services into the pockets of CEOs and wealthy shareholders.

Last week, two CWAers joined Representative Chuy García (D-Ill.) for the reintroduction of the Reward Work Act, which bans stock buybacks and increases worker power by requiring public companies to allow workers to directly elect one-third of their company’s board of directors. The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Val Hoyle (D-Ore).

Isabela Gonzalez, a Genius worker at the Apple Washington Square store in Portland, Ore., said that “as an employee, it's hard to reconcile the reality that Apple is investing billions of dollars into stock buybacks instead of compensating workers for their skills and contributions to the company.” She continued, “Apple has bought back over $388 billion in stocks since 2018 and just this month announced that it would be investing another $90 billion into stock buybacks. These are profits that we, the workers, helped to make happen, but we reap very little of the benefits of those profits. This bill would put an end to that rigged system and force companies to reward employees for their hard work.”

Alissa Dillon, a United Airlines Flight Attendant and member of AFA-CWA Local 22021, noted that in the decade leading up to the pandemic, U.S. airlines spent 96 percent of their free cash flow on stock buybacks, while ticket prices and fees got higher, seats got tighter, and airlines tried to force workers to accept deep concessions. “Banning stock buybacks will force corporations to stop focusing on this quarter’s profits and invest for the long-term — that’s good for all of us,” Dillon said. “It will also require that employees get a real voice on corporate boards — meaning that when it comes time to make important decisions, workers will have a real voice at the table. The Reward Work Act will help rebalance our economy so that growth is invested in people, not a few billionaires on Wall Street.”

Reward Work Act Event
Apple worker Isabela Gonzalez (center) and AFA-CWA Local 22021 member Alissa Dillon (second from right) joined Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.) for the reintroduction of the Reward Work Act.


CWA General Counsel Shares Personal Testimony About the Union Difference

In this short, must-see excerpt from a U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing held last week, CWA General Counsel Angela Thompson shares the moving story of the difference her mother’s union job made in her life. Thompson’s mother, a white woman, was fired from a job after her employer learned that her daughter was Black. “The next job, when she got her union job, people might not have liked that, but they couldn’t fire her for it. She was protected by her union contract and her union family. And it made all the difference in the world.”

Angie Thompson Testimony

During the hearing, Thompson, a former CWA member who was a customer sales and service representative for Bell Atlantic, also detailed the important role the National Labor Relations Board plays in enabling workers to organize in fair and efficient ways and advocated for the passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.


Bipartisan Legislation Would Increase Protections for Flight Crews Pumping Aboard Aircraft

On May 19, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. Val Hoyle (D-Ore.) announced new bipartisan legislation that would allow flight crews to pump breastmilk aboard aircraft safely.

“No one should be forced to stop nursing by their employer,” said Merkley. “I won’t stop fighting until all working mothers, in every sector, have the protections to remain in the workforce and continue pumping to provide for their infants.”

The PUMP Act of 2022, also sponsored by Sen. Merkley, guaranteed millions of mothers the right to pump at work, but a loophole left flight crews out of the legislation. The AIR PUMP Act would extend pumping protections to thousands of Flight Attendants and pilots.

AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson praised the proposed law. “I pumped while working as a Flight Attendant,” said Nelson. “Sadly, Flight Attendants have been threatened with discipline for doing what is best for their health and the baby in order to sustain their milk supply.”

A summary of the legislation can be found here.

Solar Alliance Southeast Workers Vote to Form Union with CWA

Monday - June 05, 2023
Press Release

Workers at Solar Alliance Southeast vote to form one-of-a-kind, wall-to-wall style union to improve working conditions and raise standards for workers on the frontline of building a clean energy-driven economy.

The union victory follows unprecedented growth and increased federal investment in the solar industry.

Knoxville, Tenn. — In a major victory, a majority of employees at Solar Alliance Southeast voted for union representation with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in an official National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election held today. With a union and a voice on the job, the workers are preparing to bargain for a fair contract that will ensure workers receive fair compensation and adequate benefits that reflect their value, provide a path for career growth and development, and prioritize workers’ safety and well being. In addition, the workers are fighting for a more organized and efficient workplace structure that promotes accountability and transparency and allows workers to have a meaningful voice in the decision-making process.

“In a society that has seen decades of the degradation of the middle class, union movements such as ours are of paramount importance,” said Tyler Mucklow, a Commercial Construction Foreman and a member of the organizing committee. “Every worker in every sector of this economy is thus necessitated to act in solidarity with their blue-collar brothers and sisters if democracy is to prevail over oligarchy. I cannot overstate how proud I am of our union! Furthermore, I am eternally grateful to those who have assisted us in winning a democratic voice in our workplace. I look forward to working in conjunction with Solar Alliance Southeast management in order to secure a brighter future for the families of my coworkers and myself!”

Founded in 2011, Solar Alliance Southeast (SASE) is a leading energy company focused on delivering clean and renewable energy solutions. The workers, who are based in Knoxville, Tenn., are involved in the engineering, procurement, construction, and sales of solar projects on every scale, from residential to commercial and utility-scale installations.

The U.S. solar industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country. Between 2014 and 2019, solar employment increased 44 percent, five times faster than job growth in the overall U.S. economy. In 2022 alone, SASE’s revenue grew 31 percent to $4,825,984 from $3,666,383 the previous year. Most recently, the Biden Administration’s commitment to advancing environmental justice through federal policy, including its major legislative victories such as the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which include incentives for increased investment and the application of renewable energy sources, has unleashed an even bigger boost in the solar industry. The Biden Administration’s climate agenda also prioritizes the creation of high-quality, good-paying union jobs and building worker power by expanding the right to organize and promoting high-road labor standards for workers in new and fast-growing clean energy industries.

Despite playing a critical role in ensuring the demands of this rapidly expanding industry are met, workers at SASE and across the solar industry are currently faced with immense challenges. SASE workers receive low and inconsistent pay that is grossly under the industry standard and does not match the workers’ level of expertise and skills. In addition, the workers are constantly overworked without additional compensation, lack job security and safety, as well as adequate resources and support.

“I am thrilled to celebrate our union win today,” said Colleen McWilliams, Operations Coordinator. “This achievement marks a significant milestone in our pursuit of a democratic voice within our workplace. I want to express my sincere gratitude to each and every one of my fellow colleagues who dedicated their valuable time and unwavering effort in this process. We are confident that this union win will pave the way for a brighter and more equitable future for Solar Alliance Southeast and its entire workforce. Our victory is a testament to our shared vision and the power of solidarity.”

Solar Workers United (CWA Local 3805) is a one-of-a-kind, wall-to-wall style union that is inclusive of engineers, installers, members of the design and project team, and administrative employees at SASE. Unfortunately, following the workers’ request for recognition, the company chose to challenge the inclusion of certain employees in the unit. This is a clear effort to undermine the power and solidarity the workers have built. SASE should demonstrate its commitment to prioritizing the workers on the frontline of building a clean, energy-driven economy by respecting their right to form a union and bargain a fair contract. The workers are also fighting to ensure the communities, who are increasingly shifting to solar energy, receive quality and dependable service.

“Hard work, perseverance, and continued support from every person in this union has won Solar Workers United-CWA this unionization vote,” said Jake Plewa, a Project Engineer. “That same hard work, perseverance, and continued support is vital as we move into the negotiation stage for us to win a contract that will support us and allow us to flourish. I look forward to all of us using our democratic voice in the workplace to improve Solar Alliance for everyone. I am thankful for the support from my fellow workers and the community that has helped us achieve this victory with CWA.”

SASE workers’ organizing effort is the latest in the green labor movement and follows successful organizing efforts by workers across the environmental sector, including those at the Center for Biological Diversity, Sunrise Movement, the Sierra Club,, and Greenpeace. They add to the growing number of conservationists and climate activists paving the way for a stronger alliance between labor and environmentalism and add to the momentum of union organizing and worker power nationwide.


About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working people in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public service and education, manufacturing, tech, and other fields. @cwaunion

AT&T Mobility Worker Discusses Impact of AI with White House Staff

Monday - June 05, 2023
White House Listening Session on AI

Last week, CWA Local 3519 Vice President Ylonda Sherrod participated in a White House listening session on the use of automated technologies by employers to surveil, monitor, evaluate, and manage their workers.

Sherrod, who currently works as a Sales and Service Representative at AT&T Mobility and has been with AT&T for 17 years, shared her experience with the AI technology that AT&T has implemented and explained that although the tools are supposed to assist with customer concerns, they typically do just the opposite and contribute to a stressful work environment in the process.

“I think AI could be great for helping workers with simple tasks, but without the use of human creativity, it won’t be able to do the more complicated tasks that are usually needed to truly help the customers,” Sherrod told the group. “It is unfair that AI is being used to replace the invaluable experience of human workers. It’s even worse that us workers are basically training our replacements and being asked to help the creators make these systems better at doing our job. Company investments into more AI feels like a major threat to my job security as companies don’t have to ensure safe working conditions, livable wages, or affordable healthcare for AI in the same way that they have to for employees. The reality is that although I know that AI can’t replace my job, it doesn’t mean that companies won’t try to do that anyway.”

Sherrod was joined by trucking, warehousing, home health care, and app-based ride sharing workers who raised concerns about health, safety, privacy, fair pay, labor organizing, collective bargaining, and reasonable accommodations for disabilities. Officials from the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the National Labor Relations Board attended to listen to the workers, ask questions, and learn more about the impact of these technologies from the people who actually use them.

Sherrod’s participation underscores the importance of union representation for workers who want to have a say in how these technologies are being used. While other workers are often afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation, she feels comfortable expressing her concerns since collective bargaining agreements prevent employers from disciplining or firing workers without cause.

The Biden-Harris Administration has issued a request for information from the public to learn more about these issues in order to help them develop new policies to protect workers and to promote best practices.

White House Listening Session on AI
CWA Local 3519 Vice President Ylonda Sherrod (center) participated in a White House listening session on the use of automated technologies by employers to surveil, monitor, evaluate, and manage their workers.

CWA Call Center Workers Protest Illegal Layoffs

Monday - June 05, 2023
Sara Steffens at Maximus Event

Workers who are organizing with CWA at Maximus traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to urge Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Beccera to investigate labor practices at Maximus, protect workers from unfair and unnecessary layoffs, and raise wages for contracted workers to $25 per hour. Maximus, the federal government’s largest call center contractor, provides services to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

At the rally, workers described poor working conditions, including low pay, unaffordable health care benefits, and few paths to promotion, especially for Black and Latinx women. Daija Arrington, a Maximus CDC call center worker, said that despite an excellent performance record, she was laid off just before Mother’s Day. “I believe the real reason I was laid off was in retaliation for speaking out about Maximus’s working conditions, and to scare my coworkers from supporting a union. But we have a right to speak out and tell the truth, and to organize to improve our working conditions. That’s why we’re calling on HHS to hold Maximus accountable for mistreating workers, help us keep our jobs, and make sure we’re paid the fair wages we deserve.”

NAACP President Derrick Johnson and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) joined the workers’ protest, with Thompson declaring, “Maximus workers deserve to be rewarded for their hard work, not treated like they’re disposable and they don’t matter. It is imperative that HHS ensures that Maximus provides good jobs with living wages, and workers don’t have to face unfair and unnecessary layoffs.”

CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens echoed the workers’ calls for dignity and respect. “Federal contractors like Maximus are meant to provide good, dignified jobs. Instead, Maximus workers struggle to get by with low pay and little time off. They are tired and fed up with being told they're essential but being treated like they're disposable….Maximus should be investigated by the Biden administration and the HHS. It’s long past time we hold this federal contractor accountable and ensure that all workers at Maximus are given the respect they deserve.” CWA Public, Health Care and Education Workers Vice President Margaret Cook also joined the protest in support of the workers.

After Maximus laid off more than 700 workers in May — the company’s second round of layoffs this year — workers took to the streets outside of call centers to protest. Some workers say they were laid off for speaking out about working conditions, and many of the layoffs were based in part on unplanned absences, and therefore could affect workers with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and caregiving responsibilities. The layoffs occurred after top Maximus executives saw more than $12 million in compensation last year.

In the wake of the layoffs, CWA has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that a Maximus manager made an implied promise of benefits to some workers in an effort to interfere with their organizing activity. Around the same time, a group of workers was forced to attend a meeting where a supervisor urged them to reject union representation and suggested that unionization could lead to layoffs and closure. CWA also alleges the company offered workers severance agreements that illegally restrict employees’ right to speak publicly about their experiences on the job.

You can support the workers by donating to their solidarity fund. Click here to donate.

A video of the event is available here.

Daija Arrington at Maximus Event

Sara Steffens at Maximus Event

NAACP President Derrick Johnson and Rep. Bennie Thompson at Maximus Event

Maximus call center worker Daija Arrington (top photo), CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens (middle photo), NAACP President Derrick Johnson (bottom photo, left), and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) (bottom photo, center) rallied outside of the Department of Health and Human Services last week to urge Secretary Xavier Beccera to investigate labor practices at Maximus.

Bargaining Update

Monday - June 05, 2023
Bargaining Update

New York Times

Members of the New York Times Guild, TNG-CWA Local 31003, reached a groundbreaking tentative agreement with the New York Times after more than two years of negotiations.

The agreement will set new standards for working conditions, wages, and benefits across the media industry, including a $65,000 salary floor and immediate raises of at least 10.6 percent for all members. It also ensures that as the Times expands into local markets, new jobs will be part of the union and pay fair minimum salaries.

Members mobilized in a series of escalating actions to win these gains, including petitions, social media campaigns, mass protests, and a work stoppage.

“This deal is a victory for all the union members who fought for a fair contract that rewards our hard work and sacrifice,” said Bill Baker, New York Times communications coordinator and Times Guild unit chair. “It shows that the company cannot take us for granted and must be held accountable.”

More information on the contract is available here.


Smithville Telephone Company, Inc.

CWA Local 4818 members at Smithville Telephone Company voted last month to ratify a collective bargaining agreement that includes an 8% wage increase over the next 3 years, increased lead and standby pay, and improvements to the day-at-a-time vacation allowance.

The workers mobilized in support of the negotiations, and held informational pickets before and after work that generated substantial local news coverage.

In a statement, the bargaining committee said that its goal was “to ensure that the livelihood of our members will be better at the end of the three-year agreement. As a committee, we believe this contract does just that.”

Hedge Fund Takeover of Local News Fails Thanks to CWA Efforts

Monday - May 29, 2023
FCC Building

In a major victory for journalists and media workers, local news broadcaster TEGNA terminated its proposed sale to hedge fund Standard General after funding for the deal expired.

“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stood up for media workers by scrutinizing a hedge fund’s attempt to take over and destroy more local news in the U.S.,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “CWA thanks FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel and her staff for finally doing what we have asked regulators to do for decades: protect American jobs and hold Wall Street firms accountable.”

NewsGuild-CWA and NABET-CWA members and leaders have been raising questions about how many jobs would be cut as a result of the takeover, which was announced in February 2022. Last summer, those CWA sectors joined the United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry and Common Cause in filing petitions to oppose the takeover and fighting to save local news jobs, prevent a hedge fund takeover of local news, and safeguard the public’s right to weigh in on large broadcast transactions affecting local news and U.S. democracy.

“Standard General and Apollo had multiple opportunities to provide more documents and failed to answer questions raised during this process, which extended the time for the deal to be reviewed,” said NABET-CWA President Charlie Braico. “In the end, their failure to provide adequate answers led to the need for further scrutiny in front of a judge and their poor planning in regard to their financing timeline led to the deal’s demise.“

“This is a major victory for our union members, who have been fighting the hedge fund takeover of local news for more than a decade,” said NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss. “For too long, hedge funds like Standard General, Alden Global Capital, and Chatham Asset Management have taken over local newsrooms, taken on massive amounts of debt, and cut jobs and local news coverage to service that debt.”

Tower Climbers Release Report Exposing Safety Hazards and Mobilize for Bill of Rights to Improve Conditions

Monday - May 29, 2023
Tower Climbers at Verizon

After releasing results of a safety survey which found that more than 65% of wireless tower technicians have been on a job site where someone has been injured and 4% where someone has been killed, members of the Tower Climbers Union/CWA launched a petition earlier this month calling on the nation’s top telecom corporations to commit to improving safety standards and work conditions.

CWA President Chris Shelton shared the survey results with the CEOs of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Dish, American Tower, SBA, and Crown Castle, calling out wireless carriers and tower owners for shirking the responsibility of ensuring worker safety through layers of contracting, and asking them to commit to a Tower Technicians’ Bill of Rights.

Workers followed up on President Shelton’s letters by traveling to the Verizon and Crown Castle shareholders meetings to rally for changes and demand meetings with executives to discuss their rights on the job and the need for improved working conditions and safety standards. Both Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg and Crown Castle CEO Jay Brown agreed to meet with the workers.

“I have one of the most interesting jobs in America, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. I’ve worked in extreme wind, at night when it’s hard to see two feet in front of me, and in freezing temperatures, all while hundreds of feet up in the air,” said Ryan Dupal, a tower technician of 10 years and member of the Tower Climbers Union/CWA. “Despite the essential work that I do, my safety and well-being is of little concern to the major telecom companies who profit off of my work. By hiring workers like me through contractors, telecom giants like AT&T and Verizon are attempting to avoid responsibility for what happens to us on the job. That’s why tower technicians across the nation are organizing together to demand the safety standards, working conditions and fair wages that we deserve.”

Tower Climbers at Crown Castle
Tower Climbers Union/CWA members rallied for safer working conditions at the Crown Castle shareholders meeting in Houston, Texas, (top) and the Verizon shareholders meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Tower Climbers at Verizon

Bargaining Update

Monday - May 29, 2023
AFA Bargaining Summit

Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless workers in Oswego, Ill., ratified their first contract last week, becoming the first Verizon Wireless workers in the midwest to win the protections of a union contract.



Earlier this month, AFA-CWA Flight Attendants, along with representatives from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), held an industry-wide bargaining summit to strategize in order to make the most of this moment of increased worker power to improve their jobs.

Flight Attendants at Alaska, Air Wisconsin, ATI, Avelo, Omni, United, and American are currently in contract negotiations. Flight pay is always a top issue – but especially following the volatility of COVID, Flight Attendants across the industry are prioritizing quality of life, work rules, and pay for all of their time at work.

AFA Bargaining Summit
Flight Attendants from AFA-CWA and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants met to strategize in order to make the most of this moment of increased worker power to improve their jobs.

Worker Power Update

Monday - May 29, 2023

Minnesota Bans Captive Audience Meetings, Enacts Other Labor Reforms

Yesterday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law a labor reform legislation package that had previously been passed by the Minnesota House and Senate.

The package includes one of CWA’s top priorities: a ban on mandatory anti-union “captive audience” meetings that employers use to prevent workers from forming unions. That part of the legislation, which was co-sponsored by State Representative and AFA-CWA Local 27048 member Kaela Berg, makes it illegal to retaliate against workers who decline to participate in meetings that are designed to intimidate workers and weaken their organizing efforts.

CWA members in Minnesota mobilized in support of the ban and held a town hall in April to educate members and the community about and build support for this critical pro-worker legislation. Michalea Arellano and Kaylie Johnson, who are organizing unions with CWA Local 7200, testified at the Senate and House hearings on the bill, respectively. CWAers’ activism in the midterm elections, which gave control of the House, Senate, and Governorship in Minnesota to pro-worker Democrats, laid the groundwork for this victory.

Other provisions in the reform package include a paid sick leave mandate, a ban on non-compete agreements, and requirements that companies disclose quotas and performance metrics that could result in workers being fired if they aren’t met.


CWA-endorsed Mayoral Candidate Wins Philadelphia Primary

CWA-endorsed candidate Cherelle Parker won the Democratic mayoral primary last week in a tightly contested election.

In the March endorsement announcement, CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney said that Parker had stood with and fought alongside CWA members “at the Statehouse, in the City Council, and on the picket line.” He also noted that she “understands that union membership is the best way for working people to boost their wages and improve their working conditions, and that good, family-supporting union jobs are the backbone of Philadelphia’s economy.”

Accepting the endorsement, Parker said, "Together, with the support of CWA, we will ensure that Philadelphia is the safest, cleanest, and greenest city in America, and that we provide economic opportunity for everyone, especially through strong unions and strong union membership."

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