August 7, 2020
Out Now: Videorecordings from the #GTUA2020 Launch. Next Session is 20 August 2020
On July 9, 2020, more than 450 trade unionists and movement activists from nearly 60 countries took part in the opening session of the first-ever “virtual” Global Trade Union Assembly.
The Assembly is taking place as seven virtual sessions during July, August and September, as part of labor’s response to the complex, unfolding crisis unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The opening session, titled Unions Standing Together: A World To Win, featured union leaders from around the world discussing the current moment and how unions can and should respond. More details below.
The next session of the Assembly will take place on August 20, 2020, at 07:30 EST (find your local time here). At that session, we will review highlights from the opening session, reflect on questions raised there, and preview the four thematic sessions that will take place over the subsequent two weeks:
- Towards a Public Future: Putting People Before Profit
Unions understand that the multi-dimensional crisis set off by the coronavirus presents our movement with opportunities to organize for a “public future”—one that establishes an economy that puts need before profit, advances equality and can tackle the existential dangers of climate instability and ecosystem collapse. This session will help us prepare for the Assembly’s thematic discussions and frame the issues that are to be explored.
If you have not already done so, you can register for this and other sessions here.
Unions Coming Together, Responding to the Crisis
The idea for an Assembly emerged through a series of discussions beginning in April, involving unions from various regions and sectors. The Assembly was announced in June 2020 as a series of seven “virtual” meetings under the overall theme, Pandemic and Beyond: Workers Organizing for a Public Future.
More than 60 unions from 35 countries and regions have now signed on as convenors of the Assembly. To date, more than 1,100 people have registered for one or more sessions. The full list of convening unions is available here. TUED is coordinating the work of the Assembly’s planning committee, with support from the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung’s New York Office.
The opening session on July 9 began with contributions from Adolfo Aguirre of the Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina Autónoma (CTA-A), and Sara Nelson, President of the US Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA). Both offered their reflections on two key questions of this moment:
- How might the pandemic experience shape our movement’s political goals and strategy?
- What changes are needed in the way unions organize on the ground?
A scheduled third contribution from Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), was sadly prevented due to a family bereavement resulting from Covid-19.
Next, a series of “North-South Conversations” explored what forms of internationalism and solidarity can help us build the world we want in the context of the current crisis:
- Aira Firdaus, United Workers Union (UWU), Australia, and Josua Mata, Sentro, Philippines
- Samantha Mason, Public and Commercial Services Union, UK, and Catalina Caro Galvis, Mesa Social Minero-Energética, Colombia
- Asbjorn Wahl, Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees (NUMGE), Norway, and Maicon Michel Silva, Confederação Nacional dos Metalúrgicos da CUT (CNM/CUT), Brazil
- Kelti Cameron, Candian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and Justina Jonas-Emvula, Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU)
Recordings of the full session are available in English, French, Korean and Spanish at: https://slucuny.swoogo.com/gtua2020/recordings
Once again, the next session of the Assembly will take place on August 20, 2020, at 07:30 EST (find your local time here).
If your union would like to be added to the list of convenors, please email IreneTUED@gmail.com.