Over the last two years, the unions which make up the North American Solidarity Project (NASP) have substantially built upon the successes of the first two years of this formation, which is aimed at building a continental labor alliance based upon democratic and militant social unionism and true internationalism. Despite the pandemic there has been a myriad of work engaging the founding unions, UE and Unifor, the largest-private sector trade union in Canada, and the like-minded North American unions that have joined in our efforts, including National Nurses United (NNU), Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), and the International Longshore Workers Union (ILWU) and its affiliate the Inland Boatman’s Union (IBU).
The tone was set by a large coordinating meeting hosted at UE Hall in Chicago in early November 2019 and attended by top leaders and staff from each of the unions. Following an evaluation of work done so far, the group solidified plans and structures going forward, including the establishment of regular coordination, periodic leadership meetings, and the adoption of a “Core Campaigns” document to prioritize areas of work. Those priorities include Workers Rights and Worker Power, Climate Change and Just Transition, Medicare for All, Trade and Migration, and Equity and Anti-Racism, with a special focus on Union Renewal.
In 2020, organizing staff from unions in both the U.S. and Canada held an in-depth video discussion of the challenges faced in organizing workers and some of the tactics and practices that can improve results. Plans were laid for a host of actions from Earth Day to May Day bringing together the fights for climate justice and worker rights. Although a number of the events had to be curtailed due to the pandemic, important alliances were built. A recorded video exchange on health care took place involving U.S. and Canadian workers sharing their experiences with the systems in each country. Following a cross-border meeting attended by UE Secretary-Treasurer Andrew Dinkelaker in early 2020 dealing with staff training on human rights, education staff from multiple unions worked together on developing workshops tackling a number of issues around racial justice. These workshops were used widely within UE. As the pandemic fully set in, the unions came together virtually in May 2020 for a brainstorming session on dealing with COVID. In the fall, the project hosted a large online Workers Rights and Worker Power exchange, held in the context of both the pandemic and widespread fights for racial justice.
2021 picked up where 2020 left off. Although our members were not able to cross borders to engage with one another, the increased familiarity with online communication allowed NASP unions to execute a series of Zoom exchanges. The initial exchange was composed of organizing staff from both sides of the border discussing best practices on organizing during the pandemic. This was followed by a series of public events, usually with a format of workers from multiple unions, across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, sharing their experiences. In most cases, a speaker well-experienced in the subject then summed up the discussion and laid out some thoughts on how to take the struggle forward. Topics included essential workers, health care for all, climate justice, a May Day discussion on worker unity across North America, and COVID and the class war.
The collective work of UE, Unifor, and the other NASP unions continues. Planning is already underway for more work on the Core Campaigns this fall and beyond. This work is critical to our future and to building an independent democratic militant labor movement.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 77th UE CONVENTION:
- Commits to continuing our work with Unifor developing cooperative working relationships on North American bargaining, organizing, education, communication, and political action initiatives;
- Endorses UE’s continued participation in joint study and action with NASP partners in order to build a continental labor alliance based upon democratic and militant social unionism and true internationalism among workers across the continent;
- Calls upon the union at all levels to educate the membership on the need for the NASP, its role in advancing the interests of working people across the continent, and steps that can be taken to support and strengthen the project locally, regionally, and nationally.