Week of Actions for Jobs, Peace and Prosperity


Labor’s Stake
In the Pittsburgh
G-20 Protests

By Alan Hart
United Electrical Workers

When G-20 government leaders met in London last April, thousands of trade unionists marched in protest. Labor organizations from over 100 countries – including the AFL-CIO – issued a “London Declaration” that criticized the G-20’s policies for favoring multinational corporations and banks, and demanded new economic priorities that “put people first.”

Unions are the strongest and most consistent voices for working people. Pittsburgh union members need to take a prominent place in the peaceful protests and educational events planned when the G-20 Summit comes to Pittsburgh.

The Group of 20 is an organization of the finance ministers and central bankers from the 19 most economically powerful countries, plus the European Union. Their meetings coordinate global economic policies known as neoliberalism or corporate globalization. Neoliberalism aims to “liberate” capital – corporations, bankers, big investors – from measures that working people have won in the past, through union struggles and legislation, that placed rules and limits on what big business can do.

Neoliberal policies include deregulation of business, which has allowed widespread abuses of workers, consumers and the environment. Deregulation of the banking industry led to a speculative bubble of reckless gambling on mortgages. When it eventually burst, it ruined the values of millions of homes and dragged the world economy into deep crisis. They also include privatization, which has wiped out thousands of public service jobs and enabled rogue contractors like Halliburton and Blackwater to rob the taxpayers and commit crimes in our name.

So-called “free trade” really means unlimited mobility for capital. Companies and entire industries now move from country to country seeking the lowest wages and weakest environmental rules. It has meant the loss of millions of U.S. jobs and pushed down our wages, and has been a disaster for workers in countries around the world.

Free trade also turns workers into economic refugees. In the case of NAFTA, countless working-class families in the U.S., Canada and Mexico had to leave their hometowns when local industries closed, and farming communities in Mexico were wiped out by the flood of free trade corn and other agricultural imports, forcing people to migrate.
When “Pittsburgh welcomes the world,” Pittsburgh labor needs to speak to the world. We must make our voices heard as we demand that the G-20 place human need above corporate greed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s