By CWA President Chris Shelton
This is a year of challenge - and opportunity - for our union and for the labor movement.
The challenge is clear. Donald Trump, in collusion with Mitch McConnell and Republican leadership in the U.S. House and Senate, has taken every opportunity to put more power in the hands of corporate executives and make it harder for working people to win higher wages, better benefits, a safe workplace, and a secure retirement.
The Department of Labor is supposed to protect workers, but Trump has turned it over to his corporate cronies. They have made it easier for financial advisors to scam retirees by steering them toward high-fee retirement plans that provide hefty commissions. They have classified salaried workers who make over $35,000 as “executives” to cheat them out of overtime pay. The National Labor Relations Board now has an anti-worker majority which has been working its way through a big business wish list -- overturning past decisions to make it harder for workers to organize, bargain contracts and strike.
Trump’s OSHA has fewer inspectors than ever, and workplace fatalities are on the rise. He renegotiated NAFTA, but protected pharmaceutical companies instead of including enforceable labor rights for workers. He killed regulations that hold federal contractors accountable for labor law violations.
The list goes on and on.
If you want to know what the legislative priorities of this administration are, just look at the Trump Tax Cut bill. Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and cheerleaders for the bill like AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson promised that corporations would use the giant tax giveaway to raise wages and create millions of new jobs, and that the bill would make it harder for corporations to send work to overseas contractors.
The reality is that corporations have used hundreds of billions of dollars in tax windfalls to buy back their own stock, making executives and big Wall Street shareholders even more wealthy. Five of the biggest drug companies announced $45 billion in stock buybacks, while raising the prices for over 3,400 medications by 10% or more. Meanwhile, there is less money for critical programs that working families depend on and for repairs and improvements to our country’s deteriorating infrastructure. Now Trump says he’s even considering cuts to Medicare and Social Security. What garbage!
The upcoming election provides us with an opportunity, not just to elect a new President, but to put working people in position to gain real power in our country.
Because we helped elect a pro-worker majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, the House passed the PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act in February -- historic legislation which would reverse decades of policy-making meant to crush unions. The CWA Executive Board has declared that no member of Congress - Democrat or Republican - will receive CWA’s endorsement for reelection unless they support the PRO Act.
The PRO Act and hundreds of bills that the House of Representatives has passed that would improve working people’s lives are unlikely to become law because Mitch McConnell has refused to bring them up in the Senate and Donald Trump has pledged to veto them.
But if we elect even more pro-worker candidates to the House, a pro-worker majority in the U.S. Senate, and a President with a real commitment to building worker power, we can bring lasting change to a system that is rigged in the favor of corporate executives and their Wall Street overseers.
It won’t be easy. But this is our moment. Every major Democratic presidential candidate recognizes the importance of making it easier for workers to join unions. Polls show that public support for union membership is at its highest point in many years. The number of workers who have gone out on strike over the last two years - including thousands of CWA members - is the most we’ve seen since the mid-1980s. Every day more people are saying enough is enough and joining together to organize a union at their workplace.
Every single CWA member and retiree needs to join this fight. Check in with your local or your Retired Members’ Council and find out how to get involved in our legislative and political mobilization. Let’s show the whole country that we are CWA Strong, and when we fight, we win.