CWA activists from across the country met this week in Washington, D.C. for the union's Legislative-Political Conference. The two-day conference focused on CWA's effort to reclaim the economy and democracy for working families, including the "Take on Wall Street" campaign and holding elected officials accountable.
CWA President Chris Shelton kicked off the conference with a rousing speech, stressing that "these are movement times, times when the fight for fundamental change in our system is on, and all of us must join." He commended CWA members for their victory at Verizon: "They showed the entire labor movement and all of America that when workers stick together and fight, 'there is no greater power anywhere beneath the sun!'" He also spoke about the presidential race and labor's fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Senator Elizabeth Warren and CWA President Chris Shelton fired up the CWA crowd on the first day of the conference.
On Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren fired up the crowd with an impassioned speech highlighting the Take On Wall Street campaign, Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) spoke powerfully about stopping the TPP, and activists participated in a panel on fighting for a fair economy.
"The banks caused the worst financial crisis in three generations," Senator Warren said. "They cost jobs, they cost homes, they cost pensions. But they're doubling down on lawyers and lobbyists and trying to open more loopholes. The good news is, as we showed with Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, millions of activists can stand up to Wall Street and win.
On Wednesday, United States Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who worked tirelessly to mediate negotiations between CWA and Verizon, started the day off with a great speech about strengthening the middle class and organized labor. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) talked about restoring and expanding voting rights and reclaiming our economy.
"Because of your sacrifice, there are now 13 million more Americans who can punch their ticket to the middle class," Secretary Perez said to CWA activists who walked the picket lines and stood in solidarity with Verizon workers during the strike. "Collective bargaining is the most important pillar of working families, and this is a great contract!"
Senator Brown commended CWAers for their hard work on stopping the TPP and spoke about the importance of labor unions: "When you hold up your union card, that's why you have a safe workplace."
Rep. John Lewis said: "I know you just won a major victory at Verizon, but we have more victories to win! We've come too far. We've made too much progress to stop now. We must continue to go forward."
A panel on the Black Lives Matter Movement looked at how the movement is leading the fight for civil rights in our nation. Panelists talked about the roots of racial and economic inequality, and how as a nation, the lives of black persons and people of color are undervalued.
Top: Day 1 focused on CWA's campaign to take on Wall Street. Clockwise from top left:
First row: CWA President Shelton; Vice President Lisa Bolton (T&T) and panelists Rachel Lyons, National Partnership for Women and Families; Wendy Weiner, Fight for $15; Mona Meyer, CWA Minnesota State Council.
Second row: District 7 VP Brenda Roberts; activists Anthony Braden, Dennis Dunn, Cassaundra Plummer and Tom Laab discuss the impact of financialization on their lives.
Third row: Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) with the District 4 escort committee; Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).
Fourth row: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), District 1 VP Dennis Trainor.
Bottom: Day 2 focused on restoring our democracy. Clockwise from top left:
First row: Public Workers VP Brooks Sunkett and Black Lives Matter Movement panelists Heather McGhee, Demos; Zachary Norris, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; and George Jackson, President CWA Local 1084; District 6 VP Claude Cummings.
Second row: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.); Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) with District 4 escort committee.
Third row top left: AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson and democracy building panelists Jamal Watkins, AFL-CIO; Marilyn Carpinteyero, Common Cause; and Susan Mottet, Every Voice.
Third row bottom left: Secretary of Labor Tom Perez
Third row right: Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).
Bottom row: CWA boot camp activists Sarah Buckley, Local 1168; Nancy Barrios, 6215; Yolanda Bejarano, 7019; Darrin Thompson, 9003; Rob England, 9416, and Political Director Rafael Navar.