The Worker Institute co-sponsors 14th Transatlantic Social Dialogue

Participants from The Worker Institute engaged in dialogue on strengthening the labor movement internationally
Monday, May 30, 2016

This year the annual Transatlantic Social Dialogue (TSD) took place from May 22-24, 2016 hosted by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) in Brussels, Belgium. The Worker Institute at Cornell and the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung (HBS) co-sponsor this annual event with ETUI, rotating the venue between New York, Brussels and Berlin.

The TSD was launched in 2002 with the hopes of increasing and strengthening the existing transatlantic labor partnerships. Cornell University’s Industrial Labor Relations (ILR) School Associate Director Lowell Turner refers to the creation of the TSD as, a way to maintain and expand labor solidarity.

Committed to open discussions on social policies and challenges trade unions and the labor market may be facing, the TSD provides a platform where all participants can exchange ideas and strategies for developing viable solutions. As society experiences continual challenges these changes ultimately affect the labor movement and are considered and explored as part of this collaborate and diverse TSD effort.

“[The TSD is ]a real success story, bringing together each year 40-50 labor scholars, union leaders and activists from the U.S., Germany, U.K. and other European countries, along with the ETUI in Brussels, in a rich three-day exchange of research, experience, ideas and insights,” says Turner.

Among the topics for this year’s discussions was The refugee movements in Europe and migrant workers: the broad picture, which was co-presented by Shannon Gleeson, Associate Professor at the ILR School.

Gleeson, an interdisciplinary scholar, discussed the role of immigrants in the U.S. labor force, the impact of immigration enforcement policies in shaping the precarity, and the prospects for the U.S. labor movement to advance immigrant rights. Her presentation can help further the conversation on migrant workers from a different perspective to highlight this international struggle and facilitate approaches to overcoming it.

The TSD also featured sessions on Transatlantic perspectives on the state of the labour movement in Europe and the U.S. and Young workers within unions: their priorities and influence on the union agenda. E. Tammy Kim, journalist and Worker Institute fellow, participated on both of these discussions on behalf of The Worker Institute and shared insights from experience in the U.S. labor movement.

“Our exchange at TSD revealed many shared challenges: unionizing young workers, adapting to app-based precarity, and incorporating migrants and racial minorities in a time of rightward political drift,” said Kim. “I can already see how these lessons and relationships will inform my journalism and activism.” 

Next year will bring the TSD conference back to New York for further discussion and exchange of ideas on the changing labor movement and all of its challenges and accomplishments.