Gilberto Soto, Assassinated U.S. – Salvadorean Union Organizer

by Paul Garver

Gilberto Soto was an American citizen of Salvadorean origin, who had been organizing port truck drivers for the Teamsters In New Jersey.  In 2004 he revisited El Salvador to visit his family and celebrate his 50th birthday.  Because of a local news report that he was interested in supporting unionized dock workers who had been fired after privatization, he was gunned down by three armed members of a death squad.  The local police refused to investigate, asserting that Soto was the victim of a robbery (even though his wallet was not taken).

The short video, produced by Ron Carver, cites other recent unsolved assassinations of unionists and other citizens fighting for their rights in El Salvador.  Despite the election of a pro-FMLN government, the intellectual authors of these crimes are never successfully prosecuted.

Organizing of port truckers and other transport and dock workers is a core necessity for the workers’ movement in most countries, including the USA, as evidenced by the heroic efforts to organize immigrant truckers in southern California.

 

World Labor Unions Urge Halt to TPP Negotiations

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has called on governments to stop negotiations on the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” agreement, criticising the secrecy and corporate bias in the current negotiations.

The Communication Workers of America (CWA), the Teamsters and the Machinists are leading the AFL-CIO’s efforts.  Together with a broad coalition of organizations put together by the Citizen’s Trade Campaign, they delivered a total of 663,373 petition signatures and letters opposing Fast Track trade authority to House and Senate leaders.

CWA President Larry Cohen promised that CWA activists would turn their attention to stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as “a dangerous trade deal that threatens our jobs, communities and the environment by giving big business new powers to undermine important laws and regulations.”  Cohen added:”We’ll be demanding that the White House and Congress put its citizens before the corporate and financial interests that already define and dominate the global economy.”

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “This secretive trade deal is good for some multinational corporations, but deeply damaging to ordinary people and the very role of governments. Corporate interests are at the negotiating table, but national parliaments and other democratic actors are being kept in the dark. What we do know, much of it through leaks, is that this proposed deal is not about ensuring better livelihoods for people, but about giving multinational companies a big boost to profits. Governments should shut down the negotiations, and not re-open them unless they get genuine and transparent public mandates at home that put people’s interest in the centre.”

The current TPP proposals include provisions which would:
- Make governments submit to so-called investor to state dispute settlement (ISDS) procedures whereby investors can sue governments on a wide range of policies, including environmental and social policies ;
- Introduce patent protections that would boost pharmaceutical companies’ profits, but put vital medicines out of reach for millions of poorer people;
- Severely restrict governments’ ability to make national laws for public health, safety and general welfare with a ‘regulatory coherence’ chapter;
- Stop governments from giving priority to public policy aims when making decisions about public procurement;
- Impose a series of restrictions on governments’ abilities to regulate the financial sector, thus holding back efforts to reform damaging financial speculation and impeding governments from taking measures to maintain their balance of payment.

Proposals for protection of workers’ rights have met with heavy resistance from some countries, and appear to not cover all ILO Conventions that establish Fundamental Rights at Work or subnational (state and province) labour legislation. The proposals also contain no enforcement for environmental provisions, and fail to address the need for action to mitigate climate change.

“A fair and open global trading system is essential to prosperity, but this proposed TPP is nothing of the sort. Global and regional trade needs to create jobs and prosperity for the many, not just provide welfare for corporations and transfer more power from the parliaments to the boardroom,” said Burrow.

National trade union centers in the countries negotiating the TPP are today formally calling on their governments to stop the negotiations, and to seek a proper negotiation mandate if they are to engage in the negotiations again.

The national trade union centers that support this call are: Australia, ACTU; Canada, CSN and CSD; Japan, JTUC-RENGO; Mexico, UNT; New Zealand, NZCTU; Peru, CUT and CATP; United States, AFL-CIO. Some of these trade unions, as well as the unions of Chile (CUT-Chile) and Malaysia (MTUC) had asked for the negotiations to stop at an earlier stage.

For more information on the global trade union effort, contact the ITUC Press Department on +32 2 224 02 04

Labor Leaders – Honduras Near “Failed State” Status Due to Trade Agreements

Honduras Near ‘Failed State’ Status Due to Free Trade Agreement, Says Labor and Latino Leaders

By Michael Oleaga. Latin Post.

honduras-immigrants-immigration

Representatives from national Latino and labor organizations described the situation one of the Central American countries as “unbearable,” and natives continue to migrate north into Mexico and the United States.

Communication Workers of America (CWA) President Larry Cohen, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre and National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) Executive Director Pablo Alvarado were among a group of individuals visiting Honduras Oct. 12-15 to meet with Honduras on how the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) benefited the country. Alvarado, Cohen and Gebre agreed Honduras has not seen improvements from the agreement, which was implemented 10 years ago.

The CAFTA-DR agreement has been regarded as the first free trade agreement between the U.S. and the smaller developing economies of Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the agreement would create “new economic opportunities by eliminating tariffs, opening markets, reducing barriers to services, and promoting transparency.” Continue reading

Linking Trade, Work, and Migration

Globalization and NAFTA Caused Migration from Mexico

By David Bacon, Political Research Associates

Immigrant Oaxacan Farm Worker and Weaver, and her Family

Rufino Domínguez, the former coordinator of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations, who now heads the Oaxacan Institute for Attention to Migrants, estimates that there are about 500,000 indigenous people from Oaxaca living in the U.S., 300,000 in California alone.1 [1]

In Oaxaca, some towns have become depopulated, or are now made up of only communities of the very old and very young, where most working-age people have left to work in the north. Economic crises provoked by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other economic reforms are now uprooting and displacing these Mexicans in the country’s most remote areas, where people still speak languages (such as Mixteco, Zapoteco and Triqui) that were old [2] when Columbus arrived from Spain.2 [3] “There are no jobs, and NAFTA forced the price of corn so low that it’s not economically possible to plant a crop anymore,” Dominguez says. “We come to the U.S. to work because we can’t get a price for our product at home. There’s no alternative.” Continue reading

Hong Kong Construction Workers Rebuild Barricades

by Paul Garver

HK Construction workers

Volunteer construction workers rebuilt barricades that had been dismantled by police in Hong Kong.

The workers used a method that uses bamboo stalks similar to those used to erect sturdy scaffolding on construction sites around Asia.

bamboo

Support the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong

by Paul Garver

Umbrella Movement

The Umbrella Movement in support of democracy and against growing inequality in Hong Kong persists despite savage attacks on peaceful protesters by thugs that are condoned or even in some cases organized by the police.

Responding with force to this extreme provocation, which includes right-wing thugs groping the female demonstrators, might provide a pretext for the Hong Kong government to violently crack down on the demonstrations. The protesters, mainly university and high school students supported by independent labor unions, civic groups and ordinary citizens of Hong Kong, have been able to maintain a steadfast nonviolent discipline, as illustrated in this photo from Causeway Bay.
Causeway Bay

After consultation between Hong Kong activists and some of their supporters, a consensus was reached on some measures that could be taken to support the Umbrella Movement. These are summarized in an excellent article in Labor Notes by Alexandra Bradbury at http://labornotes.org/blogs/2014/10/students-and-workers-strike-democratic-reforms-hong-kong.

Ways to Support the Hong Kong Democracy Movement

Join or organize a local rally or vigil. A number of international actions have targeted Chinese consulate offices, though key organizers inside Hong Kong have clearly decided to focus their pressure on the Hong Kong government rather than on Beijing. Another possible target: the local Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office.

Hold a teach-in or speak-out on your campus or at your organization. Some are also distributing yellow ribbons to show solidarity.

Get your union or organization to send a statement of solidarity. Unions around the world, including Canada’s national union federation, have issued statements of support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also made a statement.

Sign support petitions, either the one sponsored by HKCTU at http://www.hkctu.org.hk/web/en/online_petition.html?id=6
or the other by the IUF at http://www.iuf.org/w/?q=node/3675.

Follow the latest developments and appeals via the Facebook group:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Calling-for-international-support-for-democracy-in-Hong-Kong/275123362684837?ref=hl

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions Condemns Violent Attacks on Occupy Movement Protesters

HKCTU News Release

October 3, 2014

Chief Executive CY Leung promised to appoint the Chief Secretary for Administration and the political reform trio to have a dialogue with the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), yet allowed thugs to attack the protesters the very next day. This is no different from suppressing citizens who strive for democracy. On October 3, the peaceful protesters were attacked with violence, but the police did not enforce the law though witnessing the thugs hurting the civilians. This is literally giving support to brutality, murdering the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech of Hong Kong people. HKCTU is in extreme anger and hereby strongly condemns the police for tolerating violence and being negligent towards their duty. We strongly demand that the police arrest and prosecute the thugs.

Today, there were a large number of people of unknown background gathered at the Mong Kok occupy area. It is believed that over a thousand members from organizations like “Caring Hong Kong Power” and “Voice of Loving Hong Kong” screamed, cursed at and attacked the protesters at the scene. At that time very few police were there to support, nor did they stop the attacks. Many unarmed students, workers and citizens were hurt by the thugs. There was even a female student being sexually assaulted and the materials of the protesters got destroyed maliciously.

As the working class, while striving for democracy, we also believe in engaging in civil disobedience in a loving and peaceful manner. We hereby appeal to all Hong Kong citizens and the international society to:

1) support the students, workers and citizens in the Occupy Movement
2) urge CY Leung to stop using violence and tolerating violence to suppress the peaceful protesters, and to uphold the freedom of assembly and speech of Hong Kong
3) urge the police to instantly investigate the thugs who were organized to attack the protesters and give an explanation to the public
4) urge the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to withdraw the fake universal suffrage proposal, and the Hong Kong Government to re-launch the consultation on political reform and implement a genuine universal suffrage

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions includes affiliates with about 170,000 members in Hong Kong.

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