Unions around the world continue to operate in an ever-more complex and rapidly changing corporate environment. Given the globalization of firms, finance, and labor markets, the labor movement recognizes that union organizing and bargaining campaigns and strategic research must become global as well.
It is to address these challenges that more than 560 trade unionists and scholars from 53 countries came together in an historic gathering at the Crown Plaza Hotel in New York City on February 9-11, 2006.
- Share and learn from recent union initiatives in strategic corporate research and strategic global organizing and bargaining campaigns in order to more effectively take on multinational companies through global comprehensive campaigns.
- Expand our collective knowledge and understanding of the changing nature of corporate ownership structures, practices, and strategies for the world's largest multinationals.
- Lay the groundwork for building a sustainable global network of unions and academics to continue to work together to effectively engage multinational corporations worldwide.
The conference was attended by representatives from every global union federation as well as leaders from national union federations and large national unions from around the globe including more than three hundred from outside the US and seventy-five from the Global South.
The conference featured plenary speeches from leaders from both the AFL-CIO and the CTW in the US, NUMSA/COSATU (South Africa), CUT (Brazil), FAT (Mexico), CTWU (Taiwan), CLC (Canada), ICFTU and ICEM as well as interactive workshops, and panel presentations involving both academics and trade unionists. The workshops and panel presentations discussed and analyzed experience of global campaigns and the type of corporate research needed to support those campaigns. In addition, the workshops help develop lasting networks academic and union researchers and strategic campaigners.
Effective strategic corporate research is critical to the ability of unions to organize and bargain in the changing global economy. The second plenary of the conference focused on a new model of strategic corporate research that can help us more effective track and understand the changing nature of corporate structure and power of the world’s largest multinationals. The conference also featured strategic research on ten key multinational corporations from diverse sectors and industries including Wal-Mart, Kraft Foods, Siemens, Exxon Mobil, Suez S.A., Alcoa, SSA Marine, Bouygues, Starwood, and Sanofi Aventis.
Prior to the conference, in-depth strategic corporate reports on each of these companies were posted on the company web-site for all those registered at the conference. During the conference union leaders involved in organizing and bargaining from around the world participated in two sessions focused on the target companies. The first involved a summary presentation of the research findings on the company and how the structure and flow of corporate power within each company while the second session focused on how best to build and strengthen lasting cross-border networks among unions, scholars, and NGOs working with these target multinationals.
At the second plenary former USWA president George Becker was honored by the Global Conference Planning Committee and all the conference participants for his contributions to comprehensive cross border campaigns starting with the USW victories at Ravenswood Aluminum and Bridgestone Firestone. Becker was presented in absentia with an original print by artist Ricardo Levins Moralis.
Copies of the print are available for sale for $10 plus shipping.