This is part one of a two part report.
On Monday, August 7th, the Communication Workers of America held their 2017 International Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nearly 1,000 delegates from across the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico traveled to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in western Pennsylvania for the 76th CWA Convention. The tone and message of the Convention’s speakers was uplifting and unifying.
In his opening remarks at the convention, Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder welcomed the delegates to Pennsylvania. Secretary-Treasurer Snyder discussed the importance of union pride and solidarity among union members and the unions of the federation. “The name on the front of the jersey is always more important than the name on the back. It’s about the team, not the player. Our unions are teams. Our federation is a team”. He cited the importance of diversity, “Man, woman. Black, white. Young, old. Straight, gay. And everyone in between. Our very strength comes from our diversity.”
Ed Mooney, Vice President of CWA’s District 2-13, which services workers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, DC, Virginia and West Virginia, introduced CWA President Chris Shelton. President Shelton outlined the challenges facing working people and their unions. “Times may be tough for us. But our grandparents and great-grandparents sacrificed much more to build this movement. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us”. He insisted that the answer to facing these challenges is in our values as the labor movement. President Shelton discussed the progressive principles that drive CWA’s activism. “Racism, sexism and xenophobia have no place in our society”.
President Shelton celebrated the incredible organizing and bargaining wins for CWA members since the previous convention. The Verizon strike in 2016, lasted 45 days and included 39,000 workers around the country. He cited the “tremendous victory” as an example of the adage “when we fight, we win!” He also highlighted the organizing wins and the thousands of new members across the CWA family.
In the afternoon, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf addressed the convention. He was escorted in to the meeting by Pennsylvania union members. He spoke of his time walking the picket lines with striking Verizon and AT&T workers and said they were on the “frontlines in the fight for fairness”. Governor Wolf expressed his unwavering support for the right of working people to organize in a union and the right to negotiate a contract. “If Harrisburg Politicians try to pass paycheck deception, I will veto it. If they try to pass ‘right to work’, I will veto it”.
Outside of the impactful speeches made at Monday’s convening, the body committed to the CWA Strong plan. CWA Secretary-Treasurer Sara Steffens “Now more than ever we need to be a union by the members and for the members. We need all of us to be ‘all in’”. Check out CWA’s CWA Strong video for more information.
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO was proud to attend the convention and witness the solidarity expressed by the CWA members and leadership.