Thursday, December 6, 2007
Global Union Organizing Meeting
AFL-CIO to Host First-Ever Global Union Organizing Meeting
World’s Top Labor Leaders Gather for Unprecedented Meeting, Congressional Forum
(Washington, November 29) – The AFL-CIO will host more than 200 trade union leaders from the United States and 63 countries around the world in the Washington area on Dec. 10 and 11 at a historic conference and congressional forum on the international crisis in workers’ rights and the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively, the federation announced today.
The two-day conference, “Going Global: Organizing, Recognition and Union Rights,” will be sponsored by the Council of Global Unions (CGU) and hosted by the AFL-CIO. It marks the first time this number of trade union leaders from around the globe have gathered to develop ideas and strategies to combat corporations’ and governments’ efforts to suppress workers’ freedom to form and join unions, enhance cooperation among trade unions across borders and better represent workers in a global economy.
“Workers here in the United States and around the world are in crisis,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said. “Every day, their freedoms and their rights are trampled. With this historic gathering, the world’s labor movement is coming together with a unified voice to say we will stand together to build a global movement that’s capable of restoring the rights of workers worldwide.”
The conference will also include a special forum at the U.S. Congress on December 11, “Restoring Workers’ Rights to Organize: Global Perspectives, Global Action.”
The forum will be chaired and moderated by congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. George Miller. Trade union leaders from around the world will discuss why respect for freedom of association and collective bargaining is crucial to the survival of human rights and democracy around the world. The global labor leaders will also urge the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act in the United States because it is vital to their own effort to achieve full organizing and bargaining rights in their own countries and with multinational companies.
As part of the conference, global labor leaders will engage in a unique “town hall” process in which they will develop specific strategies and share techniques to build and support organizing efforts across borders. Based on direction from the leaders, the Council of Global Unions will launch a series of measures to strengthen cooperation among trade unions, as well as to enhance strategic research and mobilization capabilities to meet the challenges and needs of working men and woman across the globe.
"Despite the challenges we face, when workers around the world unite together in collective action, we are a formidable force," Sweeney said. "This conference takes the world's labor movement a significant step forward in focusing on challenging employers and governments that stand in the way of workers exercising their rights to organize unions and engage in collective bargaining."
The Council of Global Unions (CGU), which is sponsoring the forum, is made up of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD and 10 of the Global Union Federations. The AFL-CIO, the event host, represents 10 million working men and women nationwide.