The Communications Workers of America (CWA) is the largest communications and media labor union in the United States, representing about 700,000 members in both the private and public sectors (also in Canada and Puerto Rico). The union has 27 locals in Canada via CWA-SCA Canada (French: Syndicat des communications d'Amérique) representing about 8,000 members. CWA has several affiliated subsidiary labor unions bringing total membership to over 700,000. CWA is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and affiliated with the AFL–CIO, the Strategic Organizing Center the Canadian Labour Congress, and UNI Global Union. The current president is Chris Shelton.
Communications Workers of America
|456,529 ("active" and "dues-paying retired" members)|
166,491 ("non-dues-paying retired" members) (2014)
|Chris Shelton, president; Sara Steffens, secretary treasurer|
|Affiliations||AFL–CIO, CLC, SOC|
In 1918 telephone operators organized under the Telephone Operators Department of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. While initially successful at organizing, the union was damaged by a 1923 strike and subsequent AT&T lockout. After AT&T installed company-controlled Employees' Committees, the Telephone Operators Department eventually disbanded. The CWA's roots lie in the 1938 reorganization of telephone workers into the National Federation of Telephone Workers after the Wagner Act outlawed such employees' committees or "company unions". NFTW was a federation of sovereign local independent unions that lacked authority over the affiliated local unions leaving it at a serious organizational disadvantage. After losing a strike with AT&T in 1947, the federation led by Joseph A. Beirne, reorganized as CWA, a truly national union, which affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1949.
CWA has continued to expand into areas beyond traditional telephone service. In 1994 the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians merged with the CWA and became The Broadcasting and Cable Television Workers Sector of the CWA, NABET-CWA. Since 1997, it includes The Newspaper Guild (now renamed The NewsGuild-CWA). In 2004, the Association of Flight Attendants merged with CWA, and became formally known as the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, or AFA-CWA. In 2020 CWA launched the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA) initiative to unionize tech, video game, and digital workers which has led to CWA becoming a major union for US and Canada tech worker organizing, including organizing all non-management workers at the Hawaiʻi digital wireless carrier Mobi in 2022.
Contracts and strikesEdit
|Year||Company||Number of Members Affected||Duration of Strike||Notes|
|1955||Southern Bell Telephone Co.||50,000||72 days||Strike was in answer to management's effort to prohibit workers from striking.|
|1968||AT&T||200,000||18 days||Wage increases to compensate for cost of living, and medical benefits won|
|1971||Bell System||400,000||9 months||Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) won for workers|
|1983||Bell System||600,000||22 days||Last contract with the Bell System before its breakup. Bell System sought givebacks. The contract resulted in Wage increases, employment security, pension, and health improvements.|
|1986||AT&T||175,000||25 days||COLA clause suspended in contract - former Bell System contracts vary substantially from the AT&T contract.|
|1989||AT&T||175,000||n/a||Child and elder care benefits added to contract. COLA clause removed from contract|
|1989||NYNEX||175,000||17 weeks||Strike was due to major health care cuts by NYNEX|
|1998||US West||34,000||15 days||Strike was due to mandatory overtime demands and forced pay-for-performance plan. Overtime caps were won.|
|2000||Verizon||80,000||18 days||Verizon strike of 2000: Strike was due to mandatory overtime demands. Provisions for stress were won.|
|2011||Verizon||45,000||13 days||Strike was due to major wage and health care cuts by Verizon, a forced pay-for-performance plan and movement-of-work job security provisions. Contract extended.|
|2012||AT&T||20,000||2 Days||AT&T West; California, Nevada, and AT&T East; Connecticut - Unfair labor practice strike during contract negotiations.|
|2016||Verizon||40,000||49 Days||Verizon strike of 2016: Issues include healthcare and pension costs, moving call center jobs overseas and temporary job relocations. Call center jobs were returned to the bargaining unit; pension increases won; healthcare reimbursement added and first Verizon Wireless contract reached.|
|2019||AT&T||20,000||5 days||2019 AT&T strike: AT&T Southeast - Unfair labor practice strike during contract negotiations.|
According to CWA's Department of Labor records since 2006, when membership classifications were first reported, the total reported membership has varied greatly and unpredictably due to the addition and removal of reported membership categories. As of 2014, around 27%, or a fourth, of the union's total membership are classified as "non-dues-paying retirees", and not eligible to vote in the union. The other, voting eligible, classifications are "active" (65%) and "dues-paying retired" (8%). CWA contracts also cover some non-members, known as agency fee payers, which number comparatively about 7% of the size of the union's membership. This accounts for 166,491 "non-dues-paying retirees" and 52,240 "dues-paying retirees", plus about 43,353 non-members paying agency fees, compared to 404,289 "active" members.
- Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) represents over 55,000 flight attendants at 22 airlines. Established in 1945, it affiliated with the CWA in 2004.
- CODE-CWA (Campaign to Organize Digital Employees)
- International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers (IUE-CWA) represents over 45,000 manufacturing and industrial workers and affiliated with CWA in 2000.
- The NewsGuild (TNG-CWA) represents over 26,000 journalists and media workers at wire services, newspapers, magazines, and broadcast news. Established in 1933, it affiliated with the CWA in 1995.
- National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA) represents over 10,000 workers employed in the broadcasting, distributing, telecasting, recording, cable, video, sound recording and related industries. Established in 1934, it affiliated with the CWA in 1994.
- CWA Public, Healthcare and Education Workers represents more than 140,000 workers including social workers, educators, and health care providers, including state workers across New Jersey.
- Printing, Publishing and Media Workers Sector (PPMWS-CWA) was formed from the merger of the International Typographical Union printers. PPMWS-CWA represents over 8,000 workers in a diverse range of occupations in daily newspapers, commercial printing and mailing operations, and graphic design.
- University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE-CWA) represents over 16,000 clinical lab technicians, computer resource specialists, editors, lab assistants, museum scientists, social workers, staff research associates, student affairs officers, and writers at all campuses and medical centers of the University of California. Established in 1990, it affiliated with the CWA in 1993.
- Bahr, Morton. From the Telegraph to the Internet: A 60 Year History of the CWA. Washington, D.C.: Welcome Rain Publishers, 1998. ISBN 1-56649-949-6
- Palladino, Grace. Dreams of Dignity, Workers of Vision: A History of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Washington, D.C.: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 1991.
- Schacht, John N. The Making of Telephone Unionism, 1920–1947. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8135-1136-4
- US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-188. Report submitted August 29, 2014.
- "Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA)". Organizing Campaigns. 2019-11-25. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
- "About". Strategic Organizing Center. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
- Norwood, S: Labor's Flaming Youth, page 302. University of Illinois Press, 1990.
- "U.S. Department of Labor - Labor Hall of Honor - Joseph A. Beirne". Labor Hall of Honor. United States Department of Labor. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
- "Major union launches campaign to organize video game and tech workers". Los Angeles Times. 2020-01-07. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
But despite this swell in labor activism, employees at no major video game studios and only a handful of tech offices have formally voted to form or join a union.
- "Campaigns". Organizing Campaigns. 2021-08-27. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
- "Local telecommunications company Mobi unionizes with support of CEO". hawaiipublicradio.org.
- Communications Workers of America - Timeline Accessed March 24, 2010.
- CWA Local 3805 Timeline Accessed March 24, 2010.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review - January, 1990 Accessed March 24, 2010.
- "Tentative Agreement Is Reached In Strike by U S West Workers". The New York Times. 31 August 1998. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
- Svensson, Peter (8 August 2012). "AT&T workers in 3 states launch short strike". Boston Globe. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
- Nayak, Malathi (13 April 2016). "About 40,000 unionized Verizon workers walk off the job". Reuters. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
- "Big Gains for Striking Verizon Workers in New Agreement". Communications Workers of America. 2016-05-29. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
- "CWA/AT&T Southeast Bargaining Report #46". 2019-08-25.
- US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-188. (Search)
- Ashack, Elizabeth A. (2008). "Major Union Mergers, Alliances, and Disaffiliations, 1995-2007". Monthly Labor Review. ISSN 0098-1818.
- McKercher, Catherine (2000). From newspaper guild to multimedia union : a study in labour convergence (phd thesis). Concordia University.
- Mosco, Vincent, and Catherine McKercher. "Convergence Bites Back: Labour Struggles in the Canadian Communication Industry." Canadian Journal of Communication 31.3 (2006).
- Cain, Timothy Reese (2017-09-11). Campus Unions: Organized Faculty and Graduate Students in U.S. Higher Education, ASHE Higher Education Report. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-119-45343-7.
- Stratton, Kay (1989-03-01). "Union democracy in the international typographical union: Thirty years later". Journal of Labor Research. 10 (1): 119–134. doi:10.1007/BF02685521. ISSN 1936-4768. S2CID 153930391.
- ""Other than having a baby, it's the most optimistic thing you can do"". The New Rank and File. Cornell University Press. 2018-08-06. pp. 230–242. doi:10.7591/9781501728341-025. ISBN 978-1-5017-2834-1. S2CID 243310849.
- Official website
- Communications Workers of America-Syndicat des communications d’Amérique
- CWA Timeline
- Communications Workers of America-Syndicat des communications d’Amérique – Web Archive created by the University of Toronto Libraries
- IUE-CWA (International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers)
- Communications Workers of America Photograph Collection finding aid at University of Texas at Arlington Libraries Special Collections via Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO)
- Communications Workers of America Records, Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University
- Communications Workers of America Audio Tape Inventory, Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University
- Communications Workers of America Records Addendum, Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University
- Communications Workers of America Photographs and Videos, Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University