Like many of our global counterparts, the AFL-CIO faces many challenges. Last year, the federal Bureau for Labor Statistics announced that the percentage of U.S. workers represented by unions fell in 2012 to levels not seen since the 1930s. In response, the AFL-CIO Executive Council reaffirmed its commitment to organizing a stronger, more inclusive labor movement. As part of this commitment, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, announced an initiative on the future of worker representation. The initiative will engage elected union leaders in the United States and globally, as well as their members and staff, workers, allies and experts, to gather information to ensure that workers continue to be represented at work and in the political arena and that the labor movement makes the changes necessary for a renewal of worker representation.
Stephen Coats, executive director of the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP) and a longtime global worker rights activist, died yesterday morning in his sleep. In 1987, Coats founded the U.S./Guatemala Labor Education Project, which later became USLEAP.
Finally, 17 months after the U.S. Department of Labor accepted a complaint detailing the government of Bahrain’s repeated violations of the free-trade agreement with the United States, the department has reported its findings.
This report, issued today, is laudable for its call for bilateral consultations to address ongoing worker rights violations. However, the delay in its release has been costly—for Bahraini workers, for U.S. credibility as a human rights defender and for workers in other countries with bilateral trade agreements with the United States. If the U.S. government does not live up to its commitments and hold Bahrain accountable to the trade agreement’s labor chapter, then why should we expect other trading partners to bother?
Tonight, as President Obama and Mitt Romney prepare for their final debate on foreign policy, many workers will have a chance to listen to the candidates’ visions for the future in a changing world. The candidates will debate six issue areas, ranging from America’s role in the world, to the ongoing wars and the rise of China. They will hear two very distinct visions for America’s role globally. While most working families continue to struggle under the strain of stagnant wages and a domestic and global jobs crisis, they will listen for these key issues.
On July 1, Mexicans went to the polls to elect a president and Members of Congress. The stagnation of the economy, lack of opportunities for decent employment for young people and the terrible violence of the drug war were key issues motivating the voters. Unfortunately, both the incumbent PAN party and one of the other challenging parties, the PRI, support so-called labor law reforms that would undermine worker rights while weakening social protections.