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Civil Rights and Equity Conference Energizes CWAers

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CWA leaders at the annual Civil Rights & Equity Conference.

CWAers showed Houston what democracy looks like last week, as 200 members and leaders rallied at the annual CWA Civil Rights and Equity Conference.

This year's three-day gathering focused on the training and tools needed to empower members in the work they do at home and with CWA's allies. A number of states have adopted new voting laws that will make it harder for many Americans to vote in November, while the president and one-third of Senators are up for re-election. Now, more than ever, shaking up the status quo and removing the blocks to our democracy depends on that electorate of 50 million organized progressives.

The National Civil Rights and Equity Committee spent months planning the conference. The members include Local 1180 Secretary-Treasurer Gloria Middleton; Local 2222 Vice President William Steele; Local 3122 Mobility Vice President Hector Capote; Local 4123 Secretary-Treasurer Gloria Lamas; Local 6016 AVAYA Vice President Audry Brown; Local 7800 President Michael Lynch; and Local 9586 Board Member Martin Ervin Greenidge.

CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings did amazing work to galvanize attendees and bring in a number of local elected officials. Guest speakers included U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, Gene Green and Al Green. Texas State Rep. Sylvester Turner and Texas NAACP President Gary Bledsoe also joined the town hall dialogue.

Other executive board members in attendance were Mary Taylor, vice president of District 7, and Brooks Sunkett, vice president for Public, Health Care and Education Workers.

Linda Hinton, assistant to the vice president of CWA District 4, led a session entitled, "The Disenfranchisement of the Minority Vote and How We Fight Back" and discussed how CWA's LPAT program fits into the 2012 election. CWA Local 4100 President Greg Wynn talked about voter suppression efforts underway in Michigan, while CWA Local 1040 President Carolyn Wade explained why getting politically active matters. There were also workshops on bargaining inclusive contract language, the disenfranchisement of minorities and LGBT issues.

Attendees watched a video of the recreation of the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. About 125 CWAers joined civil rights, union, immigration and student activists and leaders to fight against the new assaults on voting and civil rights.

And on the final day, CWA President Larry Cohen addressed attendees on building a movement and how to move forward.