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CWA Shares Vision for Future of American Labor

CWA was well-represented at a conference last week at Georgetown University Law Center on "The Future of American Labor" sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, The Century Foundation, and the Harrison Institute for Public Law.

CWA President Chris Shelton provided his perspective on sectoral bargaining on a panel moderated by former CWA President Larry Cohen, while a member of the NewsGuild-CWA's Tidewater Media Guild, Kristen Zeis, participated on a panel about organizing millennials using digital communications.

On the sectoral bargaining panel, Shelton spoke about how collectively bargaining an agreement that covers all workers in a sector of the economy helps lift standards for all workers. He described how he and other telecommunications union members took to the streets to achieve formal national bargaining with AT&T in 1974. National bargaining lasted only a decade until the federal government broke up AT&T in 1984. The government failed to preserve or promote sectoral bargaining after the break up.

"Our framework of workplace-by-workplace organizing and individual company bargaining is broken," Shelton said. "We must demand that progressive government take on the responsibility of creating mechanisms that allow workers to sit down across the bargaining table from the powerful so that our voices will be heard."


CWA President Chris Shelton (right) provided his perspective on sectoral bargaining on a panel moderated by former CWA President Larry Cohen.

On the organizing panel, Zeis, a photojournalist at the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, told conference attendees that when Tribune Publishing laid off 50% of its Daily News staff last summer, she and her colleagues at the Virginian-Pilot realized that they needed the protections that forming a union provides for workers and for local news. "For many of us, it was about our papers and preserving the legacy of our papers," Zeis said.


A member of the NewsGuild-CWA's Tidewater Media Guild, Kristen Zeis (second from right), spoke on a panel about organizing millennials using digital communications.