Communications Workers of America

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).[1][2] 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, DC, and affiliated with the AFL–CIO, the Strategic Organizing Center,[3] the Canadian Labour Congress, and UNI Global Union.

Communications Workers of America
PredecessorNational Federation of Telephone Workers
Formation1947; 77 years ago (1947)
TypeTrade union
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., US
    • United States
    • Canada
Membership (2014)
  • 456,529 ("active" and "dues-paying retired" members)
  • 166,491 ("non-dues-paying retired" members)[1]
Claude Cummings Jr.
Ameenah Salaam
Affiliations Edit this at Wikidata

History edit

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.[4] 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,[5] reorganized as CWA, a truly national union, which affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1949. The union's Canadian members split away in 1972, forming the Communication Workers of Canada.[6]

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,[7][8][2] including organizing all non-management workers at the Hawaiʻi digital wireless carrier Mobi in 2022.[9]

Contracts and strikes edit

Following is a partial list of contracts and strikes that the Communications Workers of America were involved in:[10][11][12]

An inflatable rat used by the CWA during a 2009 rally against Verizon
Verizon members protesting at Occupy Wall Street in October 2011
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. An expensive strike due to significant number of illegal firings and civil suits from Southern Bell. Out of 200 fired strikers, 150 were reinstated following legal action, with over $200,000 in back pay awarded.[13] AT&T was forced to acknowledge the union.
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 1983 AT&T strike: 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.[14]
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.[15]
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.[16] Call center jobs were returned to the bargaining unit; pension increases won; healthcare reimbursement added and first Verizon Wireless contract reached.[17]
2019 AT&T 20,000 5 days 2019 AT&T strike: AT&T Southeast - Unfair labor practice strike during contract negotiations.[18]

Composition edit

Membership edit

Total membership (US records)[19]

Finances (US records; ×$1000)[19]
     Assets      Liabilities      Receipts      Disbursements

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.[19] 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.[1]

Affiliates edit

Leadership edit

Presidents edit

1947: Joseph A. Beirne
1974: Glenn Watts
1985: Morton Bahr
2005: Larry Cohen
2015: Chris Shelton
2023: Claude Cummings Jr.

Secretary-Treasurers edit

1947: Carlton W. Werkau
1955: William A. Smallwood
1969: Glenn Watts
1974: Louis Knecht
1985: James E. Booe
1992: Barbara Easterling
2008: Jeff Rechenbach
2015: Sara Steffens
2023: Ameenah Salaam

References edit

  1. ^ a b c US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-188. Report submitted August 29, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA)". Organizing Campaigns. 2019-11-25. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  3. ^ "About". Strategic Organizing Center. Retrieved 2021-11-03.
  4. ^ Norwood, S: Labor's Flaming Youth, page 302. University of Illinois Press, 1990.
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ Rideout, Vanda (2003). Continentalizing Canadian Telecommunications. McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 9780773524255.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ "Campaigns". Organizing Campaigns. 2021-08-27. Retrieved 2021-11-11.
  9. ^ "Local telecommunications company Mobi unionizes with support of CEO". 14 September 2022.
  10. ^ Communications Workers of America - Timeline Accessed March 24, 2010.
  11. ^ CWA Local 3805 Timeline Accessed March 24, 2010.
  12. ^ U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Labor Review - January, 1990 Accessed March 24, 2010.
  13. ^ "Monthly Labor Review". U.S. Government Printing Office. August 1956. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ "Tentative Agreement Is Reached In Strike by U S West Workers". The New York Times. 31 August 1998. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  15. ^ Svensson, Peter (8 August 2012). "AT&T workers in 3 states launch short strike". Boston Globe. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  16. ^ Nayak, Malathi (13 April 2016). "About 40,000 unionized Verizon workers walk off the job". Reuters. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  17. ^ "Big Gains for Striking Verizon Workers in New Agreement". Communications Workers of America. 2016-05-29. Retrieved 2016-11-27.
  18. ^ "CWA/AT&T Southeast Bargaining Report #46". 2019-08-25.
  19. ^ a b c US Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 000-188. (Search)
  20. ^ a b Ashack, Elizabeth A. (2008). "Major Union Mergers, Alliances, and Disaffiliations, 1995-2007". Monthly Labor Review. ISSN 0098-1818.
  21. ^ McKercher, Catherine (2000). From newspaper guild to multimedia union : a study in labour convergence (phd thesis). Concordia University.
  22. ^ Mosco, Vincent, and Catherine McKercher. "Convergence Bites Back: Labour Struggles in the Canadian Communication Industry." Canadian Journal of Communication 31.3 (2006).
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ ""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.

Further reading edit

  • Bahr, Morton. From the Telegraph to the Internet: A 60 Year History of the CWA. Washington, DC: Welcome Rain Publishers, 1998. ISBN 978-1-56649-949-1
  • Palladino, Grace. Dreams of Dignity, Workers of Vision: A History of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Washington, DC: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 1991.
  • Schacht, John N. The Making of Telephone Unionism, 1920–1947. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1985. ISBN 978-0-8135-1136-8

External links edit