If they haven’t won a contract by 3pm today, 40,000 AT&T workers will go on strike. Coming on the heels of last year’s Verizon strike, this marks another potentially historic action for the Communications Workers of America (CWA) — and the workers have much cause for grievance. From David Bacon at In These Times:
In California and Nevada, around 17,000 AT&T workers who provide phone, landline and cable services have been working without a contract for more than a year. Last year, they voted to authorize a strike with more than 95 percent support. And in February, an estimated 21,000 AT&T Mobility workers in 36 states voted to strike as well, with 93 percent in favor.
Workers have issued an ultimatum, giving company executives until 3 p.m. ET on Friday to present serious proposals—or the workers will walk.
It wouldn’t be the first strike at AT&T. Some 17,000 workers in California and Nevada walked off the job in late March to protest company changes in their working conditions in violation of federal law. After a one-day strike, AT&T agreed not to require technicians to perform work assignments outside of their expertise. Nevertheless, the biggest issues for workers remained unresolved.
AT&T is the largest telecommunications company in the country with $164 billion in sales and 135 million wireless customers nationwide. It has eliminated 12,000 call center jobs in the United States since 2011, representing more than 30 percent of its call center employees, and closed more than 30 call centers. Meanwhile, the company has outsourced the operation of more than 60 percent of its wireless retail stores to operators who pay much less than the union wage, according to CWA.
After 45 days on strike, nearly 40,000 Verizon workers have agreed to head back to work. Having reached a tentative agreement with the communications giant, the workers state that they have achieved their goals: raising working families’ standard of living, creating over 1,300 new union jobs and achieving a first contract for retail store workers.
The largest strike in recent history, this Communications Workers of America (CWA) action marks a significant display of the strength of collective action.
During the strike, the company scrambled to fill positions with non-unionized and non-specialized personnel. Workers and their allies engaged in frequent rallies and demonstrations, holding space and making their position known. In the end, it more than paid off: besides winning the workers a raise, reversing cutbacks and creating jobs, the successful strike asserted the importance of workers in making communications infrastructure work, and re-asserted the role that organized labor can play in securing rights for workers.
Before the settlement was announced, CWA Local 1101 member, Verizon Striker and Murphy Alum (Cornell-CUNY Labor Relations Certificate, 2014) Christopher Vilardo shared this statement with the blog:
The Murphy Institute is known for its public programming, bringing thinkers, leaders and policymakers together to discuss the issues vital to making change in our city and our world.
This past September at Murphy, Randi Weingarten, President of American Federation of Teachers, and Larry Cohen of Making Progressive Politics Work and the former President of the Communications Workers of America discussed the future of the Democratic Party. Watch part of the conversation below.
Regardless of who becomes the Democratic Party candidate for President in 2016, organized labor is poised once again to spend millions of dollars on the Democratic candidate. What is labor shopping for? What is it likely to get for its political money? How will it determine whether or not its resources were wisely spent? Will the larger, diverse working-class find a distinct voice in a political environment dominated by big money?
CWA seeks candidates committed to social and economic justice for a part-time, entry level, paid internship and organizing training program.
Through a paid entry-level internship program, we will provide training and education on organizing within key sectors of the largely non-unionized workforce. Participants will learn the fundamentals of a labor organizing campaign as well as basic professional development.
Applicants should commit to 4-6 months to the program. Those with the following characteristics will be preferred: