CWA President Chris Shelton: We Will Not Give Up

On Monday, CWA President Chris Shelton addressed the delegates to the 78th CWA Convention, held virtually for the first time ever in order to prioritize the health and safety of members, leaders and staff during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In his keynote address, President Shelton acknowledged the difficulties of dealing with a global pandemic and how its impact has been exacerbated by the ongoing challenges facing working families including the climate crisis, public health crisis, political extremism, attacks on voting rights, and corporate greed, but reminded delegates that “[i]n hard times like these, our job as leaders is to nurture hope, to help it grow, to spread the spirit of hope to our members and to our communities.”

“During the early months of the pandemic, having a union literally made a life and death difference to working people,” said President Shelton and added, “we should be so proud of how CWA responded to this crisis!”

He recognized the CWA activists who mobilized to elect pro-worker candidates like Joe Biden and win back the U.S. Senate in the last election and encouraged all CWAers to build on this momentum and beat back the increased attacks on voting rights and our democracy. “Just as every generation has had to stand up and fight against reactionary forces that want to take us backwards, now is our time to stand up and say ENOUGH! We will not turn back. We will fight to expand our voting rights and defeat the campaign to undermine our democracy.”

“CWA has organized nearly 15,000 new members – the most in any two year period since we organized American Airlines passenger service workers in 2014,” stated President Shelton, while highlighting CWA’s organizing wins since the last Convention, including in non-traditional sectors such as non-profit organizations and tech workers. He also acknowledged that there is more work to be done. “We will not end income inequality or have a truly democratic society until millions of non-union workers at companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart have a voice on the job. But there are sparks out there; flames of unionism are igniting. Our job is to fan those flames until they become a full-blown organizing wildfire.”

President Shelton outlined the various adjustments we have made to strengthen our CWA structure in the past and encouraged delegates to support the Support Members and Rebuild Together (SMART) resolution, which was adopted by the delegates.

He recognized the Frontier workers fighting for a fair contract in California, who recently held a one day ULP strike, and the healthcare heroes in Buffalo, N.Y., who are currently striking against the Catholic Health System over worker safety and quality of care for patients.

“Brothers and sisters, we have been through hard times together before. But we will not give up and we will not let up. I know you will keep on fighting until every job is a union job and every worker is treated with respect and dignity.”

Read the full speech and watch the video here.