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CWA District 1 Worker Power Newsletter (Issue 2)

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CWA’s Spotlight on Broadband Buildout

CWA members fighting for broadband access

The federal influx of billions of dollars in broadband buildout subsidies will create thousands of new telecom jobs in New York State over the next several years. CWA’s top priority is to support Verizon’s applications to win that work —to create more work for our members and expand the number of Verizon jobs in New York State. Already, we helped Verizon win an $11 million buildout contract in Onondaga County, which created 35 new full-time jobs in the Syracuse area for members of CWA Local 1123.

Where Verizon decides not to seek funding, our Organizing Brigade aims to organize workers at the other companies that win broadband contracts. We believe EVERY telecom job in New York State should be a good union job. That’s the key to maintaining our own union standards and making sure all telecom workers are treated fairly.

CWA’s Broadband Brigade and Organizing Brigade have combined forces to ensure that the regulations governing buildout encourage the creation of good union jobs—and that all new jobs are union jobs. See inside to hear what Brigade members have to say about this work.


25 CWAers Visit White House to Fight for Broadband Standards

Pam Galpern, CWA Local 1101

By Pam Galpern, CWA Local 1101
Last month, 25 members of CWA’s Broadband Brigade from across the country, including members from District 1 Locals 1104 and 1101, traveled to the White House to meet with top Biden Administration officials about this historic moment for broadband buildout.

Our objective: make sure these officials hear directly from CWA members about how to guarantee that broadband buildout is done right, by skilled, unionized technicians, and not fly-by-night contractors.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed with bipartisan support in October 2021, allocates an historic investment of $43 billion for Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD). President Biden’s stated goal: connect every person in the country to affordable high-speed internet—and create good union jobs in the process.

The CWA Broadband Brigade members met with high-level officials in charge of decision-making for the build: Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator; Don Graves, Deputy Secretary of Commerce; and Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and the person in charge of BEAD funding.

Pam Galpern, CWA members at the White House

This is a great example of what we do well as a union: identify problems, like gaps in high-speed internet service and companies using non-union subcontractors; identify solutions to address the problems; and build a member-driven team to fight for policies that will benefit workers.

CWA is Holding Politicians Accountable

Every state in the country had to submit an initial proposal for broadband buildout in December 2023. Here’s what CWAers in NY accomplished:

  • Turned out in force to ensure that our recommendations for this funding were included in the proposals
  • Delivered more than 5,000 petition signatures and support letters from 122 legislators to the NYS ConnectALL office last month—and got results
  • NYS’s initial proposals included CWA’s demands for prioritizing employers with a directly employed local workforce, fiber-to-the-home preference, and binding workforce plans on training, safety, and labor standards

Member Voices

Nick Hoh, CWA Local 1104

"For those of us who have it, it’s hard to imagine a world without reliable internet access, and there’s a significant amount of money from recent legislation to build out to areas that don’t have it. Our Broadband Brigade has been doing an awesome job meeting with officials from every level of government, including at the White House this past December, to drive home the message that money spent for broadband buildout must create good union jobs!”
—Nick H., Local 1104

Natalia Campbell, CWA Local 1103

"In the Westchester area—probably just like everywhere in the state—we’ve seen our membership shrink over the years as people have retired and positions haven’t been re-hired. It was really important to me to get involved in organizing not just to grow our union, but to make sure that every telecom worker is protected on the job. Getting this big broadband funding for NYS is crucial, but it’s only half the battle—the work has got to be union.”
—Natalia C., Local 1103

Darryl Flemming, CWA Local 1123

"Here in Syracuse, we’re already seeing the direct impact of CWA’s efforts and the power that we have. After years of almost no hiring, Verizon announced that 35 new jobs are being created as a direct result of our work to secure funding for broadband work and ensure that it’s used for union labor. That is huge. But making sure that New York’s broadband buildout is done by union labor is a multi-pronged effort—it’s been cool to be able to be a part of the Broadband Organizing Brigade and get to speak to other workers about the union and this power that we have together.”
—Darryl F., Local 1123 

College Savings Opportunities

As CWA members, we have access to many great resources that help cover costs. One such benefit is college scholarships available to members and their families. Here’s a breakdown of some of the best options:

Joe Beirne Scholarship Program16 partial college scholarships of $4,000 each are being offered for the 2024-2025 school year.CWA members and their spouses, children, and grandchildren, including those of retired or deceased members.April 30, 2024, at 11:59pm
Union PlusAmounts range from $500 to $4K. One-time cash awards are for study beginning in the Fall of ‘24. Students may re-apply each year.Current and retired members of participating unions, their spouses, and their dependent children*Apps. are available in June. A complete app. must be received on or before 12pm (noon) EST on Jan 31 of the scholarship education/union-plus- scholarships
NettWorth Financial Group Donna CastleberrySince 2001, more than $240,000 has been awarded.Children of union members across the country.Scholarship apps can be requested and submitted between Jan 1 & May 31 each stleberry/ scholarships

Talk to your CWA local about other scholarships that may be available!