Our Duty at CWA to Combat Sexual Harassment

As recent news stories raise greater awareness about sexual harassment and the need for everyone to combat it, I want to take this moment to remind you of CWA’s Policy on Mutual Respect. As the Policy categorically says: “No form of Discrimination will be tolerated at any level of CWA.” Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination.

Here are some important points about this Policy when it comes to sexual harassment:

             Any discriminatory behavior, including sexual harassment, must be handled immediately and appropriately by the appropriate level of the Union – the Local or the National. All levels have an obligation to act when they come across an issue or allegation.

             The venues by which an allegation of sexual harassment is ultimately addressed within the Union vary, depending on the relationships involved. For example, if the allegation is by a National Union staff in the context of his or her employment, CWA’s Employment Policy Manual and its Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy will apply. In some cases, the matter may be addressed via a grievance procedure. Locals should have a similar non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy for any employees of the Local, providing for a complaint process. If the allegation is by a member against another member or officer, the Union’s Internal Appeals Procedures may ultimately apply.

             While the Union encompasses a complex set of relationships between Local and National, employee and employer, member and officer, and so on, these complexities must not get in the way of action to investigate and stop any harassment. Reports of sexual harassment must be taken seriously and handled with urgency. Generally speaking, if a complaint is made or an incident is discovered, as soon as possible determine where the issue should be directed, whether it warrants investigation, and whether it warrants some immediate action pending investigation to protect a victim from further harassment.

             A violation of the Policy on Mutual Respect is a chargeable offense under the CWA Constitution. A violation may involve sexual harassment itself or a failure to properly address an issue of sexual harassment.

The Policy on Mutual Respect is a relatively simple and powerful statement that all CWA officers and members are expected to be vigilant about discriminatory conduct within the Union or at our employers. CWA does not tolerate sexual harassment or any other form of discrimination.

If you need assistance with any such issues, the National Union stands ready to help. You may contact your District or Sector office, or the Offices of the President or Secretary-Treasurer, any of whom will provide you with or direct you to the appropriate assistance.

Thank you for your attention and for all you do every day for working people.


Jody Calemine

CWA General Counsel