The CWA News | In 2015: It’s Our Turn—Bargaining, Jobs and Fairness

Volume 74, Issue #4 | Winter 2014

Larry Cohen, CWA President
Larry Cohen, CWA President

Today, the top 1 percent is booming. Their lives, their families, their standard of living couldn’t be better. They have more than recovered from the Great Recession that started in 2008. Share prices have hit record highs since crashing six years ago, yet wages and the standard of living for the 99% are stagnant.

The CEOs of our major employers are doing well. The average CEO makes almost 400 times as much as a front line worker.

CWA’s largest employers, in every industry group, are booming, and management compensation has benefitted directly from higher share prices with free stock options and other linked bonuses. In 2015, we bargain with most of them—including AT&T, Verizon, United Airlines, American Airlines and GE.

We also negotiate for 50,000 public workers in New Jersey, one of the nation’s wealthiest states, where the 1 percent also is doing very well. Public workers, however, are fighting another grab by Gov. Chris Christie, who reneged on state payments to the pension plan after hiking our members’ contribution to 8 percent!

In 2015, CWA bargaining teams will be negotiating for more than 200,000 workers covered by 180 contracts.  We’ve put all of our employers on notice: It’s our turn.  CWA families need a raise. We want secure, sustainable jobs, real improvements in our standard of living, and above all a fair deal based on the state of the employer and an end to the race to the bottom.

Directly related is our fight for fair trade, and an end to trade policy that literally guarantees corporate profits at the expense of working families in all nations. In the
weeks ahead, we will mobilize like never before against fast track authorizing legislation and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Every call center job, every manufacturing job in this country is at risk. That’s not an overstatement, it’s a fact.

Employers already are lining up to move manufacturing production to Vietnam. They’re looking ahead to when the Philippines joins the TPP group to expand the more than 900,000 call center jobs already operating there for U.S. customers.

We will push members of the House of Representatives and the Senate to stand for jobs, fairness and our communities. A majority of the House Democratic Caucus already is committed to opposing fast track, which would give away Congress’s right to review and amend trade deals like TPP, but we have to keep pushing.

We will build alliances with other groups that can put pressure on more Republican elected officials, as well.  Our polling shows at least 20% of our members vote Republican, and we are counting on those members to help lead this fight in key Republican House districts.

We believe in trade. But it must be fair trade that gives workers’ rights, environmental issues and other concerns the same standing as corporate profits. At the start of the New Year, we’re standing up and fighting back.