Morton Bahr

President Emeritus 
Communications Workers of America

Morton Bahr, president emeritus, led CWA since June 1985 to August 2005, guiding the 600,000-member union as it met the challenge of changing technology and an evolving workplace.  Today, CWA, with its roots in the communications industry, is the leading union for professional, technical, media and information-age workers.

President Emeritus Bahr is recognized as a leading voice of the labor movement, both in the United States and internationally.  He served as vice president of the AFL-CIO and chaired the federation's Committee on International Affairs.  He also served as head of the federation's Department for Professional Employees, which represents professional, technical and administrative workers.

Bahr also was a vice president of Union Network International, a global labor organization representing some 15 million workers in 800 unions in communications, media and entertainment, and commercial, technical and professional fields, and was the first president of UNI's World Telecom sector, representing three million workers in 120 countries.

Building the Union
 

As the union for the information age, CWA is committed to helping workers build their unions and gain a voice on the job, whether they work in information technology, customer service, communications, media, public service or other fields.

Bahr's roots as an organizer go back to 1954, when he led a successful organizing drive for CWA among his coworkers at Mackay Radio.  He believes that the labor movement in the future will be judged on its success in bringing union representation to the growing numbers of professional and technical workers.
Under his leadership, CWA has pioneered innovative techniques, such as bargaining to organize, which uses the union's collective bargaining power to negotiate procedures that give workers a free choice for union representation.  Through this bargaining to organize strategy, CWA has gained access for current members to the jobs of the future and brought union representation to thousands of others.

Bahr and CWA also have expanded the concept and role of unions in reaching out to "new economy" workers.  The CWA-affiliated Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, for example, has received national attention and has made real gains for perma temp workers and other IT professionals at such companies as Microsoft. In addition, CWA is now the largest union for customer service professionals, with 160,00 members across many sectors, including 6,000 passenger service employees at US Airways.

As vice president of CWA's District One, Bahr led the union's organizing among public and health care workers, who now comprise more than 100,000, including medical and research professionals at the University of California system.  CWA also represents education professionals and universities throughout the U.S., and represents a growing number of law enforcement officers through its public safety sector.

Worker Education and Lifelong Learning
 

Bahr is internationally known for his leadership in worker education, and he set CWA's priority to become an education driven union with a focus on worker training, education and advancement.  CWA has negotiated nationally recognized worker education programs with its major employers, providing workers with the opportunity to upgrade and learn new skills or careers.

Other CWA education innovations include partnership with Cisco Systems that provides industry certification and skills training for workers in Internet technology and a partnership with telecom employers and Pace University that has produced the first online degree program in telecommunications.

Bahr's interest in lifelong learning is rooted in his own experiences.  His education, interrupted by World War II when served as a radio officer in the Merchant Marine, resumed when Bahr, as a CWA vice president, renewed his undergraduate studies.  He received his B.S. degree from Empire State College in New York in 1983.

In 1996-1998, Bahr chaired the Commission for a Nation of Lifelong Learners, a national panel that conducted a two-year study of adult learning in America and focused the country's attention on the need for greater educational opportunities for frontline workers.

In honor of his accomplishments, Empire State College of the State University of New York in 2001 created the Morton Bahr Distance Learning Scholars Endowment and scholarship program for adult learners.

From 2006 to 2007 Bahr served on the National Center on Education and the Economy's Commission to Upgrade the Skills of the American Work Force.  "Tough Choices - Tough Times" was issued by the Commission.

In 2007 Bahr became president of the Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation - providing housing for seniors at or blow the poverty level.

Community-Minded Union Leader
 

Bahr exemplifies CWA's reputation as the community-minded union.  He is president of the Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation since February 2007.  He served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the United Way International and on the board of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, CWA's charity of choice.  Bahr also served as vice chair of the United Way Board of Governors and received the United Way's highest honor for the labor volunteers, the Joseph Anthony Beirne Community Services Award.

He is former president and current secretary-treasurer of the Jewish Labor Committee, a nearly 70-year partnership between Jewish organizations and unions that promotes social and economic justice.

Personal Background
 

Prior to his election as CWA's top officer n 1985, Bahr served for 16 years as CWA vice president for District 1, covering New York, New Jersey and New England.

He joined CWA Staff in 1957 as the lead organizer in a campaign that brought 24,000 New York Telephone Company workers into CWA.  He was appointed CWA's New York director in 1961 and assistant to the vice president of District 1 two years later.  He was elected District 1 vice president in 1969.

Bahr authored From the Telegraph to the Internet, a personal history of his service with CWA, published in 1998.  He was awarded Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Empire State College in 1995, the University of Redlands in 1999, and the New York Podiatric Medicine in 2000.  In 2002, Pace University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree.

A native New Yorker, Bahr and his wife, Florence, make their home in Washington, D.C.

President Emeritus 
Communications Workers of America

Morton Bahr, president emeritus, led CWA since June 1985 to August 2005, guiding the 600,000-member union as it met the challenge of changing technology and an evolving workplace.  Today, CWA, with its roots in the communications industry, is the leading union for professional, technical, media and information-age workers.

President Emeritus Bahr is recognized as a leading voice of the labor movement, both in the United States and internationally.  He served as vice president of the AFL-CIO and chaired the federation's Committee on International Affairs.  He also served as head of the federation's Department for Professional Employees, which represents professional, technical and administrative workers.

Bahr also was a vice president of Union Network International, a global labor organization representing some 15 million workers in 800 unions in communications, media and entertainment, and commercial, technical and professional fields, and was the first president of UNI's World Telecom sector, representing three million workers in 120 countries.

Building the Union
 

As the union for the information age, CWA is committed to helping workers build their unions and gain a voice on the job, whether they work in information technology, customer service, communications, media, public service or other fields.

Bahr's roots as an organizer go back to 1954, when he led a successful organizing drive for CWA among his coworkers at Mackay Radio.  He believes that the labor movement in the future will be judged on its success in bringing union representation to the growing numbers of professional and technical workers.
Under his leadership, CWA has pioneered innovative techniques, such as bargaining to organize, which uses the union's collective bargaining power to negotiate procedures that give workers a free choice for union representation.  Through this bargaining to organize strategy, CWA has gained access for current members to the jobs of the future and brought union representation to thousands of others.

Bahr and CWA also have expanded the concept and role of unions in reaching out to "new economy" workers.  The CWA-affiliated Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, for example, has received national attention and has made real gains for perma temp workers and other IT professionals at such companies as Microsoft. In addition, CWA is now the largest union for customer service professionals, with 160,00 members across many sectors, including 6,000 passenger service employees at US Airways.

As vice president of CWA's District One, Bahr led the union's organizing among public and health care workers, who now comprise more than 100,000, including medical and research professionals at the University of California system.  CWA also represents education professionals and universities throughout the U.S., and represents a growing number of law enforcement officers through its public safety sector.

Worker Education and Lifelong Learning
 

Bahr is internationally known for his leadership in worker education, and he set CWA's priority to become an education driven union with a focus on worker training, education and advancement.  CWA has negotiated nationally recognized worker education programs with its major employers, providing workers with the opportunity to upgrade and learn new skills or careers.

Other CWA education innovations include partnership with Cisco Systems that provides industry certification and skills training for workers in Internet technology and a partnership with telecom employers and Pace University that has produced the first online degree program in telecommunications.

Bahr's interest in lifelong learning is rooted in his own experiences.  His education, interrupted by World War II when served as a radio officer in the Merchant Marine, resumed when Bahr, as a CWA vice president, renewed his undergraduate studies.  He received his B.S. degree from Empire State College in New York in 1983.

In 1996-1998, Bahr chaired the Commission for a Nation of Lifelong Learners, a national panel that conducted a two-year study of adult learning in America and focused the country's attention on the need for greater educational opportunities for frontline workers.

In honor of his accomplishments, Empire State College of the State University of New York in 2001 created the Morton Bahr Distance Learning Scholars Endowment and scholarship program for adult learners.

From 2006 to 2007 Bahr served on the National Center on Education and the Economy's Commission to Upgrade the Skills of the American Work Force.  "Tough Choices - Tough Times" was issued by the Commission.

In 2007 Bahr became president of the Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation - providing housing for seniors at or blow the poverty level.

Community-Minded Union Leader
 

Bahr exemplifies CWA's reputation as the community-minded union.  He is president of the Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation since February 2007.  He served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the United Way International and on the board of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, CWA's charity of choice.  Bahr also served as vice chair of the United Way Board of Governors and received the United Way's highest honor for the labor volunteers, the Joseph Anthony Beirne Community Services Award.

He is former president and current secretary-treasurer of the Jewish Labor Committee, a nearly 70-year partnership between Jewish organizations and unions that promotes social and economic justice.

Personal Background
 

Prior to his election as CWA's top officer n 1985, Bahr served for 16 years as CWA vice president for District 1, covering New York, New Jersey and New England.

He joined CWA Staff in 1957 as the lead organizer in a campaign that brought 24,000 New York Telephone Company workers into CWA.  He was appointed CWA's New York director in 1961 and assistant to the vice president of District 1 two years later.  He was elected District 1 vice president in 1969.

Bahr authored From the Telegraph to the Internet, a personal history of his service with CWA, published in 1998.  He was awarded Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Empire State College in 1995, the University of Redlands in 1999, and the New York Podiatric Medicine in 2000.  In 2002, Pace University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree.

A native New Yorker, Bahr and his wife, Florence, make their home in Washington, D.C.

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