On Wednesday, CWA members participated in a town hall centered around the need for federal funding for broadband and Joe Biden's push to expand broadband access and empower workers. After the town hall, CWAers made hundreds of phone calls to get out the vote.
CWAers participated in a town hall centered around the need for federal funding for broadband and Joe Biden’s push to expand broadband access and empower workers.
CWA President Chris Shelton, CWA Local 4100 member and AT&T technician DeAndre Davis, Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Reps. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) and Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), and other labor leaders discussed Biden's plan to invest $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure while closing the digital divide in rural and urban areas and creating good, union jobs that expand the middle class.
"AT&T CEO John Stankey has said that the fiber buildout is one of the company's top priorities during this pandemic," said Davis. "You have to scratch your head and wonder why AT&T would ever lay off a union employee, an employee that they have invested years of training and money in to make them professionals. We have lost more jobs to contractors than we could count over the years. This is all based on profit. And I'm here to tell you that this is no time to put profit over people."
"Every time Joe talks about investment and jobs, he talks about the importance of making it easier for workers to join unions," said CWA President Chris Shelton. "Joe Biden knows that if we are going to build back better from this pandemic, that we can’t count on promises from companies like AT&T. To build back better, we need to have enforceable requirements that, in exchange for public support, telecom companies must bring broadband and good, union jobs to every community in this country."
Of the 21 states in AT&T's wireline footprint, Michigan has the lowest fiber internet penetration. Senator Peters noted that nearly a third of students in Michigan don't have access to the connectivity necessary for remote learning. "When we put in an infrastructure program after we take the [Senate] majority, high speed internet is going to be a priority," Peters said.
"What an opportunity to put CWA members to work to connect every house in this country with high speed connectivity that has all kinds of benefits,” said Representative Levin. “If we elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and take back the Senate and win the House, we are going to pass the whole agenda that we passed in the House that went over and gathered dust on Mitch McConnell's desk."
Representative Kildee discussed the critical need for fiber buildout in rural Michigan to support telemedicine, especially for seniors. "We all have to commit to make sure that we elect Joe Biden because he has a plan to connect millions of Americans to one another and to essential services, by investing in infrastructure and investing in high quality broadband in those rural and urban places," Kildee said.