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Big Labor Goes Global

05 Feb

By: Ricardo Torres

"Inside Edge" Newsletter

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Years ago the Teamsters, USWA andmany other unions were targeting both foreign and domestic unions to forge alliances to aid their organizing efforts. The goal was to competehead-to-head with multi-national companies.

Ricardo Torres – President & CEO

When I was a union official, I understood that corporate campaigns’ were the key to future mass organizing drives. We were determined to hurt the organizations and force them into recognition agreements. As an organizing director, I was charged with finding a corporations under belly and hit it no matter where it may be.

The UK, all of Europe, Mexico, Asia, Central and South America are the keys to the leverage the unions needed.

Now we are seeing a trend in international organizing goals becoming a reality. Since 1956 there have been over 200 union mergers inthe U.S., but none have had the potential negative impact on the globaleconomy as much as in the last few years.

The creation of the first true Trans-Atlantic Union is just the beginning; The Teamsters have an organizing alliance with the UK’s Graphic Union. AFL/CIO President John Sweeney is negotiating with major unions in Europe to form a partnership. The new union (to be called Workers Uniting) will represent almost 3 million workers in the steel, paper, oil, health care, manufacturing and transportation industries. Officials have said the union plans to hold trans-Atlantic organizing campaigns and negotiations with companies across the globe.

In a group press conference, USW President Leo Gerard stated thatin the past year unions have discussed strategies for organizing manufacturing and health care jobs in the United States, Canada, Britainand Ireland, and joint collective bargaining efforts with employees in the paper, chemical and titanium industries.

The new union also plans to set up operations in Colombia, South America to help organize union members and pressure the government to change its labor laws, Liberia to aid rubber workers, and India to help shipbuilding workers.

The union’s founding constitution calls on its members to “build global union activism, recognizing that uniting as workers across international boundaries is the only way to challenge the injustices of globalization.”

They are taking a page from the old IWW or Workers of the World Union and are trying to build a union that crosses many borders. These unions are not satisfied with just influencing governmental elections here in the United States but now they want to try to influence politicsand labor in other countries.

The unions believe they have the right to tell the government of Colombia how to deal with its labor laws, to try to force the Mexican government to pardon convicted union officials. Unions are putting pressure on Congress here in the U.S to stop any trade deals and affect commerce across the world.

The merger’s effect will be immediately felt here in the United States where the USW will add another 35 million dollars to its U.S. yearly organizing budget.

The USW along with the AFL/CIO, Teamsters, UAW, SEIU and other unions plan to spend tens of millions of dollars in this election cycle to ensure passage of laws to ensure these goals like the HR800 Bill. Thepush to pass a card check bill in 2009 has taken an ever increasing fast and urgent pace and importance. They want to mobilize a million members on the ground to fight for the passage of this bill.

Since last summer the unions have been working hard to keep the support growing, both on a grass roots level and on a political level. They have pushed the PAC directors to raise the moneys necessary to fundthe political lobbying; they are also diverting organizing monies for this cause. Change to Win coalition leaders, IBT President Jimmy Hoffa and SEIU President Andy Stern, led bus loads of union members on June 6,2008 to the halls of Congress to lobby in support for a nationwide cardcheck.

AFL/CIO President John Sweeney was recently quoted (6/6/2008) as saying, “the Employee Free Choice Act is critical legislation that wouldrestore workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain for better wages, health care, and working conditions—and have a voice in our economy. We’re teaming up with hundreds of organizations and unions to launch a massive campaign—the Million Member Mobilization”

June 10th, 2008 AFL/CIO secretary Treasurer Richard Trumpka stated in an executive board meeting that passage of this bill will be the most important victory in the labor movement’s history

John Sweeney has estimated that in just the first 3 years of passage, of any such bill, union membership will grow by 60 million members.

Don’t wait till it too late to take action against this bill. ACT NOW!

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