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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 23 (1995)

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Labor Research Review, Volume 1, Number 23 (1995)

Confronting Global Power: Union Strategies for the World Economy


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    Privatization Bites
    Banks, Andy (1995-04-01)
    [Excerpt]Many have perceived privatization as a local phenomenon, but in fact it is not local. It is an international granite column upon which the so-called "New World Order" stands. Within weeks after the election of Ronald Reagan to the U.S. presidency, two right-wing think tanks, the Heritage Foundation in this country and England's Adam Smith Foundation, produced a thousand-page document showing that the worldwide economic strategy of both the United States government and the British government would be a privatization strategy. Powerful international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, have made public sector "reform" the center-piece of their dogmatic four-pronged program of privatization, deregulation, free trade, and currency devaluation.
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    Buying Time or Building a Future: Labor Strategies for a Global Economy
    Harvey, Pharvis (1995-04-01)
    [Excerpt] A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the global economy. Mexico, the bright, new star in the investors' heaven, crashed as spectacularly as a meteor in December last year. By June, two million jobs had been lost, wages had declined bv 50-60 percent in dollar value, and 83 banks and some 80 percent of small businesses were headed for bankruptcy[...] The crash serves as a case study in the workings - and failings - of the world economic system. It also needs to serve as a wake-up call to labor. Armed with an understanding of the world economic scene, labor needs to develop adequate responses to capital's efforts to maximize profits by moving investment capital from one country to another in the blink of an eye - or more accurately, at the touch of a finger on a keyboard.
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    Exposing The Myths: Organizing Women Around the World
    Gilbert, Helen (1995-04-01)
    [Excerpt] Myths about organizing women, and women of color in particular, prevent the labor movement from hearing and acting on the real opportunities to work together on issues that affect everyone. This article contributes to the burgeoning effort to listen to what women around the world are saying about their role in the labor movement. The article includes stories of women from the African country of Uganda and the Asian countries of Sri Lanka, South Korea, and Nepal. These stories are not isolated incidents; they represent the growing participation of women in labor movements around the world. Gaining an appreciation for this growing participation will help lay to rest some of the widelyheld myths about organizing women - myths that still persist after years of effort to combat them.
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    ...And the Twain Shall Meet? A North-South Controversy Over Labor Rights and Trade
    Compa, Lance (1995-04-01)
    [Excerpt] No country or company should gain a commercial edge in international trade by jailing or killing union organizers, crushing independent union movements, or banning strikes. Gaining an advantage in labor costs should not depend on exploiting child labor or forced labor, or discriminating against women or oppressed ethnic groups. Deliberately exposing workers to life-threatening safety and health hazards, or holding wages and benefits below livable levels should not be permissible corporate strategies. But these are exactly the abuses that happen all too often in a rapidly globalized world trading system based on "free trade."
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    LRR Focus: Global Solidarity Trips Sprint
    [Excerpt] Leaders of CWA, working with and through the Postal, Telegraph, and Telephone International (PTTI), have denounced the La Conexion firings at international conferences, raised the alarm on the information superhighway, and pushed the story in the world's media outlets. The result? From the top brass to the rank and file, union members all over the world have heard about the firings at La Conexion.
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    LRR Focus: Solidarity NOT Charity
    Sanchez, D. Catherine (1995-04-01)
    [Excerpt] Can global solidarity really help unions with their organizing efforts? Only if we stop thinking about international solidarity as "charity" work for the "developing" world. Only if we recognize the limitations of isolated local union struggles against international corporations and financial institutions. Only if we build international union structures to support efforts in organizing more workers and bargaining collective agreements.
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    Don't Waste Time With Politicians-Organize!
    Velasquez, Baldemar (1995-04-01)
    [Excerpt] From the beginning of our nation's history, we have witnessed economic expansion unfettered by any moral standards. The right to exploit resources and people has gone relatively unchallenged, from the Southern states' reliance on slave labor to the stealing of land and the public policy of genocide against the indigenous people, known as Manifest Destiny. This process of predatory capitalism has continued throughout this century. The foreign policy surrounding the Cold War had as much to do with economic dominance and making areas safe for U.S. investments as it did with containing communism. American workers and organized labor were often complicit in this policy, even though it ran contrary to workers' own interests.
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    LRR Focus: NAFTA Monitoring
    Anderson, Sarah (1995-04-01)
    [Excerpt] A year and a half after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect, the rosy picture painted by NAFTA supporters has turned grey. A growing number of labor activists, researchers, and academics are developing a more accurate picture of how NAFTA is affecting our lives.
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    Sprint and the Shutdown of La Conexion Familiar: A Union-Hating Multinational Finds Nowhere to Run
    Pattee, Jon (1995-04-01)
    [Excerpt] Sprint chairman William T. Esrey has a dream: a long-distance phone company whose fiber-optic tentacles snake across the globe to embrace European and Asian partners, snaring a chunk of the projected $30 billion market for such global corporate networks. The workers fired en masse from Sprint's San Francisco-based La Conexion Familiar subsidiary, thwarted in their attempt to unionize, have their own dreams: among them, receiving reparations for the wrongs dealt to them by Sprint, and keeping their families out of homeless shelters. The chasm between these dreams illustrates the bitter truth about the global economy: while the heads of executives spin with plans for ever-larger money-making enterprises, the workers on whose backs these schemes are erected face a harsh reality: increased union-busting, job losses, lower wages, and worsening working conditions.
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    LRR Focus: Privatizing Lithuania's Water
    Carbonneau, Marc (1995-04-01)
    [Excerpt] Perhaps nothing is more critical to the maintenance of public health than the supply of clean water. All of the lives saved through modern medicine account for no more than a drop in the bucket when compared to the number of lives saved through improved sanitation and the presence of a steady supply of clean water. So when commercial values begin to be applied to water treatment and distribution, as they were in Lithuania in the past few years, the implications are potentially deadly.