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It’s union conference season. This week, the AFL-CIO meets in Los Angeles, California, while the TUC meets in Bournemouth, England.

The US labor movement is facing a crucial, make or break struggle: density is at an all time low, and attacks on working people have intensified. But workers are fighting back – particularly precarious workers, like those at Walmart and in the fast food industry.

Yesterday, the AFL-CIO convention passed Resolution 5, calling for “a broad, inclusive and effective labor movement.” This resolution makes the tactics of using unofficial, non-union structures – such as OUR Walmart – official union policy. In a move towards Social Movement Unionism, the US labor movement will embrace environmental, women’s, gay rights and other community groups, and make them official affiliates. The aim is to create a broad coalition that inspires Americans to take collective action for decent work.

The movement will also embrace minority unionism by organising workers where there is no mandate for a union contract or recognition agreement.

The conference also passed a resolution on prison reform, noting that privatised prisons had made mass incarceration a big business, and was criminalising and destroying communities.

The AFL-CIO is also campaigning for immigration reform, as employers use immigration status to drive down wages.

This New York Times article outlines some of the policies the AFL-CIO is adopting to revitalise the movement.

More analysis in The Nation.

Meanwhile in Bournemouth, England, the TUC was addressed by the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband. Relations have been strained lately, due to Miliband’s attempts to weaken his party’s reliance in unions. However, in his speech he promised to address the crisis of zero-hours contracts, which was cautiously welcomed by the delegates.

The TUC is campaigning for an economic strategy that returns the economy to growth through infrastructure investment and higher wages. The TUC also calls for rail services to be re-nationalised, for the NHS to be defended, and for the case to be made for welfare.


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