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Tower Climbers United Wins Victory in Settlement with Swartley Tower Services

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. – The Tower Climbers United/CWA (TCU/CWA) has won a settlement with Swartley Tower Services Communications, Inc. (STS Communications), on behalf of Roland Bachelder, a tower climber who faced discrimination and termination for his support of the union movement.

The settlement was reached after TCU/CWA filed an unfair labor practice charge against STS Communications with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that Mr. Bachelder had been discriminated against and unjustly terminated for his union activity. The NLRB found merit to the charges and issued a complaint against STS Communications.

Mr. Bachelder has more than a decade of experience as a tower technician, advancing from Tower Hand to Foreman and earning positive performance evaluations from STS management. Mr. Bachelder became a founding member of TCU/CWA in February 2021 and was vocal about his support for the union movement at work and publicly on social media, including Facebook groups that were followed by members of management. On June 10, 2022, Mr. Bachelder told a manager, in conversation, “We all need to unionize already.” On June 14, Mr. Bachelder was terminated with no explanation.

“In our industry, stuff like this happens all the time. We’re the ones risking our safety up on the towers, but tower climbers get terminated for speaking up all the time, even if it violates labor laws,” said Tom Reeves, a tower climber and member of TCU/CWA. “What’s different about Roland is that he had a union fighting with him, so he got a settlement check to take care of his family. Before TCU, we had to just walk away in these situations. But we’re not on our own anymore; we’ve got each other and we’ve got a union to stand with us.”

“This settlement is not just a win for Roland, but a victory for every tower climber. The dedicated workers who build and maintain America’s communication infrastructure must have their rights respected, just as any other worker in any other industry,” said Claude Cummings Jr., President of the Communications Workers of America. “But for too long, tower climbers have not been treated with the respect they deserve. This risky work is made more dangerous when telecommunications providers push tower maintenance to subcontractors who cut corners and skirt labor laws. We will hold employers like STS Communications to account and we will fight for safety and security for workers in the wireless industry.”

“Our union stands with every tower climber doing the dangerous maintenance work to keep Americans connected,” said Mike Davis, Vice President of CWA District 2-13. “This industry has played fast and loose with workers’ safety and their rights. This settlement sends a powerful message that those days are over. Workers are organizing and the tower climbers’ movement will not be stopped.”

According to the settlement agreement, Mr. Bachelder will receive $25,000 from his former employer.


About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working people in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, health care, public service and education, manufacturing, tech, and other fields. @cwaunion

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