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A Labor Day Message from CWA President Chris Shelton

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It has been quite a year. I am so incredibly proud of all of the work we have done and the gains we have achieved. We have supported workers who are organizing for a voice on the job and continue to welcome new members into our union. From our traditional large telecom corporations to our newer units in emerging sectors, CWAers have negotiated great contracts with innovative provisions that reflect our value and contributions. And even with the continued challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, CWA members have found ways to secure legislative and political victories, engage on social justice issues and build solidarity with their communities. Above all we have remained CWA Strong at every level from the shop floor to the bargaining table, in the voting booth, online and in the streets.

The last few years were tough. We lived through the chaos of the Trump Presidency and the challenges of the pandemic but we did not take it lying down. Instead, we joined with the rest of the labor movement to elect candidates who are determined to fight for the kinds of transformational changes we need to address the long-standing systematic attacks on our rights. With President Joe Biden we got exactly that. Under the Biden Administration the National Labor Relations Board is breaking new ground to protect and advance workers’ rights, including the right to organize.

In a remarkably short period of time President Biden and the pro-worker majority in the U.S. Congress have secured several monumental worker-driven legislative victories to provide much needed relief for working families, invest in critical infrastructure including high speed internet, keep and create more good union jobs in our communities, promote environmental justice and the green economy, provide affordable healthcare and lower prescription drug prices, make corporations pay their fair share, and so much more.

These are important victories that would not have been possible without the thousands of workers, including CWA members, who mobilized to turn out voters and fight for change. Yet, the core of what we stand for–the true measure of our power–is the solidarity we are able to build amongst ourselves. That begins with the understanding that our rights are interdependent. Civil rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and voting rights are all worker rights. We cannot have one without the other.

CWA members have a long and proud history of standing up for justice and equity on and off the job. Our union was born out of telephone workers’ struggle for dignity, respect and a voice on the job in the early 20th century. Today, we have a membership comprised of workers in virtually every industry. A new poll shows that 71% of Americans support unions–the highest level of support since 1965. But, even with the recent spike in worker organizing, union density remains low because of our broken, easily abused labor law and the continued systematic corporate attacks on workers’ rights.

We have the tremendous responsibility to fight back and give every worker an opportunity to join our great union by passing legislation like the Protecting the Right to Organize Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act. We have to grow but also adapt to the world that is changing around us and ensure that the interests of CWA members and workers everywhere are always front and center. Undoubtedly, the pandemic has been a defining moment for a generation of working people. Instead of accepting the status quo that tells workers to sit down and shut up, workers are overwhelmingly standing up and fighting back.

In addition to being a day dedicated to celebrating American workers, Labor Day also traditionally kicks off the fall campaign for midterm elections. CWA political activists have been identifying candidates who will put working families first and providing members with the resources they need to get engaged in building support for endorsed candidates. This election season could very well determine the fate of our rights as working people.

We need candidates in office who are committed to advancing the pro-labor agenda and to doing the hard work necessary to bring communities together instead of stoking resentment and driving us apart. In this final stretch before the November elections we need to keep the fight going to protect what we have gained and keep building on them. Between now and then, every CWA member should be phone banking, door knocking, and mobilizing to build support for our endorsed candidates and turn out the vote.

As we continue to organize for transformational change, let us believe in ourselves, believe in one another, and have complete faith in the fact that when we come together and build true solidarity, there is no issue too big, no corporation too powerful, no challenge to tough, no goal too high that we cannot achieve.

When we fight, we win. Happy Labor Day.

Chris Shelton