Organizing for human rights with economic justice at home and around the world
A lot has changed since the birth of the modern labor movement in the 1930′s. Gains made by workers have been eroded by corporations and governments. Our economy has become global and a growing number of workers are excluded from current labor laws. Economically stable communities are shrinking as labor laws are weaker and cover fewer workers. It’s no accident that the erosion of worker organizations coincides with the stagnation of wages and rising poverty.
UEREF is responding with campaigns that unite workers and communities to win good jobs and power in the local and global economy. UEREF supports the creation of worker centers, community-labor alliances and international campaigns for human rights and economic justice. By building strong local alliances and global solidarity, we can transform our economy to work for all.
The UE Research & Education Fund was founded in 1994, with 501c3 tax exempt status, to foster international solidarity. Early funding provided support for the workers centers in Mexico that were established by the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo (FAT), and it continues to support worker to worker exchanges, cultural projects, and other cross- border work that can be found at www.ueinternational.org. Since then, UEREF has expanded to sponsor projects fighting for human rights with economic justice here in the United States.
Vermont Fair Food Campaign
The Vermont Fair Food Campaign (VFFC) is a worker/community organization formed to address the urgent need of Vermont’s food chain workers for justice on the job. While much has been made of the local, environmental and sustainable character of the Vermont food system, little attention has been paid to the conditions of the workers who produce, distribute and sell our food. The VFFC has completed a broad survey of working conditions in our state’s food industry. We found low wages, a high incidence of temporary labor and a large proportion of workers denied paid sick and vacation time. VFFC is building a rank and file led organization to address food chain workers concerns and to establish a Vermont fair food certification program.
VFFC has released the report “Backbone of Sustainable Food” which brings to light the need for livable wages, paid sick leave, affordable health insurance, more consistent hours and schedules, and more respect on the job. Read the finished study HERE.
A sustainable food system starts with sustainable jobs. Vermont food chain workers want livable wages, job security, decent working conditions, dignity and justice! As food workers build their campaign, they need to know they have the broad support of all community members. Let bosses and lawmakers know that you stand with food workers and for a just food system that is based on our human rights!
Southern Worker International Justice Campaign
Public sector workers who provide vital services are denied the human right to collective bargaining in the states of North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Many people don’t know that it is illegal for public sector workers in North Carolina and Virginia to bargain with their employers – on the state, county and municipal levels. In West Virginia the situation is not much better, as the state has failed to establish any process governing the recognition of unions or collective bargaining.
The Southern Worker International Justice Campaign combines community organizing, policy campaigns and the creative use of international law to challenge these grave injustices as well as the rampant racial and gender discrimination against public sector workers in the South. We won a case filed with the International Labor Organization of the UN that found that North Carolina’s prohibition on collective bargaining violates international law. Read more about the successful ILO case and other accomplishments and challenges at www.iwjc.org.
Warehouse Workers for Justice, WWJ
Chicago is a key choke point in the global movement of goods. The only place on the continent where all six class 1 rail (the highest volume rail) meet, Chicago is the third largest container port in the world, after Hong Kong and Singapore. Yet workers in the warehouses that move the goods we buy are temps earning poverty wages with no benefits or security.
Founded in 2009, Warehouse Workers for Justice (WWJ) challenges discrimination and other legal violations by major employers, educates workers on their rights, builds alliances in the community and with logistics workers in other cities, and fights to win policy changes that improve conditions for warehouse workers and their communities. In 2010, WWJ released the first comprehensive study of the industry in a report titled “Bad Jobs in Goods Movement”. For more information on WWJ and the study visit www.warehouseworker.org
Worker to Worker International Solidarity
UEREF continues to provide leadership in the international arena, forging relationships between workers that foster understanding and shared struggle. A delegation to China last December began building a relationship of solidarity between workers in both countries. We are building a tri- national solidarity alliance to support independent trade unions in Mexico. Meanwhile, we continue to develop our relationships with our counterparts in other countries: a rank and file delegation recently was hosted by its counterparts at the FAT, a UE regional president just returned from Brazil where he met with GE workers who service and refurbish locomotives, and earlier this year a graduate employee instructor who is a leader of UE traveled to Japan at the invitation of ZENROREN’s affiliated education workers’ union. In September 2011, UEREF hosted an international convergence of young activists from the US, Mexico, Japan, Quebec and India as a way to build solidarity while engaging in education and intensive leadership development.
For more information visit www.ueinternational.org
This work would not be possible without the generous support of many donors- join us and donate today!
We are pleased to thank the following foundations for their support of this important work:
Ben and Jerry’s Foundation
Canaday Family Foundation
CCHD – Dioceses of Joliet and Chicago
Common Counsel Foundation
Communitas Charitable Trust
The Crossroads Fund
General Service Foundation
Mertz Gilmore Foundation
Public Welfare Foundation
Southern Partners Fund
Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock
The Woods Fund
Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation