Why Are We Involved In Politics?

This past year I had the privilege of representing our local at Labors Joint Legislative Conference and CWA’s lobby day along with our locals Executive Vice President Rodney Gonzalez and our Secretary Treasurer Monica Alvarado. I also had the privilege of attending CWA’s National Legislative conference with Executive Vice President Rodney Gonzalez. Labor’s Joint Legislative Conference is attended by officers and members from many other locals within CWA and Unions and Labor councils from across the state. Now I know many of you are saying “why are we involved in politics?” A great question indeed.

cwa triangle

First, I think it’s important to do a quick recap of our CWA triangle. The triangle has changed over the years but the basis behind it I do not believe has. The triangle consists of Representation, Organizing and Movement Building. Movement Building is a recent change from Community and political Action which is encompassed in Movement Building! The idea behind the triangle is simple…if we want to be successful in representing our members we must be active and effective in all sides of the triangle.

Let’s take a quick look at Movement Building. If you’re following along, you noticed we have some basics of movement building happening with multiple groups being brought together for the purpose of getting on the same page around certain issues. If we want to start a movement or be part of a movement we must build
coalitions with many likeminded groups.

cwa political action

How do politics affect representation? There are many bills that come forward that either make representation easier or harder or effect our members in many ways. These bills will not be on your ballot, but they have the possibility of affecting you in a positive or negative way. Lobbying is our opportunity to offer input to our elected officials on the legislation they will be voting on throughout the year. If we do not spend the time expressing that we are in support of or against the legislation how can we hold our elected officials accountable. An example of a bill currently before congress is S.515/H.R.1300 United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act of 2017. “A bill to require the Secretary of Labor to maintain a publicly available list of all employers that relocate a call center overseas, to make such companies ineligible for Federal grants or guaranteed loans, and to require disclosure of the physical location of business agents engaging in customer service communications, and for other purposes”.

I have heard many times and was raised that you don’t talk politics at the dinner table. I must admit for years I believed that. Who wants to get into an argument with family about the party they support and ruin a good meal? I have a different view on this old saying as I have started to become more educated about politics and the legislative process. How many members have received blast emails or text about legislation that is before our elected officials asking you to please call or text to encourage support or ask that they vote no? When you received the text or email did you make the call or send the text? Did you talk about the issue with friends or family or at the dinner table? Although having the overall “what party you support” conversation at the dinner table may always be uncomfortable talking about a specific piece of legislation that effects all working people may be an easier way to start having those conversations.

decline in middle class and unions

During a recent legislative conference one of the speakers said, “our fight has not changed” and I would have to agree with that. If you are familiar with some of the statistics in the decreasing number in union density or the correlating number with the decrease in the middle class over the past 40 plus years it is very evident the fight for working families continues. We are fighting many of the same issues we have been up against for years like racism and inequality. We are in an era where workers are being pitted against each other for a piece of the pie when the majority of the pie is going to a very small percentage of people.

WTF wheres the fairness

I recently had another great opportunity to participate in the Nevada AFL-CIO endorsement process as co-Chair of the NCNC (Northern California Nevada Council) legislative committee. One of the guest speakers was from IOWA, a right to work state. The speaker explained to us that after the last election they lost the senate and the assembly and new laws were passed regarding collective bargaining. If you were in public safety (Police and Fire) you had about 25 mandatory subjects of bargaining and about 2 permissive and 4 excluded. Mandatory means the subject can be submitted to a neutral arbitrator for a final and binding ruling if the parties fail to reach an agreement. Permissive means it can be discussed if both parties agree and excluded means cannot be discussed. Generally permissive subjects of bargaining are looked at as excluded as the company/employer must mutually agree to discuss and most employers don’t do anything out of the goodness of their hearts. Now if you are non-public safety that’s everyone else including us you had only 4 mandatory subjects of bargaining 16 permissive subjects and 12 excluded subjects. I would like to share the example that was shared with me on the affect this new law had on bargaining. What was once a contract of over 250 pages was reduced to 26 pages in one round of negotiations! Now I ask you WHERE’S THE FAIRNESS?

ab2395 in orange photo

We can learn a lot if we participate in our unions and in our legislative process. We know that if the anti-union groups were that successful with this strategy in Iowa it’s only a matter of time before they attempt the same here. We know that if we were able to defeat prop32 and AB2395 that we can mobilize against anti-union and anti-worker legislation. We know that although we may not be able to financially compete with large corporations or the anti-union and anti-worker lobby we can compete with numbers and those willing to stand up step forward and participate in our legislative process. Although corporations will most likely always have more available funds then our union for now we have the voting strength and they can’t buy our individual votes yet!

To get involved in our legislative and political committee please email us at [email protected] and give us your name, work location and a contact number we can reach you at and our legislative chair will reach out to you shortly.

By,

Jason Hall

President CWA Local 9423