Outreach and Public Service
Outreach includes three aspects: research dissemination, facilitation of union collaboration within and across nations, and labor movement strategy development.
Each meeting has included several presentations based on original research. Topics include, for example, case studies and comparative analysis of immigration and labor, urban labor movements, labor-inclusive coalition building, transnational union collaboration in maritime, food service, retail, automobile and other industries, capital asset strategies, international labor standards and global regulation, the AFL-CIO/Change to Win split and the U.S. elections.
The meetings have also served to foster cross-national union collaboration. We have invited numerous union leaders and introduced them to their counterparts in other countries, and in so doing have facilitated contacts, communication and further exchanges.
In some instances, sustained collaboration, including specific transnational campaigns based on innovative union strategies, have spilled over from relationships first established at our meetings. An event that illustrates such developments is the "Never Work Alone" conference that took place in Hamburg in the spring of 2005.
Organized by the Hamburg branch of ver.di (the large German service workers union) and co-sponsored by ILR and HBS, this week-long conference brought organizers from SEIU, Unite Here and IFPTE to Germany to share innovative campaigning techniques, quite new and in demand from their counterparts in ver.di. Lee Adler and Lowell Turner were invited to give keynote talks, along with Martin Behrens (ILR PhD 2001) on behalf of HBS.
This first-of-a kind conference yielded three important developments: a deepening of relationships and exchange of ideas among German and American unions; a campaign to organize building security guards in Hamburg, a ver.di project to which two SEIU organizers were assigned as consultants for a period of one year and for which ver.di hired its first full-time organizers; and a series of follow-up Never Work Alone conferences in various parts of Germany at which organizing and campaigning strategies were introduced to hundreds of union leaders and activists.