I spent the past five days meeting people and learning about conventions, practices, international agreements and organizations, etc that are consequential to labor, both in the United States and around the world. Today, at the Solidarity Center, the focus was on the international labor movement, especially how labor activists in the US were not only forging and maintaining bonds with communities of workers in other countries but how they are supporting labor movements in countries where labor standards are not as well enforced as they are in places like the US, Canada, and many others.
China was always an interesting caveat in these discussions, since the government controlled union is one of the world’s largest and because it is illegal to form private unions. While this poses challenges to the broader community of workers seeking solidarity with the workers of China, that is not to say that labor plays a small role in the country. On the contrary, despite the controlled nature of much of China’s news media, labor activists that I talked to today said howÂ prominentlyÂ workers issues, working standards, and worker actions against unacceptable work conditions were featured in Chinese media.
Even Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping remarked recently on the importance of labor unions in the country – see “China’s labor unions play unique role: Vice President” in The People’s Daily, a national English Language news source from China.