Giving Workers a Voice in the New Economy: Cingular Wireless as a Promising Example
Marc Gunther, Senior Writer at Fortune and a Columnist for the CNN Money Website
Mary Beth Maxwell, Executive Director, American Rights at Work
Jeffrey A. Rechenbach, Executive Vice President, Communications Workers of America
Lew Walker, Vice President of Human Resources – Operations and Labor, Cingular Wireless
Dr. Christian Weller, Senior Economist, Center for American Progress
Is it impossible to think companies in today’s economy can balance profitability with workers’ rights and needs? Can U.S. businesses excel in the new economy through a model of collaboration and innovation with their employees? The example of Cingular Wireless provides great evidence that such practices are possible, practical, and desirable. The nation’s top wireless carrier proves that even in a highly competitive industry like telecommunications, sound labor policies and financial success aren’t mutually exclusive. Like a growing number of employers, Cingular Wireless rejects knee-jerk hostile labor relations practices, and instead invests energies toward respecting its employees, their rights, and their decisions on whether to join a union. Cingular negotiated its first union contract with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in 2000, and when doing so, pledged to remain neutral and not interfere with employee organizing efforts. As a result of this agreement and the cooperative partnership between Cingular and CWA, nearly 39,000 Cingular employees have chosen to form a union. Please join the Center for American Progress and American Rights at Work to learn more about successful labor-management relations that are giving workers a say in the new economy.
Note: All video provided in QuickTime (MPEG-4) format.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Program: 12:30 P.M. to 2:00 P.M
Lunch will be served at 12:00 P.M.
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Marc Gunther is a senior writer at Fortune and a columnist for the CNN Money Website. Gunther covers the media industry and writes about the impact of business on society. He has written about corporate social responsibility, corporate governance, the environment, and AIDS. His 2004 feature, “Money and Morals at GE,” explored how America’s most influential company is rethinking its values. Gunther is the author of Faith and Fortune: How Compassionate Capitalism is Transforming American Business (Crown Business, 2005). The book profiles exemplary business leaders and their companies, including Southwest Airlines, UPS, Starbucks, Timberland, Hewlett Packard, and Herman Miller. Before joining Fortune in 1996, Gunther worked for 20 years as a newspaper reporter. A graduate of Yale, he lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife, Karen Schneider, who is director of communications at Amnesty International USA. His website is www.marcgunther.com .
Mary Beth Maxwell is the founding Executive Director of American Rights at Work, a national advocacy organization launched in 2003 to advance workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain. In its brief history, she has led the organization in exposing unionbusting in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, monitoring decisions of the National Labor Relations Board, and informing the policy debate on workers’ freedom to form unions through original research studies. Maxwell is the author of the organization’s inaugural report, Some of Them Are Brave: The Unfulfilled Promise of American Labor Law. Most recently, she spearheaded the organization’s creation of a national, weekly program on Air America Radio titled Workin’ It. In all her work, she strives to place workers’ rights more squarely on the progressive political agenda. Prior to joining American Rights at Work, Maxwell served as National Field Director for Jobs with Justice, and as Deputy Field Director for NARAL.
Jeffrey A. Rechenbach was elected executive vice president of the Communications Workers of America in 2005. Rechenbach has served as vice president for CWA’s Midwestern district since 1994, and has been elected to that post for three terms. In June 1994, he was elected a vice president of the Ohio AFL-CIO. Rechenbach’s career with CWA began in 1981 as a staff representative serving CWA locals for Ohio Bell workers. He started work in 1971 with the Ohio Bell Telephone Co., and was elected president of his 2,000 member union in Cleveland just two years later. He was appointed by the governor to serve on Ohio’s Joint Legislative Committee on High Technology Business, and also was named to the Ohio Telecommunications Advisory Council. He also has served on the Ohio Labor-Management-Government Tri-Partite Commission, the Cuyahoga Community College Labor Partnership Council, the United Negro College Fund Labor Committee, and on the board of the Telephone Credit Union, (a $100 million financial institution headquartered in Cleveland). Additionally, he has served on the Cuyahoga County Democratic Executive Committee, as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and on the party’s platform committee in 1996 and 2000.
Lew Walker is the Vice President of Human Resources – Operations and Labor for Cingular Wireless. In this capacity he is responsible for Compensation, Benefits, Labor Relations, Environmental, Health and Safety as well as Corporate and Field Human Resources for various client organizations. Prior to joining Cingular in 2000, Walker was Vice President of Human Resources for SBC Wireless from 1995 on. From 1992 to 1995 he was Director of Human Resources for Associated Communications. Walker received his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. In addition, he has the designation of Senior Professional in Human Resources from the Society of Human Resources.
Dr. Christian Weller is a Senior Economist at the Center for American Progress, where he specializes in Social Security and retirement income, macroeconomics, the Federal Reserve, and international finance. Prior to joining American Progress, he was on the research staff at the Economic Policy Institute, where he remains a research associate. Dr. Weller has also worked at the Center for European Integration Studies at the University of Bonn, Germany, in the Department of Public Policy of the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., and in universal banking in Germany, Belgium and Poland. His publications appear in publications ranging from the Cambridge Journal of Economics, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the International Review of Applied Economics, the Journal of Development Studies, and the Journal of International Business Studies to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, USA Today, Detroit News, Challenge, and the American Prospect . Dr. Weller is often cited in the press and he has been a frequent guest on news programs on ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News and Bloomberg Television. Dr. Weller holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
American Rights at Work is a leading labor policy and advocacy organization. Our mission is to fight for a fair and just society where every worker’s fundamental right to organize unions and bargain collectively with employers is guaranteed and promoted. Our Socially Responsible Business Program promotes awareness of socially responsible and ethical corporate labor practices, and engages forward-thinking business and labor leaders to develop and promote sound policies and collaborative efforts that sustain workers, businesses, and society at large.