Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Labor Leaders Foresee Better Days for Unions, Workers

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Labor Leaders Foresee Better Days for Unions, Workers

Article excerpt

SAN DIEGO - "It is no coincidence that the downturn in real earnings has coincided with an even greater downturn in the percentage of workers represented by labor unions." That is the view from the center from Charles McDonald of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations in Washington, D.C.

The drywallers striking in Southern California in a bid to form a union are part of the larger labor movement. How is it faring, and where does the AFL-CIO, for example, intersect with those attempting to form new unions?

NCR put some question to various labor officials.

Joseph Shantz, AFL-CIO organization and field services director, said that the drywallers' campaign was "enhanced by the AFL-CIO-funded and -operated California Immigrant Workers Association (CIWA)."

He said CIWA provided a mechanism for the Latino work force to become familiar with the style of organized labor in the United States and to take English-language classes and other services.

In the past, he said, the association also had provided legal services against deportation and criminal-detention cases, "which had given it credibility with the militant immigrant drywaller leadership."

Shantz, chairman of the AFL-CIO's Organizing Institute, said other CIWA-connected organizing victories included the American Racing Company, 1,200 workers; Reidon-Riedel, 44; Barber-Webb, 56; Brooks-Parkview Furniture, 250; and JSS-Justice for Janitors at Century City.

On the vexing labor issues connected with U.S.-Mexican trade, Gregory Woodhead of the AFL-CIO Task Force on Trade Policy not long ago told a Georgetown audience that the North American Free Trade Agreement was not a trade agreement at all, but an investment agreement.

From 1992 to 2000, an extra $44 billion will flow into Mexico from the U.S. because of NAFTA, said Woodhead, and thousands more U. …

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