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3 unionists in front of sign "public Service Convergence"

Building solidarity among
public sector workers

Decades of corporate globalization have transformed international labor solidarity into a necessity. The agenda of transnational corporations has resulted in downsizing and out-sourcing in the private sector and privatization, deregulation, and budget cuts in the public sector.

UE’s work with unions that represent public sector workers in other countries has provided us with a better understanding of how these policies are being implemented in other countries and with real support.  

Group of men with arms raised and hands clasped
Leaders from Indian NTUI & other unions unite with UE at public sector meeting in West Virgina.

Support from Mexico, Japan & Quebec for North Carolina workers

For example, our international work with the FAT in Mexico directly contributed to the creation of the North Carolina International Worker Justice Campaign (NCIWJC), challenging the state law which bans public-sector collective bargaining as a violation of international law. The campaign grew out of our first International Public Sector Workers Convergence, and the coordination between independent public-sector unions from Quebec, Mexico, Japan has contributed innovative and effective solidarity to change the terms of discourse in North Carolina, and ultimately led to a remarkably strong decision by the International Labor Organization and the subsequent introduction of legislation. The presence of these allies also provided tangible support for the struggles of UE members in West Virginia during a subsequent meeting of the first International Public Sector Workers Convergence.

American uionists speaking to Japanese group with banners & photographer
UE leader from Univ. of Vermont speaks at a rally with public sector workers in Japan

A delegation from Mexico to Connecticut opened the eyes of UE members to the realities behind the political rhetoric about immigrants and led to workshops conducted by the UE and FAT on the link between trade policy and immigration. 

Similarly, trade unionists from Quebec and Canada have dispelled myths about the Canadian health care system.

'Buck-a-brick ' campaign for Mexican municipal workers

Our solidarity work in the public sector is also a two way street.  Local 222 initiated a “Buck-a-Brick” fund raising campaign to raise funds to help the municipal workers’ union in Guerrero, Chihuahua complete the building of their union hall.  This initiative, which came from the membership, not only raised funds for our allies in Mexico but became a mechanism for the local to engage their members, and members of other UE locals, in discussions about the importance of international solidarity. This effort eventually raised $1,300 to aid construction! (See photo.) The completion of the hall the following spring provided a further opportunity to deepen this relationship and was actually the occasion for some amazingly effective international solidarity which resulted in a commitment to reverse layoffs which had already been approved.  International solidarity should always work this way!

UE participates in several Global Union Federations, and in the public sector we work with Public Services International (PSI).

 

Marie Lausch

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

""The similarities were so strong that we could immediately strike up a conversation. We had many experiences, troubles and victories in common.

"We could immediately connect because it was like growing up in the same house: you know what they are talking about because it has happened to you."

Marie Lausch
President of UE Local 222 & member of UE Executive Board


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