January 20, 2011
Welcome to UE's New International Site!
By UE International Affairs Director Robin Alexander
In addition to the vast improvement in its appearance, you will note several important changes. Most significant is the addition of Philippine Labor News and Analysis. This came about as the result of my first trip to the Philippines last year with UE Local 155's President, Ron McCullough.
Our trip had two purposes: to participate in the KMU's 25th international labor solidarity meeting, and to meet up with the president of Ron's sister shop, Stepan Philippines, a meeting arranged by the Partido Ng Manggagawa (Philippine Labor Party). KMU stands for Kilusang Mayo Uno, or May 1 Movement. We were also fortunate to meet with Daisy Arago at her Center for Trade Union and Human Rights.
How Philippine Labor News & Analysis was born
We were really impressed by the passion and commitment of all of the people we met, despite the high personal risks involved in their work. (Did you know that the Philippines has the second highest rate of murder of trade unionists, exceeded only by Colombia? Or that the legal system is frequently used to jail union leaders on trumped-up charges?) We were also impressed by the warmth and generosity of virtually everyone we met and their desire to help us understand their country and labor movement.
We left the Philippines with several commitments. One was to help create an electronic newsletter similar to Mexican Labor News and Analysis – that is to say, which covers labor and related political news from a left perspective for a predominantly U.S-based audience. Although I do not understand the Philippine labor movement well enough to serve as editor, before I left for the Philippines I had spoken with Brian Campbell, an attorney with our sister organization, the International Labor Rights Fund.
Brian devotes virtually all his time to doing extraordinary legal work to support independent trade unions in the Philippines in their uphill battles. Not only does he understand the issues well, but he already knew and was trusted by the key organizations – a critical factor in a country where organizations on the left do not necessarily work or even speak with each other. Much to everyone's satisfaction, Brian was pleased to take on yet another responsibility!
The Woman Behind the New Design
Although I had thought that the technical part would be easy because MLNA was already up and running, I hadn't appreciated the immense amount of work involved in doing the necessary programming in the midst of re-vamping and updating our entire international site.
For those of you who may have wondered who is behind the fabulous new appearance of our site, I am happy to credit Nancy Brigham who was excited to take on even more work than she had originally planned! (For those of you who haven't had this experience, Brian and I can paste in headlines, sub-heads and other substance, and at the click of a button generate the professional looking articles that appear on your browsers – truly a bit of technological magic!)
MLNA Still Going Strong
One of the most significant parts of this site continues to be Mexican Labor News and Analysis (MLNA), edited by Dan LaBotz. As the attacks on independent unions escalate, you will be able to find the information you need to keep up to date and to take action in solidarity. I believe that the November issue is one of our best ever, so please check it out!
Other New Features
In addition to PLNA, if you are reading this you probably realize that this blog is another new feature on our web page. This means that from time to time I will be able to share important information with you, such as the recent flier prepared by unions in Mexico to educate workers in the US and Canada about the virulent attacks they are facing. Please make good use of it! At times this blog will be replaced by emergency alerts.
Also new to this page are international stories and photos from the UE News, and other features such as the English/Spanish dictionary of labor terms that Dan LaBotz and I have created over the years.
You may also notice A Brief History of Mexico: Repression & Revolution, written by Dan and with illustrations created by Nancy. And if you haven't tried to go shopping on a Mexican wage, please spend a few minutes to entertain and educate yourself. Nancy's amazing interactive exercise makes it possible to really grasp what the differences in US and Mexican wages mean in terms of actual purchasing power.
So please explore and enjoy our site, and let us know what you think!