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My Statement in Solidarity with 40,000+ Striking CWA Workers

On May 19, 2017, the Communication Workers of America (CWA) launched a 40,000+ strong nationwide strike! This is the first major workers’ strike since Trump was elected. Here is the statement I shared with CWA workers in solidarity.


 

Sisters and brothers of the Communication Workers of America at AT&T,

As a socialist, activist, elected representative of Seattle’s working people, and rank-and-file member of the teachers union, AFT local 1789, I congratulate you on this landmark nationwide strike action by over 40,000 workers!

Your actions this weekend come in the wake of the CWA’s powerful and successful Verizon strike last year. You are not only fighting the bosses at AT&T for your contract, but are inspiring thousands of people across the country by leading the first large strike by the labor movement since Trump was elected!

Make no mistake: Trump and his billionaire friends are paying attention to what happens at AT&T. That’s why all of organized labor must stand with you, because your fight is everyone’s fight. When you stand strong, it gives confidence to workers everywhere.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson made $28.4 million last year alone. Other executives at the company have also raked in millions. Those same executives want to squeeze out sick time for workers, and as CWA District 9 Vice President Tom Runnion said, they want to “sabotage our healthcare and then [want] us to pay more for it.” Our sisters and brothers in the CWA have done an incredible job of bringing together many regional contracts and strike votes, comprising landline phone workers, wireless store retail workers, and call center workers, into a powerful common national strike. As an organizer myself, I recognize how much strategic thinking and organizing such a task requires, and it’s an education to the rest of our labor movement.

Like in the Verizon strike, deregulation and the neoliberal deconstruction of the communications network are key factors in the battle against AT&T. The company has eliminated 12,000 call center jobs since 2011, and closed more than 30 call centers. The industry is continuing to transform itself from a regulated universal access public utility into deregulated multimedia conglomerates. That is, unless workers fight back. And in striking, you are standing up not just for your own workplace rights, but for quality, affordable customer services for all working people.

My office wishes you the very best in your strike action! We stand at the ready to help in any way possible. Your courage and determination are inspiring the entire labor movement — working people, immigrants, and young people everywhere who are rising up against Trump and his billionaire-backed right-wing administration. The new movements we are building are not only demanding important reforms such as living-wage unionized jobs, civil rights for all immigrants, and single payer healthcare, but are also looking toward transformative systemic change.

Solidarity,
Kshama

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