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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
UE’s 75th national convention this year brought opportunities for strengthening our international partnerships. Eleven representatives from five unions from four countries joined us, five of whom addressed the convention.
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). Several UE members and officers also visited the Canadian Council of Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, in Winnipeg this August.