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Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity
Thomas S. Smith AFSEE

Thomas S. Smith

Senior Director Organizing, Communications Workers of America

Tom is a Senior Director of Organizing at Communications Workers of America (CWA), an American trade union that is part of the AFL-CIO. Leading CWA’s organising campaigns, Tom focused the union’s resources on building power in the Technology, Media, and Communications sector of the economy, launching CWA’s Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE). These efforts have successfully organised tens of thousands of workers in tech and video games and have pioneered organising strategies that inform trade union programmes across the globe.

Previously, Tom helped UCW-CWA grow to over 2,000 members and inspire thousands of higher education workers in other Southern, right-to-work-for-less states to build campus unions with CWA. Tom was promoted to CWA International Staff in 2016 as Organizing Coordinator for CWA's southeastern region, and to CWA headquarters as Senior Director of Organizing in 2019.

As the Global Justice movement faded in the US after 9/11, Tom became more involved with the labour movement. Tom worked in dormitory housekeeping and the campus library at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he was involved in early organising efforts with the independent United Campus Workers Union (UCW) in a state where labour rights are extremely restricted and collective bargaining for state government workers is illegal. He was among the small cadre of UCW members who affiliated with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in 2002.

Tom graduated from UTK summa cum laude with a BA in Political Economy and Black Studies in 2005, and in 2008 he left his university job to continue organising the union professionally.

I am inspired to imagine the type of world I hope my children can leave to their kids and to all those who come after us. How can it be one with more justice and less pain? One where society is more organised to meet human needs on a mass scale than around the near-term profit interests of the tiniest handful of billionaires.

Thomas S. Smith


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