In a challenging time for labor unions, Local 1180 is organizing to make a difference.
Local 1180 is one of the largest CWA public sector locals, representing more than 8,500 workers and 6,200 retirees. Most work in one of dozens of New York City Mayoral agencies; others at the Health and Hospitals Corporation, the Board of Education, the Housing Authority, the Transit Authority, the School Construction Authority, and the state's Unified Court System. Local 1180 also represent workers at private companies such as the Jacob Javits Convention Center; and at not-for-profit organizations including Planned Parenthood of New York City, the ASPCA, Human Rights First, and Human Rights Watch.
More than 100 Local 1180 members took to the steps of City Hall for Equal Pay Day. The Union's favorable settlement with the City was announced at the rally, setting off a roaring round of applause.
Over the past year, the local has adopted a community-based internal organizing strategy to not only sign up new members, but also help members get engaged and build a powerful grassroots network in their local communities. With this strategy in place, Local 1180 President Arthur Cheliotes says that they've seen a big rise in members showing up to local borough meetings to make their voices heard.
"Our goal as a union is to make sure that we're an effective voice for workers in collective bargaining, as well as an organization that speaks for working people in our communities," said Cheliotes. "Our members – and not just stewards – are talking to their coworkers individually to make sure they know how the union is working to improve their lives, and to then get them actively involved in strengthening our efforts."
The work that the local has done has had concrete benefits for workers. This April, the local reached a favorable settlement in an EEOC case against the City of New York for pay discrimination, with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling that the city needed to give raises to the workers and back pay and other damages totaling more than $246 million. Additionally, the local was able to get 40 out of 51 New York City Council members to support a bill to require gender wage data for the public sector and City contractors to be made available and transparent to the public.
"Our union is here to make sure that workers are being treated fairly in the workplace, and to improve the lives of our families and communities," said Cheliotes.