Monday, October 22, 2007

International Unions

Just read this informative article in Mother Jones. (A great magazine, btw, and I really should subscribe because I buy like every issue at the newsstand.) It raised a possibility that I have never even thought of: international labor unions. The article says the United Steelworkers, which represents workers in the US and Canada and the United Kingdom's Unite, are in talks to join forces.

I like the basic idea of this arrangement. Corporations and manufacturers have been going international for years. This is evident by the change in the prototypical average American job - it used to be working in the factory; now it's on the sales floor at Wal-Mart.

However, the idea is just a bit off base, in my opinion. Manufacturing jobs aren't leaving the US and going to the UK. They're going to Mexico, China, India, Bangladesh, etc. These are the countries who should have a union. Sounds obvious, right? The workers in these countries don't make a living wage, have no hope of proper health care and no guarantee of safe working conditions. The reason factories are going to these places is because the workers come so cheaply. Sometimes they are literally a dime a dozen. They NEED an organized and experienced voice to speak for them. If this international union merger works out, they should set their sights on a country more in need of one.

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