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foreign affiliates worth 700 billion dollars. The 50 largest TNCs control about half of all transnationals’ wealth. Twenty-one of these 50 are based in the U.S. TNCs operate on the scale of entire national economies. Just one of them, General Motors, one of the world’s largest corporations, had gross sales in 1985 greater than the gross national product of every country in Africa, Asia and Latin America except Japan, China, India, Mexico and Brazil, and every country in the Middle East except Saudi Arabia. It has also invested seven billion dollars in its European operations since 1980 and owns a major share of Isuzu and Suzuki in Japan, and Daewood Motors in Korea. General Motors is closing more than a dozen plants in the U.S. leaving thousands jobless. With their ability to move capital and production anywhere in the world, these giant conglomerates are responsible one way or another for the problems facing workers not just in the U.S. but everywhere. Developing the organizational power and unity of action that will make it possible to corral these monsters is the biggest challenge facing the international labor movement today. It is a challenge that calls upon union leadership to develop new strategies and tactics to become flexible and creative. Reforming the nation’s labor laws to remove the stalls, delays and other legal devices that are grinding private sector workers into powerlessness must become a legislative priority. Entirely “deregulating” labor relations and taking the struggle “to the streets” is another idea offered by some. The most successful union organizing cam paigns have occurred outside the Labor Management Relations Act. The fastest growing sector of the labor movement is in the public sector where there are few laws that favor labor. But only by making a massive re-commitment to organizing the unorganized will unions be able to survive, improve workers’ quality of life, and increase their influence in our country. As long as only a small percentage of the U.S. workforce is organized, other forces will continue to rise in their attack on the gains made during the last 50 years, as well as on the rights workers should enjoy as they pursue their goals. These are very large obstacles for unions to overcome. But some obstacles are self-imposed. Only a relatively small percentage of most unions’ budgets have been earmarked for organizing. When organizers are recruited to mount organizing campaigns, the leadership at many unions relegate them to “project” status or “temporary” endeavors. There seems to be a fear in some unions of new and seemingly unsophisticated members entering the ranks in large numbers. There are nearly 20 million organized workers in the U.S. both in and outside of the AFL-CIO. A union’s only hope for overcoming the enormous obstacles to winning lies in the continuous mobilization of the workers involved. It has been suggested that the AFL-CIO set aside a dollar a month from each of its members for organizing. A fund of over $200 million would be created that would subsidize the beginning of a massive organizing effort. Further, if union leadership could get just one out of ten of their members involved in active organizing efforts, a whole new movement would be born. Successful organizing flows out of existing union organization rooted in its members’ activism. Where members mobilize and act to prosecute their demands they win even today. The membership is the union, and the lifeblood of that membership in a constantly changing society is continual organizing. To have the ability to wage and win workplace struggles, both large and small, remains the most compelling reason for union organization. Some unions like the United Electrical WorkUnion of Hospital and Health Care to these tenets of what unions are really about. In others, a growing movement from within is beginning to activate the membership. The central theme at CWA’s national convention last month was organizing. The Service Employees International Union has long pushed organizing among its membership. Both of these unions have serious organizing commitments in Texas the former with state employees and telecommunications workers, the latter with nursing home and other health care workers. Others like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ers of America have growing internal organizing efforts underway here. In Texas, with less than ten percent of our workers unionized, and with layoffs and concessions the order of the day, Joe Hill’s immortal words, urging union member not to mourn but to organize, should guide the labor movement as never before. FIVE DAYS A WEEK, eight hours a day, Leatrice Dews bathes, feeds and cares for the needs of elderly men and women at a nursing home in Tyler. For her grueling round of chores try cleaning up after an incontinent patient she is paid the pittance of $3.99 an hour. “It’s hard to live on that,” says Dews, who is 26, black and a single parent Paul Sweeney is a business writer for Sentinel. This article is reprinted from Newsday. trying to raise an eight-year-old son on a meager paycheck. “I’ve looked for other work,” she adds, “but there’s nothing better.” Dews is not alone. She is one of a growing number of American workers who are paid so badly that, even after sweating through a full-time job, they are still impoverished. PredoMinantly women and minorities, but increasingly including adult white males, these workers file clerks in New York City, switchboard operators in Baltimore, security guards in Corpus Christi are known by experts as “low earners” or “the working poor.” Sar Levitan, a George Washington University economist, says there are eight million full-time workers whose wages lift them out of poverty. He is one of many the list includes former Labor Secretary Ray Marshall, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the AFL-CIO who are clamoring for Congress to raise the minimum wage. “Eight million workers are stuck because they do not have market clout,” says Levitan. It has been ten years since Congress last dealt with the minimum wage, phasing in several pay raises in 1977 legislation. Since the hourly minimum wage went up from $3.10 to $3.35 in January 1981, there have been no more increases. Wages at the Bare Minimum By Paul Sweeney THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15