UE members picketing Republic Windows and Doors with signs reading "You got bailed out, we got sold out"

Unions Can Take on International Fights — and Win

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.

For decades, UE has been a leading example of global labor solidarity. The union’s commitment to internationalism offers our greatest hope for an alternative to the existing global system.

Read the whole article at Foreign Policy in Focus

Jose Humberto Montes de Oca speaking into a microphone

Mexican Unions Speak to Their Cautious Hopes under AMLO

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.

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Three hooded judges with Chevron, Monsanto and Pharma corporate logos instead of faces

New “US-Mexico-Canada Agreement” Underscores Necessity of International Solidarity

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.

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UE International Director Joins 5000 at International Peace Meeting

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.

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UE Helps Mexican Workers Defeat Attack on Labor Rights

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.

UE Helps Set Up Global GE Trade Union Network

On November 29 and 30, UE Director of Organization Gene Elk and Local 506 President Scott Slawson traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to participate in a preparatory meeting to set up a General Electric Trade Union Network, the first international network of unions representing GE workers from around the world.

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UE Leaders Meet with Canadian, Mexican Unions to Build Continental Solidarity

On September 13 and 14, 2017, UE and Unifor representatives participated in a series of meetings in Mexico City to facilitate continent-wide labor solidarity. UE was represented by General President Peter Knowlton and Director of International Strategies Kari Thompson, and the Unifor delegation consisted of Secretary General Bob Orr and Director of Human Rights and International Department Mohamad Alsadi.

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