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Sender: owner-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 98 23:00:51 CST
From: rich%pencil@LISTS.PSU.EDU (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Report On Labor Asia Conf In Berkeley
Article: 27949

/** labr.global: 210.0 **/
** Topic: Report On Labr Asia Conf In Berkeley **
** Written 7:36 PM Feb 14, 1998 by labornews in cdp:labr.global **
Date: 02/06 12:26 AM
From: Anne O'Neill, aoneill@alum.calberkeley.org

Report On Labor Asia Conf In Berkeley

By Anne O'Neill, in Daily Cal Newspaper
7 February 1998

Over the last part of last week and through the weekend, local labor unions hosted Asian labor leaders urging American workers to support their struggle for a legitimate democratic role in the remaking of their local economies and social, political and business structures. There was also a seminar on the Asian economic crisis at UC Berkeley.

Meanwhile, few Americans know about the Bernie Saunders-Barney Frank legislation, passed into law in 1994, which requires U.S. representatives to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to vote "no" on loans to foreign countries without conditions guaranteeing workers rights. Few Americans are aware that their own government is breaking the law, in the deluge of mass consensus on the part of the media which deals with workers issues in Korea as the whinings of an errant fchildF which must faccept its fateF without recourse. There has not been a single dissenting remark in print or broadcast media so far in headline-catching news of the "IMF Bailout" of this legislation, which makes one wonder if the media has neglected its socially inherent if not legally explicit mandate of serving the public's "right to know" in this case, as it does in so many others...

Mr. Kwon Young-kil, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unionists, and a candidate for President of Korea in the most recent general elections in December, gave a talk before the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) of the AFL-CIO at its offices on 1355 Sutter St. on Thursday evening, January 29th and again on Saturday afternoon, January 31st, at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 3 union hall at 99 Hegenberger Rd. in Oakland. He was joined in the first appearance by labor leaders from Burma, Thailand, and Indonesia. He was personally introduced and welcomed by the head of Local 6, Larry DeGatano, and Steve Zeltzer, Vice-Chair of the Golden Gate Chapter of the Labor Party (nationwide, but not yet on the ballot). Despite every effort made to contact news media outlets, this visit by front-page-headlines actors on the world economic and political stage was met with a blanket of silence by all English language news sources.

The rival fFederation of Korean Trade UnionsF (FKTU) quoted in recent U.S. news articles as "welcoming the big deal" proposed by government and business in hustling to meet IMF demands is little more than a rubber stamp for government policy, and has no such aspirations to play a democratic role in the country's business and economic reorganization as does the KCTU. The KCTU proposes to participate in tripartite discussions with government and business sectors to work out a new social contract - one that will also dismantle the large family-based industrial groups (chaebols) as inefficient and corrupt and as the legacy of a half a century of colonization by Japan which retarded and twisted Korea's growth as a modern industrial nation, and which is at the root cause of today's economic crisis (for historical background, see Origins of the Korean War, vol. I, by Bruce Cumings, c. 1980, Princeton University Press: NJ).

Mr. Kwon spoke of the suffering going on in Korea now with the current layof's and firings of thousands of people, which he expects to number in the millions before the end of the year, including public school teachers in the teachersF union, "ChFam Kyoyuk" ("Real Education").

He also talked of his protest to shave his head during the last general strike between December 1996-January 1997, and during his campaign for President on the Labor Party ticket to show his commitment to the plight of labor in Korea. In both cases, he intended to parody government policies toward Korean workers which he said were both traditionally unKorean and inhumane; since in traditional Korean culture it is morally wrong to harm any attribute passed on by your parents - literally, to harm a hair on your head - shaving his head was a shocking affront to patriotic Korean sensibilities, much as the government's labor policies themselves.

Mr. Kwon had a serious but modest demeanor, representing himself as not here to join the American labor movement, but as a person still busy working on his own people's problems, even though he was standing in a meeting hall in Oakland. He went further to say that he was actively seeking the support and solidarity of American workers in that, "If Korean unions stand alone and fail in their task because they did not gain the support of trade unions abroad, then international trade unionism would have failed to be effective. What, then, would happen when American workers were inevitably faced with the same dilemma?" (for more on KCTU, see their web site at http://www.kctu.org)

Anne O'Neill


Following WWII, W.E.B. DuBois the founder of modern empirical sociology who is known only as a "Black scholar" or "race relations scholar," advocated that members of the African American working community and all Americans support the postcolonial independence struggles of people around the world in their own better interests (see his Wilberforce speech of 1948). He called the American military incursion into Korea's civil war "a tragic military adventure," which we can now probably say has been exemplified by history. Several years later, in reference to the &#ftalented F of the intellectual elite in the Black community, he wrote, "We can do it. We have the ability. The only question is, have we the will?" Dr. DuBois was a principal figure of the 1950's peace movement who was incarcerated on his 83rd birthday by the unAmerican "House unAmerican Activities Committee" and for not "registering as a foreign agent" (later overturned) during the McCarthy ideological witchhunts. In 1950, Dr. DuBois was also a candidate for Senator from NY on the Progressive Party ticket, the same ticket on which (SF D.A.) Terrence Hallinan's father ran for President... Today he is exonerated through history, as many Koreans look to the solution of their current economic crisis by reexamining their history, as Dr. DuBois so aptly emphasized in the approach of his sociological methodology.

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