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The Tailgate Edition 1 // June 18, 2022

17 Jun, 2022

Welcome to The Tailgate, the Bi-Weekly Newsletter of the Tower Climbers Union/CWA.
Edition 1 // June 18, 2022

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In this issue:

  1. Status of the Campaign
  2. What the Law Says
  3. Swag Update
  4. TCU/CWA Victory in Nevada
  5. Ways to Get Involved

Tower techs at Qualtek in Las Vegas, who are now proud members of CWA Local 9413, with sister and brother 9413 members at their victory celebration.

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Status of the Campaign  

It’s been an incredibly exciting time for the Tower Climbers Union/CWA. Just a little more than 2 months ago, TCU/CWA was formed. Since then, we had a first membership meeting on April 10, and then a public launch on May 1. Our initial goal was to recruit 150 Founding Members by the May 1st launch. We blew through that number and now have hundreds of Founding Members of the union. We have active Union Committees (more on those below), an inspiring Mission Statement, and we have our first shop that has won a union election and is in the process of bargaining their first collective bargaining agreement. Shout out to the brothers at Qualtek in Las Vegas (more about them below). We have established ourselves as a real force in the industry, and there’s nowhere to go but up.

The vision of the campaign has always been to work on several different fronts.
  1. We are building a membership-based, national union, the TCU/CWA, led by Tower Hands, backed by the country’s largest telecommunications union, the CWA.
  2. In shops where there is a majority support for the union, we are moving forward to win collective bargaining rights for those workers. This comes either when employers voluntarily recognize the union, or when employees win a union election.
  3. We are building a national Apprenticeship Program for tower technicians. The details are still being worked out, but the goal is to have a labor-management partnership that sets the standard for quality and integrity in the training of tower techs. We already have the participation of employers, safety advocates/trainers, and tower hands and we will be making some big announcements about this program in the coming weeks.

Things are moving forward on all of these fronts. Read more below about ways to plug in and get involved in the union. And, talk to your climber sisters and brothers about signing up and joining the movement! Here’s the membership link: CWA.org/TCUSignUp

What the Law Says 

Let’s start with the law itself. The National Labor Relations Act is the law that guarantees workers the right to organize unions. The Act says:

Section 7: “Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representation of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining…”

Section 8: “It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer…to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in section 7…”

This is crystal clear: all workers have the right to talk about organizing and your employer cannot legally stop you from doing this. Period. We have heard a lot of stories of construction managers, project managers, and owners who want the best for the industry and for tower hands who are supportive of this union effort. We have also heard some stories of others who are afraid, and some who are breaking this law and trying to hold back this movement. If you experience any of this, contact us immediately, and we will put you in touch with our legal team. We can file charges, called Unfair Labor Practices (ULP’s) that can stop this behavior in its tracks.

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Swag Update 

We have seen lots of posts and shots of people wearing their TCU/CWA shirts and pins. Love to see it! We got such a rush of membership signups that we ran out of some shirt sizes. This is being addressed, and we have an order in to replenish the stock. This movement is definitely about way more than the swag, but it’s nice to have a union shirt and pin to wear to rep the union out there. We are working on this, and you will have your stuff as soon as we get it.

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TCU/CWA Victory in Nevada 

As most of you probably know by now, we had our first TCU/CWA victory in a union election in Henderson, Nevada on May 23. The techs at the Qualtek shop voted Union Yes and are now moving forward to the collective bargaining phase. According to Derek Combs, a Tower Tech II at Qualtek and Bargaining Committee member of CWA Local 9413, “We’re excited to be the first tower technician shop in the country to win a union election and get collective bargaining rights. I was honored to be elected by my brothers to sit at the bargaining table with Qualtek leadership. We are ready to bargain a fair and equitable contract for all. It's been an exciting ride and you all should experience this too. Sign up your coworkers, build up majorities in your shops, go Union Yes!”

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Ways to Get Involved 

The most important thing members can be doing now is continuing to reach out to other tower hands and building the union. Here’s that membership link again: CWA.org/TCUSignUp. Share it widely.

Here’s some other important ways you can help build the union:

  • Build a majority of support in your shop. Be the next shop to win an election, or to be voluntarily recognized, and move toward bargaining a first contract.
  • Join one of the Union Committees. Here is a list of current committees, with a brief description:
    • Organizing Committee - leadership body of the organization, helps to guide the organization. Meets every other week.
    • Safety Committee - tasked with developing a union safety program, meets monthly and as needed.
    • Social Media Committee - tasked with building the social media presence of TCU/CWA, meets every week.
    • Bylaws Committee - tasked with proposing Bylaws for the organization. Works in collaboration with CWA Legal Department. Will meet on an as needed basis.
    • Apprenticeship Advisory Committee - tasked with helping to design and implement a national apprenticeship program.
    • Newsletter Committee - tasked with helping to produce this bi-weekly newsletter. Meets on an as needed basis.
Reach out if you have any questions, comments or concerns. You can contact CWA organizer Plinio Cruz-Alvarez at pcruz@cwa-union.org or 347-398-2005.Stay safe, sisters and brothers.