Late last month, CWAers from across District 1 gathered for their annual meeting, held for the first time in person since the pandemic. In the same week, CWAers in District 2-13 gathered virtually for their annual meeting.
Each of the District meetings brought together hundreds of members to participate in workshops and committee meetings, as well as hear from union leaders and guest speakers, including CWA President Chris Shelton and Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens. Here are the highlights from the District meetings.
CWA District 1
Addressing the crowd, Shelton applauded the activists in District 1 and throughout the union for their hard work engaging in our grassroots efforts to build support for pro-worker candidates leading up to the critical midterm elections. “Building a strong political program has long been a priority for District 1 and this election cycle we saw the difference your engagement can make,” said Shelton. He highlighted some of the key races in the District where our efforts paid off and stressed the need to continue this great work. He also uplifted the outstanding work District 1 members have been engaged in to win legislative victories and congratulated them on holding the record for passing the CWA-endorsed Call Center Bill in more states than any other District in CWA. Using the ascendancy of Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to House Majority Leader as an example, Shelton also highlighted the importance of building relationships with candidates and lawmakers from the very beginning. CWA was the first union to endorse Rep. Jeffries in 2006 when he decided to run for a seat in the New York State Assembly.
Shelton spoke about the incredible organizing and bargaining successes in District 1, including in the tech industry through the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA Local 1400 (AWU-CWA). In addition, Shelton highlighted the resilience District 1 members demonstrated negotiating strong contracts, such as the groundbreaking contract healthcare workers at Catholic Health in Buffalo, N.Y., won after a historic 5-week strike.
CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens uplifted the District’s organizing victories and spoke about the need to continue to take advantage of this moment when approval for unions is at an all time high. “We have been hoping and working for a long time for this wave of organizing. This flurry of wins at CWA and our fellow unions is shifting our understanding of what’s possible for our organizing program, our labor movement, and our democracy itself,” said Steffens.
CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor gave a detailed and impassioned speech thanking the dedicated team of staff and member leaders for their continued hard work, highlighting the various wins members secured in the District over the last four years, discussing the current challenges CWAers are facing, and motivating District 1 members to keep the fight going. “We have to be crystal clear about who the real enemy is – the 1%. And we have to be clear about the fact that they are trying to divide us. We can’t let them do it,” said Trainor. He added, “The labor movement has survived way worse. We’ve been through tough times before. But we are not giving up. We will never give up on building worker power.”
Conference participants also heard from CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney; CWA Public, Healthcare and Education Sector Vice President Margaret Cook; and Northeast Region At-Large Executive Board Member Gloria Middleton.
CWA District 2-13
In his remarks to the virtual District 2-13 meeting, President Shelton expressed his deep pride and support for the striking CWA members at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. “I am proud of each and every one of them. They have shown immense courage, leadership, and determination to win this fight. Make no mistake, this fight isn’t just about a fair contract. It is our response to the increasingly shameful acts of corporate greed that are destroying good jobs and local media in our country. These are the same forces that seek to threaten our democracy and weaken our union. But we will not let them. Workers are rising up across the nation to push back and the actions of the striking Post Gazette workers are undoubtedly inspiring more workers to join the fight,” said Shelton.
He also congratulated the members in securing key wins during the 2022 midterm elections, including flipping the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat to pro-worker Democrat John Fetterman. In addition, Shelton highlighted the various bargaining and organizing victories in the District and motivated the members to stay mobilized and engaged for upcoming statewide elections, contract battles, and more.
As a CWA leader and a former journalist who led a successful campaign to organize her workplace – and was fired because of it – CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens also expressed her solidarity and support for the striking workers at the Post Gazette. She encouraged the members to take actions, to mobilize, and organize to strengthen and grow our union and the labor movement as a whole. “There is only one thing that outweighs the corrupting influence of money in our democracy, and that’s when massive numbers of people unite in strategy and act in unity,” said Steffens.
CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney praised and expressed his support for the Post Gazette workers striking in his District. He highlighted their tenacity and commitment to not settle for anything less than what they deserve. He also thanked the staff, member leaders, and allies who have been supporting the striking members, as well as the dedicated team representing members in the District.
Conference participants also heard from CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor, IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew, and other guest speakers.