New leadership at CWA Local 7901

From left, newly installed CWA Local 7901 executive vice president Travis Christian, president A.J. Mendoza, and Centurylink division vice president Richard Warren. All ran unopposed for offices which were vacant.

By Don McIntosh

Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7901 has new leadership after several months of turnover. The local is made up of about 635 workers at CenturyLink, AT&T, and a handful of non-profits, including KBOO, Free Geek, and Portland Jobs With Justice. Its president serves as a half-time staff person and is the local’s only employee.

When Local 7901 held union officer elections July 8, Portland Jobs With Justice organizer A.J. Mendoza and Centurylink employees Tony Hayden and Richard Warren ran for the local’s number two office, executive vice president. Hayden was elected. Then Local 7901 president Celeste Jones left office Aug. 23 to work as a union representative for Oregon AFSCME. Under the local’s bylaws, Hayden became acting president, but then he too resigned several weeks later. At that point the local was placed in receivership by CWA’s national organization, and CWA District 7 representative Lisa Avila arrived to take responsibility for negotiating and enforcing collective bargaining agreements.

Local 7901 took nominations Sept. 30 to fill the vacant officer positions. Mendoza was the only nominee for president, and was declared elected by acclamation. Travis Christian was unopposed for executive vice president, and Richard Warren for vice president representing Centurylink.

Mendoza, 28, grew up in Gladstone, Oregon, earned a degree in political science and history from George Fox University in Newberg, and worked at Oregon Student Association and Basic Rights Oregon before arriving at Portland Jobs With Justice. Since 2018, he’s served as Local 7901’s legislative chair.

“My goal is make us an organizing local again,” Mendoza told the Labor Press. One target would be local mission-driven non-profits.

Local 7901’s core membership is in telecommunications, but its membership has shrunk by nearly two-thirds since 2000 thanks to call center closures, automation, and the decline of employment in landline telephone operations.

Local 7901 also moved its headquarters in May to the Oregon Labor Center, the union office building run by the Oregon AFL-CIO at 3645 SE 32nd Avenue.

The new Executive Board meets for the first time Oct. 24. Besides Mendoza, Christian, and Warren, its other members are secretary-treasurer Erich Bambei and vice presidents Mike Yourn (AT&T), Mike Bray (staff union at SEIU Local 503), Justin Norton-Kertson (non-profits).

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