Submitted by the AFL-CIO Executive Council
The Global Economy at Home and Abroad
Working Families’ Global Agenda: A Call to Action
AFTER SEVERAL DECADES of accelerated corporate-led globalization, the U.S. economy is seriously out of balance, and working families at home and abroad are paying the price. Global growth depends disproportionately on U.S. demand. But that demand is based on the largest trade deficits in history. The United States is borrowing more than a million dollars a minute—at a rate approaching $700 billion a year, cumulatively $3 trillion and counting. Countries such as China and Japan are loaning us the money to pay for the goods they make with the jobs our companies have taken to them. Even the advocates of corporate globalization—from the International Monetary Fund to Wall Street—agree this cannot be sustained.
U.S. consumption is driving growth in the global economy, but it is consumption based on debt, not growing income and wages. The national savings rate has turned negative, and real wages are falling, even as the economy grows. We have allowed our productive national economy to atrophy, replacing solid middle-class jobs in manufacturing and highend services with lower paying jobs in nontradable services, while we starve the public sector for needed resources (as described in Good Jobs for America’s Workers). Workers in the transportation sector are increasingly threatened by globalization as companies too often seek to offshore safety and security functions without adequate government limits or oversight.
Across the world, corporate globalization is producing slow growth and growing inequality, undermining the prospects for shared global prosperity. Over the past decade alone, the opening of China, India and the former Soviet republics has effectively doubled the global workforce. Corporate globalization has taken advantage of this expansion of global labor supply to accelerate the race to the bottom. A few reap rich rewards, while workers labor harder for less. In the face of this challenge, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress have steadfastly refused to acknowledge the existence of a problem, let alone put forward a coherent national economic strategy.
The labor movement is committed to turning around the corporate globalization policies that have failed to generate good jobs at home or to bring widely shared prosperity to our trading partners in the developing world. Meeting this challenge will require a bold new agenda: a coordinated national industrial strategy (as described in An Economic Agenda for Working Families); a transformation of flawed trade and investment policies; and strengthened and aggressive international solidarity and cooperation among workers. Stronger and more equitable growth abroad, trade policies that strengthen workers’ rights (thereby building stronger democracies and middle-class economies in developing countries) and a reversal of currency, tax and trade policies that encourage and reward companies that export American jobs are all key elements of a new strategy.
Global cooperation and cross-border solidarity are critical to holding corporations accountable, building collective power, protecting the lives and rights of workers and trade unionists globally and making the global economy work for the many and not just the few. Vibrant democracies and widely shared prosperity require free and strong trade unions. The AFL-CIO, together with our affiliated unions, will continue to work with our allies and trade union partners around the world to address the challenges facing workers who seek to organize. These challenges are not due to a few rogue corporations; they are due to a systemic corporate assault, combining resistance to sensible labor law, unprecedented and widespread employer assault on unions and trade rules that protect the rights, profits, mobility and bargaining power of corporations while undermining the rights of workers. Today, it is more urgent than ever that unions and our allies worldwide work together to build a coordinated and effective movement to change the rules and reform the institutions of the global economy.
The Global Economy at Home and Abroad
In the past 15 years, the global economy has faced an unprecedented challenge. More than 1.2 billion workers have been added to the global labor force— from Eastern Europe, after the breakup of the Soviet Union; from China, especially since accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001; and from India, since its own economic opening. This dramatic and sudden increase in global labor supply coincides with technological changes, particularly in communications and transport, that allow more goods and services to be moved across the world faster and with lower transactions costs than ever before.
This transformation provides both a difficult challenge and an historic opportunity. Clearly, corporate globalization policies have failed the challenge. Workers are forced into a race to the bottom. Countries burdened by debt are required to enforce austerity at home and pursue export-led growth abroad. Financial speculation has been unleashed, corporations left unaccountable and workers’ rights trampled. The result is slow growth, excess capacity, an endangered environment and workers who are forced to pay the price.
In the United States, the failure to meet this challenge is weakening our country and undermining our prosperity.
Every week, we read of more American factories that have closed and moved jobs offshore. Just in the past couple of years, American icons such Huffy bicycles, Zebco fishing rods, Pillowtex linens and Maytag appliances have all closed productive American facilities to move jobs offshore.
Every day, workers like Jerry get the bad news that their jobs are being offshored. For 12 years, Jerry, 49, worked as a machinist at Goss Graphics in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Goss continued to downsize its operations until it finally closed all its U.S. plants and moved production to China and England. After being laid off from Goss, Jerry took a job with Square D, another manufacturer in the area. After two years there, Jerry was laid off again because production was outsourced to Mexico. After this layoff, Jerry spent a year getting training in computers but has not found work in that field either. He has been stocking shelves at a local grocery store at night for half his former pay and no benefits and is now signed up for unemployment benefits.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Chinese workers suffer dangerous and unhealthy working conditions, often working up to 16 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week. They can be fired or jailed for trying to organize an independent union, and they struggle with employers that flout local labor laws with impunity and sometimes go months without paying workers. Government officials almost invariably side with the employers, and the official “union” acts as an arm of the government.
China’s emergence as a key global player illustrates vividly what is wrong with global economic rules that protect corporations but not human rights, workers’ rights, democracy or the environment. China has become a major industrial exporter, but Chinese workers cannot exercise their fundamental human rights to form unions of their own choosing or to organize and bargain collectively. Forced labor and child labor are tolerated by the authorities, and migrant workers face harsh working conditions and have even fewer rights.
A huge part of the price of China’s development is being paid by China’s state enterprise and privatesector workers, many of whom are migrants from the countryside. China’s new industrial workers suffer from occupational death and injury rates that are the highest in the world. Yearly, 10,000 miners die in mine disasters across China. This amounts to about 80 percent of worldwide mine fatalities.
China is only one example of a government that has chosen to compete in the global economy by repressing workers’ human rights and by using other economic tools (including currency manipulation and illegal export subsidies) to gain a competitive edge. But by virtue of its sheer size and economic prowess, China has a huge impact on the terms of competition worldwide.
This is why workers in the United States and around the world are confronted continually with employers trying to meet the China price. Developing country governments try desperately to compete with China but find it is hard for a democracy to match the low wages and worker repression in China. A world trading system that does not set any minimally acceptable conditions for workers’ rights will find that it is rewarding the worst, least democratic and most repressive regimes at the expense of struggling democracies trying to do the right thing.
Multinational corporations mouth the rhetoric of democracy and free trade but make repressive China the leading recipient of foreign investment in the developing world. They reap huge profits from the hard work and repression of Chinese workers and others around the world who face similar challenges. Far from reinforcing democracy, current global economic policies reward and enrich authoritarian governments and huge corporations, leaving ordinary workers, communities and local governments fighting harder than ever to defend their interests.
Immigrant Workers and Globalization
Failed global economic policies have had a particularly devastating impact on immigrant workers around the globe, including in the United States. Reports of exploitation and trafficking of immigrants, as well as immigrants dying on the border and on the job, have become daily fare.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates there are 175 million people living outside their country of origin, and 115 million of them are workers. Today, 14.8 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born, and experts believe there are more than 10 million immigrants working in the United States without the authority to do so. Recent antiimmigrant legislation that denies undocumented workers drivers’ licenses has only pushed millions of immigrants further underground.
Most immigrants come from countries where the international development process has failed, and many are from countries where International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and trade policies have weakened countries’ economies and labor protections, causing a devastating impact on all workers. In some developing countries, IMF policies have caused public-sector workers to lose their jobs and their union protections, forcing them into competition in the private sector, where few, if any, jobs are available, driving down wages and working conditions even further. Trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement undermine the agricultural economies of developing countries, leading workers to leave the fields and consider moving north. Without rising living standards abroad for workers and the poor, the pressure for illegal immigration will continue and escalate.
At the same time that global forces are pushing workers to our borders, judicial and public policies toward immigrants have created new so-called pull factors for migration into the United States, namely, an incentive for employers to recruit undocumented immigrants for economic exploitation. The U.S. Supreme Court created a powerful new incentive for such exploitation by its decision in Hoffman Plastic Compounds v. National Labor Relations Board. In that case, the Court determined that an undocumented worker is not entitled to back pay—the only monetary remedy available to workers under the National Labor Relations Act—when he or she is fired illegally for trying to organize a union. This has made the cost of exploiting immigrants insignificant to unscrupulous employers. The end result is industries that cannot export jobs—such as those in construction, meatpacking or the service industry—are able to import the labor standards of developing nations into the United States. The New York State Court of Appeals ruled recently that an undocumented Mexican construction worker injured on the job because of the employer’s negligence was entitled to collect wages for the time he was unable to work because of his injury, but not at the rate he was earning in New York. Rather, the court determined that the worker was only entitled to the wages he would have been earning in Mexico.
Our current legal framework also makes it nearly impossible for many immigrant workers—particularly the undocumented—to exercise their legal rights. Fear of deportation and fear of losing their livelihoods are enough to silence workers. It is no wonder unscrupulous employers are recruiting undocumented workers and working them to the limits of human endurance. As a recent Human Rights Watch report concluded, “Federal laws and policies on immigrant workers are a mass of contradictions and incentives to violate their rights.”
Employers have been able to create an underclass of workers, which has effectively reduced working standards for all workers. Immigrant workers are over-represented in the highest risk, lowest paid jobs, but the exploited immigrants do not work in isolation. U.S.-born workers who work side by side with immigrants suffer the same exploitation. The
U.S. Department of Labor, for example, determined the poultry industry—which is nearly half African American and half immigrant—was 100 percent out of compliance with federal wage and hour laws. The Department of Labor also estimated more than half of the country’s garment factories violate wage and hour laws, and more than 75 percent violate health and safety laws. Of course, workplaces that are dangerous for immigrant workers are equally dangerous for their U.S.-born counterparts.
Our failed immigration policies also have encouraged employers to use guest worker programs to lower labor standards and working conditions for all workers within our borders. We’ve seen employers turn tens of thousands of permanent, well-paying jobs in the United States into temporary jobs through the use of various guest worker programs. The temporary guest worker jobs come with few or no benefits, lower wages and often are staffed through temporary agencies, whose fees come out of workers’ pockets. The foreign workers recruited to fill these jobs remain legally tied to the employers that recruited them and are thus naturally vulnerable to exploitation.
Guest worker programs, such as the L-1, H-1B and TN visa programs, operate with little employer accountability and to the detriment of all professional workers. None of these programs connect to the realities of current U.S. labor market conditions. In fact, employers are allowed to turn permanent jobs into temporary jobs and import workers, despite the unusually high rate of unemployment among professional and technical workers. As a result, working conditions for all professional workers have suffered: Pressures caused by employer exploitation of professional guest workers coupled with the increases in outsourcing continue to have a chilling effect on any real wage increases for professionals, even those not directly or immediately impacted by these matters.
Unsustainable and Indefensible
These policies are now as unsustainable as they are indefensible. U.S. trade deficits and rising foreign indebtedness jeopardize both domestic and global economic stability and growth. The suppression of workers’ wages has produced excess capacity and slow growth. As an increasing chorus of mainstream economists warn, the market’s solution to these realities is a global recession or worse.
Not surprisingly, the corporate globalization agenda is now facing greater popular opposition and greater political and intellectual challenge. The abysmal record of past trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the acceleration of the exporting of white-collar and high-tech jobs and the mediocre performance of the economy in creating jobs and improving wages in recent years provide an inescapable indictment of the current course and open the possibility for real reform in global trade rules and U.S. trade policy.
This can be seen on several fronts. The U.S. Congress has shown a marked reluctance to move forward on new trade deals, largely due to skepticism about the achievements of current trade policy. Many members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle, have expressed frustration with the Bush administration’s ineffective enforcement of trade laws, especially with respect to China.
There is a growing disconnect between what people want and what policymakers are trying to impose in the name of globalization. Trade policies increasingly pre-empt domestic democratic decision making, limiting the ability of elected officials to protect good jobs in their communities and to protect public health, consumers’ rights and the environment.
Globally, talks toward completing a new round at the WTO have slowed to a glacial pace, while the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations are at a stalemate. The Dominican Republic–Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) faces widespread opposition, taking more than a year to come to a vote and requiring numerous pork-barrel and special interest deals to win votes. The French and Dutch votes against the new European Union constitution revealed deep distrust and uneasiness with the social impacts of trade liberalization and European unification.
When manufacturing jobs began moving offshore in large numbers in the 1980s, the free-trade proponents scoffed at our warnings, saying the factory jobs would be replaced by high-tech and services jobs more fitting to a wealthy country like the United States. Now we see those high-tech jobs shifted offshore as well, with potentially devastating impacts on our middle-class wage structure and our national security. In just three years, our trade surplus in advanced technology products has turned into a $37 billion deficit while our trade surplus in services has been almost cut in half since 1999.
Current global economic policies have failed workers in the United States and globally. Union density is declining in almost all countries, and the unionbusting tactics long experienced in the United States are being aggressively exported to Europe and other regions of the world.
Work has become deregulated and harder to organize, as corporations have outsourced much of their actual production to factories in countries that do not respect internationally recognized labor standards.
Building Strong Unions and Worker Power
To confront challenges presented by corporate-led globalization and to ensure workers benefit from globalization, we need effective global strategies to help build stronger unions and organize workers in companies across national boundaries.
Working with our affiliates, Global Union
Federations, the Trade Union Advisory Council
(TUAC) to the OECD—and the unification of the
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the World Confederation of Labor— the global labor movement is challenging and changing the way in which we hold corporations accountable and protect workers’ right to organize and build strong unions.
The Solidarity Center
As corporations and governments undermine workers’ rights around the world, workers need strong unions now more than ever. The Solidarity Center helps to build strong, democratic unions worldwide—empowering workers everywhere to exercise their rights on the job, influence labor laws in their countries and improve their workplaces and communities. To do this work, the Solidarity Center secures public funding, foundation grants and AFL-CIO and affiliate contributions. The Solidarity Center sets its own priorities under the guidance of AFL-CIO elected leadership.
The Solidarity Center, with its field offices in 30 countries, works with unions and allied community organizations to hold corporations accountable. It provides training and education to workers to build strong rank-and-file structures at the workplace, to develop strategic research skills and to help coordinate global solidarity campaigns. The Solidarity Center also supports exchanges between American workers and their counterparts in other countries. An AFL-CIO allied organization, the Solidarity Center has union-strengthening programs in more than 60 countries.
The Solidarity Center supports programs that hold corporations and governments accountable for workers’ rights violations, address violence and inequality, protect the rights of all workers, build the capacity of workers and unions to organize and bargain collectively and help shape pro-worker policies. These programs strengthen the ability of unions in the United States and globally to build the alliances necessary to tackle both repressive governments and anti-union multinational employers.
Violence Against Trade Unionists
Basic labor standards are violated routinely, and trade unionists are often killed or jailed as they fight to protect their fundamental rights. Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries for workers in the world. Since 1991, more than 2,100 trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia. The majority of anti-union violence is the result of normal union activities.
The Solidarity Center joins the global labor movement in calling for an end to the violence against trade unionists. The center supports U.S. labor leaders in temporarily hosting Colombian trade unionists to work on organizing campaigns, and we educate U.S. union members about the violence in Colombia.
We continue to build global solidarity by leading Global [email protected] delegations to Colombia with state federation and central labor council leaders so they can witness firsthand the violence experienced by Colombian trade unionists.
In Iraq, we condemn the barbaric murder and kidnapping of trade union leaders. Together with the global unions, we are helping Iraqi unions advocate for a new labor law that complies with the internationally recognized core labor rights. Working with the global labor movement, the AFL-CIO will continue to provide our full solidarity to Iraq’s workers as they lead the struggle for an end to the violence and for a more just and democratic nation.
As corporate-led globalization grows at the expense of workers’ rights, many governments and corporations wishing to ensure their foothold in the global market see trade unions as an obstacle to their agenda. In addition to Colombia and Iraq, the Solidarity Center’s programs assist workers in countries such as Zimbabwe and Guatemala to protect their rights.
Protecting Workers’ Rights
The HIV/AIDS crisis has become a focal point for the consequences of failed policies and decades of neglect. With close to 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS, trade unions lead the fight to increase funding for worker-driven HIV/AIDS programs in the workplace. Without the right to affordable health care, workers cannot meet their responsibilities in the workplace and build strong unions. In response, the Solidarity Center supports unions in providing treatment for working families living with the devastating effects of this epidemic. In partnership with the American Federation of Teachers and South African teachers’ unions, the center works to prevent new cases of HIV infection, boost access to care, increase voluntary counseling and HIV testing and provide AIDS treatment.
Women’s Rights Are Workers’ Rights The global economy is not working for working women. Millions of women work in the formal and informal economy at the bottom of the supply chain—sewing clothes, assembling electronics, cutting flowers and cleaning homes and workplaces— and still do not earn enough to support their basic needs. To raise profits, many employers falsify records of hours, demand unrealistic production targets, require mandatory pregnancy tests and use violence to prevent women workers from organizing unions and protecting their rights in the workplace. For workers’ rights to take hold globally, discrimination against women workers must end.
To protect their rights, women workers need strong representation and unions. We support union-driven campaigns to address economic rights, sexual harassment, discrimination and violence against women in the workplace. In Kenya, the trade unions launched a campaign to support legislation to outlaw sexual harassment in the workplace. Union members received training on how to use collectivebargaining agreements to prevent sexual harassment and violence against women workers. The program raised awareness among women workers, trade unionists and employers that increased women workers’ capacity to take action against these violations.
The Solidarity Center will continue to work with the global labor movement to expose the abuses and exploitation of workers and strengthen the capacity of unions to work towards more equitable workplaces and societies. The center will ensure the voices of workers actively change the rules of the global economy to build greater power for working families.
Working Families’ Global Agenda: A Call to Action
n Transforming our failed trade and globalization policies requires a bold, new agenda. This must be grounded upon a coherent national economic strategy, as described in An Economic Agenda for
Working Families. This national strategy includes reform of corporate tax policy to eliminate incentives to shift jobs overseas; currency policy that does not disadvantage American producers and workers; renewed investment in education and infrastructure; reform of health care and pension funding to eliminate the competitive disadvantage for companies that provide adequate coverage; and macroeconomic policies that promote, create and maintain decent jobs n We will challenge the corporate trade agenda and insist that our government negotiate enforceable provisions ensuring workers’ fundamental human rights and environmental safeguards are included in the core of all new trade and investment agreements. We will oppose all agreements that do not meet this standard. At the same time, we will not allow our nation’s right to define our economic strategy to be pre-empted by undemocratic processes of the WTO or other trade agreements. A government by, for and of the corporations will not supplant our democracy. We will champion effective and enforceable national trade laws that are the last line of defense for U.S. industries and workers facing unfair competition, subsidies and import surges. n To move a positive agenda, it is first essential to block the continuation of the failed policies now peddled by the Bush administration. We will work to defeat flawed trade agreements based on the NAFTA model: bilateral agreements, including with Central America, Thailand, the Andean countries, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and others; regional agreements (such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas); attempts to bring aviation within the WTO; and multilateral negotiations that weaken our trade laws and neglect workers’ rights (WTO). We will not make progress towards a sensible agenda until it is clear that the corporate globalization agenda cannot move forward.
n We will demand renegotiation of NAFTA, which
continues to promote destructive competition in North America that increases downward pressure on wages for workers. While the FTAA negotiations are currently stalled, any hemispheric negotiations should focus on sustainable and equitable economic development for all countries. The CAFTA treaty as presented would only reinforce and deepen existing levels of inequality, poverty and worker rights abuses in the region. The free trade negotiations with Thailand could open the door to a surge in U.S. imports of pickup trucks and other products without creating the basis for improving wages and working conditions for Thai workers. These negotiations should be suspended until a new model is developed. The Doha Development Agenda negotiations of the WTO have completely ignored the issue of workers’ rights. Development that benefits workers in the United States and other developed countries and in developing nations will not be assured until the rules of international trade address this issue. n We will continue to use creative approaches (like section 301 cases on workers’ rights and currency manipulation) to raise issues, change the public debate and galvanize legislative action. n We will work to defend and strengthen Buy American provisions at the national, state and local levels and ensure national security is not endangered by excessive reliance on foreign sources for crucial items. We will commit to using union purchasing power to promote and strengthen human rights and equitable development policies.
n We will fight to ensure transportation jobs are not needlessly shipped overseas and that the safety and security of our nation’s transport network is not sacrificed in the name of globalization. n We will continue to work with state and local union activists and other allies to pass and implement state and local legislation to limit offshoring of government jobs, to protect consumer privacy and right-to-know and to improve the quality of data needed to assess offshoring trends.
n We will work to improve and fully fund Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and other worker training programs and to ensure these programs provide adequate income support, training and health care for all trade-displaced workers, including those directly and indirectly affected— service-sector workers as well as production workers—while always recognizing that these programs can never be a substitute for pro-worker trade policies. The WARN Act should also be amended to apply to more workers and provide more notice before layoff. n We will advocate sustainable, equitable and democratic development that includes generous aid, deep and effective debt cancellation and reform of international financial institutions. We will call for 100 percent debt relief for the poorest indebted countries working to respect human rights. n We will, in coordination with the global trade union movement, support the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We believe decent work is fundamental to alleviating poverty and must be included in all action to achieve these goals. We join the global labor movement in supporting the Global Call to Action Against Poverty that works to achieve major progress on the MDGs. n We will support increased funding for workerdriven HIV/AIDS programs in the workplace. We will work with unions to bargain with their employers to include HIV/AIDS benefits that include access to education, prevention and treatment and guaranteed sick leave at no cost to workers. n We will support the International Right to Know legislation, which forces corporations to disclose their human rights, worker safety and environmental practices overseas. n We will support effective, credible and enforceable rights for all workers, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status. We have long called for an end to immigrant worker exploitation and for reform of our nation’s broken immigration system. We renew that call today. Our core principles remain unchanged:
- All workers, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status, must have effective, credible and enforceable labor rights;
- U.S. immigration laws must be reformed in a comprehensive manner that gives undocumented workers a path to citizenship and that removes the current incentives to exploit the undocumented;
- Labor and business should work together to design mechanisms to meet the legitimate needs for new workers without compromising the rights and opportunities of current workers.
- If temporary worker programs, which are not in any way a solution to our immigration problems, are adopted, they must guarantee that all workers have enforceable labor protections and must not allow employers to use workers’ immigration status to drive down wages and workplace standards.
n We will support respect for workers’ rights by all international institutions including the IMF, World Bank and the WTO. The International Finance Corp., the World Bank’s private-sector lending arm, should require all borrowers to respect core labor rights. n We will continue to oppose global and national policies that increase violence against trade unions in countries like Colombia.
n We will also work with our global union and civil society allies to coordinate action at the international institutions, including the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank and the International Labor Organization (ILO), as well as to develop joint positions and critiques of bilateral free trade agreements.
Vital Organizing, Bargaining and Corporate Campaigns
The AFL-CIO will support affiliates in building global strategic campaign capacity to confront Wall Street globalization. n Through its global work, the AFL-CIO will develop united strategies and action by affiliates and unions around the world to ensure global corporations respect workers’ freedom to form unions and negotiate agreements to raise living standards and improve working conditions. n We will implement global strategic campaigns through comprehensive research, effective communication networks, mutually agreed objectives and internationally coordinated strategies with a broad range of partners. In a number of recent organizing and bargaining campaigns, global strategies have made a key contribution to winning. These campaigns include IBT at Quebecor, UNITE HERE and SEIU at Sodexho, Iron Workers at J.D. Steel, United Steelworkers at Continental Carbon and International Longshore and Warehouse Union at West Coast docks. Affiliates are increasingly extending successful domestic strategies to the global level and prioritizing key relationships likely to have the greatest strategic impact on organizing and bargaining campaigns. n We will work with the global union federations—
coordinated by our affiliates—and support and encourage flexible networking mechanisms between unions of common global corporations and supply chains. In countries where the workers are not represented, inclusion of unions that organize in the sector should also be sought. Key allies such as research institutions and labor support organizations will be recruited. n We will support worksite struggles overseas with strategic pressure and mobilization. In selecting targets jointly with global union partners, consensus is most likely to develop around specific companies in sectors of the global economy where multinationals hold large percentages of the market.
n We will provide improved comprehensive
research capacity, considering all aspects of the global corporations such as production (including suppliers and subcontractors), distribution (including transportation), sales (including marketing and retailing), finances, regulatory environment, community relations and ownership structures. n We will support and encourage institutions that assist unions in our research capacities. Global union federations and international and local research groups are improving our understanding of company operations. The Global Policy Network, Global Union Research Network, the PSI Research
Unit, the Social Observatory in Brazil and the Center for Research on Multinational Corporations are examples of labor-friendly research institutions. Cooperation with these and many other research and academic allies will expand our collective knowledge and understanding of the changing nature of corporate ownership structures, practices and strategies for the corporations setting the Wall Street globalization agenda. n We will encourage global collective bargaining with enforceable commitments that include explicit language that guarantees workers’ right to organize without employer interference and provides a union recognition procedure that is fast and fair. The global union federations have negotiated 37 framework agreements since 1988, 30 of them in the past three years. In total, they cover more than 3 million workers worldwide. No U.S. corporation has yet signed a framework agreement. While all of these agreements have references to ensuring freedom of association, mechanisms for enforcement in the United States have resulted in only limited company policies to use card-check or similar procedures.
n We will insist on corporate compliance with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and other international codes that promote corporate responsibility.
n We will publish key “Justice for All” briefings on the situation of workers’ rights in specific countries. n We will convene domestic and global meetings that allow practitioners to share innovative strategies and tactics. We will encourage dialogue between leadership, organizers, campaigners, researchers and international specialists to improve the effectiveness of affiliate campaigns. n We will mobilize on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, to defend the right of workers to form and join unions in the United States and globally. The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” Union-busters are increasingly selling their bogus services overseas. We will educate unions around the world about the threat to this most basic right. n We will continue to lead global [email protected] delegations with U.S. trade unionists to coordinate strategies with workers and trade union movements in other countries. n The Wal-Mart model must be aggressively confronted. Wal-Mart is the leader in the race to send jobs overseas, and last year imported $18 billion worth of goods from China alone. Nearly 70 percent of all goods at Wal-Mart are imported. As the world’s largest company with sales of $285 billion last year, Wal-Mart’s sheer size and buying power give it the ability to run down the wages and benefits of its competitors and suppliers all over the world, including manufacturing and construction companies. n We will support the United Food and
Commercial Workers’ efforts to build a global coalition to ensure Wal-Mart’s anti-union business model does not become established internationally.
Working families around the world face daunting challenges, as global economic integration accelerates and deepens. Here in the United States, ballooning trade and current account deficits require an urgent and immediate policy response, while growing inequality and repression in many countries have caused a harsh backlash against further corporate globalization.
Workers live and work in the global economy, and we will continue to do so. But we stand together to demand that the rules and institutions of the global economy reflect our concerns and protect our interests—not just those of multinational corporations. Without strong and effective protections for workers’ rights, human rights, democracy and the environment, trade agreements will simply fail to deliver concrete benefits to workers and the poor. Only by uniting across borders can workers effectively counter corporate power, both at the policy level and at the workplace.
International labor solidarity and strong coalitions with allies in the environment, faith, human rights, women’s, immigrant, civil rights, farm and small business communities are crucial to our eventual success. This is a battle we cannot afford to lose.