Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Working America and the WageIndicator - Gateways to the union

Harvard Law School set up a meeting with the top of the AFL-CIO confederation and Working America. Objective: to discuss the future of the young but very successful Working America. Harvard invited WageIndicator as an example of innovation for this young club. Working America is a sort of gateway to union membership, set up by the AFL-CIO. It is an organisation with low membership fees. That will help you with legal matters. And that will make you aware of the right political choices of today.
Working America does not engage in collective negotiations. But many Americans are not covered by collective agreements, and therefore such a club - with its legal assistance and political commitment - is in fact much more relevant. Especially now that everybody is focussed on the election of a new and - hopefully - politically correct and worker-friendly president.
The club is very successful. They go door to door to talk to people. It is unique and it works! Perhaps nothing new for people who have lived in the 1950s, but definitely for anyone else. New members join in large numbers: two million within three years, compared to AFL-CIO's eight million.
Of course, WageIndicators seldom have a pronounced political profile in the twenty countries where we are active. To the contrary. WageIndicator focuses on making people aware of wage and labour rights issues, based on the idea that you have to be aware of your rights; joining a union will be a logical next step. First the information, then the fight.
The common ground between Working America and the WageIndicator concept is that both provide a gateway and an incentive to join the union. Is this exaggerated? No, look at how the Brazilian trade union confederations are using Meusalario (the Brazilian WageIndicator) to prepare people without a union for union membership. Something similar is being done in the Netherlands at MSN.
Of course, Working America and Paywizard - as the WageIndicator is called in America - are going to collaborate. Once the election has been won, there will again be room for sound information rather than rhetoric. [Contribution by Paulien Osse]

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