03/04/2011

Wisconsin Workers Gain Global Labor Support

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Dozens of unions from around the world have sent letters in recent weeks expressing support for the AFT's efforts to protect workers' rights in Wisconsin, and condemning Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union agenda. Support has come from global federations such as Education International and Public Services International as well as from unions worldwide. (See link for list of organizations.)

Here are some of the comments the AFT has received from other unions:

Federation of Trade Unions of Burma. While we have become sadly familiar with the military dictatorship's regular denial of the right to form free and independent trade unions in Burma, we were shocked to learn of the Wisconsin governor’s proposal to deny collective bargaining rights to public workers—a right guaranteed by international labor standards, which the United States is committed to upholding.

State Enterprises Workers' Relations Confederation (Thailand). The Wisconsin state governor, instead of implementing assistance measures for affected people, chose to ruthlessly aggravate people's distress. This reminds us that no matter where we are in this world, what gender, race, skin color or belief, we must always support each other. We believe that workers are all brothers and sisters, and we shall always keep in mind that "an injury to one is an injury to all," so our only path is to stand up fighting or work as slaves.

Australian Education Union. These policies represent an unprecedented attack not only on the working conditions of teachers, but also ultimately, the learning conditions of students. Your campaign against these policies is of international significance.

German Education Union. I have written a letter to Gov. Walker telling him that his new bill is going to violate international labor laws. What is happening now in Wisconsin affects all public workers in your country and us in Europe as well.

As AFT international affairs director David Dorn points out, the international letters of solidarity we receive aren't just written out of courtesy."If workers' rights are denied in the United States—which identifies itself as a democracy—it opens the door for every other country to restrict the rights of public employees and other workers," he says. "It's not an exaggeration to say that what happens in Wisconsin and other states will affect workers in other parts of the world." [Larry Specht, Dan Gursky]

March 4, 2011