This Week in Labor: AFL-CIO and ITUC Call for Financial Transaction Tax

Lindsay Beyerstein

At the end of each week, Working In These Times rounds up labor news we’ve missed during the past week, with a focus on new and ongoing campaigns and protests. For all our other headlines from this week, go here.

-Thousands of unionists rallied in solidarity with striking Candian postal workers Thursday outside the offices of Canada Post in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Ottawa, Ontario. The protesters chanted Negotiate, don’t legislate!” — a reference to the federal government’s move toward back-to-work legislation.

-The International Trade Union Confederation, which represents 171 million workers in 151 nations, is calling for a global financial transaction tax. The proposed tax would be .2 to .5 percent of all financial transactions. Bob Baugh of the AFL-CIO told reporters in Bonn last week that this relatively modest levy could raise hundreds of billions of dollars a year while serving as a brake on irresponsible and socially destructive speculation by the financial sector.

-Rank-and-file members of New York’s building trades are scheduled to rally at 3:30 p.m. Friday on Broadway and West 40th Street in Manhattan to protest a proposed 20 percent wage cut. Louis Coletti, head of the Building Trades Employers’ Association, wants unionized construction workers to take a 20 percent pay cut in addition to cuts they’ve already accepted in the name of spurring a slow construction sector. 

-The World Health Organization is warning that asbestos-related deaths could skyrocket in Asia over the next 20 years if action is not taken to preserve the health of workers. Sixty-four percent of the world’s asbestos was used in Asia, from 2000 to 2007 according to a new study, up from 33 percent between 1971 and 2000, and just 14 percent from 1920-1970. North American workers enjoy strong protections from asbestos, but those standards are not universal. Worldwide, over 100,000 people die of asbestos-related illness every year and the death toll could rise much higher if precautions are not taken to protect workers.

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Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times’ City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://​www​.hill​man​foun​da​tion​.org/​h​i​l​l​m​a​nblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.
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