Photo: Dale Robbins

Larry Cohen

Union Leader and Activist

Larry Cohen is president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which represents over 700,000 private and public sector workers, making it the largest telecommunications union in the world. He was one of the first to recognize the need to unify unionized telecommunication workers in response to technological advancements in voice, video, and data technologies. Cohen has also worked to expand CWA membership in print and broadcast media, manufacturing, health care, publishing, the airline industry, and information and communications technology.

Cohen cut his teeth on campus activism during the ‘60’s. Later, as a state worker in New Jersey, he led an organizing drive that unionized 36,000 of his fellow state employees. Throughout his career, Cohen has played a prominent role in major public and private sector contract negotiations.

Acting on his belief that unions must work together with like-minded civil society organizations in order to advance economic justice, Cohen has put together broad coalitions to encourage change. In 1987, he founded Jobs with Justice, a network of local coalitions in 46 cities and 24 states throughout the country. Jobs with Justice members come from faith groups, student groups, community organizations, and labor unions to address issues including heath care, immigrant rights, and labor law reform.

Toward the end of the 111th Congress in 2010, Mr. Cohen and the CWA became active participants in Fix the Senate Now, a coalition of progressive organizations including the Brennan Center, Common Cause, the Sierra Club, and the United Auto Workers of America, calling for reforms in Senate procedure. More recently, Cohen has led the formation of the Democracy Initiative, a group of some 50 progressive organizations aiming to get big money out of politics, expand voter registration, and curb abuse of the filibuster.