Date: Fri, 1 Aug 97 18:10:55 CDT
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International Unions Ready To Protect Members' Interests
By Ken Thiede, in IAM District 141 Messenger, 27 July 1997
On May 14 this year, five international airlines formed the Star Alliance to closely coordinate passenger processing, schedules and economic matters. The affiliation consists of United, Lufthansa, SAS, Thai International and Air Canada. In June, several unions representing the workers at these airlines responded to the launch of this giant Star Alliance by forming our own alliance. The Star Solidarity Alliance of trade unions was formed out of the necessity for coordination and cooperation among the 210,000 workers employed in the Star Alliance. This includes every union worker at United Airlines.
The Union Solidarity coalition is being coordinated by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) which will advance the sharing of information and strategy. The creation of the airline alliance marks a significant step towards a new kind of global airline network. It is part of a worldwide industry trend that demands that unions develop new forms of organizations that adapt to these changes.
As ITF Civil Aviation Secretary Stuart Howard noted, "If the airlines are going to coordinate over the purchase of paper napkins, they are certainly going to coordinate to maximize labor productivity and lower labor costs across the alliance. Trade unions will likewise need to coordinate their response."
This is another example of the rapid change facing American workers as U.S. employers increase participation in the global marketplace. While we have been affiliated with the ITF for years, we are now moving into closer partnership to better address the threat to our members from globalization. Today, money, ownership and work are easily transferred across international borders. We must ensure our influence is just as mobile. The strength of the ITF lies in the solidarity of 500 federated transport workers' unions. That strength on a worldwide scope is another benefit of being a member of the IAM, the Airline Union.
While thinking of global competition, should a company be able to use a name that identifies it with a U.S. location after it has moved all manufacturing out of the country? After making bib overalls and children's clothing for l02 years in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Oshkosh B'Gosh is closing its last U.S. production facilities in Oshkosh and Columbia, KY. Factories in India and Bangladesh have been producing much of the firm's product line for many years. The St. Louis/Southern, Illinois Labor Tribune suggests the company's labels might more appropriately read Sonora B'Gora, Taiwanese B'Gees.
Amazing. You can't tell which airline you will fly or what kind of clothes you wear regardless of the label. Welcome to globalization!