Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Organizing the Middle East

Interesting story in The New Republic by Joseph Braude, courtesy of Crooked Timber, recommending that the U.S. support unionization of the Arab world as a way of advancing democracy:
In light of the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11 were
Saudis, it’s hard to fathom why the United States would even consider ignoring a
secular movement in the Gulf with reasonable goals and thousands of members. ...
The Gulf unions, by contrast, according to the American labor official, desire
logistical support and training from the United States—a sentiment you don’t
hear very often from the traditional Arab labor headquarters in Damascus. To be
sure, the Bahraini unions are—and the Kuwaiti unions are about to become—members of the Damascus-based establishment. All the same, their eagerness for American partnership is an opportunity to plant the seeds of meaningful political change. ... What can the United States do for these unions in practical terms? In
countries where there are no unions, the U.S. government should demand to know
why—well before a free trade agreement is signed. Laws restricting public
assembly—which exist in many Gulf states—ought to be eased in any country
wishing to sign a free-trade agreement with the United States. But the right to
assemble is only the first step in a long road that should lead to the rights to
strike and collectively bargain—which either don’t exist or are severely
constrained in all Gulf states. And it’s not just the U.S. government that has a
role to play. In countries where unions are already active and feisty, like
Bahrain and Kuwait, American labor unions should lend support to their
counterparts by offering advice and tactical training.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

fine, lets just make sure were not training right wing unions to smash the left wing unions, because that was the history of AFL "collaberation" before Sweeney ...(maybe it still is, btw).