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Decades of corporate globalization have made international labor solidarity a necessity. The neoliberal corporate agenda affects us all. Downsizing and outsourcing in the private sector, privatization, deregulation, and budget cuts in the public sector, along with “free trade” agreements, negatively impact working people globally.
The corporate agenda is financed by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, and backed by armed forces and private militias. With no concern for labor, public services, or the environment, corporations are creating an unprecedented global polarization of wealth.
The financial crisis which began in the U.S., and is now devastating workers in Europe, continues to wreak havoc around the world as jobs and benefits are slashed and unemployment increases. We are also facing an environmental crisis of monumental proportions due to climate change, with major impacts on the availability and cost of food. Meanwhile, oil is at the heart of continuing military conflicts and the safety of nuclear power must be reconsidered due to the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Demonstrations and new social movements provide testimony that poor and working people are demanding change. Coalitions of unions, students, environmentalists, community organizations, amnesty groups, and many others have emerged to challenge military aggression and the power and agenda of global capital.
We continue to work closely with labor unions and global union federations around the world, along with social movements and other progressive organizations. Our international work is guided by member-to-member exchanges and a commitment to action. We are convinced that another world is possible and we are committed to building it. Here are a few illustrations of our work over the past two years:
- UE Local 715’s solidarity with the Authentic Labor Front (FAT) metalworkers’ union helped win a three-year organizing and recognition fight in Mexico City. Both groups of workers are employed by the same company, DMI.
- UE’s work with the FAT remains a core feature of our international solidarity. The Mexican government has declared war on independent unions. In October 2009 President Felipe Calderón fired 44,000 members of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), sweeping aside their union. Our union, in alliance with other unions in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, has responded to this outrage with numerous acts of solidarity.
- In solidarity with Zenroren, we hosted a delegation of anti-nuclear weapons activists from Japan in Pittsburgh and Chicago on their way to the nuclear non-proliferation conference and demonstration in New York City, attended by many UE members. We raised money to support Zenroren’s relief efforts following the Japanese tsunami. Finally, UE leaders from Locals 222 and 896 traveled to Japan at the invitation of Zenroren.
- A meeting at the U.S. Social Forum with a leader of the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) of India led to assistance in reaching a settlement of difficult contract negotiations between UE Local 735 and Autoline, a plant in Indiana owned by a company in India.
- For the first time, a UE delegation visited China to explore the viability of solidarity with Chinese workers.
- In the fall of 2010 the President of UE Local 1110 joined Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) workers at Molex celebrating their successful bossnapping. This followed UE helping to coordinate a protest at the company shareholders’ meeting near Chicago.
- Unions from around the world have demonstrated their solidarity with UE, as shown by the outpouring of support for GE workers during their recent contract struggle. Thirty-four labor organizations from a dozen countries around the world sent letters pledging solidarity.
UE continues its militant fight to organize workers and defend rights on the shop floor. At the same time we are working to build a labor movement which is internationalist and stands for social justice.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 72nd UE CONVENTION:
- Reaffirms support for the Strategic Organizing Alliance with the FAT;
- Reaffirms solidarity with unions around the world, including Zenroren, the Confederation of National Unions (CSN), the Service Workers Confederation of Quebec (CSQ), the Brazilian Central Union of Workers (CUT), the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), the Canadian Steel Workers, the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) of France, and the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) of India. We welcome the development and deepening of other relationships with organizations such as WAC MA’AN, the new union growing from a workers center that represents both Israeli and Palestinian workers, and the Kilusang Mayo Uno and Partido ng Manggagawa of the Philippines;
- Supports the building of relations with unions abroad, especially those in our industries and workers who share the same employer (including in China), through direct contact, progressive forums and networks, and other means;
- Encourages the union at all levels to support the struggles of other unions both in the U.S. and abroad, including calls by ICEM, PSI, IMF, Jobs with Justice, and others;
- Supports continued participation in coalitions developing alternative trade policies and fighting for labor rights, including the U.S. and World Social Forums, the Alliance for Responsible Trade, the International Commission For Labour Rights, the International Labor Rights Forum, and The Grassroots Global Justice Alliance;
- Encourages locals and members to deepen their involvement in our international program, including contributions and voluntary payroll checkoff for the UE Research & Education fund;
- Supports the goal of our sister union Zenroren to close all U.S. military bases in Japan, and to halt all U.S. efforts to convert the Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF) to offensive purposes;
- Condemns the murder of trade unionists in Colombia, the violence and extraordinary legal harassment undertaken to bust unions in the Philippines, and the use of U.S. taxpayer money for the further militarization of Mexico and Colombia under the pretext of the so-called “War on Drugs;”
- Continues to build international solidarity for the Southern Workers International Justice Campaign (SWIJC);
- Work to support the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act, to repeal NAFTA, and to oppose other trade agreements such as the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.