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“Change to Win” delegates visit China

This May a delegation of leaders representing the American labor federation Change to Win (CtW) made a groundbreaking visit to China to engage in high level talks with representatives from the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). Members of the CtW delegation included CtW Chair Anna Burger, CtW Executive Director Greg Tarpinian, CtW Secretary-Treasurer and UNITE HERE Executive Vice President Edgar Romney, Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, President of the UFW Arturo Rodriguez, and SEIU President Andy Stern. During the visit, the delegation met with high level government and ACFTU officials including Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions chair Chen Hao, ACFTU chair Wang Zhaoguo, and Jia Qinglin, who is the 4th ranking official in the Chinese government.

As is evident from these articles, the union delegation’s trip to China was of historical significance. As has already been widely reported in the Western media, American labor has long had a policy of non-engagement with the ACFTU, owing to the belief that it is controlled by the government and can therefore not act independently in representing the interests of workers. The CtW delegation put aside this Cold War mentality with the realization that continual non-engagement with the ACFTU was going to end up hurting both American and Chinese workers. As was often repeated by leaders from both the ACFTU and CtW, in the face of globalization, Chinese and American workers must not remain divided. Time and time again, the leaders asserted that, despite the different historical, political, and cultural conditions in China and they US, they must be committed to unity and cooperation in order to improve the lives of workers throughout the world. The fact that such high level officials from the Chinese side were involved indicates a high degree of willingness on the part of the Chinese government to cooperate with American labor in moving to check the excesses of the unrestrained free market. CtW has taken an important, albeit only the first, step in promoting greater cooperation and solidarity between Chinese and American organized labor. Now we must wait to see what sort of concrete actions follow.

This introduction was written by Eli Friedman, a PhD student at Berkeley University who was translator for the Change to Win delegation in China.

Here are the translated articles

1) “US and China trade unions make their first move to deeper co-operation
CLNT_CtoWin_deeper_cooperation.pdf [128.09KB]
美工会领袖:美中工会迈出深化合作第一步
http://www.shaanxi.cn/admin/pub_newsshow.asp?id=1056371&chid=100009

2) “Change to Win delegation visits China
CLNT_CtoWin_WorkersDaily.pdf [94.30]
美国变革谋胜利工会联合会代表团访华纪行
http://acftu.people.com.cn/GB/67560/5766222.html

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