CWA Neutrality Agreements Showcased at Department of Labor Event for Business Leaders
Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su brought workers and business leaders together on Tuesday to discuss the value that worker voice brings to American businesses. Two CWA organizing campaigns were represented in the panel, “The Business Case for Worker Voice,” uplifting the role that agreements committing employers to remain neutral when workers organize a union play in empowering workers and improving retention and training.
CWA member Rhyanna Eichner shared how neutrality agreements improve productivity and problem-solving at Microsoft’s ZeniMax video game studio. “Being able to come to the table in bargaining with a truly neutral employer is a different ballgame. It was a conversation, not a fight,” said Eichner, a member of the bargaining committee at ZeniMax. “One issue that can be bargained over is professional development, which will increase a worker’s capabilities. When workers take advantage of these professional development opportunities, they will be better at their job and the company benefits from that.”
Business leaders in the tech industry are recognizing the benefits of partnering with CWA to give workers a voice on the job. CWAers have used neutrality agreements to improve recruitment, training opportunities, and retention at companies ranging from industry giants like Microsoft to growth sectors like semiconductor chip manufacturer Akash Systems.
Amy Pannoni, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Microsoft, found that the company’s neutrality agreement with CWA “reduced friction. It built relationships with our workers.” Pannoni advised other business leaders, “Think differently about neutrality agreements and respecting your workers’ choice. Bargaining sessions are negotiations, but they are also sessions to learn. I learned a lot from talking to Rhyanna. Think differently. Have a growth mindset and listen.”
Felix Ejeckam, co-founder and CEO of Akash Systems, told the panel, “A lot of folks in tech don’t know what a union can do for them.” Ejeckam recently signed a historic first-in-the-industry labor neutrality agreement for semiconductor production workers. Ejeckam explained to Acting Secretary Su how the agreement with IUE-CWA will help his business grow, recruiting and training hundreds of workers for a new $432 million manufacturing factory set for construction in West Oakland, Calif., that will employ an estimated 500 workers over the next five years.
Acting Secretary Su advised business leaders, “The best investment a business leader can make is in their people.”
“It has been a blessing to work with a company that has committed to neutrality,” said Eichner. “Workers are not scared to lose their jobs, and when they’re not scared, they’re more productive.”
CWA member Rhyanna Eichner (center) joined Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su and business leaders from Microsoft and Akash Systems to discuss the value that worker voice brings to American businesses.
This post originally appeared on cwa-union.org.