CWAers Rally Around Joe Biden's Plan to Push Companies to Build Out Broadband with Union Workers
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On Wednesday, CWA members participated in a town hall centered around the need for federal funding for broadband and Joe Biden's push to expand broadband access and empower workers. After the town hall, CWAers made hundreds of phone calls to get out the vote.
CWAers participated in a town hall centered around the need for federal funding for broadband and Joe Biden’s push to expand broadband access and empower workers.
CWA President Chris Shelton, CWA Local 4100 member and AT&T technician DeAndre Davis, Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Reps. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) and Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), and other labor leaders discussed Biden's plan to invest $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure while closing the digital divide in rural and urban areas and creating good, union jobs that expand the middle class.
"AT&T CEO John Stankey has said that the fiber buildout is one of the company's top priorities during this pandemic," said Davis. "You have to scratch your head and wonder why AT&T would ever lay off a union employee, an employee that they have invested years of training and money in to make them professionals. We have lost more jobs to contractors than we could count over the years. This is all based on profit. And I'm here to tell you that this is no time to put profit over people."
"Every time Joe talks about investment and jobs, he talks about the importance of making it easier for workers to join unions," said CWA President Chris Shelton. "Joe Biden knows that if we are going to build back better from this pandemic, that we can’t count on promises from companies like AT&T. To build back better, we need to have enforceable requirements that, in exchange for public support, telecom companies must bring broadband and good, union jobs to every community in this country."
Of the 21 states in AT&T's wireline footprint, Michigan has the lowest fiber internet penetration. Senator Peters noted that nearly a third of students in Michigan don't have access to the connectivity necessary for remote learning. "When we put in an infrastructure program after we take the [Senate] majority, high speed internet is going to be a priority," Peters said.
"What an opportunity to put CWA members to work to connect every house in this country with high speed connectivity that has all kinds of benefits,” said Representative Levin. “If we elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and take back the Senate and win the House, we are going to pass the whole agenda that we passed in the House that went over and gathered dust on Mitch McConnell's desk."
Representative Kildee discussed the critical need for fiber buildout in rural Michigan to support telemedicine, especially for seniors. "We all have to commit to make sure that we elect Joe Biden because he has a plan to connect millions of Americans to one another and to essential services, by investing in infrastructure and investing in high quality broadband in those rural and urban places," Kildee said.
Many Americans Still Don't Have Internet Access — Congress Must Help
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An op-ed published this week in The Hill, co-authored by CWA President Chris Shelton and Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance Angela Siefer, lays out the challenges the nation is facing as the digital divide has been thrown into the spotlight during the pandemic. Shelton and Siefer urge Congress to pass the Moving Forward Act to provide millions of families with an affordable internet connection and ensure that the workers who build and maintain those networks are able to exercise their collective bargaining rights.
"The digital divide isn’t new, but the pandemic makes it an emergency. People's livelihoods and their children’s education should not be held hostage by a broadband provider. Congress must act to transform our nation by ensuring affordable, high-speed broadband access for all, regardless of race, income, or geography," Shelton and Siefer wrote.
As the union notes, veterans, active-duty service members, and military families "are constantly exploited by politicians and others who seek to loot our economy, attack our communities, and divide our nation with racism and bigotry so they can consolidate more power amongst themselves." CWA seeks to counter these Trump-era threats by encouraging veterans in its own ranks to engage in grassroots campaigns with community allies and increase awareness of veterans’ issues within CWA, like the need for a strong fully funded veterans' health care system.
These activists are working hard to make sure pro-worker and pro-veteran candidates like Joe Biden get elected.
Check out this video of U.S. Army veteran and CWA Local 3680 member LaFarrah Hines speaking at the Essential Workers March in Fayetteville, N.C., on Saturday to urge people to get out the vote!
Every Voter Must Be Able to Freely Vote and We Must Count Every Vote
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Just about everything in 2020 is different, and Election Day won't be an exception. COVID-19 is causing poll worker shortages in some states, which may result in poll closures and longer lines. Right-wing extremists have promised to gather at critical polling sites, with the possible intent to disrupt and intimidate voters.
The outcome of some races will not be determined on election night or even for several days afterward because so many voters are using absentee and mail-in ballots this year, which can take longer to process. There may be no clear winner on election night, or even for several days afterward.
We want to make sure you know your rights as a voter – rights that many brave activists and organizers fought for in the face of enormous risks and obstacles. Every voter must be able to freely vote and every vote must be counted.
Above: Hundreds of CWAers have been phonebanking together to get out the vote for Joe Biden and CWA-endorsed Senate candidates! ~~~ Below: CWA retirees and family members from Local 4008, Patty Alexander, Dee Metz, Lenny Metz, and Carl Richter helped label and stamp thousands of member-to-member postcards that were sent out in Michigan!
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Dallas Morning News
Newsroom workers of the Dallas Morning News won their union vote, with the 128-person unit becoming the only union newsroom in Texas, with more sure to follow!
Workers organized to preserve local journalism and fight continued cuts. The workers already won victories including restoration of pay cuts made early in the pandemic and the filling of several long-vacant positions.
Workers faced an emotionally-driven anti-union campaign from management but overcame it with a positive public campaign and regular one-on-one conversations. Read workers' testimonials here.
Workers at Meow Wolf, an interactive arts and experience company in Santa Fe, N.M., voted to join CWA last Tuesday. Led by a determined and united committee of artists, designers, tech workers, fabricators, guest service workers, and more, they faced an uphill climb to gain a voice at work after the pandemic caused layoffs of half of their co-workers. The remaining unit of 130 workers voted to form a union to address job security, transparency, opportunities for advancement, a contract, and a voice at work, among other issues. Their union motto is "When we work together, we build worlds." #SolidarityForTheMultiverse