Workers of the World….

By August 28, 2005Labor Unions

Interesting piece in yesterday’s Washington Post by Harold Meyerson entitled, “Workers of the World Uniting“. It reports on a meeting of the UNI Global Union in Chicago this past week and their efforts to increase labor’s clout around the globe. UNI is a multi-national organization of “skills and services” unions. It sure is nice for all these folks to come together and spend their money here in the good ol’ US of A, but their rhetoric is just so divisive. Meyerson says in his column, for example, that absent the international pressure that a group like this can bring, ” a model employer in Europe that abuses its workers in the United States is more likely to bring its European standards down than its US standards up.”

How’s that again? “Abuses its workers in the US?”

This is part of the problem with organized labor, something we pointed out while they were busy rending themselves back in July, in answer to the question, “Why can’t labor organize?” We said at the time that one of the reasons is that their view of the workplace — and increasingly, the world — is of a divisive “us vs. them” universe. Yet increasingly over the past two decades or more, there is far less “us vs. them” and far more cooperation, in the hopes of beating the real adversary which is not inside the plant, but outside. If they are looking for abuse of workers, they likely won’t find it here.

Meanwhile, groups like UNI are clearly preparing for a divided world. Some of it is so retro as to be quaint. In their Q&A, there is this exchange:

Q. Could UNI Global Union call a global strike?
A. Never say never.

Global strikes? Yeesh! It seems to us that in light of the AFL’s split, that the folks on both sides of the split — and both sides of the Atlantic — ought to tend to their knitting, the business of blocking and tackling, of organizing here at home. As they do, they should begin with a realistic assessment of what life is like in today’s workplaces. They might be shocked to find that at least in most manufacturing plants, the workers in this part of the world are already united.