Union-Busting, the Latest Ugly US Export

We all know that when it comes to providing health care, maternity leave and retirement security for all their citizens, Britain, France and all the rest of "old" Europe make the United States look pretty pathetic.

For instance, Britain provides 72 weeks of paid maternity leave while even South Africa, at the low end of the spectrum, offers 12 paid weeks. The United States? Zero.

The list goes on and doesn't get any better.

But it's not enough for greedy corporations to endlessly lobby for their anti-employee agendas in Congress. They now are exporting the most insidious methods of preventing workers from attaining fundamental workplace freedoms: Union-busting.

Union-busting is a $4 million industry in the United States. When faced with a group of workers who want to form a union, U.S. employers all too often turn to these firms, packed with corporate lawyers who, for a steep price, provide them with all the dirty tricks they can undertake within a hair of the law. The same hasn't been true in Europe. Until now.

To better coordinate efforts against multinational union-busting, the AFL-CIO and our counterpart in Britain, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), earlier this month agreed to share information about the activity of union-busting firms in the United States and Britain. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber signed a joint agreement Feb. 12 to work together to eliminate the intimidation of workers who want to improve the quality of their families' lives by forming a union. Both will jointly lobby governments and relevant international bodies to restrict the activities of the union-busters, develop a shared database of union-busting activity and create "Busting the Union-Busters" training materials. (Click here to read the agreement.)

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