Tower Climbers Represented for the First Time
Originally published as a Press Release on CWA.org on January 14, 2022.
Communications Workers of America President Chris Shelton has been named by Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh as the labor organization representative on the 12-person Telecommunications Interagency Working Group (TIWG). The TIWG was established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to develop recommendations to address the workforce needs of the telecommunications industry as part of the Act’s historic investments in broadband.
“I appreciate the opportunity that Secretary Walsh has given me to represent workers in the telecommunications industry as a member of the Telecommunications Interagency Working Group,” Shelton said. “Fulfilling the Biden administration’s commitment to bringing high speed broadband to all Americans requires a well-trained workforce and jobs that promise careers -- not just short-term employment. I will be drawing on the firsthand experience of the tens of thousands of CWA members who work in the telecommunications industry, as well as those who have lost their jobs due to downsizing and are eager to return to the field.”
Shelton was elected president of CWA in 2015. He started his union career in 1968 when he began work at New York Telephone as an outside technician.
Secretary Walsh also named Kathy Gill, founder of Tower Safety and Jim Simpson, Director of Installer-Technician (Telecommunications) at the Electrical Training ALLIANCE, to the Working Group. Gill will serve as a public interest advocate for tower climber safety while Simpson will represent registered apprentice programs. Workers at Tower Safety recently won voluntary recognition from management and joined Communications Workers of America (CWA). They are the first group of workers to form a union in the wireless tower industry.
“By honoring the wishes of Tower Safety’s employees to join together in a union, Kathy Gill showed her respect for the dignity and safety of workers in the industry,” said Shelton. “I am looking forward to serving alongside her as we address the best ways to ensure that telecom workers have the wages, benefits and safety protections that they deserve.”
Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel also nominated Kristi Westbrock, CEO/General Manager of Consolidated Telecommunications Company in Minnesota, as the rural telecommunications carrier representative. Workers at Consolidated Telecommunications are represented by CWA.
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