>USWA's Becker Condemns 'Renegade Corporations,' Urges Greater
>Updated 10:07 PM ET August 7, 2000
>LAS VEGAS, Aug. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The following press release
>was issued today by the United Steelworkers of America:
>In a rousing keynote speech, George Becker, president of the
>United Steelworkers of America, told nearly 3,500 delegates
>and guests that greater political activism is the answer to
>increasing corporate attacks on working families in today's
>"We live in changing times, exciting times, challenging times,"
>Becker told the convention.
>"Today global corporations transfer technology and capital
>across borders with lightning speed. They wipe out thousands of
>jobs -- devastate workers and their families and communities --
>without a second thought. Or they use economic blackmail -- the
>threat of instant relocation of the workplace -- to force
>concessions, to try to intimidate us," he said.
>Becker noted that corporate attacks on workers and their unions
>have increased with increasing globalization.
>"More and more, we're confronted by renegade companies determined
>to 'bust' our union, that'd rather pay a scab to steal our jobs
>than pay what we're worth," Becker said.
>"They've forced us out on strike; they've shut us down; they've
>locked us out; they've scabbed the plants; they've permanently
>replaced us; they've sued us in court; they've killed us on the
>picket lines," he said.
>"But we've fought and we've fought and we've fought. And in the
>end -- in every case -- we've won. At terrible cost, at tremendous
>suffering by our members and their families, but they did not
>break our spirit, they did not 'bust' our union," Becker said.
>"And one by one, these corporate renegades are learning the hard
>way that when we draw the line in the sand, all of these struggles
>end in the same way -- with our members back in the plants with a
>fair contract, and with the scabs out," he said.
>Becker told the delegation that the abuse of corporate power at
>work sites is only one of many challenges facing the union.
>"Globalization itself confronts us with difficult challenges,"
>"They call it 'free trade,' but it's really a corporate charter
>for worker and environmental exploitation, a global trading scheme
>designed to profit multinationals and financiers -- and nobody
>else -- by triggering an endless race to the bottom on wages and
>working conditions around the world," he said.
>Becker noted that more than half a million jobs have been wiped
>out in the United States and Canada in the past two years, with
>millions more to come if China is admitted to the World Trade
>"These are family-supportive jobs -- the kind that let you own a
>home, and educate your kids, and give our governments the revenue
>they need to support the social safety nets we've established,"
>"So unless we change the current trading scheme, it's going to
>wipe out 50 years of social progress," he said.
>Pointing first to the Seattle demonstrations against the WTO, and
>the later fight against extending permanent normal trade relations
>to the People's Republic of China, Becker declared that the fight
>to reform the current world trading system is ultimately a global
>political fight, one in which the union must build alliances
>across borders, and increase the activism of its own members, to
>"We're fighting global problems with global solidarity," Becker said.
>"We're forming alliances with unions in other countries -- and with
>organizations fighting the same fights we are: environmentalists,
>human rights activists, and people of conscience everywhere," he said.
>"We need to energize and mobilize and communicate with our membership
>in a very real way, very seriously," Becker said, noting that the
>union's Rapid Response program, which involved more than a quarter
>million Steelworkers in the fight against PNTR for China was just the
>"It's time to put an end to unfair trade, to the permanent replacement
>of strikers, to corporate assaults on working families," Becker told
>"This is your union. These are your issues. These are the things you
>want us to fight for -- and we're going to do it," he said.
>Contact: Marco Trbovich, 412-418-7513, or Gary Hubbard, 202-256-8125,
>both of United Steelworkers of America