CHAPTER 28                        SEIU Widens Global Union E ort                          G4S Victory Spurs Gains At Home,...
214                                                                                                    STRONGER TOGETHER: ...
SEIU WIDENS GLOBAL UNION EFFORT                                                                                           ...
216                                                                                      STRONGER TOGETHER: THE STORY OF S...
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Chapter 28 seiu widens global union effort - SEIU étend l'effort syndical général


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A fact-finding team of union leaders, including SEIU Ex- ecutive Vice President Gerry Hudson, visited Malawi in 2007 and found that G4S security guards earned so little that their families frequently don'f have enough to eat and their children's school fees go unpaid." Many of them lived in mud homes without electricity or running water.

Une équipe de dirigeants de l'organisation syndicale, dont Gerry Hudson, Vice-Président Exécutif de SEIU, se sont rendus à Malawi en 2007 et ont découvert que les guardes de sécurités de la multinationale G4S gagnaient si peu que "leurs familles n'ont souvent pas de quoi manger, et les frais de scolarité restent impayés." La plupart vivaient dans des maisons faites de boue, sans électricité ni eau courante.

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Chapter 28 seiu widens global union effort - SEIU étend l'effort syndical général

  1. 1. CHAPTER 28 SEIU Widens Global Union E ort G4S Victory Spurs Gains At Home, AbroadL eon Maulana, like the security guards at Wackenhut in the United States, just wanted a union to ght for his interests. Maulana worked for G4S, the giant multinational secu- provement in their earnings and working conditions. In 2010, his pay rose to $89 per month—double what he earned just three years earlier without a union. And Maulanarity rm, in the African country of Malawi. Trying to support received 100 percent of his overtime wages, instead of the 50his family, including three children, on $45 per month proved percent he got before workers organized with help from SEIUnearly impossible. So he jumped at the chance to become a and its global allies.union member in 2007 when UNI Global Union launched an G4S had a well-earned reputation as a harsh anti-unionorganizing drive there with support from SEIU. employer. It ranked as the second-largest employer in the A fact- nding team of union leaders, including SEIU Ex- world after Wal-Mart among private sector multination-ecutive Vice President Gerry Hudson, visited Malawi in 2007 als. Often, G4S workers were among the lowest paid withinand found that G4S security guards earned so little that “their their countries.families frequently don’t have enough to eat and their children’s Today, G4S owns Wackenhut, a security rm SEIU beganschool fees go unpaid.” Many of them lived in mud homes to organize in the United States in 2003, when the companywithout electricity or running water. was owned by a Danish-based company called Group 4 Falck. Maulana and other G4S workers put in long hours—often at rm merged with Securicor in the United Kingdom to be-12 hours a day, 7 days a week. In North America, most workers come G4S. SEIU sought support for its American organizingreceive a premium for overtime work, but G4S in Malawi paid e orts of Wackenhut from UNI, the global union federationonly 50 percent of the normal rate for overtime. So workers based just outside of Geneva, Switzerland, with which SEIUreceived two hours’ pay for working an extra four hours on their is a liated.shifts. For Maulana, all the overtime brought him only an ad- Progress for SEIU and UNI Global Union came in aditional $9 per month. signed global agreement with G4S that goes beyond general With the solidarity assistance of SEIU, an organizing cam- assurances to respect international norms. e deal provides apaign in Malawi by UNI Global Union sought to help security speci c set of commitments on labor rights by G4S, as well as aworkers achieve a union to lift them out of poverty. Maulana system to manage disputes. It also includes a speci c guaranteejoined with his co-workers in that campaign, which succeeded of workers’ right to organize and allows unions access to thein July 2007. G4S workforce. Following the global agreement signed by G4S in 2008— In the United States, SEIU reached a separate neutralityand a round of successful negotiations between UNI and G4S agreement with Wackenhut aimed at enabling workers to freelyin Malawi—Maulana and his co-workers enjoyed a marked im- join the union without employer interference. Valarie Long,
  2. 2. 214 STRONGER TOGETHER: THE STORY OF SEIUwho served as SEIU Property Services Division chief negotia- ers at the time of the 2004 convention were Group 4 based intor in the settlement discussions, said the deal was a “positive Denmark and Securitas headquartered in Sweden.step forward for security o cers and their families all over the “To our union allies who are here [at SEIU’s 2004 conven-country.” In 2010, SEIU had e orts underway at Wackenhut tion] from around the world, I ask that we join forces, to learnin Minneapolis and Chicago, with Los Angeles expected to fol- from each other, and replace old, outdated, weak, internationallow as part of an overall campaign involving nine cities where relationships with real strategies and real unity,” SEIU Presidentthe rm does security work in commercial o ces and local and Stern said in his keynote address. “I want to send this mes-state government facilities. sage to every emerging global corporation in this world: Justice, e G4S victory grew out of SEIU’s decision at the 2004 family, community, and union are the same in every language.convention to expand the union’s global work. SEIU was re- And wherever you go, and whatever you do, a new labor move-sponding to the fact that a global economy meant the service ment is coming after you.”187sector increasingly was dominated by multinational companies, e growth of multinational companies and the expan-rather than local or national rms. e union needed to step sion of globalization weakened labor even in the historicallyup its international work and form strategic global alliances unionized workforce in Europe. Union density declined inwith workers in other countries. countries such as Britain, France, and Germany, although orga- For janitors and other property services members, SEIU nizing often was not seen as a top priority there. And unionshad seen real estate interests and cleaning contractors become regularly faced huge di culties in Asia, Africa, and many Southmajor players in the world economy. at was true in the se- American countries.curity sector in North America, where the two largest employ- S EIU soon had a sta of 15 working on global organiz- ing partnerships, and the union worked with the Swedish transport workers to get a neutrality and card-check agreement covering the U.S. operations of Securitas. But a similar ap- proach through the Danish union did little to move Group 4 (later G4S) to alter its staunchly anti-union posture regarding Wackenhut in the United States. It was clear that a broader e ort would be required. “We needed these companies to be organized worldwide and needed to work with unions in these countries to organize to raise stan- dards together and force these companies to deal with unions and set up frameworks for doing their own national bargain- ing,” said one sta member in SEIU’s global e ort.188 In a way, this was a logical extension of SEIU’s e orts onSEIU’s global e orts won an agreement with Wackenhut, the security com- a national level to organize to build density within companiespany, at the end of 2008 that is aimed at letting workers choose to join a unionwithout employer interference. and industrial sectors so that workers had greater leverage with
  3. 3. SEIU WIDENS GLOBAL UNION EFFORT 215 I n Uruguay, some 7,000 building cleaners signed up as union members in the rst year of the e ort there working with FUECI, the Uruguayan services union. SEIU sent in members highly skilled in organizing, with the Uruguay e ort spearheaded by Spanish-speaking organizers from SEIU’s Puerto Rico locals. In the United Kingdom, SEIU developed close ties to the Transport and General Workers Union and worked together with TGWU on campaigns for cleaners who maintained Lon- don’s banks, nancial houses, and multinational corporations. E orts in Britain resulted in organizing campaigns that won new deals with cleaning contractors.Trade union activists from many countries visit SEIU headquarters in Wash- Unite—formed from a merger of the Transport and Gen-ington, D.C., to discuss global worker issues. Lee Keun Weon of the Korean eral Workers with another union called Amicus—ultimatelyPublic Service Union exchanged ideas with SEIU in 2008. won six agreements establishing the London living wage acrosswhich to win gains at the bargaining table. But doing it in- Canary Wharf and the City ( nancial district) that united 2,500ternationally, with di erent national labor laws and corporate new members, 80 percent of whom were immigrants.cultures, posed tough challenges. In the Netherlands, where SEIU had been active, janitors SEIU’s focus on security workers led it to help those in won a major victory in 2008 when they negotiated pay of 10Poland who worked for Securitas and G4S. American work-ers from SEIU Local 32BJ and Local 1—a number of whomwere Polish speakers—traveled to Warsaw and helped securityo cers sign up their co-workers to join the union, Solidarnosc,which had started with shipyard workers organized by LechWalesa years earlier.189 SEIU often partnered with the global union federationUNI Global Union, as well as counterpart unions in othercountries. In India, SEIU helped develop joint security workercampaigns with UNI and two of India’s national union centers.More than 22,000 members were organized at various secu-rity employers in four Indian cities. e global agreement withG4S helped make possible negotiations that led to gains forsecurity workers in India, such as greater protections in case ofinjury or death on the job, guard uniform bene ts, and greaterjob mobility with workers no longer bound to work for the Tom Woodru , SEIU executive vice president, coordinated much of the union’ssame agency. global work after the 2004 convention.
  4. 4. 216 STRONGER TOGETHER: THE STORY OF SEIU($13.50) an hour and access rights for organizing new workersin the future. SEIU also expanded its solidarity to Australia and NewZealand, where the “Clean Start” campaign aimed to organizecleaners in 10 cities. Working with the Liquor, Hospitalityand Miscellaneous Union (LHMU), SEIU helped train neworganizers and developed fresh approaches to community andpolitical organizing there. e Clean Start e ort during thisperiod was equally nanced by SEIU and LHMU and was thebiggest organizing campaign in Australia since the 1890s.190By the end of 2008, cleaners in Australia had won contractsin eight cities that resulted in improvements in pay andworking conditions.191 SEIU mobilized teams of healthcare professionals who were airlifted into Haiti SEIU and the Change to Win labor federation formed after the devastating earthquake that killed thousands in 2010. A member of SEIU Healthcare Florida provided emergency care to a patient at St. Damiena European organizing center in Amsterdam in September Hospital in Port Au Prince, Haiti, as part of SEIU’s relief e ort.2008. ree SEIU organizers, who had spent several yearsworking with global unions on developing e ective organiz- rights for almost 500,000 workers in 50 countries. SEIU lead-ing strategies, helped sta the Amsterdam o ce, which served ers and sta played an important role in UNI’s campaigns foras the base for SEIU’s European partnerships and strength- the rights of workers at ISS.ened work on behalf of U.S. workers employed by European e union also had plans underway in 2010 for a projectmultinationals. with healthcare unions in Brazil. At the SEIU convention in 2008, UNI Global Union Workers around the world, such as Leon Maulana in Ma-signed a global organizing agreement with leading worldwide lawi, have bene ted from SEIU’s global work that seeks tofacility services provider ISS. e agreement was the most com- broaden the “stronger together” commitment to workers inprehensive and advanced of its kind, and guaranteed organizing other nations.