rn- Open World Conference: San Francisco- Feb 11-14


Richard Moore


        Open World Conference


In Defense of Trade Union Independence &
Democratic Rights

San Francisco, California, February 11-14, 2000

Sponsored by the San Francisco Labor Council, the International Liaison
Committee for a Workers International and the Continuations Committee of the
Western Hemispheric Workers Conference



        From every corner of the globe, we hear the same message from
        governments and the multinational corporations they serve: It is
working people who must relinquish their jobs, social protections and, most
important, their independent trade unions to permit global capital's "free
trade" agenda to move forward. It is we who, in the name of "modernization"
and "globalization," must forfeit all the gains we have won over decades of

The existence of international labor rights - particularly the right to
collective bargaining and the right to strike - are considered barriers to
"free trade." Indeed, the traditional trade union, we are told, is not
suitable for the workplace of the new millennium insofar as it said to
"hamper" a corporation's ability to compete in the global economy.

In our own experience in the United States we have witnessed countless
efforts by the employers and the government to restrict, suppress and even
bust unions. The assault has taken various forms - PATCO, Taft-Hartley,
Landrum-Griffin, the Hatch Act, state "right-to-work" laws, Congressional
back-to-work orders for striking railworkers, "Paycheck Protection" acts,
and lawsuits against unions and officers who respect picket lines - such as
in the West Coast Neptune Jade case. The list goes on. But the content is
always the same: to shackle the labor movement.

When this doesn't work, we have seen the employers and government try to
integrate us into their plans. Under the pretense of making us their
"associates" and "partners," they deploy all sorts of schemes to undermine
collective bargaining and to roll back our rights and working conditions.
They also hold out the promise of toothless "side agreements" and other such
language to get us to drop our fight against NAFTA and the Multilateral
Agreement on Investment (MAI), which are so crucial to global capital's
"free trade" agenda.

What can we do to fight back?

On June 7, 1998, close to 200 trade union delegates from 36 countries met in
Geneva to counter global capital's assault on working people the world over
and to promote a fightback in defense of trade union rights. The meeting,
held on the eve of the annual convention of the International Labor
Organization (ILO), was called by the heads of 17 national trade union
federations in Africa and the International Liaison Committee for a Workers'
International (ILC), a coalition of trade unionists and activists in 82
countries fighting the structural adjustment policies of the World Trade
Organization (WTO) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Ed Rosario, coordinator of the Western Hemisphere Workers' Conference
Against NAFTA and Privatizations, was the keynote speaker at the Geneva
meeting. Brother Rosario, who represented the San Francisco Labor Council
(AFL-CIO), called for an international labor fightback in defense of the ILO
conventions (right to collective bargaining, ban on child and forced labor,
ban on discrimination in employment, equal wages for work of equal value,
etc.) against all the attempts by the WTO and IMF to subvert and ultimately
destroy them. He also urged the conference participants to join the struggle
for Global Unionism charted by the Western Hemisphere Workers Conference,
which was held in November 1997 with the participation of 412 delegates from
20 countries - including a representative from the national AFL-CIO.

A central concern expressed by all the trade union delegates in Geneva was
the growing threat to the independence of the trade unions on all
continents. They took note of the increasing attempts by the WTO and IMF to
break the power of the unions by seeking to incorporate the leaderships of
the trade unions into "Social Pacts" and "Roundtable Agreements" with the
very governments and bosses that are dismantling our jobs, worsening our
working conditions and attacking our very unions.

Such pacts are based on the idea that labor, management and governments must
come together to find "common solutions," thereby putting aside what WTO
head Renato Ruggiero calls the "confrontational relationship and frictions
inherent in traditional labor-management relations."

The participants in the Geneva meeting called on working people throughout
the world to reject the strategy of "Social Pacts," which, they warned, was
the road to the integration-cooptation of the unions into the very fabric of
globalization - something the multinationals so desperately need as they
seek to avert mass social upheavals that could threaten their anti-worker

At the conclusion of the gathering in Geneva, the delegates concluded that
there must be a world conference aimed at defending the independence of the
unions - and democracy itself, insofar as an independent labor movement is a
cornerstone of a free and democratic society. They proposed a conference in
the year 2000 in response to a United Nations Summit, to be convened in June
of that year at the behest of the IMF and WTO with the explicit purpose of
advancing the integration-cooptation agenda of the multinationals.

The UN Summit is designed to bring together all the players in the so-called
"civil society" (local employers, multinational corporations,
nongovernmental organizations/NGOs, churches, trade unions, charity
organizations, lobbying groups, and political parties) into a common
framework to promote more "democratic" and "participatory" free trade pacts
and other anti-worker policies.

The time to act is now!

In answer to the June 7 appeal from Geneva, the Western Hemisphere Workers'
Conference Continuations Committee - together with all the undersigned
endorsing unions, trade unionists and activists - call upon all who seek to
defend unions, to protect and advance the gains of the workers' movement and
to guarantee that a safe environment exists as we move onto a better future
for all people:

Join us in organizing a worldwide workers' conference in early 2000 in San

Following as it will on the successful Western Hemisphere Workers'
Conference Against NAFTA and Privatizations, our conference in the year 2000
will afford an opportunity to gather together unionists and activists from
around the world to share experiences, to analyze the attacks of the bosses,
and - most important - to chart an international fightback. We need to unite
all those who are upholding the defense of independent trade unions and
democratic rights, irrespective of country, union or political horizon. We
call upon unions and working people to endorse this call. Contribute
information to a multilingual bulletin to be published regularly by the
conference organizers on the issues confronting the trade union movement.
Help us raise the funds necessary to ensure trade union delegations from
around the world who will be present at the conference.

Please join us in building Global Unionism and an international movement
against privatization, against the scourge of "free trade" agreements,
against NAFTA and its extension into the FTAA, against the Multilateral
Agreement on Investment (MAI), against the destruction of jobs and benefits
- and for the defense of our unions and our democratic rights.

A totally unified global response is the very response the bosses and the
politicians most fear. This is precisely the response we must forge. We must
send out the message: Labor is on the Move - No More Boundaries. By working

* * * * *


Please send all organizational and individual endorsements and financial
sponsorships (payable to Western Hemisphere Conference or WHC) to the San
Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO), attention: Ed Rosario, 1188 Franklin St.,
suite 203, San Francisco, CA 94109. You can fax your endorsement to us at
(415) 440-9297, call us if you have any questions at (415) 641-8616 or email
us at •••@••.••• [Image]

Richard K Moore
Wexford, Irleand
Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance
email: •••@••.•••
CDR website: http://cyberjournal.org
cyberjournal archive: http://members.xoom.com/centrexnews/

                A community will evolve only when
                the people control their means of communication.
                        -- Frantz Fanon

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