Attempts to organize the telephone industry began as early as 1910, by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Yet the women who worked as telephone operators were not included in the union until two years later. By the end of the decade, the IBEW had more than 200 telephone unions.
Growth in the number of union members in the telephone industry was great impeded due to World War I. During the war, President Woodrow Wilson issued an order to “herby take possession and assume control and supervision of each and every telegraph and telephone system, and every part thereof, within the jurisdiction of the United States.”
After the war ended, telephone companies increasingly installed company unions as a way to control workers organizing efforts.Their aim was stave off unionism from outside organizations. Nearly all of the IBEW locals lost their membership to the company unions.
But when Congress passed the Wagner Act in 1935, supporting the rights of workers to join and form independent unions, a new surge of independent unionism began in the telephone industry.
Communications Workers of America (CWA) was founded in 1938 at meetings in Chicago and New Orleans. First known as the National Federation of Telephone Workers, the union became the Communications Workers of America in 1947. CWA got its start in the telephone industry, but today it represents workers in all areas of communications, as well as in health care and public service, customer service and many other fields.
Communications Workers of America (CWA) is the largest communications and media labor union in the United States, representing about 700,000 members in both the private and public sectors (also in Canada and Puerto Rico). The union has 27 locals in Canada via CWA-SCA Canada representing about 8,000 members. CWA has several affiliated subsidiary labor unions bringing total membership to over 700,000. CWA is headquartered in Washington, DC, and affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the Change to Win Federation, the Canadian Labour Congress, and UNI Global Union.
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According to cwa-union.org; en.wikipedia and laborhistoryin2.podbean.com