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UE Hosts Zenroren Leaders
Studying ‘Living Wage’


The Zenroren delegation brought their concerns for peace ...

The Zenroren delegation brought their concerns for peace — and their own placard, invoking the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — to a community peace vigil in Pittsburgh last month. Photo by Sandra Hazley

An inquiry into the "Living Wage" ordinances adopted by numerous municipalities in the 1990s brought a delegation from Zenroren, Japan’s National Confederation of Trade Unions, to the United States for a week in December. While in Pittsburgh and Washington, the high-ranking delegation met with UE officers, members, staff and union allies.

Zenroren represents 1.5 million workers and is composed of both national and industrial unions and local federations.

Led by Hiashi Oki, Zenroren vice president, the delegation met with UE Genl. Pres. John Hovis and Genl. Vice Pres. John Lambiase at the UE national office here. The seven-member delegation had extensive discussions with union and community activists with leading roles in winning implementation of Pittsburgh’s Living Wage ordinance.


The Japanese union leaders joined in the weekly East End Community Vigil for Peace In Iraq in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood. They were interviewed by a TV reporter.

Zenroren is a strong supporter of Article 9 in Japan’s postwar constitution which declares that "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes."

Dr. David Rosenberg, the UE Archivist, gave the delegation a labor history of Pittsburgh. The visiting trade union leaders also met with the Mon Valley Unemployed Committee.

UE Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley greets Hisashi Oki, vice president of Zenroren.
UE Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley greets Hisashi Oki, vice president of Zenroren.

In Washington, the delegation consulted with UE Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley and UE Political Action Dir. Chris Townsend, and talked with citizen advocate Ralph Nader, the 2000 Green Party presidential candidate endorsed by UE. They also conferred with leaders of the Service Employees International Union and the Alexandria, Va. Living Wage campaign.

In addition to Brother Oki, who is also president of Zenroren’s National Union of General Workers, the delegation included leaders of the Federation of Commercial Broadcast Workers’ Unions, the General Federation of Japan Printing and Publishing Workers’ Union, the Youth Council of Japan Federation of National Public Service Employees’ Unions and the Kyoto General Council of Trade Unions.

The Zenroren delegation also traveled to Amherst, Mass. and Los Angeles.

UE News - 1/03

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