Solidarity Across Borders
Resolved: In this era of greater globalization, CWA repudiates efforts to demonize and scapegoat workers outside the United States who are not our enemies and who are being exploited by the same employers. CWA understands we are stronger when we have allies around the globe who are ready to fight alongside us in our moments of need, to expose injustice, protect jobs and shore up hardwon contractual rights.
77th CWA Convention resolution approved by Delegates “International Worker Solidarity”
The world is a dangerous place for workers trying to organize.
Workers' rights are under attack around the world as the global corporate elite seek to deny all workers their fundamental human rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Corporations are working together across international borders to prevent workers across the globe from organizing and bargaining collectively with their employers, in many cases through violent and forceful means.
For CWA members, this global corporate effort has led to greater offshoring of U.S. jobs, erosion of benefits, and downward pressure on our wages.
Unions, like corporations, must also work across borders to build power. The Eduardo Diaz Union-to-Union International Solidarity Fund helps us do that.
CWA's History of International Engagement
CWA’s efforts to support workers and unions globally fighting for respect and dignity go back to the earliest days of our union. As CWA’s first president, Joe Beirne, stated in 1965, “Aiding other democratic trade unions throughout the world is a fundamental part of our commitment.”
Within a decade of becoming the Communications Workers of America, our union affiliated in 1955 with the global union federation Postal, Telegraph, and Telephone International (PTTI). The PTTI federation has grown over time into the UNI Global Union, with CWA still serving in a leadership role in that Global Labor Federation.
Other CWA international labor organization affiliations include:
- IUE-CWA members are part of IndustriALL, the global federation of workers in mining, energy and manufacturing.
- The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA has long been a part of the International Transport Workers Federation.
- The NewsGuild-CWA belongs to the International Federation of Journalists.
CWA’s international solidarity work extends far beyond affiliating with global union federations. Our union has a long history of direct support for unions in other countries working to organize workers in our industries.
- Starting in 1959, CWA launched Operation South America, which provided direct financial and staffing support for labor leaders and activists struggling to form unions in the communications sector throughout South America, Central America and the Caribbean
- In 1998, CWA convention delegates created the Union-to-Union International Solidarity Fund, supported by voluntary contributions of 10 cents a member from CWA locals, with funds going to directly support organizing efforts by workers around the globe.
- Today the fund is known as the Eduardo Diaz Union-to-Union International Solidarity fund, in honor of former CWA International Director Eduardo Diaz.
Funding for our international work was strengthened in 1998, when CWA convention delegates created the Union-to-Union International Solidarity Fund, supported by voluntary contributions of 10 cents a member from CWA locals, with funds going to directly support organizing efforts by workers around the globe. Today the fund is known as the Eduardo Diaz Union-to-Union International Solidarity fund, in honor of former CWA International Director Eduardo Diaz. Click here for information on how CWA locals can contribute.
The World is a Dangerous Place for Workers Trying to Organize
Workers rights are under attack around the world as the global corporate elite seek to deny all workers their fundamental human rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Corporations are working together across international borders to prevent workers across the globe from organizing and bargaining collectively with their employers, in many cases through violent and forceful means.
Anywhere you go in the world today, corporations are trying to get away with paying poverty wages and silencing workers’ voices in order to extract more profit for the 1%. For CWA members, this global corporate effort has led to greater offshoring of U.S. jobs, erosion of benefits, and downward pressure on our wages.
Unions, like corporations, must also work across borders to build power. The workers around the world employed directly by our employers or through a growing web of vendors are not the enemy. The corporations attempting to pit us against one another are our common enemy and they stand to gain the most if we are not united and standing together in solidarity.
For workers abroad, corporate greed has meant not only declining wages but the threat of violence and repression if they fight back to raise wages and improve working conditions. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) reports that in 2022 abuse of workers rights reached record highs globally.
- 50 countries exposed workers to physical violence, up from 45 in 2021
- 113 countries exclude workers from their right to establish or join a trade union, up from 106 in 2021
- Four in five countries blocked collective bargaining. This right is being eroded in the public and private sector in every region of the world.
- 87% of countries violated the right to strike.
- Trade unionists were killed in thirteen countries for engaging in organizing or strikes.
We cannot stand silently as our brothers and sisters around the world struggle for their rights as workers and citizens.
Organizations Supported in Recent Years by the Eduardo Diaz Union-to-Union International Solidarity Fund
- BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) in the Philippines. BIEN is working to provide support to and organize call center workers fighting for job protections, increased wages and better working conditions like safe and healthy workplaces. BIEN has been targeted by semi-government agencies as “communist terrorists” and in April of 2023, CWA funded BIEN organizer Alex Dolorosa was brutally tortured and murdered for his efforts to organize call center workers.
- FEDOTRAZONAS in the Dominican Republic.FEDOTRAZONAS has been working to organize call center workers employed by vendors for major US employers like AT&T. They are fighting for basic rights like adequate bathroom facilities and breaks as well as increasing their wages.
- La RED in Mexico. La RED is working to organize call center workers at call center vendors in Mexico that serve the US market, but also for workers directly employed by AT&T in their Mexico based call centers.
- Teleperformance call center workers in El Salvador. Teleperformance is the largest global call center operator having contracts with many CWA employers to provide customer service. Teleperformance call center workers in El Salvador are organizing to try and utilize a new global neutrality agreement negotiated by UNI Global Union and Teleperformance.
CWA has also received invaluable support from these global unions. In 2016 during the Verizon strike, BIEN members in the Philippines reached out to us in solidarity. They engaged in work stoppages and public protests, and they hosted a CWA delegation that helped shine a light on Verizon’s extensive offshoring. In addition, BIEN, RED Sindical, and Fedotrazonas have provided valuable information about the wages and working conditions in call centers serving AT&T customers, which we publicized here in the U.S. during our contract fights to protect call center jobs and win a guaranteed percentage of Mobility calls.
Support the Solidarity Fund
As our industries and employers become much more globalized, and more and more workers all across the world are standing up to fight for their basic rights, the need to support this work is growing dramatically.
To meet the urgent needs of our global union family, we are asking CWA members to supplement the voluntary financial contributions from our locals. Please consider making an individual donation to the International Solidarity Fund to support our critical work as we join together to end the global race to the bottom for workers.
How Projects are Chosen and Funds Distributed
The International Committee of the CWA Executive Board oversees the Eduardo Diaz Union to Union International Solidarity Fund. The Committee makes recommendations to the CWA President on organizing projects to support and funding levels. They also receive reports from the funded organizations.