A few months ago CapTel Workers Union demanded a company-wide raise in a march on the boss. We told the company that we would give them time to consider it but that we wanted an answer to be given in the next monthly team meeting. We argued that this decision would affect everyone in the workplace and that our coworkers deserve to hear if they are getting a raise or CapTel’s explanation for why they don’t believe their employees deserve an easily affordable wage increase. Instead, CapTel called a single union member into a secret meeting to tell her that they believe their wages are “competitive.” We decided that if CapTel would not have open and honest communication with our coworkers that we would tell them ourselves. We decided to demonstrate with a picket.
We gathered in the plaza outside of the Blue (or the 310W, as it is being rebranded following the multi-million dollar building update that seems to have improved everything except the elevators). As the time of the picket approached our numbers steadily grew.
More than seventy workers gathered and we distributed T-shirts and picket signs made by union members. We began chanting and marching through the plaza using some of the classic union chants as well as one written by a CapTel Workers Union member specifically for this event : “We are the voice, we are the power / We all demand 15 an hour!”
Shortly after we had begun, police arrived and spoke with our designated police liaison. When asked if somebody had complained about us the police stated that CapTel admin had. However, despite what CapTel may wish, it is not illegal to protest low wages and police let us be.
Workers came out on their breaks to check out the picket, taking pamphlets and asking for CWU shirts which we happily gave to them. Some even dropped what they were doing to come march in the picket line with us. Drivers that were passing by beeped their horns in support and one woman rolled down her car window and yelled that CapTel “screwed her over” while she worked there and she was happy to see us demonstrating.
Three picketers had planned speeches for this event and after hearing them speak other workers grabbed the megaphone and gave impromptu speeches, sharing their CapTel horror stories and their need for a living wage and a workplace that listens to its workers.
The picket was an incredibly empowering and overwhelmingly positive experience. It was amazing to see so many CapTel workers come out to stand up for themselves and their coworkers and to demonstrate their willingness to fight to improve their workplace. Workers shared their contact information with us and asked how they could become further involved.
CapTel Workers Union is going to continue to organize, demonstrate, and fight for living wages. We will win.