A Rock and a Hard Place: The CWA’s Approach to Media Policy, 1984-2002

Brian Dolber


Since its inception, the Communications Workers of America has played an important role in lobbying on telecommunication policies. Its positions, however, have typically put short-term goals of job creation ahead of a long-term vision for democratic communication. Since the AT&T divestiture brought an end to Fordism in the telecom industry, the CWA often has been in the conflicted position of seeking job security for members in a hostile political environment while attempting to develop a just communication system in the United States. Typically, the union has chosen the former over the latter at the ultimate expense of both. This article traces the history of the CWA’s lobbying efforts from the 1984 divestiture through the wave of media consolidation in the late 1990s. Trends of technological and structural convergence mandate that CWA revise its lobbying strategies in order to further a vision of democratic communication that will benefit working people.

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