In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal, state, and local governments have made expanding high-speed broadband access to underserved areas a top policy priority. As a result, public investment in broadband access has reached historic levels. This includes $65 billion in federal funding dedicated to expanding broadband access and infrastructure provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The single largest public investment in broadband in our nation’s history.

While expanding high-speed broadband to unserved communities is a top priority, ‘how’ we expand broadband is just as important. That means having effective labor standards and guidelines to ensure that public funds are being used to expand broadband access in a way that will create good union jobs in our communities.

Telecom companies will be bidding on contracts to recieve public funds for broadband build-out through state and local governments’ requests for proposal (RFP) process. CWA’s primary goal is to include labor standards within the RFP process that will help create more good union jobs with adequate pay, benefits, and training while providing the highest quality broadband services to underserved communities. Without labor standards, it will be a race to the bottom in terms of which telecom companies can build-out broadband infrastructure for the cheapest price at the expense of good wages and benefits.

Specifically, CWA’s labor standard would require state and local governments to give preference to companies that will utilize a local directly employed workforce, not lower skilled subcontractors, and those that maintain high standards of training and safety. CWA’s labor standards also include enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with these guidelines throughout the duration of a public contract for broadband build-out.

CWA’s Texas for Better Internet Campaign in San Antonio

In October 2021, the City of San Antonio announced its plan to provide high speed broadband to unserved communities known as the San Antonio Digital Inclusion Plan. The plan would allow the city to distribute public funds to telecom companies for the purpose of broadband development through a request for proposal (RFP). Since then, CWA members have been mobilizing and meeting with San Antonio elected officials to urge the city to include labor standards in the Digital Inclusion Plan RFP that would help create more union good jobs whilst expanding broadband access.

In July, the City of San Antonio released a RFP to expand broadband access that did NOT include labor standards. Workers did not have a seat at the table in shaping what the RFP looked like. The lack of labor standards will lead to telecom jobs with poverty wages and unsafe working conditions in San Antonio. And will make it easier for telecom companies to use lower-skilled subcontractors that put residents at risk of property damage and other dangerous