Workers Of The World – Pay Attention
By Dave Johnson
March 13, 2012 - 3:14pm ET
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There’s something happening here. What it is is becoming clear. There’s a company blocking a union over there, and that’s telling you you’ve got to beware.
Breaking unions strikes deep. Back to your country it will creep. It starts when they pay low wages and exploit workers here. Pretty soon you’re fighting them there.
Last month, in Will American Anti-Labor Policies Infect Europe?, I warned German workers to pay attention to the way their Deutsch Telkom is behaving toward workers at their subsidiary company T-Mobile here in the US.
We entered into "free trade" agreements that enabled our businesses to take advantage of exploited labor in countries like China, and the plutocrats used that as a wedge against us here to drive down our wages, get rid of our benefits and break our unions. Now your own business leaders are taking advantage of eroded labor rights here, and if you let them get away with this they will want to bring these working conditions back to you.
... In countries like Germany workers are still paid fairly well and have benefits and rights. Here our pay, benefits and labor rights have eroded terribly. This is the result of American companies using exploited labor in countries like China as a wedge to force concessions at home. Can the same chain of events attack wages, benefits and unions in Europe?
... Here is an example. Germany’s Deutsche Telkom is trying to turn their wholly-owned subsidiary US company T-Mobile into a low-wage, low-benefit, union-free dumping ground. Is this an effort to ultimately bring these tactics back home to break Germany’s unions?
... So here is the question for European working people to ask. Will Europe let the US be their China? American companies learned to use China as a weapon against workers here. Will European companies bring American anti-labor practices home as a weapon to break down European worker rights and living standards?
Will European companies learn to use American anti-labor practices against European workers? Or will European workers stop this in time?
Since then a delegation of German workers came to the US to see for themselves. The results were not encouraging. German Delegation Ends T-Mobile Tour Stunned by U.S. Anti-Unionism,
After the meeting, Conny, a Deutsche Telekom retail employee, reflected:
It makes me really angry that employees are intimidated and harassed when they want to join a union. Companies like T-Mobile seem to use every possible tactic to prevent unionization.
I think our colleagues are quite brave and have a lot of courage as they fight for their rights despite their own personal risks. They are all employed on an at-will basis, which means that they can be fired from one day to another. So they really worry about their future.
... For the German workers who came on the trip, their experiences have helped personalize the struggles of T-Mobile workers who live and work an ocean away. Their conviction to stand together with T-Mobile workers in this country is stronger and more deeply felt.
Before they headed back to D.C., Werner Schönau, Dieter Badel and Helmut Angerer summed up the week they spent with various T-Mobile employees:
We want to say that we are deeply impressed by the stories people told us on our trip and by the concrete experience we had. In particular, the personal reports from employees of T-Mobile US about their working conditions and the avoidance tactics of the union had us moved deeply. We really hope that this delegation is at least a small contribution for improving the working conditions and workers rights [for T-Mobile workers]
…We definitely won’t give up in the future. We will use every opportunity to talk with our German co-workers about the experience we had during this week. We will encourage them to ask questions, also tough questions, to our management about what’s going on at T-Mobile in the USA.
Here We Go Again - This Time Australian Company
An Australian company operating in the US fired a truck driver for making an emergency stop to use a bathroom (pretty bad) but the real reason was she was supporting union organization (really bad.) This company has a union in Australia, but is doing things like this here. Australian Trucking Corporation Condemned After Firing a Female Driver for Making Emergency Pit Stop at a McDonald's,
An $8.8 billion Australian transportation corporation has escalated its attack on its Latino-American workers by firing a mother of three for stopping to use a McDonald's restroom during her delivery route. The cruel termination of Xiomara Perez, a 46-year-old port truck driver who has already been outspoken about the filthy, unsanitary outhouses that lack running water at her worksite, occurred amidst a rise of pro-union solidarity actions by Perez and her co-workers.
… "It's not safe to 'hold it' when you have to relieve yourself. Toll's management has been looking for any little excuse to fire those of us that speak out in support of us forming a union with the Teamsters. They have obviously been spying on us and the worst thing they could pin on me as retaliation is a quick stop to use the restroom at a McDonalds."
… Friday's discriminatory firing ironically occurred on International Women's Day -- and during the week its local U.S. executives received a visit from three Toll drivers from Sydney and a union official for the Transport Workers of Australia. The union's rank-and-file and leadership are outraged that the company treats their U.S. counterparts as second-class citizens when the company allows its 12,000 Down Under drivers to negotiate strong contracts with middle class pay, benefits, and safety improvements.
… The Los Angeles Toll drivers have sought representation by the Teamsters union. Toll has delayed their legal right to vote on a union by exploiting weak labor laws.
More information about the organizing effort at Toll Group is available here: http://grimtruthattollgroup.com/
So this is a warning to working people in countries that respect the rights of working people. Pay attention to what your companies are doing in the US. You really don’t want them learning to operate the way a lot of US companies operate -- or your own wages, benefits and even your jobs could be on the line – like ours are here.
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