Today's Top Stories

CWA's Cohen Champions a New Way Forward for Growth

One of labor's most innovative thinkers, CWA President and AFL-CIO Organizing Chair Larry Cohen is supporting a new type of local or group within locals: “member organizations" that represent and speak for workers who voluntarily sign up, even without collective bargaining agreements in hand. Pictured here at a 2013 rally speaking with a Casa de Maryland Guild member, Cohen outlined the concept in a July 30 interview with PAI during the federation's executive council meeting in Washington. The latest manifestation of the concept is UAW's announcement that it is chartering Local 42 for Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn. – but only for those workers who sign up. While the “member organization” concept may seem new, Cohen says it isn't. CWA has tried the same idea in various states, including union-hostile Texas. “We have 11,000 members in the public sector” member organization, CWA Local 6186, in Texas “where collective bargaining is outlawed by the state constitution,” Cohen explains. Since it can't bargain, the local concentrates on political activism for its members and families. Ditto, he says, for CWA's 3,000-member Mississippi Alliance of State Employees.

Life-Changing CPI/ABC Black Lung Series Wins Broun Award

A powerful series exposing a coal industry conspiracy that schemed to deny even meager benefits to miners suffering black lung disease has won the prestigious Heywood Broun Award, presented annually by The Newspaper Guild-CWA. The award for “Breathless and Burdened: Dying from Black Lung Disease, Buried by Law and Medicine,” which includes a $5,000 check, is shared by journalists from the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) and ABC News. A pair of Sacramento Bee reporters and a trio of journalists at the Washington Post were chosen as Broun Substantial Distinction winners. Each team of winners will receive $1,000.  “We believe our winner truly reflects the Guild founder’s commitment to championing the underdog against the powerful, the uncaring, the corrupt,” the judges said, stressing how impressed they were overall by the quality of entries."It was inspiring to review so many examples of journalistic excellence in service to – in Broun’s words – 'the ordinary run of people.'" The awards will be presented in October. Photo: From left, judges Jim Steele, Lena Williams, Betsy Wade and panel chair Jeff Miller.