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Bargaining Update: Contract Victory for Local 1032 Members!

25 Apr, 2022

258 CWA members in NJ are celebrating a groundbreaking contract victory and unanimous ratification at the Middlesex County Board of Social Services! These county welfare agency workers are responsible for distributing critical aid to residents in need such as SNAP (formerly called Food Stamps), healthcare coverage via Medicaid, and cash assistance to help cover rent.  

Workers will see significant wage increases during the life of the agreement, particularly the lower-paid workers. All workers will receive more money than they have gotten in recent memory. Many will see their salaries increase over 30% during this 4-year contract!

The Local 1032 members had been fighting for a fair contract since June 30, 2020, but they really ramped things up in the last few months. The members organized an aggressive contract campaign. They 1) built a rank-&-file leadership structure of Mobilizers, 2) got trained on how to organize internally, 4) systematically engaged every worker repeatedly in 1:1 conversations, 3) built a solid and demonstrable 90% majority of workers committed to take action 4) planned and executed an escalating thermometer of militant and disruptive tactics.    

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The workers started their campaign with a petition drive of members. They were able to get 91% of workers to sign it. They wore red as they gathered for a massive group picture and then marched on the boss to deliver it. On the first day of bargaining, all the workers throughout the building wore stickers that said “91%”.  

They escalated to a rally at lunch. Then they launched a boycott of overtime that lasted 6 weeks until a deal was reached. They gathered support for taking a strike-authorization vote, something that is relatively unheard of in the public sector in NJ. There was never any law passed against strikes by public-sector workers in NJ but judges in the past have consistently ruled against strikers by issuing injunctions.

The final straw that led to victory was a march at lunchtime along the busy street adjacent to the Agency. It was reported in the press that the workers’ next step was to flood a County Commissioners’ meeting. But before that happened, the workers won. The final sticking point was a raise for the first year of the contract. Management only wanted to offer a bonus that year but the workers got what they wanted in the end.

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