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COVID-19: A message from CWA President Chris Shelton

March 19, 2020. Brothers and Sisters, I know that each and every one of you has felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis is unprecedented, and CWA members are on the front lines doing the work necessary to keep people informed, connected, and safe during this difficult time.

We are devoting every available resource to make sure that employers are doing everything possible to protect and support CWA members during this pandemic. Over the past few weeks, District, Sector, and Division Vice Presidents have been contacting all of our employers to request detailed information about their health and safety precautions, sick leave accommodations, and plans for continuity of pay. They have been making sure that existing collective bargaining agreements are followed and negotiating additional protections to address the special challenges that you are facing in this rapidly changing environment. This early engagement spurred many employers to take a variety of precautionary measures and get prepared for the onslaught of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, while CWA has established agreements with many of our employers, many companies are failing to update front-line managers about new sick leave and safety protocols. While some employers have been proactive by working with CWA in setting up enhanced safety procedures, others have not taken necessary action. We are following up to identify and resolve these problems.

Our legislative and political teams are also keeping their eye on the larger picture. Federal, state, and local governments are moving quickly to address the crisis. Sadly, even during times like this that demand national unity, some corporations are instructing their lobbyists to resist programs that would provide immediate help to working people and retirees and lay the groundwork for a recovery that includes everyone, not just the 1%.

We are also frequently updating the resources on our COVID-19 information page at There you will find information on what to do if you believe that your working conditions are unsafe and links to reliable sources of information about the virus. In the coming days, we will be posting best practices recommendations for different types of work and information about the policies that specific employers have implemented.

Conditions vary across the country and are changing constantly. Your local leadership will have the most up-to-date information on policies in place at your work location. If you have a question and are unable to contact your steward or local officers, there is a link on our COVID-19 information page where you can submit a question that we will route to the appropriate person for response.

While we have many difficult months ahead of us, I know that we will do what we do best – take care of each other, make sure our health and safety is protected on the job, and fight for legislative and political change that puts working people first.

Chris Shelton

p.s. Please note that CWA National, District, Sector, and Division staff are also following social distancing guidelines in order to do our part in stopping the spread of this virus. Although most of our office buildings are closed, we have implemented a work-from-home plan that allows us to continue functioning at full capacity. Larger meetings have been postponed and smaller meetings have been moved to audio- and video- conferencing platforms.