from 21 unions in 11 countries on five continents met in Nashville
recently to create a global union network at International Paper Co.
(IP), the largest paper company in the world, "to advance and
protect the interests of IP employees worldwide."
"This global union network is a strong step forward in
dealing with this multinational employer and will allow unions around
the world to work together in common cause," said Boyd Young,
International President of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and
Energy Workers International Union (PACE).
PACE and the ICEM co-sponsored the conference, which took place on
The participants came from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia,
Finland, France, Korea, New Zealand, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the
United States, representing tens of thousands of IP employees. Globally,
IP employs 100,000 people and operates in 22 countries, with sales last
year exceeding $26 billion.
In addition to PACE, ICEM affiliates from North America in
attendance included the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of
Canada, the Graphic Communications International Union (GCIU), and the
United Food and Commercial Workers.
"We decided that an effective trade union movement has to
operate as globally as the companies where we represent workers,"
said PACE Vice President Donald L. Langham, who also serves as a North
American vice president of the ICEM.
crosses national borders in search of the highest profits, and the
unions present here have resolved to match that corporate globalization
with a globalization of workers' solidarity," he said.
Langham was elected by the conference to chair the new ICEM Global
Network of IP Unions. He will lead a network steering committee that
will also include Jean-Pierre Nicolas of the FILPAC-CGT paper workers
union of France; Kazimierz Nowak of Solidarnosc of Poland; Max Adlam of
the Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union of Australia; and
Job Filho of the paper workers union SINAP of Brazil.
The unions pledged to share with each other information on wages
and working conditions and take common action at IP in support of
participating unions that need assistance. The unions additionally
resolved to approach senior IP management to establish a dialogue and to
seek an agreement on the establishment and implementation of labor
standards at the company's operations worldwide.
"When we came together and heard how IP operates around the
world it was eye-opening for many of the participants," said PACE
Vice President Bob Smith, who co-chaired the conference. "It was
empowering to bring so many unions together for a common purpose."
The unions also expressed their strong support for workers then on
strike at IP's Clifton, New Jersey cosmetics packaging plant. The
workers are members of the GCIU, the International Association of
Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the International Brotherhood of
Four days after the end of the union conference, IP and the unions
reached an agreement that ended the strike. The
new contract did not contain the concessions that IP had been seeking
but did include wage increases and other improvements for the workers.
"I express my gratitude and appreciation" to the unions
that supported us, said Edward Treacy, president of GCIU Local 612M,
which represents the majority of the workers at the Clifton plant.