A Labor Day Message from CWA President Chris Shelton

What a difference a year makes.

Last Labor Day, Donald Trump was still President, Mitch McConnell was still obstructing the Senate, and we were entering the homestretch of the election season. We had endured nearly four years of an administration that was systematically gutting workers’ rights and Senate leadership that refused to act on any legislation that would raise wages or improve conditions for America’s workers.

In the weeks after Labor Day, we joined together to defeat Donald Trump and make sure that Mitch McConnell no longer led the Senate. To do that, we had to work like hell to turn out the vote for two Senate elections in Georgia, then do it all over again when one of those races went to a runoff. We had to stay focused and steady as Trump refused to accept a peaceful transition of power and incited a mob to attack the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the election.

The divisions in our country that Donald Trump exploited did not end with his presidency. They are as old as the country itself--divisions based on race, region, gender and religion. The bosses and bankers have always used our differences to try to turn us against one another, leaving us too weak to fight back as they get wealthier off of our labor.

Unions are one of the most powerful tools we have to overcome these divisions. When we organize against injustice in our workplaces, bargain a contract, attend a rally or raise funds for disaster relief we are taking action to benefit everyone. Being CWA Strong means that we are there for each other, every day, no matter what.

Our solidarity has never been more necessary. The COVID-19 pandemic has raged for a year and a half. We have lost thousands of co-workers, family members and friends. One person, acting alone, cannot end this suffering. We must demonstrate our union values by following public health guidelines. Above all, every single CWA member who can be vaccinated should get vaccinated.

We must also demonstrate our union values by making it easier for more people to join unions. A new poll shows that 68% of Americans support unions--the highest level of support in over 50 years. But union membership remains at historic lows because systematic corporate attacks on workers’ rights have left our labor laws weak.

The unity we showed by electing Joe Biden and a Senate led by Democrats has opened the door for the PRO Act, historic legislation that would strengthen workers’ rights, hold corporations and CEOs who retaliate against workers who speak out accountable with significant financial penalties, and make it easier for people to organize and join unions.

CWA’s Constitution opens by declaring that “our welfare can best be protected and advanced through the united effort of all workers.” This Labor Day, let’s recommit ourselves to protecting each other and to passing the PRO Act so that every worker has an opportunity to join our great union.

Happy and United Labor Day.

Chris Shelton