Building Global Labor Solidarity Today

… for Those Who Know Little or Nothing about Labor – Published on ZNet (first on Green Social Thought), by Kim Scipes, July 15, 2016.

… Perhaps the most important part of the Introduction is that I disentangle the concepts of globalization and neo-liberal economics, about which there is much confusion. Influenced strongly by and following the work of the Netherlands-born scholar, Jan Nederveen Pieterse (1989, 2004, 2008, 2015), I argue that globalization has existed for a very long time—since the beginning of human migration—and precedes capitalism, modernity and “the West.”

In other words, it is not a new or a recent phenomenon, despite what many scholars suggest. I recognize that the processes of globalization have accelerated since the 1970s, but they are not new. Further, especially following the work of Vandana Shiva (2005) and Amory Starr (2005), I argue that globalization is not a monolithic force, sweeping the defenseless world like a raging flood of water, but rather is made up of two layers, featuring top-down processes and bottom-up processes: the top-down processes are based on the values of promoting the uninhibited spread of capitalism and particularly corporations around the world, along with the militarism (and related wars and military operations) needed to ensure that this is possible (thus trying to dominate the world), while the bottom-up is life-enhancing, seeking to build a world based on economic and social justice, and respect for all human beings and the planet. This bottom-up global solidarity is seeking another world, a better world, based on global solidarity, ecological and economic sustainability, and economic and social justice. (For one discussion, see Scipes, 2009a) … //

… Key to their argument that the well-being of US corporations was central to the well-being of the US economy, and that the key to this was to eradicate any restrictions on US corporations. Their primary focus on was to eradicate unions in the workplace, or to defang them at least. And they have reduced the rate of unionism in the private sector to about 6.6 percent, approximately the same level in 1900.

Accordingly, to refer to “neo-liberal” globalization, as some do, we should limit it only to the top-down layer of globalization … //

… From Latin America, attention shifts to Bangladesh. In Chapter 5, Timothy Ryan’s “It Takes More Than a Village: A Case Study of Worker Solidarity in Bangladesh” focuses on the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center and its work in that country; work that Ryan, as Asian Regional Director of the Solidarity Center, over sees. In a country where the people are very poor, and where the government has tied its shirttail to a single industry—the global garments industry—and which is the second largest garment exporter in the world (behind only China), the Solidarity Center has been trying to support union organizing for decades.

Ryan illustrates the need for vibrant unionism at the beginning of his chapter: he describes the Tazreen Fashions factory fire in 2012, where 112 workers died. He then notes, “Since the Tazreen blaze, the Solidarity Center’s Dhaka office has documented seventy fire-related incidents (including false alarms) in which at least fifty people have died and more than nine hundred women and men have been injured” (Ryan, 2016: 123). He argues that had these workers been members of a union, and had protested worsening working conditions, many of them would still be alive.

Ryan puts the workers’ situation in Bangladesh in a historical context, starting under British imperialism. An important factor today is that many unions in that country are controlled by political parties that grew out of the struggle against the British, and which still put their party’s interest ahead of their union members’ … //

… Conversion of military to civilian production is only one example of the more general transition required to create a just and sustainable economy. We need conversion from fossil fuel to renewable energy; from low-wage contingent jobs to secure, well-paying employment; from hyperindividualism to mutual regard; from strangled governments serving the needs of their corporate strategists to democratic governments attending the needs of all people; and from an economy that funnels wealth to the very top to one that share prosperity. All these elements of transition reflect and bolster one another. All require the concentrated attention and political mobilization of working people (Zweig, 2016: 189).

Building off of comments about USLAW’s work with Iraqi trade unions, Zweig talks about the development of solidarity between US unions and others in different counties. He then notes, “All of these examples indicate a significant potential for the development of a coherent labor foreign policy that promotes global justice” (Zweig, 2016: 192).

In short, Zweig sees the emergence of a new union culture in this country, and argues that labor must develop a strategic vision that addresses all of these aspects. He points out the need for labor leadership to develop a broader vision of labor’s agenda; the need to actively educate union members; and the need to reform unions internally so as to encourage “bottom-up member activity and the democratic norms that allow for member initiatives” (Zweig, 2016: 193-194).
Importantly, however, Zweig recognizes the central role of labor’s foreign policy: “Redefining labor’s foreign policy must be integral to the reorientation of the labor movement as a whole.” And he argues the time is now: “The context, history and institutional capacity for this purpose are at hand” (Zweig, 2016: 197).

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Nickel: les comptes bancaires sans banque de Ryad Boulanouar, dans, par Axel Leclercq, le 11 juillet 2016: Ce Français avait une revanche à prendre sur ls sytème bancaire et, le moins que l’on puisse dire, c’est qu’il l’a prise d’une fort belle manière – En France, on estime que 5 à 6 millions de personnes sont touchées par l’exclusion bancaire (source : Cresus). Ce chiffre est vertigineux. Ajoutez-y tous ceux qui n’aiment pas le système bancaire et vous comprendrez pourquoi l’idée de Ryad Boulanouar cartonne : ce Français a tout simplement inventé le compte en banque… sans banque ! Gros plan sur une initiative révolutionnaire;

Mein Schreibstuben-Blog, Gedanken über uns aus den 80er Jahren:

… and this:

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