Universal High-Speed Broadband and Good Union Jobs: CWA Celebrates Inclusion of High-Road Labor Standards in Delaware BEAD Plan
Communications Workers of America Local 13101 submits comments in support of the state’s plan to close the digital divide
NATIONWIDE – In response to the Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) request for comment on Volume II of its Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program proposal, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) commended DTI’s thoughtful approach to ensuring good labor practices and promoting long-term workforce development.
Notably, DTI plans to consider and prioritize a number of Fair Labor Practice standards when choosing what companies will build and maintain critical broadband infrastructure in Delaware, which should improve the applicants’ ability to perform work safely, effectively, and on time. The state will also prioritize a directly employed workforce to curtail the use of low-road subcontracting, which has led to wage stagnation, job quality issues, and shoddy or even dangerous work performed by poorly trained subcontractors. In addition, DTI will require ongoing workforce reports to be made publicly available, helping to ensure accountability for promised work and assist in enforcement.
“Delaware is setting an incredible example both for labor standards in the telecommunications sector, and more broadly for all states seeking to address the challenges of increased low road subcontracting in various industries,” the CWA submission states.
By emphasizing these Fair Labor Practices in the prequalification phase, ensuring companies meet qualifications from the start to be considered for projects, as well as considering companies’ forward-looking plans for compliance, Delaware has outlined one of the strongest BEAD proposals to date to ensure safe, high-quality broadband deployment that will create sustainable, good-paying jobs.
“CWA members have advocated tirelessly to ensure this historic investment leads to an economic boom across the state,” said CWA District 2-13 Vice President Mike Davis. “Prioritizing high labor standards, with a focus on hiring a local, highly trained workforce, will do just that by ensuring Delaware's workers and communities reap the economic and employment benefits of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
To further strengthen its BEAD proposal, CWA also recommended to DTI the inclusion of additional network resiliency considerations to protect against the threat of natural disasters, and reiterated the importance of high-speed fiber broadband as the most sustainable, scalable and renewable option. In addition to offering the most reliable connectivity option when it comes to speed, latency, reliability and consistency in quality of service, fiber reduces energy demand and simplifies repairs during electrical outages, ensuring a more sustainable technology.
Last month, at a press conference attended by CWA Local 13101 President Mike Watson, Delaware Governor John Carney announced that the state will be the first in the nation to achieve universal high-speed internet access for every resident and business.
“CWA members are proud to have played a role in Delaware’s successful use of ARPA funds to connect an additional 6,000 Delaware homes and businesses to high-speed internet,” said Mike Watson, president of the Communication Workers of America Local 13101. “This is just the start. With an additional $107 million in federal funds from the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Delaware can ensure that everyone in our state has access to reliable, high-speed internet services. And by setting high labor standards for broadband infrastructure projects, we can make sure it is done right, and create good, family-supporting jobs in the process.”