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Keeping CWA Strong

Chris SheltonBy CWA President Chris Shelton

Make no mistake: The past decade has been extremely difficult for the labor movement in the United States. Several extremely wealthy CEOs and investors have made it their mission to make sure nothing stands in their way as they cut jobs, drive down wages, reduce benefits, and gut health and safety regulations. What has been at the top of their list? Destroying unions so that working people can't fight back.

CWA leaders anticipated these challenges. At the 2005 CWA Convention, delegates passed the "Ready for the Future" resolution, which launched a union-wide discussion about strategies to improve our union. Those discussions led to many new initiatives, including the establishment of our Strategic Industry Fund to increase bargaining power within the industries where CWA members work.

The Strategic Industry Fund allows our union to create bold campaigns that would not otherwise have been possible, like "Speed Matters" to advocate for broadband buildout, programs to make sure that green jobs in manufacturing are union jobs, and coordination of organizing efforts across major media chains. But the limitations of the industry-based approach soon became clear. So, in 2013, Convention delegates voted to increase the union's capacity by establishing the CWA Growth Fund.

The Growth Fund builds our power across industries and in the larger movement for economic justice. It allows us to think big, respond creatively, and work together no matter who our employer is or where we live. Through the Growth Fund, thousands of CWA members have participated in innovative educational programs, organizing campaigns, and legislative initiatives. This issue of the CWA News highlights some of these successes—like our multi-year campaign to defeat the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, our Political Boot Camps and Reversing Runaway Inequality training, and internal organizing programs that pioneered the ideas that became CWA STRONG.

In July, we will gather in Las Vegas for the 77th CWA Convention. We must once again ask ourselves how we can strengthen our union to meet the challenges we face. Delegates will consider proposals to balance and stabilize the funding for the Strategic Industry and Growth Funds so that we can continue to strengthen all sides of the CWA Triangle: organizing, movement building and political action, and bargaining and representation.

We will also take a close look at the backbone of our union—our stewards. We will discuss how to make sure we have enough stewards to support our membership and how to provide those stewards with the training and resources they need to lead our union into the future.

By looking toward the future, we prepared ourselves for the challenges and opportunities of today. Last year's Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME was meant as a body blow against unions. Instead, our public sector membership has grown and the country has seen a wave of working people fighting back against corporate power. CWA members would not have been able to fight back against the attacks of corporate CEOs and the 1% so successfully without the forward-thinking action of the members who participated in Ready for the Future discussions and the convention delegates who established the Growth Fund.

When we fight, we win. Growth Fund campaigns bring us together and make CWA stronger every day. I urge every one of you to get involved in these campaigns, participate in training, and join the fight. Your future, and the future of our children and grandchildren, depends on it.

CWA Strong