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CWA Delegates Approve 'Ready for the Future' Plan for Bold Workplace and Political Strategies

CWA Delegates Approve 'Ready for the Future' Plan for Bold Workplace and Political Strategies

LAS VEGAS, July 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Delegates to the Communications Workers of America convention approved a bold strategic plan "Ready for the Future" that includes the creation of a new Strategic Industry Fund to support campaigns to change employers' anti-union behavior and changes in public policy on issues such as trade and health care that affect working families.

The Strategic Industry Fund will be earmarked for different industries based on the percentage of member contributions, at the rate of about $24 million per year.

CWA President Larry Cohen said, "offense, not defense, is the point of the Strategic Industry Fund." The fund "will give us the means for major, long- range action programs to change the terms of engagement with our employers and reshape the economic landscape in which we bargain. This proposal lets us take charge of our future and build our bargaining power in every major industry group," he said.

CWA began its "Ready for the Future" process more than 10 months ago when delegates to the 2005 convention called for a union-wide conversation on ideas for structure, strategies and activities to meet the challenges of the present and future. CWA members used an interactive website to post comments, respond to proposals and discuss changes, and thousands of CWA members participated in this process. In membership and district meetings, members and local leaders assessed proposals and offered recommendations for change.

Numerous outside observers -- academics, writers, historians and others, including those from other unions -- have called CWA's process unique in the labor movement in terms of the opportunity for involvement and democratic action by every member. The Ready for the Future process reflected the union's traditions of full democratic participation and emphasis on grassroots involvement and action.

Based on this creative and bottom-to-top examination, the CWA Executive Board proposed a strategic plan to carry CWA well into the future. Those proposals were presented to convention delegates this year who voted strong approval for the measures.

Ready for the Future includes a ten-point strategic plan to strengthen bargaining power, expand and increase funding for effective political action, tap the potential of as many as 800,000 retirees through a retiree activist network, and expand organizing beyond the current 10 percent commitment in place prior to the 2006 convention.

A key provision creates a trained and motivated army of stewards and activists, 50,000 strong, who will be ready to defend workers' workplace interests and join with activists in other unions to build a movement for fundamental change. Delegates also directed their union to develop a movement- leading political program that will establish an army of activists for strategic political fights in communities, states and on the national level, and will increase resources for political campaigns through stepped-up, voluntary contributions from members.

The creation of the Strategic Industry Fund is an innovative plan to use CWA resources to build bargaining power and the union's overall strength.

The Strategic Industry Fund will be financed by existing member contributions to CWA's Members Relief Fund, beginning in September 2006. The Members Relief Fund, established in 1990, currently has a balance of about $380 million. The Members Relief Fund -- which is used to provide weekly strike benefits to members in an authorized strike -- will continue to grow through investment income.

More information is available at http://www.cwa-union.org/

Communications Workers of America

CONTACT: Jeff Miller, jmiller@cwa-union.org, or Candice Johnson,
cjohnson@cwa-union.org, both of Communications Workers of America
Communications, +1-202-415-6566

Web site: http://www.cwa-union.org/

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