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CWA Wants to ‘Dismantle Racism,’ Demands MLK Day as Paid Holiday for All Lumen Employees

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MLK Day

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) wants all Lumen Technologies employees to have Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday.

A delegation of Black workers from the CWA made the request in a letter to Lumen CEO Jeff Storey.

In November, Lumen, formerly CenturyLink, announced the company would, for the first time, give non-union workers the MLK holiday on Jan. 18 in an effort to make Lumen more “diverse and inclusive.”

However, most Lumen employees who are union members don’t get the holiday.

“We are deeply disappointed by Lumen’s recently announced decision to give the MLK holiday to everyone except union members,” the letter said. “In your announcement, leadership cited listening to employees and the significance of Dr. King’s message. Yet this decision directly undermines Dr. King’s legacy of fighting for civil and labor rights. We are asking you to make it right and extend the MLK paid holiday to all Lumen workers.”

The letter includes signatures from 1,500 Lumen workers and community supporters. They signed a petition asking Storey to include union members in the holiday.

Paid Holidays are Negotiated Benefits

Mark Molzen, Lumen spokesman, said his company has 40 collective bargaining agreements with labor unions. Lumen and the union negotiate paid holidays in each agreement.

CenturyLink;s Mark Molzen

CenturyLink;s Mark Molzen

“Lumen looks forward to discussing with each union the possible addition of MLK Day as a paid holiday when each agreement comes up for renegotiation,” he said. “We have already added the MLK holiday for our union-represented employees in Wisconsin.”

The CWA delegation has requested a meeting with Storey to discuss how the union and management can work together to “dismantle racism” at Lumen.

“While Lumen’s decision to exclude union members from the MLK holiday is outrageous, it’s not the only concern that we have about Lumen’s disregard for its rank-and-file workforce,” said Anna Robbs, a Lumen worker from CWA Local 7777 in Denver, Colorado, who signed the letter. “Just a few months ago, Jeff Storey said that we must raise our voices against racism and violence against Black people and ‘value our differences as strengths for unification.’”

Storey is using MLK Day, “of all things, to divide us,” she said.

The CWA wants a “comprehensive program” to address racism at Lumen, Robbs said.

The CWA has asked Storey to respond to set up a meeting by Jan. 15.


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