A delegation of African American workers from the Communications Workers of America sent a letter to Lumen Technologies CEO Jeff Storey yesterday, asking that he designate the federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday for all Lumen workers.
In November, Lumen, formerly known as CenturyLink, announced that the company would, for the first time, be giving non-union workers the holiday in an effort to make Lumen more “diverse and inclusive.”
“We are deeply disappointed by Lumen’s recently announced decision to give the MLK Holiday to everyone except union members,” the letter reads. “In your announcement, leadership cited listening to employees and the significance of Dr. King’s message. Yet this decision directly undermines Dr. King’s legacy of fighting for civil and labor rights. We are asking you to make it right and extend the MLK paid holiday to all Lumen workers.”
The letter was accompanied by signatures from 1500 Lumen workers and community supporters who signed a petition asking Storey to include union members in the holiday.
In addition to calling for the holiday, the delegation has requested a meeting with Storey to discuss how the union and management can work together to dismantle racism at Lumen.
“While Lumen’s decision to exclude union members from the MLK holiday is outrageous, it’s not the only concern that we have about Lumen’s disregard for its rank and file workforce,” said Anna Robbs, a Lumen worker from CWA Local 7777 in Denver, Colo., who signed the letter. “Just a few months ago, Jeff Storey said that we must raise our voices against racism and violence against Black People and ‘value our differences as strengths for unification.’ Now he is using MLK Day, of all things, to divide us. We are asking Jeff Storey to join with us to strengthen our company through a comprehensive program to address racism at Lumen.”
CWA has asked Storey to respond to set up a meeting by Friday, January 15.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear CEO Jeff Storey,
We are a group of African American Lumen workers and proud members of the Communications Workers of America. We write to request a meeting with you to discuss how we can dismantle racism at Lumen together.
We are deeply disappointed by Lumen’s recently announced decision to give the MLK Holiday to everyone except union members. In your announcement, leadership cited listening to employees and the significance of Dr. King’s message. Yet this decision directly undermines Dr. King’s legacy of fighting for civil and labor rights. We are asking you to make it right and extend the MLK paid holiday to all Lumen workers.
We attach the following petition signatures of over 1500 Lumen fellow co-workers and community supporters who, like us, are upset that you would leave union members out of MLK Day as a paid holiday.
We would like to raise other concerns about racism at Lumen and we look forward to talking to you directly. We ask that you respond to us by this Friday, January 15, to set up a meeting to listen to the concerns of our delegation. Together, the company and our union can work to dismantle racism at Lumen. Separately, we cannot.
Bryan Smith, Lumen Labor Relations
Congressional Black Caucus
CWA Executive Board