Last week was a historic week for two reasons – the Steering Committee of Workers Uniting, the global union created by USW and Unite, met in Copenhagen in advance of the founding congress of IndustriALL the new manufacturing global trade union federation.
The Workers Uniting Steering Committee reviewed the work of our joint efforts, including our joint industrial work at companies such as Rio Tinto, MMP, Honeywell, Cooper Tire; political work in Wisconsin and at Southampton City Council in the UK; on equalities, the next generation of young union officials, organising, and there are plans to deepen our member-to-member contact in the auto parts, glass, oil and other sectors.
Importantly the USW and Unite played the leading role at the IndustriALL founding congress, with speeches from Leo W. Gerard and Ken Neumann of the USW and myself from Unite, leading the debate of the IndustriALL Action Plan, where I called for a massive global campaign to recruit 50 million more trade unionists.
IndustriALL has currently 50 million members – we need to double that by organising new workers, agency workers, and young workers worldwide.
Workers Uniting pointed out that attacks on unions are not just happening in the “developing world” – the attacks take place everyday in the USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, Greece, Italy and Spain by governments and employers dismantling collective bargaining and we warned that IndustriALL cannot become a “global talking shop” dominated by mountains of paperwork.
Over 1000 delegates were told that IndustriALL had to be on every picket line, every dispute and every campaign to defend workers rights.
Quoting Bob Dylan’s “Workingman’s Blues,” I was able to remind delegates: “You can hang back, or fight your best on the frontline” – IndustriALL had to be on every frontline.
The call for a massive organising campaign was also echoed by Bob King, President of the United Auto Workers in the USA.
This blog first appeared on the USW’s Free Speech blog on June 21st.