Global Partnering with Other Unions

WHEREAS, the Teamsters practice global labor solidarity and have done so throughout our history. In 1995, the Teamsters launched an international strategic campaign against Royal Ahold; in 1997, we initiated a council for UPS unions worldwide that added pressure for a fair settlement; in  December 1999 in Seattle, the Teamsters were at the forefront of a global labor protest against WTO trade rules so behemoth corporations would not exploit countries with weak labor laws and environmental standards; and

WHEREAS, in 2002, a Blue Ribbon Commission of Teamster leadership  set out a new vision to build Teamster power that identified the importance of global outreach. In 2005, a Global Strategies office was established in the Strategic Research and Campaigns Department. Over the last 11 years we have greatly expanded our alliances with unions representing Teamster employers around the world; and

WHEREAS, we are active participants in international union alliances with key Teamster employers across our sectors of the economy like global delivery (UPS, FedEx, DHL, XPO); beverage production and distribution (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, AB-InBev, SABMiller); construction/cement (Holcim/Lafarge, Heidelberg/Italcementi, Oldcastle); airlines and catering (United, American, Gate Gourmet); port trucking (Toll, Maersk); school and transit busing (First Group, National Express, STA); warehouse (IKEA) and food and dairy production (Nestle, Kraft, DFA, Dannon, Bimbo and Saputo). These growing global alliances create power in organizing and at the bargaining table for Teamster Locals and sister unions overseas. These relationships enhance our unique position in the global supply chain such as the port drivers organizing. We are fighting corporate-driven globalization with global union solidarity; and

WHEREAS, China continues to be a key source of production for multinational companies. Following a ground-breaking delegation to China led by General President Hoffa in 2007, Change to Win signed a protocol with the All China Federation of Trade Unions to expand and deepen information exchange in 2009. Teamsters Joint Council 25 signed a protocol with the Shandong Federation of Workers for ongoing interchange in 2010 that continues today. Exchanges have focused on industries of importance to the Teamsters, including motion picture and beverage production. Current dialog is happening with Chinese multinational companies expanding in the U.S.; and

WHEREAS, large foreign multinationals are acquiring subsidiaries in the United States. The European firms are embracing anti-union tactics they reject in their home countries where unions often have legal recognition, employer respect and political influence. Strong Teamster friendship with unions in Europe is creating new opportunities to join with home-country unions to demand neutrality during organizing drives and fairness at the bargaining table. The solidarity shown by the British union Unite was an essential factor in achieving neutrality with First Group that led to the organizing of tens of thousands of bus drivers into the Teamsters and ultimately a National Master Agreement with First Student; and

WHEREAS, the Teamsters are affiliated with six global union federations that unite unions globally by sector: International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), International Union of Food Workers (IUF), Public Services International (PSI), Union Network International (UNI), Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) and IndustriALL (manufacturing workers). These organizations greatly assist in building common-company union alliances and solidarity; and

WHEREAS, International Transport Workers’ Federation recently invoked, for the first time, its “Charter for Corporate Bad Behavior” due to the persistent anti-union actions of Durham School Services, a subsidiary of the British multinational corporation National Express. ITF is now working with all its affiliates with membership in National Express to force a change in company policy in the U.S. This international solidarity is anchored by the unions that represent National Express workers in the United Kingdom – Unite the Union, RMT (rail, maritime and transport), TSSA (professional and technical) and ASLEF (locomotive engineers); and

WHEREAS, the Teamsters act in solidarity by pressuring employers and foreign governments to respect worker rights. And we are increasingly requested to intervene with Teamster employers to respect worker rights in their operations overseas. For example, the Teamster Parcel Division played the key role in a dispute in Turkey that eventually led to union recognition and collective bargaining for workers throughout the parcel delivery industry in that country; and

WHEREAS, unions overseas are increasingly concerned with U.S.-style management interference making inroads in Europe and worldwide. Some U.S.-based anti-union consultants are opening offices in Europe. The Teamsters have vast experience fighting union busters and are sharing our expertise with global union partners; and

WHEREAS, corporate-driven globalization is producing slow economic growth and growing inequality. Corporations are creating social responsibility codes, fair trade standards and social auditing mechanisms to present an image to shareholders and consumers of fair treatment to employees while continuing to threaten workers who organize. The only long-term strategy for assuring labor rights at the workplace is a union chosen by the workers that successfully negotiates a collective bargaining agreement.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED at this 29th International Convention that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters recognize that the future of working people and the future of our great Union depend on  our ability to organize the unorganized and to build alliances with workers throughout the world. We will particularly focus on the global supply chains where we are uniquely positioned to build Teamster power; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Teamsters will bolster our participation in the global union federations and our bi-lateral union  relations with key partner unions. We will support mutual solidarity through union networks linking organizers and negotiators for specific employers and supply chains; and

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that we will continue to oppose global and national policies that increase violence against trade unions.