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Latest News - April 2011

April 13, 2011
Unions to form IBM global alliance
Source: Poughkeepsie
By: Craig Wolf

Several labor unions plan to meet in Switzerland in May to form the "IBM Global Union Alliance," organizers say.

The Alliance@IBM, which is Local 1701 of the Communications Workers of America, said through national organizer Lee Conrad that it would participate.

Various unions have worked together over the years, but the new organization "takes that network to another level and will include many more IBM unions," the statement said. In the past year, new ones have formed in Argentina, Chile and Bulgaria.

"As IBM has set itself up as a truly global company, trade unions also need to set up a truly global alliance," the group said.

Doug Shelton, a spokesman for IBM, declined to comment.

Support for unions

Conrad's group, which has been trying to organize IBM employees since 1999, said: "IBM has negotiated with unions in Europe for decades and IBM has been successful as a company. If the company can do that there, they can do it here."

The networking among unions around the globe representing IBM workers dates to the 1980s, said Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University.

Bronfenbrenner said she thinks IBM's outsourcing of work from the United States to other countries in an effort to cut costs has worked against union efforts here. But unions have emerged more strongly in other nations.

"The idea was that you would move it to China and there would be no unions, and they discovered in fact that unions in China were beginning to find themselves," Bronfenbrenner said.

If unions work in solidarity globally, Bronfenbrenner said, "I think they can get something."

The unions' objectives are to pursue agreements with IBM to improve working conditions of IBM employees worldwide and to raise levels of trade union membership at IBM.



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