Activists Debate Ambitious Plans at National Union Conference
TORONTO, April 27 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers union is launching its first national organizing campaign, a Canada-wide program to give unorganized workers a collective voice in their workplaces.
Amidst "the worst economic crisis in a generation," organizing unorganized workers is more important than ever, Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director for Canada, said today.
The Steelworkers have organized 12,000 workers over the last three years. But more must be done, Neumann told over 600 USW activists, as well as national and international labour and political leaders attending the union's National Policy Conference in Toronto.
"Organizing new members is essential if we are to continue our tradition of leadership and ... identifying new ways to improve the lives of working people," Neumann said in his conference-opening address.
United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard followed Neumann's address by affirming the union's plan to expand global alliances and partnerships with unions on every continent.
"We have shown foresight and solidarity in building alliances with other unions," Gerard said.
"With Great Britain's Unite the Union, the United Steelworkers created the first global union, three-million members strong. We have alliances with several other international unions and we will continue to build on these successes. Our solidarity and our strength must be globally-encompassing so we can fight toe-to-toe with global corporations bent on attacking our working and living standards."
The USW's 51st National Policy Conference continues until Thursday at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. Other key speakers include Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti, federal New Democratic Leader Jack Layton and Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter.
Other special guests include Napoleon Gomez, exiled leader of Mexico's Los Mineros union; Colombian lawyer Yessica Hoyos, daughter of a murdered Colombian labour activist; Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary of Britain's Unite the Union; Novarck Silva de Oliveira, leader of Brazilian union STEFEM; and Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.
Delegates will attend Day of Mourning ceremonies at Toronto City Hall, Wednesday at noon.
Participants will be joined by Vale Inco strikers from Sudbury and Port Colborne on Thursday at 1:15 p.m. for a march to Queen's Park and a rally in support of proposed anti-scab legislation in Ontario.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: For further information: Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, (416) 544-5950; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, (416) 434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org