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January 7, 2011

New Finding Aids Communications Workers of America (CWA)

The M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives is pleased to announce the completed archival processing and new online finding aids for the records of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Local 1104, Telephone Operator’s Division and Education Division. With over 10,000 members in New York State, CWA 1104’s organizational history traces a union that grew over the years to protect the interests of a large variety of professions.
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The CWA, 1104 Operator’s Division records consist of a variety of documents illustrating the union’s evolution from its origin as the Telephone Traffic Union Upstate (TTUU) founded in Albany in 1945 and later affiliated as the Telecommunications International Union (TIU), Local 1112. Industry changes and the legendary 1984 AT&T breakup led Local 1112 to merge with CWA and was renamed the Telephone Traffic Union Upstate, CWA Local 1112. As the telephone industry privatized and became more automated, operators relied heavily on the ability of CWA to grieve cases for them against the “baby bells� such as New York Telephone, Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, and other former AT&T divisions.

1984 and 1989 were especially notable for months-long strikes that involved public relations battles, fights with scabs, and long hours picketing for workers’ rights. In 2001, CWA Local 1112 merged with two other CWA locals: the Graduate Student Employees Union (GSEU) of the State University of New York (Local 1188) and telecommunications workers (Local 1104).

The CWA Local 1104, Education Division records contain material documenting the unionization of the State University of New York (SUNY) graduate assistants (GA) and teaching assistants (TA). During the mid-1970s, a group of graduate and teaching assistants began organizing under the name of the Graduate Student Employees Union (GSEU). CWA Local 1112 became the Operator’s Division of CWA, 1104. Around 1984, other SUNY campuses such as Albany, Binghamton, and Stony Brook, revived the union petition and by 1993, GSEU negotiated its first contract with the State of New York.

In 2001, GSEU became the Education Division of CWA 1104. As of 2010, the Education Division is active around the SUNY campuses, encouraging members to speak out on issues regarding TA and GA rights, and continuing to petition the governor and his colleagues on topics like tuition increases and fair wages. The arrangement, description, and creation of finding aids was made possible through a New York State Archives’ Documentary Heritage Program Arrangement and Description Grant.

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The finding aids and more about the history of CWA, Local Operators Division and Education Division can be found at:

CWA Local 1104, Operators Division:
http://library.albany.edu/speccoll/findaids/apap121.htm
CWA Local 1104, Education Division:
http://library.albany.edu/speccoll/findaids/apap132.htm