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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Rank-and-File Member Exchanges

In July 2017, UE sent a delegation of Young Activists (members 35 and under) to Mexico City for a week with our allies at the Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT). Matthew Braddon, Connecticut; Daniel Campos, Chicago; Bailey Kelley, Iowa; and Emma Paradis, Vermont, were joined by Director of International Strategies Kari Thompson. The National Coordinators of the FAT—Rosalba Calva Flores, Eladio Abundiz Gudian, Jose Ezequiel Garcia Vargas, and Benedicto Martinez Orozco—were excellent hosts.

The jam-packed agenda included an orientation to Mexico’s economy, labor law, and organizing struggles; a discussion of the FAT’s work to stop violence against women, including disappearances and femicides; meetings with FAT members, including a tour of an auto part plant; and a meeting with a group of workers still struggling to organize an independent union. At the end of the week, Braddon shared that he “liked seeing how struggles here in Mexico were similar to ones at home.” Kelley added, “It was great to put NAFTA in context, to hear from workers who understand its impacts.” All the members were motivated to discuss the impending North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation with their locals with their new understanding of its implications in their lives. Campos said, “It’s like sports: if you don’t know the rules, you don’t care. I was clueless about NAFTA, but now I get its importance.”

Several UE members and officers also visited the Canadian Council of Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, in Winnipeg this August. The relationships developed there led to the approval of the new North American Solidarity Project between Unifor and UE at UE’s 75th National Convention at the end of August. This partnership has already inspired new ideas in our equity and inclusion programs, as well as new cross-border solidarity activities in GE plants represented by both unions.