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After releasing results of a safety survey which found that more than 65% of wireless tower technicians have been on a job site where someone has been injured and 4% where someone has been killed, members of the Tower Climbers Union/CWA launched a petition earlier this month calling on the nation’s top telecom corporations to commit to improving safety standards and work conditions.
CWA President Chris Shelton shared the survey results with the CEOs of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Dish, American Tower, SBA, and Crown Castle, calling out wireless carriers and tower owners for shirking the responsibility of ensuring worker safety through layers of contracting, and asking them to commit to a Tower Technicians’ Bill of Rights.
Workers followed up on President Shelton’s letters by traveling to the Verizon and Crown Castle shareholders meetings to rally for changes and demand meetings with executives to discuss their rights on the job and the need for improved working conditions and safety standards. Both Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg and Crown Castle CEO Jay Brown agreed to meet with the workers.
“I have one of the most interesting jobs in America, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. I’ve worked in extreme wind, at night when it’s hard to see two feet in front of me, and in freezing temperatures, all while hundreds of feet up in the air,” said Ryan Dupal, a tower technician of 10 years and member of the Tower Climbers Union/CWA. “Despite the essential work that I do, my safety and well-being is of little concern to the major telecom companies who profit off of my work. By hiring workers like me through contractors, telecom giants like AT&T and Verizon are attempting to avoid responsibility for what happens to us on the job. That’s why tower technicians across the nation are organizing together to demand the safety standards, working conditions and fair wages that we deserve.”
Tower Climbers Union/CWA members rallied for safer working conditions at the Crown Castle shareholders meeting in Houston, Texas, (top) and the Verizon shareholders meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah.