On the final day of Democracy Awakening in Washington, D.C., CWA President Chris Shelton, Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens and nearly 80 CWA activists joined more than 300 hundred protesters who were arrested at the U.S. Capitol as they called for action to restore our democracy.
CWA President Chris Shelton, center, marches with AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, left, and NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks.
Members from more than 300 organizations came to Washington for three days of "Democracy Awakening," including teach-ins and workshops, a rally and prayer vigil and marches all culminating in the arrests of 300 protesters on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Hill.
CWAers came by bus, van and car, from Birmingham, Ala.; Little Rock, Ark.; Rochester, N.Y.; Kansas City, Mo., and communities in New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Ohio.
Members of CWA's National Women's Committee, the Civil Rights and Equity Committee and CWA Next Generation activists joined the events, along with CWA Vice Presidents Linda Hinton, Claude Cummings, Brenda Roberts, Lisa Bolton and Sara Nelson, and At-Large board members Anetra Session and Vera Mikell.
The message carried by protesters and witnesses was this: When it comes to ensuring voting rights, getting big money out of politics and moving to fill the recent vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress is failing to do its job and ignoring the will of the people.
Shelton called the event the "second American revolution," in which millions of working families would unite to take our country back from the 1 percent.
"We know that, on our own, CWA cannot restore workers' rights or win the financial reforms we need to put working families back on track. The same is true for the critical issues facing environmental groups, consumer advocates and social justice activists. We can't go it alone. But when we join together, as we have in the past, we can move our democracy forward. We know this. When every organization makes restoring our democracy at least its second most important issue, we can succeed," Shelton said.
Also arrested were former CWA President Larry Cohen, who leads the Democracy Initiative, a key group in organizing Democracy Awakening, and leaders from the AFL-CIO, NAACP, Sierra Club, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Common Cause, labor movement and more.
CWAers from Texas to Ohio to New Jersey came to Washington, DC, to stand up for our democracy.
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As the strike by 39,000 CWA and IBEW members at Verizon entered week two, CWAers were mobilizing, gaining more support from the public and elected officials, and getting out their message to media.
Hundreds of CWA striking Verizon workers rallied outside the company's complex in Silver Spring, MD, on April 20, joined by U.S. Senate candidates Representatives Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen, other elected officials and labor allies. CWA members came from Virginia, West Virginia, D.C., Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
CWA Verizon workers rally and march outside the Chesapeake Complex in Silver Spring, Md.
Edwards and Van Hollen called out Verizon's greed, and CWA District 2-13 Vice President Ed Mooney rallied the crowd to keep up the fight for a fair contract, "for our families, our customers and our communities."
In District 1, more than 7,500 CWA members were a sea of red in a massive march and rally in New York City on April 18.
A sea of red in New York City.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer spoke to workers outside the Verizon central office on West 36 Street, and Senator Bernie Sanders joined the crowd at 42nd Street as the march got underway. Many elected officials joined the rally, sharing messages of support for workers' fight to save good jobs.
In Massachusetts, Senator Elizabeth Warren joined strikers on the picket line, and tweeted, "Verizon workers are fighting for their jobs & respect. Glad to join MA workers on the picket line in Cambridge." And former President Bill Clinton joined a Verizon picket line in Buffalo, N.Y.
CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor, with NY elected officials, leads the march in Midtown Manhattan.
CWA Verizon members are getting our message out in the media every day.
Isaac Collazo, a technician and member of Local 1101, talked about why workers are on strike with MSNBC host Chris Hayes. You can watch that video here.
About 200 AT&T members at CWA Local 1298 in Hamden, CT, have been working without a contract since April 9. AT&T is demanding cuts in health care, job security and pensions and also wants to slash job security.
Local 1298 is fighting for good jobs, health care and retirement security and to improve workers' overall standard of living.
While negotiations with AT&T West continue, CWA members in California and Nevada, working without a contract, are stepping mobilization to make sure that AT&T gets the word: we want a fair contract.
Clockwise from top left: Members of CWA Locals 9423, 9003, 9504 and 9417 tell AT&T West that, "We want respect and a fair contract."
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More DirecTV Workers Choose CWA
Another 240 CWA DirecTV technicians, warehouse and administrative workers in Alabama now have CWA representation.
Working on the campaigns, which included a lot of night signups, were Local 3901, Michael Sizemore and Greg Murphy; Local 3902, David Crawford, Randles Smith, Grant Powell and Heath Harrison; Local 3903, Frank Clark; Local 3905, David Betz; Local 3908, Keith Patterson and Jack Reese; Local 3911, Brian Mixon and Eric Jackson, and Campaign Lead Tracy Binkely.
Movement Building Update
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IUE-CWA Activists Focus on Diversity
Last week, more than 65 IUE-CWA activists came together in Dayton, OH, to talk about inclusion, acceptance, and diversity within their union. The IUE-CWA Diversity Ambassadors Program brings members from all walks of life to explore ways to expand minority leadership roles, promote workplace health and safety, and build mobilization. Workshops covered skill-building, including public speaking and learning new ways to talk about diversity issues.
ICYMI: CWAers join Fight for $15 and a Union
Left: Activists wear Fight for $15 stickers to work at New Flyer's bus manufacturing plant in Anniston, Ala. Right: TU activists hosted a cookout outside T-Mobile's call center in Wichita, Kan.
Victory at Texas Walmart
CWA activists join Our Walmart, UFCW, Jobs with Justice Texas and the Dallas AFL-CIO in celebrating a National Labor Relations Board ruling that said Walmart unlawfully retaliated against workers who participated in strikes and must reinstate those former employees.
CWA Next Gen Activists Mobilize in DC
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CWA's Next Generation's newest activists arrived in Washington, DC, last weekend for a crash course in democracy.
CWA Next Gen activists on Capitol Hill.
Seven district, division and sector leads, along with 14 new state and local leads from around the country, spent three intensive days learning political and internal organizing skills and developing work plans for this year.
When they weren't strategizing about how to mobilize more young CWA members, they were protesting on the streets of Washington with thousands of CWA and other activists as part of the Democracy Awakening. Next Gen District 4 Lead Kelli Williams was arrested on the steps of the U.S. Capitol along with CWA President Chris Shelton and hundreds of others.
Next Gen activists also spent an afternoon picketing with striking Verizon workers.
Kia Carroll, an AFA-CWA member at Frontier Airlines, said, "My time in DC was intense and showed me why the younger generation should get more involved. I can't wait to plan more wonderful Next Generation events and campaigns with my new Next Gen team members."
Through the Next Gen program, CWA is connecting members aged 35 and under with seasoned member-mentors over the age of 35 to form a network of committed union activists across the country. They're fighting for organizing and bargaining rights, voting rights, getting money out of politics, income and racial equality, fair trade policies, immigration reform, and LGBTQ rights.
On Workers' Memorial Day, April 28, union members and allies will be remembering those who have been killed, injured and sickened on the job. Together, we'll focus on what needs to be done to make our jobs safer.
Here are some ways to observe Workers' Memorial Day:
Hold a candlelight vigil, memorial service or moment of silence to remember those who have died on the job and to highlight safety and health issues in your community.
Conduct training and workshops for workers and the community on reporting job hazards and knowing their workplace rights.
Create a memorial at a workplace or in the community where workers have been killed on the job.