No Business As Usual

CWA Presidential Election - 

- A Message from CWA Local 7250
This leaflet was first ditributed by Local 7250 members at the 2023 CWA Wireless Conference this Spring, in Providence RI to a very posirive response.

Last month, CWA International President Chris Shelton announced his retirement from the union after more than 50 years of service. We thank Chris for all of his activity and wish him the best. His departure offers an important opportunity for the members of CWA to take stock of where we are at and where we have to go.

We believe that this election should be about ideas, plans, and program - not personalities. In that spirit, instead of endorsing a candidate, we are putting forward a list of priorities that we feel must be taken up to put our union on the right footing. We can't wait any longer - we have to rebuild our organization so that we can effectively fight for the interests of our members and the whole working-class. Half-measures will not cut it.

We look forward to the candidates' responses to these priorities - we want to hear specifically how they would address them. And just as importantly we want to hear what the Locals and members think - and what they would add to this list. If you would like to sign on to this list - let us know!

Our Urgent Priorities

1. Listen to the Members
Last year at the insistence of our members, our Local organized a campaign to keep the Work from Home (WFM) option at AT&T. Our members found that WFH was safer, saved them money on commuting and childcare, gave them more time with their families and more time for rest, and more control of their work space. With the support of a few other Locals and some stewards and activist members from across the country we were able to organize actions, get major media attention (CBS Morning News, Fortune, The Guardian) and circulate a petition signed by more than 8,000 AT&T workers and their families - we did all of this without the help of our national union. The union has gotten so used to a top-down model where leaders tell the members what's important that it can't be of use when members are telling the leaders what's important. Listen to the Members!

2. Grievances Heard Within 60 Days
Our Locals have grievances that have been waiting for months and months - even more than a year to be heard at the District or Sector level. This lack of movement stalls any momentum and lets management know they can deny at first step and then it will effectively disappear. It's not uncommon for workers to leave the job while waiting for grievances to be resolved. These only breeds frustration, distrust and cynicism among rank & file members towards the union. This must change ASAP or we need to stop pretending that the grievance process is a real way to protect our rights. The expectation should be that all escalated grievances are heard within 60 days at the District or Sector level.

3. Mass Organizing Campaign
AT&T has whittled down its unionized stores to around 20% of its retail presence - the other big wireless telecom companies' stores are nearly entirely non-union. This can't go on. CWA 7250 sounded the alarm that AT&T was attacking our membership with impunity and got the first CWA National Day of Action against AT&T's non-union authorized retailer (A/R) stores - but we need much more. The CWA-organized stores at AT&T were an important foothold for unions in retail - but instead of using that as a springboard to further organize retail – we have allowed AT&T to attack the union presence by setting up "authorized retailers" run by ex-AT&T management and directly answerable to AT&T. We need to take them on with money, staffing, resources, and a strategy - we need to organize AT&T's non-union "authorized retailers" and then organize Verizon, T-Mobile, Boost and every other wireless retail operation. We also have to start taking on and organizing the non-union sub-contracting of tech work happening all across the telecom industry. Organize all of Retail! Organize all the Techs!

4. Open Bargaining
Open bargaining means that contracts are negotiated with transparency for the membership that will have to live under them. Instead of being scared of open bargaining, the union should embrace it as a powerful mobilizing tool. Let the members see what we are fighting for at the bargaining table and what the companies are trying to low-ball or take away. Last year in Minnesota, the powerful nurses’ union won significant gains for 15,000 members across a dozen hospitals using open bargaining. Nurses were able to directly follow the negotiations, there was tremendous trust between the members and the bargaining teams, and rank & file nurses mobilized at key times to put pressure on management at the table. Open Bargaining ensures transparency, builds trust, and exposes the companies.

5. Build Our Independent Power
CWA brags about its political work and influence, but much of it is just a blank check to the politicians. Both political parties are beholden to the corporations and the billionaires - neither one of them are loyal to working-class communities. Instead of tailing after politicians, giving them our money and energy, let's use our strength - combined with other unions and community groups, to fight for our interests. Look at what's happening in France where the government is trying to raise the retirement age - Unions aren't begging and lobbying - they are taking to the streets saying "No Business as Usual", and threatening a general strike. While here in the U.S., when the President attacked railroad workers' right to strike, CWA was silent. Let's use OUR power, not rely on the politicians.
6. Strike to Win - Defy Injustice
In 2021 our Local presented a motion to the CWA Convention for the union to create a committee that would study, plan, and prepare for a strike across AT&T. It was wrongly ruled our resolution out of order for being unconstitutional (it wasn't). Right now, the union has NO plan to overcome the division and legal obstacles that AT&T's dozen different contracts with CWA create. If we are not to be forever divided (and weak) we need to be able to strike across contracts and expiration dates - we need to be able to shut down AT&T - and that takes organizing, planning and preparing. The Civil Rights movement in the U.S. took on legal injustice - we need to do so as well. It is the absolute responsibility of any union to be able to make plans and preparations to lead successful strikes if necessary.