Thursday, July 03, 2008

An Encouraging Sign of Global Change

The United Steelworkers Union has officially merged with Unite the Union, the largest labor organization in Ireland and the UK, to continue the growth of globally organized labor.
The establishment of of an organized and globally coordinated labor movement is a necessity in an increasingly global marketplace. The presence of a powerful voice for labor can enhance worker protections, promote fair wages, create incentives for a decent work environment, raise the over-all standard of living in developing countries, discourage exploitation, and remove many of the root causes of terrorism.
Now, if this were not all good enough, I'd also like to mention that this is a very radical and very Irish idea. In 1908, James "Big Jim" Larkin founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, which was a forerunner of the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union and the British Transport and General Workers Union, some of the constitutents of "Unite the Union."
Tiocfaidh Ár Lá.

1 comment:

mike said...

It is absolutely amazing how all of the great ideas in the history of mankind seem to come out of Irish civilization! Do I detect a bit of a cultural bias here????

I agree that the joining of these two powerful labor unions is a very good thing for American workers and may be a portent that things are getting better in this country. I remain, however, pesimissistic about the future. Our current economic meltdown--which shows no signs of abating any time soon--has the potential to drive the country further to the right rather than move it to the left.

Remember human nature. When people feel economically vulnerable, they tend to want to take it out on those less fortunate than themselves rather than work together to solve their problems. In the short-run we could see more corporatism, xenophobia, nationalism, and racism that we recently have. I think that it is going to take much more than high oil prices to get Americans to realize that the reestablishment of a strong union movement is essential if we are to restore some of the economic ground that the poor and middle class have lost over the past 30 years.

Of course, I'm still optimistic enough to support Obama and hope--against my more pessimistic inclinations--that he will govern like a real progressive rather than like another Bill Clinton.