Claude Cummings Elected 1st Black President of CWA

Claude Cummings (right) was elected as the first Black President of the 600,000 member Communication Workers of America (CWA)

Early Tuesday morning, CWA announced that Claude Cummings of Houston won a runoff election over Ed Mooney by a margin of 59% to 41% to be elected as the 1st Black President of the 600,000-member Communication Workers of America.

Congresswoman Shelia Jackson-Lee of Houston took to Twitter at 2 am Texas Time to praise Cummings.

“After many long years of fighting for working families from Texas, to New York, to California and beyond, Claude Cummings has been elected President of one of the most powerful unions in the nation, the Communications Workers of America,” wrote Congresswoman Shelia Jackson-Lee on Twitter at 2 am Texas time.  

“Claude is a great leader and will be a real force in fighting for CWA members and as well working families across the United States for all to have a better quality of life,” wrote the Congresswoman. “Congratulations Claude Cummings, all of us in Texas are TEXAS proud!” 

A 50-year veteran of CWA, Cummings first became active in the union in 1973. For many years, he headed the Human Right Department of CWA. In that role, the 71-year-old Cummings won a reputation as a progressive, inclusive labor leader with a multiracial vision for moving the labor movement forward.

His elections came as sexual misconduct and violent intimidation scandals have rocked CWA. (See our widely-cited story “Rival CWA Presidential Candidates Covered Up Violent Intimidation & Sexual Misconduct within the Union”)

Ultimately, Payday played a significant role in derailing the campaigns of two candidates running against Cummings, who Payday Report exposed as covering up violent intimidation and sexual misconduct within the union. Our reporting was highlighted on electronic billboard vans that circled the CWA Convention in St. Louis, which many voting members saw of the union.

By contrast, Cummings effectively persuaded union members that he could best bring the union forward in a more inclusive and progressive direction. His campaign ad emphasized that he had already changed practices within the union and made changes within the union. 

“Where others have talked about change, I have made change happen even inside of our own union” Cummings says in his ad as he recounts a battle against sexist practices within CWA.

Payday will have more analysis of what occurred over the next day and week. Stayed tuned.

Donate to Help Us Cover the Fight for Union Democracy in CWA

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]