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CWA Legislative-Political Conference Focuses on Returning Power to Working People

Opening this week's CWA Legislative-Political Conference, CWA President Chris Shelton asked participants to lead the fight to win back power for working people in this fall's elections.

"We need to go from protest to politics, from protest to power," Shelton said. "And that fight starts right now."

Shelton highlighted recent attacks on working people by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress, including the corporate tax cut bill, the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and the appointees to the Labor Department, NLRB, and National Mediation Board who have begun systematically reducing protections for workers on the job. He also stressed the need to ensure that the Democratic Party takes a stronger stand on issues that affect working people and their ability to join together to negotiate strong contracts.

In her remarks, CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens detailed the resurgence in worker organizing and local political activism, much of which is being led by CWA members and retirees. "I know we are at the beginning of a new era for working people," Steffens said. "And CWA is leading the way."

Speakers during the first day of the conference represented the kind of elected officials that have won support from CWA members because they are committed to fight against the corporate CEOs who are using their massive profits to take power away from the people and devastate our communities. Conference participants heard from Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown; Charlotte, N.C., Councilmember Braxton Winston; and West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda.

CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson reviewed recent legislative victories, including CWA members' success at preventing anti-worker legislation and advancing bills at the state and federal level that protect call center jobs. CWA Political Director Rafael Navar moderated a panel discussion on how to replicate last year's electoral victories in Virginia state legislative races, featuring Virginia Delegates Lee Carter and Jennifer Carroll Foy, Doris Crouse-Mays, President of Virginia AFL-CIO and Jon Liss, Executive Director of New Virginia Majority.

CWAers at the conference attended workshops on topics including combating inequality, telecommunications policy, democracy, NAFTA, online campaign tools, call center legislation, and getting-out-the-vote. Delegations of CWA members met with their Senators and Representatives to discuss key issues and ask for their support.


On the first day of the Legislative-Political Conference, participants heard from Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, CWA President Chris Shelton, CWA Secretary Treasurer Sara Steffens, CWA Legislative Director Shane Larson, CWA Political Director Rafael Navar, Charlotte, N.C. Councilmember Braxton Winston, West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda, Virginia Delegates Lee Carter and Jennifer Carroll Foy, Doris Crouse-Mays, President of Virginia AFL-CIO and Jon Liss, Executive Director of New Virginia Majority

CWA opened the second day of the conference to members of allied organizations who are part of our common fight against Wall Street, the big banks, and the corporate elite. This unprecedented event, called "We the People 2018," drew national attention and was livestreamed by NBC News.

President Shelton gave the opening address, and the standing-room-only crowd heard from Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Members of the audience engaged with the speakers. CWA Local 1109 member Bianca Cunningham, who worked with her coworkers to organize her Verizon Wireless store and five others in Brooklyn and was unfairly fired in 2015, encouraged Sen. Harris to commit to supporting legislation that strengthens workers' rights to join together and penalizes companies that engage in illegal anti-union activity.

The speakers also expressed support for crucial issues like strengthening workers' rights, protecting Medicare and Social Security, holding Wall Street accountable, acting on DACA, and much more.


CWA opened the second day of the Legislative-Political Conference to members of allied organizations who are part of our common fight against Wall Street, the big banks, and the corporate elite for an unprecedented event called "We the People 2018," featuring Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).