In a “Giving Tuesday” email to supporters of UE’s international solidarity work this morning, UE Director of International Strategies Kari Thompson announced that “In 2023, we are planning to return to in-person member exchanges with workers in other countries, if health conditions continue to allow.”
Specifically, Thompson said, UE is making plans for a worker-to-worker exchange with UE’s close allies in Mexico, the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo. UE’s rank-and-file approach to international solidarity, where union members visit with their counterparts in other countries, has become a model for other organizations over the last few decades.
“On these trips, UE members meet with other workers to learn about their experiences under different labor laws, but sometimes with the very same multinational bosses,” explained Thompson.
UE’s last worker-to-worker exchange was a Young Activist delegation to Mexico City in 2017. Four UE Young Activists — Matthew Braddon, Local 222, Daniel Campos, Local 1123, Bailey Kelley, Local 896, and Emma Paradis, Local 255 — spent a week hosted by the FAT’s National Coordinators — Rosalba Calva Flores, Eladio Abundiz Gudian, Jose Ezequiel Garcia Vargas, and Benedicto Martinez Orozco. 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 murders; meetings with FAT members, including a tour of an auto part plant; and meeting a group of workers still struggling to organize their independent union.
“Hearing the stories of the workers we met was informative and helped create real relationships and a way to remember what we learned,” said Braddon. “I liked seeing how struggles in Mexico were similar to ones at home.”
“Worker-to-worker exchanges are one of the best ways to help our members embrace our core principle of international solidarity in a direct way,” concluded Thompson.
Learn more about the importance of international solidarity, and UE’s rank-and-file approach, at the UE international solidarity website, ueinternational.org. Retired UE Director of International Affairs Robin Alexander, who was the key architect of UE’s international solidarity program in the 1990s and 2000s, has written an e-book about UE’s relationship with the FAT. The e-book, published by UE earlier this year, is available for download at InternationalSolidarityInAction.org. Donations to support UE’s international solidarity work in 2023 can be made at ueref.org/give.