Initially, we were nervous about making the trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil for a meeting with the Gerdau Workers World Council. We’d be 5,000 miles from home, without much idea of what to expect as representatives for unions in the U.S. and Canada.
But, as soon as we arrived, we saw that our counterparts were no different than the brothers and sisters at our own Locals: men and women who work for a living and want to do the best they can for their families. They were gracious, friendly, and proud of their work, just like we are.
It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what you look like, or what language you speak. Anyone who works for a living wants three basic things: First, we want to come home from work safe, in the same shape as when we left. Second, we want to be able to provide for our families, so that our kids can grow up just a little better than we did. And third, we want to be able to retire with dignity. We don’t expect to get rich or receive a handout, but we also know that we shouldn’t have to live near poverty after working our whole lives to make money for our companies.
Along with the Council meeting, we visited workers at a sister plant in Sorocaba. The company wouldn’t allow us in, but workers flooded to the gate to applaud and chant for solidarity. We also joined Brazilian unions in a huge protest against the cuts that brothers and sisters around the world are facing because of the financial crisis.
Dealing with massive multinational corporations like ours – one of the world’s largest steelmakers –solidarity and cooperation between workers and our unions is more important than ever. Business is evolving, with companies getting bigger and stronger, so we have to expand and strengthen our own networks. We might not speak the same language, but we’re in the same struggle with the same companies, and we’re stronger if we fight out of the same corner.
Unit Chair, USW Local 9447-05
Calvert City, Kentucky
President, USW Local 5442
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Posted November 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm, in Free Speech Zone