International Solidarity at CWA | Communications Workers of America

International Solidarity at CWA

A Strong Alliance with Sindicato de Telefonistas de la Republica Mexicana

Since 1991, CWA and the Mexican telecom union, STRM (Sindicato de Telefonistas de la Republica Mexicana) have been working together, defending worker and union rights and supporting each other in bargaining, organizing and mobilization. STRM, Mexico’s strongest and most democratic telecom union, represents 50,000 members at Telmex and other companies.

The alliance with STRM has helped other workers win union recognition and bargaining rights too. In 2009 Associated Press journalists in Mexico won union recognition and bargaining rights with STRM, with the support of TNG-CWA's News Media Guild and the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center. The victory was a major step forward for the democratic workers’ movement in Mexico that STRM is leading, to counter employer-controlled unions in Mexico that do little to provide a real voice or strong contracts.

CWA and STRM began this partnership three years before the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1994. The unions have held joint training in border communities and formed alliances, including the SBC Virtual Committee, to work on joint concerns at other employers, including AT&T. When Sprint fired nearly 300 workers at La Conección Familiar in San Francisco because they were voting for CWA representation in 1998, STRM filed a complaint under the NAFTA Labor Side Agreement to seek justice for the workers.

CWA’s close alliance with Spanish trade union leaders also helped TNG-CWA’s News Media Guild win union representation and a first contract in 2006, for journalists at EFE News service in Miami, New York, and Washington. It was the first group of EFE News service workers who have won union representation outside of Spain.

Solidarity with British Telecom Unions

Since 1997, CWA has had a close partnership with unions representing telecom and cable workers in Britain, who face similar employer assaults as workers in the United States. CWA works with the Communications Workers Union, Prospect and other British unions on bargaining rights, mobilization, organizing, jobs and other issues. In 1997, three CWA organizers spent four months with their CWU counterparts, exchanging skills and ideas and focused on cable organizing.

Solidarity with Unions in Colombia and Latin America

CWA has built a strong partnership with the union movement in Colombia to focus worldwide attention on the physical attack and all-out assault that trade unionists in that country endure.

In Colombia, less than 1 percent of workers have bargaining rights; that’s the lowest percentage in the Americas.

President Cohen traveled to Colombia in 2008 as part of a U.S. union delegation and met with union leaders and activists who told of the threats and horror they face in simply seeking union representation. Over the past two decades, more than 1,200 unionists have been murdered.

The U.S.delegation met with President Uribe and other government officials and pressed for labor law reforms and stronger action to investigate and curb the killings of unionists by right-wing paramilitary forces.

CWA continues to fight against the Colombian Free Trade Agreement and other unfair trade deals and to press the government on restoring workers’ rights to the people of Colombia.

CWA and President Cohen also have built strong partnerships with the union movements in Brazil, Chile and other Latin American nations.

Global Federations and Initiatives

UNI Global Union
UNI Global Union was formed in 2000 and has more than 1,000 union affiliate members, representing one million workers in 140 countries. President Larry Cohen was elected president of UNI Telecom in 2001 and served until 2007.

UNI Global Union has been a strong partner in CWA’s campaign to restore bargaining rights for workers in the U.S. Last year, delegations of union activists from more than 100 countries participated in UNI’s global solidarity campaign to support bargaining rights, especially in the Americas. Activists visited U.S. embassies in their home countries, presenting letters and petitions that called on the U.S. government to support workers’ rights.

CWA also is working with UNI Finance and unions in 20 other countries to support bank workers at HSBC and Santander, which have greatly expanded their worldwide operations. HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking organizations with operations in 88 countries. It staunchly opposes the rights of U.S. workers to bargain collectively and organize. Santander is the world’s second largest bank and is headquartered in Spain. Click here for more information on this campaign.

CWA participates with UNI Global Union in Customer Service Professionals month, held every October, to focus attention on the job conditions that customer service workers around the world face and efforts to raise worldwide standards for customer service professionals.

International Federation of Journalists
The IFJ represents half a million journalists in more than 100 countries. The IFJ focuses on the safety of journalists, especially those reporting in war zones or other deadly areas, as well as censorship, media concentration and other issues. TNG-CWA is an affiliate of the IFJ.

International Metalworkers Federation
The IMF represents workers in the manufacturing and is organizing in the Information Technology sector as well. The IMF represents 207 Unions, with 25 million members in 99 countries. IUE-CWA is affiliated with the IMF.

International Transport Federation
The ITF represents workers within airline shipping and transportation fields. The ITF represents 604 unions, with 5 million members in 137 countries. CWA and AFA-CWA are affiliated with the ITF. AFA-CWA also represents flight attendants at United Airlines in these overseas locations: London, Frankfurt, Narita, Japan, and Hong Kong. AFA-CWA is affiliated with the Trades Union Congress in the United Kingdom.

Eduardo Diaz Union-to-Union Solidarity Program

The Eduardo Diaz Union-to-Union Solidarity Program sponsors projects to support working people around the world, with a special focus on projects that help empower women workers.

In 2000, the program was named for Diaz, in memory of the late CWA International Affairs Director.

CWA locals voluntarily contribute 10 cents per member per year, with the funds going to projects selected by their district. The programs are coordinated by either UNI regional staff or a member of the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center from the appropriate region. That way, financial resources from CWA members reach the workers and are used in the most efficient way possible. Reports and photographs are sent back to CWA.

Solidarity Committees of interested local officers with District staff support help select projects and work to raise awareness of the Solidarity program.