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U.S. News and Commentary



Monday
Mar282011

UAW says labor union activists ‘central’ to protests in East

Map of Tunisia and surrounding area. [CIA World Factbook; US Govnmt.]The United Auto Workers said labor unions were “central to the protests” in Tunisia, and “Egyptian Labor gave the decisive push” in driving Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak from office. UAW made the claims in the union magazine Solidarity*.

UAW is pushing for global organization of workers as part of an international social justice plan to address globalization.

“Unions are essential for social justice,” said the magazine. UAW also claims unions spurred the creation of a middle class in the United States and world organization is now the goal. “The UAW must act in solidarity with all unions around the world to create a global middle class.”

In the same issue UAW announced the creation of the Global Organizing Institute (GOI) within the National Organizing Department. The goal of the GOI is to “promote the right to organize” as part of the broader goal of creating “a global middle class.”

Ironically in some countries, particularly in theocracies, the concept of the term “middle class” is an unknown entity. Even in the U.S. the term is used broadly as a political device. Thus far no expert has said conclusively that leaders of the uprisings will seek what Westerners loosely refer to as democracy.

No one knows whether the union-organized groups will have much influence in countries where Islamists arguably dominate the most organized groups. Middle East expert Dr. Walid Phares told Secure Freedom Radio, “The region is rising against the authoritarians—those who are arising are of two species. One, you have civil society pushing and not so well organized…next to them in smaller numbers but better organized—Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist jihadists…that’s the big picture.”

UAW said the organization is joining other groups around the world via groups like the International Metalworkers Foundation. UAW is training interns from countries like Brazil, China, Australia and Germany. The 20-somethings are called “torchbearers of labor.”

UAW reasons that jobs are going to countries where lower wages can be paid and safety can be ignored. This places the U.S. at a disadvantage. “Through a mutually beneficial labor alliance, the GOI seeks to undermine national boundaries…”

The magazine content was fairly rational except for a politically driven assault on US conservatives: “The right wing in the United States is obsessed with creating a union-free America. They try to scapegoat union activists and immigrants and gays and people of colors, hoping to divide us.”

Conservatives have largely been concerned over government employee contracts which mandate that taxpayers fund almost all the costs of pensions, healthcare and other perks. Ironically law enforcement and firefighter unions often align with conservatives in elections. A particular cause for concern rests on underfunded pension programs across the nation.

The Pew Center disclosed a $1 trillion shorfall: "That’s the gap at the end of fiscal year 2008 between the $2.35 trillion states had set aside to pay for employees’ retirement benefits and the $3.35 trillion price tag of those promises."

In the magazine, UAW did not address the issue of women’s rights per se.

Nor did UAW address the impact of global organizing in countries where the cost of living is substantially lower than in the U.S.

UAW is aligned with the Democratic Party policy and platform in the U.S.

Sources and Related Articles

*Solidarity (print edition); March-April, 2011: 14 Battlegrounds brace for GOP attacks on workers; pg. 18-23.

Interview with Dr. Walid Phares by Frank Gaffney on Secure Freedom Radio
Video/audo of Dr. Phares' remarks about uprisings in the East

Why Biden and Palin should think about using term 'middle class'
The US Report

(Analysis by Kay B. Day/March 28, 2011)

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