A union is an organization of workers with a common objective of achieving different beneficial goals such as attainment of wages and benefits, improved safety standards, protection of the integrity of their trade or careers. The union is mandated to accomplish this through continuous negotiations with relevant bodies to obtain the best deals for the employees.
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Trade unions around the world, all have one main objective of safeguarding and protecting the workers against any kind of ill-treatment in the workplace. This essay will discuss Communication Workers of America (CWA), by reporting its profile, the organization’s structure, how it operates, the disputes it has encountered and the outcome of the court cases which followed.
The main objective of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) is to improve employees working conditions. It is representing about 700,000 members both in the public and private sector of employment and it is the largest media and communication labor union in the United States (Hoffman & Brown, 2017). It has a unique organizational structure design, whereby there are top elected officers who are the president, the secretary, and the treasurer.
Other officials are the board members, including the vice presidents of different districts, sectors, and industries (Doucouliagos et al., 2017). This organization operates in education and public services, telecommunications and information technology, news media, health care, law enforcement, manufacturing airline industries, broadcast and cable television.
As a union CWA has had several issues to deal with including several strikes from employees as well as law suits filed against them. The organization has been in existence for several years since 1918 when it started as Telephone Operators Department, which was organized by employees who were working in telecommunication companies (Witcher, 2019). In 1938, CWA re-energized after reorganizing the telephone workers into the National Federation of Telephone Workers (Doucouliagos et al., 2017).
They again had a strike, lost the case, and in 1947, they restructured and called the union ‘Communication workers of America’. Afterward, it became a nationwide union, which affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organization in 1949. Currently, it is continuing to expand into areas beyond traditional telephone services.
In the past 10-25 years, the CWA have gone through some disputes that prompted the workers to strike and demand some changes which could resolve their demands. There was a strike in the city of New York which occurred on August 5, 2000 (Witcher, 2019). The demonstrations included two of the largest union organizations. The first one was the Communication of Workers of America (CWA) and the second one was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which involved a total of about eighty-five thousand employees from both parties (Witcher, 2019).
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Each union had its reasons which made them call for the strikes. The problem was the merger of Verizon, which was a combination of Bell Atlantic and GTE. The two companies wanted to move their factories and shops to non-union areas, which meant that the workers would either be forced to relocate or lose their jobs. A further explanation for the mandatory overtime was the need to add more working hours, which complicated the already overwhelming work and anxiety.
The incident affected operations in the two companies as well as other firms, since their workers also started demonstrations in support of the protests. There was an understanding after eighteen days, which eventually helped end the Verizon strike. The agreement was that there would be a little raise on the salaries of those workers with a bilingual advantage because they had to do the job and needed to be fluent in another language. In addition, there was to be a cut to some requirements on the employees’ obligatory overtime. This implied that, from then onwards, the workers would only be allowed to work for a minimum of seven and half hours of overtime, while the maximum extra-time would be ten hours weekly.
On August 7th, 2011, another dispute arose, and the Verizon communication workers went on strike again. This occurred after the employees’ unions could not arrive to a common understanding regarding the new contract with the company. The forty-five thousand staff members who were the representatives of CWA and the IBEW unions claimed that the discussions had included healthcare cover and pensions. The working rules which were stalled with the company demanding more than 100 concessions from personnel were also inclusive. The union claimed that Verizon continued seeking to strip away 50 years of collective bargaining benefits for the middle-class workers and their families even as the contracts were set to expire.
The company was willing to work with the unions to arrive to an understanding which would benefit both parties, but the organizations were unwilling to negotiate. They claimed that Verizon was already earning high net profits, while the CEO was making a triple salary of the average worker, and it was time for them to get into serious bargaining. In 2012, both parties reached a settlement; they re-elected the president, secretary-treasurer, and eliminated the vice president’s positions. They approved a four-year contract with their relevant companies and restored ultimate principles of money in politics, political equality, senate rules, and voter’s rights.
Subsequently, the Verizon strike of 2016, which began on 13th April, was a labor action in the United States and involved 40,000 Verizon workers of the two unions (Witcher, 2019). The protest characterized the largest labor feat in the United States ever since the first incident which took place in 2011, when forty-five thousand workers of the company walked out. In this second occurrence, there were many violent occasions involving the striking company employees and the security personnel who were trying to control the situation. Many people were brutalized and arrested, which caused uproar from the Verizon management as well as human rights groups.
The main prerequisite for the second protest was the fact that Verizon employees had been working since 2015 without any formal agreement or contract, which had been caused by disputes over support services. The union officials did not approve the new deal, citing a variety of concerns, involving work assignments, job protection, healthcare, wages and pensions. The increase would be annulled because workers would have to pay an increased amount for premium and health-cover payment. The union leaders responded after a 7.5 percent salary increment for workers was offered by Verizon (Witcher, 2019).
They later arrived at a tentative agreement, which marked a tremendous gain for employed families and confirmation of the influence of the working populace. Presently, Verizon operates with a four-year settlement recommending pension raises, incentives, healthcare compensation account, revenue sharing, and 1,300 new call centers. The inclusion of better new jobs at Verizon for neighborhoods and the entire country was also included.
It has been determined that the Communication Workers of America has contributed to implementing some of the unions’ rules. The body was established to enhance and improve the working conditions of the workers’ in the telecommunication company. Due to the disputes between the employees and the union, there were strikes which used to cause huge losses, which subsequently encouraged them to unite and seek for a common solution. Some of the benefits the staff members have enjoyed due to new proposals implemented after the protests include increase in salaries, appropriate working conditions, reduction of overtime hours, high pension, profit sharing, and job creation.
Doucouliagos, H., Freeman, R. B., & Laroche, P. (2017). The economics of trade unions: A study of a research field and its findings. Taylor & Francis.
Hoffman, R. C., & Brown, M. O. (2017). Employee ownership and union labor: The case of United Steel Workers of America. Labor History, 58(3), 350-371. Web.
Witcher, T. R. (2019). Civil War and labor strikes: The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Martinsburg shops. Civil Engineering Magazine Archive, 89(10), 40-43. Web.