The Communications Workers of America, a union that represents employees in the “telecommunications, broadcasting, cable TV, journalism, publishing, manufacturing, airlines, customer service, government service, health care, education and other fields,” conducted a conference call for about two thousand of their members on Wednesday evening to discuss the events happening in Wisconsin and other areas of the country.
The call mainly focused on the unions’ concern that newly elected Republican legislatures and governors who plan on limiting labor’s collective bargaining rights. The labor union strategized on their messaging both on and off the job. CWA Labor Union Leader stressed four basic concepts to promote to the public: “rights, jobs, healthcare, and retirement security.”
“And so there are four basic things that we’re talking about doing when this call ends tonight. Number one, in every single working place in the days ahead talking about the key issues. Yes this is about bargaining rights and its amazing to see Americans across the country understand an start to talk about rights on the job, but its also about jobs,” Mr. Cohen said.
“Most Americans don’t have bargaining rights, and we as unions need to make the link in the communities. Communities of the employed—15 million unemployed, so we’re fighting for not only our own jobs but their jobs too. This is about our healthcare. That we fought in our bargaining for years. This is about retirement security as these governors attack our pensions and our healthcare. And this is about democracy on the job and in the communities.”
Mr. Cohen talked about other groups who are supporting the unions saying:
“We’re not doing it alone. We’re working with progressive unions, civil rights groups, faith based groups, students, environmentalists, everybody who believes in a democratic country,” later said.
New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie’s fight against the unions was not lost on CWA members. They blame the New Jersey governor for kicking off the trend of state governors’ battling against unions.
“Chris Shelton will be [in New Jersey] fighting Chris Christie who started a lot of this in his election campaign last year and who brags about his attacks on public workers,” said Mr. Cohen.
‘We have a governor from New Jersey who is acting like a dictator from a third world country, trying to steal our pensions and our healthcare in the state of New Jersey and we are going to stand up with our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin,” Chris Shelton explained to CWA members.
Mr. Christie received extra attention towards the end of the call.
“We’re in solidarity with the workers in Wisconsin but the workers in Trenton New Jersey who are battling Chris Christie who brags everyday on the Morning Joe Show about how he’s showing the unions in New Jersey who’s boss and who’s tough, Mr. Cohen reminded the members on the call. “And this isn’t about who’s tough. This is about whether or not we’re going to have working class families in this country have middle class income level or not.”
The Wisconsin assembly passed the budget repair bill early Friday morning. If the bill manages to pass the Senate and goes to Republican Scott Walker’s desk, unions in the state will lose some collective bargaining power. The governor has indicated he has no plans to negotiate and workers will lose their jobs if wayward Wisconsin senate Democrats do not return to the state to vote.