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CWA Next Generation Young Activists Forum Brings Together Members from Every District and Sector

May 25, 2023

CWA Next Generation Young Activists Forum

Last week, dozens of young workers and mentors from every CWA district and sector gathered in Cleveland, Ohio, for the CWA Next Generation Young Activists Forum, the first in-person event for Next Gen in more than three years. The Forum included panel discussions about recent major organizing wins and strategies for building a more inclusive union, as well as interactive workshops on the one percent agenda and how to have effective conversations to build worker power.

Each of the young workers who attended the Forum worked with a Next Gen Lead Activist on a plan of action for the coming year to support key CWA goals: spreading digital equity through the Broadband Brigade, defending democracy, improving digital organizing efforts, and confronting racial and gender bias.

Speakers, including CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens, CWA Telecommunications and Technology Vice President and Next Gen Director Lisa Bolton, CWA District 4 Vice President Linda L. Hinton, and Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, shared their own stories and calls to action.

Secretary-Treasurer Steffens cited the explosion of organizing within CWA and across the United States led by young workers. She noted that now is one of the best times in history to be a union activist, and although “none of us can say for sure exactly what sparked this organizing moment...we know that the courage and convictions of young workers are playing a huge role.”

Vice President Bolton told attendees, “We can bring about real change if we stick together and keep fighting for our future. Ultimately, that future, and our movement’s success, depends on young people like you.”

Vice President Hinton celebrated the participants’ “unwavering passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to a better future for workers” and said, “Together we will craft a world with fair wages, safe working conditions, and equality for all.”

In one of the Forum’s highlights, U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL-10) spoke live via video from his office on Capitol Hill. He praised young CWA activists for being among those who are fighting for a better world. “You see how all fights are intertwined with labor and the fight for working class people,” said Frost. “What we know to be true is that everybody deserves to have a union, everybody deserves to organize in the workplace, everybody deserves a thriveable wage, everybody deserves healthcare, and when we work together, organize, and elect good candidates...that’s how we’re going to get that world.”