In May, UE Local 150 President Bryce Carter traveled to Japan to participate in an international conference addressing the privatization of public work. Carter was hosted by Jichiroren, the Japanese public sector workers’ union affiliated with UE ally Zenroren.Continue reading
In June, UE General President Peter Knowlton traveled to Quebec to speak to the 37th convention of the Conseil Central du Montréal Métropolitain–CSN. The central council represents unions affiliated to the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) in greater Montreal, representing more than 95,000 members in about 400 local unions.Continue reading
Fresh off a strike in Erie, PA, the United Electrical Workers are a model of the working-class internationalism that can build a more just world, writes Michael Galant in Foreign Policy in Focus.
After nine days of picketing in below freezing temperatures, striking workers in Erie, Pennsylvania returned to work recently under a 90-day agreement.
The 1,700 strong United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) strike quickly drew national attention. Senator Bernie Sanders declared his support for the union and even invited the president of the local to speak at his campaign rally. As “the first major U.S. manufacturing strike of the Trump era,” according to The Nation, Erie brought renewed focus to the struggles of American industrial workers who have faced job loss, wage stagnation, and weakened bargaining power as a result of corporate globalization.
But Erie isn’t just a reminder of the problem. It also points us toward the solution.
UE International Representative and GE Conference Board Secretary John Thompson joined more than 700 delegates from across Italy at the 27th Congress of the Italian Federation of Metal Workers (FIOM), held from December 12–15. Delegates from FIOM attended UE’s 2015 and 2017 conventions, and UE’s relationship with FIOM was instrumental in setting up the global GE Trade Union Network.Continue reading
At a mid-December meeting of unions from around North America held in Los Angeles, representatives of independent Mexican unions shared their expectations for working people under the government of the newly elected Mexican President, Andres Manuel Lopes Obrador (known as AMLO). This public event drew many Mexican-American members of the LA community.
The text of the proposed new “US-Mexico-Canada Agreement” released late on Sunday night reveals the stranglehold that corporate interests have upon our government, and underscores the absolute necessity of international solidarity among working people from all three countries in order to move forward.Continue reading
UE’s Director of International Strategies Kari Thompson traveled to Hiroshima, Japan in early August to bring UE’s commitment to peace, denuclearization, and a reduction in military spending to the 2018 World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs. Longtime UE ally Zenroren, a Japanese trade union confederation representing over 1.2 million workers, hosted Thompson.Continue reading
“South Koreans don’t want [U.S.] missiles there, they don’t want any of that. They want unification,” reports Eastern Region Vice President Darrion Smith, who represented UE on a US Labor Against the War (USLAW) delegation to Korea at the beginning of May.Continue reading
UE’s national officers and members of Locals 506, 601 and 618 traveled to Toronto on May 7 and 8, 2018, for the first meeting of the global General Electric Trade Union Network, hosted by UE’s Canadian partner Unifor and organized by the global trade union federation IndustriALL.Continue reading
Update, August 2018: This legislation did not pass out of the Mexican Senate before their session ended, and the results of the Mexican elections on July 1st mean that it is unlikely to see daylight again.
In December and January, more than 1000 supporters signed on to a UE petition opposing attacks on workers’ rights in Mexico. The petition, addressed to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, demands that he prevent an agreement on a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) while horrendous labor legislation is pending in Mexico.
In December, two Mexican legislators submitted proposals for reform of Mexico’s labor law which would make it easier to subcontract work and to fire workers without even putting the termination in writing. What makes this proposal even more outrageous is that it was submitted by leaders of so-called unions, Senators Isaias Gonzalez Cuevas of the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Farm Workers (CROC) and Tereso Medina Ramirez of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM).
Our allies in Mexico called for support from workers and unions everywhere to help them stop this legislation that will only benefit corporations, not working people. The independent, democratic unions of Mexico fear for their very survival if this legislation is not curtailed.
In 2017, positive reforms to Mexican labor law went into effect. These changes made it much more difficult for companies and corrupt unions to enter into so-called “protection contracts,” in which these parties signed contracts without the involvement of any of the workers covered by the agreement. (These contracts protect the companies, not workers.) In some cases, companies entered into these contracts before they had even hired workers. The new reforms said that workers must have the opportunity to vote on contract agreements by secret ballot, and they must be able to access a copy of their contract.
The new law proposed by these senators would undo this, and more. Changes to the the rights of workers in Mexico have a ripple effect in the North American economy. When it’s easier for corporations to exploit Mexican workers, greedy bosses have incentive to move jobs from the U.S. and Canada into Mexico. All workers suffer under such a rigged system.
UE sent out a message to our supporters and received back more than 1000 signatures on our petition to Lighthizer. We are not alone in mobilizing against this law. Over 180 members of congress sent a letter to Lighthizer decrying this legislation and its potential impacts on workers in both Mexico and the U.S. It read in part, “While many of us have ongoing concerns over additional provisions of NAFTA affecting labor, we felt it was important to highlight with a unified voice the primary source of significant outsourcing: Mexico’s low wages and lack of labor rights.”
In addition, the AFL-CIO and the UNT (the largest organization of independent unions in Mexico, which includes our partners at the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo) filed a formal complaint through the office that enforces the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), NAFTA’s labor side agreement. Their complaint alleges that this legislation violates NAALC.