Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Globalization of Unionization

Whether we want it to happen or not, globalization seems inevitable. Personally, I have no qualms about that, economically or morally. However, I think it's critical for labor to stop trying to prevent globalization and start organizing with a strategy to be effective in the new global economy. That said, it was interesting to read about union globalization:
A global coalition of unions is launching an unprecedented campaign to organize workers around the world at US retail giant Wal-Mart, seeking to bring a new level of globalization to the labor movement.

The Wal-Mart campaign was set to be officially launched at a meeting in Chicago Monday of Union Network International (UNI), a group that includes 900 unions in some 140 countries.

The campaign aims to draw from labor organizations around the world to pressure Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer and largest private company in terms of revenues, and a frequent target of unions for driving down wages as well as prices.
I was particularly encouraged by the statement of UNI general secretary Philip Jennings: "Our message is that unions are adapting to a borderless world."

Even an ardent free fair trader such as myself can value workers rights. It's time that free trade and protectionist Democrats in the U.S. work together to find solutions to the challenges posed by globalization rather than sticking to their respective corners and bicker at each other. The goal should be worker protection, human rights, and the environment not free trade or protectionism in and of itself.


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