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Laura Unger. Assistant To Vice President CWA T&T Will Retire July 10, 2015

June 29, 2015

To:  T&T Local President

Good Afternoon My Union Brothers and Sisters:

When I announced at the T&T Conference that I would be retiring, I promised I would stay until AT&T Legacy T bargaining was completed.  Now that the Contract has been ratified, I want to let you know that my last day in the T&T office will be July 10th.

I want to thank all the members, Local leaders, officers and Staff who have taught me so much over the years.

I was hired as a technician at AT&T in 1979 and joined with some of my fellow members to bring change to our Local -- 1150 in NYC.  We had two strikes, one in 1983 and one in 1986. I’ll never forget the feeling of pride and power of walking the picket line with my co-workers (and my children). I wish every member could have that experience.  I was elected Local President in 1987 and remained until Ralph Maly brought me on staff in 2007.  Those early years in the Local were the best -- working to strengthen our Local and the whole Union so we could stand up to the ever increasing attacks by our employers; doing everything we could think of to fight AT&T, from marching on the CEO Bob Allen’s house in New Jersey and following CEO Michael Armstrong around the AT&T Pebble Beach Golf Tournament, to making sure we pursued an arbitration when AT&T messed with our off-tour’s hours (winning over $600,000 in back pay). 

I believe taking an active role in CWA Conventions is a big responsibility. We took every vote seriously and learned how to get things done on the Convention floor.  In 1989, with 87 stipulations that had been signed (which my children had taped end-to-end) stretched from the front of the Convention hall to the back, my motion to amend the CWA Constitution passed overwhelmingly. Bargaining teams would now have to be consulted before changes were made to a Contract.   It took work but it was exciting and energized the Convention.  Being part of (and then co-chair of) the Ad Hoc was an important part of that and it remains important.  Serving on Bargaining Teams for AT&T since 1992 and Alcatel-Lucent in 2014 was always a challenge and an honor. Working at the T&T office, I appreciate, more than ever, the need for an office that can coordinate telecom bargaining, legislative and regulatory work in order to deal with Companies that have national coverage.

Through all that, we had some victories and those help us to keep fighting.  Unfortunately, we’ve had more than our share of defeats. My first assignment on Staff was bargaining the “effects agreement” for the closing of Merrimack Valley, the last lucent factory in the US. It turned out to be the first of many of those agreements I had to bargain.  Our shrinking Locals and workers stripped of collective bargaining rights is testament to our defeats. The impoverishment of working men and women in this country is testament to our defeats.  Violence and racism is testament to our defeats. Our Union fights have always been part of a bigger fight for change in this country and being part of that broader fight is more important than ever. 

So, while I am looking forward to retirement I am saddened to no longer be with all of you as you wage the next set of battles.  I will be part of them when I can. With so many changes in our Union there are new challenges ahead and I know the CWA will survive and, hopefully, get stronger. I leave you with this wish

(Thanks to Bob Dylan).

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth 
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young.      

In Unity,         
Laura Unger   

WATCH Video Added By Local 4250/CTU #16 Joe Hill “The Rebel Girl.”

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