Working Together: It's All About Movement Building

It’s all about movement building

Larry Cohen, CWA President

It will take all of us, union members, progressive activists, the civil rights community, environmentalists, people of faith, students and others to restore the rights and standard of living of working families.

For our union and for our allies, that means we must be in the streets, fighting for democracy. That sounds radical, but that’s what it will take.

Today, our political system is all about raising money. Last year’s Citizens United Supreme Court decision assured corporations and wealthy extremists that they could spend whatever they wanted in political election campaigns with virtually no restrictions and with no disclosure. That’s exactly what they’re doing. The biggest spenders in Ohio and Wisconsin and New Jersey are the right-wing extremists and big corporations who don’t want workers, any workers, to have a union voice. We’ll see much more of that in the national elections next year.

As a result, there is no path to democracy for working and middle class families. In the United States Senate, we don’t have 60 votes for any progressive action. The House of Representatives, under Republican leadership, has been focused on eliminating workers’ rights, ending Medicare and doing away with the responsibilities of government that ordinary people count on, from disaster relief to education.

It’s not hopeless. Because the voices of millions of women and men, standing together, standing up for each other’s fights, cannot be ignored.

Around the world, we’ve seen ordinary people standing up for themselves and their families, across the Middle East and around the world. Ordinary people are raising their voices for freedom, for jobs, for their human rights.

In the U.S., workers in Ohio, New Jersey, Wisconsin, New Mexico and so many more states are standing against extremist politicians and the attack on their bargaining rights and their standard of living. At Verizon, CWA and IBEW members are fighting the same battle.

Public support is growing. More and more, the American people are making it clear: put our country ahead of ideology. Put our country ahead of politics.

But it takes a broad movement to make that happen. Many elected officials ignore our voices. They don’t listen to civil rights activists who point out the dangers of voter suppression, or the warning of Common Cause that our democracy is for sale to the biggest spender. They ignore the link between workers’ bargaining rights and a strong economy. And they pretend that we haven’t become a dollar store economy, where 24 million workers face a real job crisis while right wing economists pretend that fairy tale capitalism will get us out of our economic slump.

Our elected officials can’t ignore all of us. The power that we have, millions of us standing together, being there for each other’s fights, is how we can prevail.

This issue of the CWA News recognizes the hard work that our members and activists do off the job. Like all of us, they have families and responsibilities, hobbies and interests, or higher education plans. But they put their personal lives aside to fight for workers’ rights, to save Medicare, to keep a fair election standard for airline workers and to join our allies in their campaigns.

That’s building our movement. That’s what it takes to be heard.