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At the April 16 Mobilization for Global Justice —
UE Members Say,
‘Close the IMF,
Not Factories!’


Mobilization for Global Justice
UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark with District 11 Pres. Carl Rosen

UE Sec-Treas. Bob Clark (left) was among the rally speakers. At right, he leads a UE contingent along with UE District 11 Pres. Carl Rosen.

"Close the IMF - Not Factories!"
Bobbie Nesbitt, president of UE Local 714, and his wife made the long ride from Sandusky, Ohio (below, right); behind them is Jim Lemke, recording secretary of UE Local 1111 in Milwaukee.
Heavy police presence Nesbett, Lemke and others ...
A heavy police presence (above, left) was designed to ensure that there would not be a repetition of last falls' 'Battle of Seattle,' in which protestors succeeded in preventing meetings of the World Trade Organization. There were many reports of violations of civil liberties; even tourists found themselves jailed for hours.
Demanding Global Justice ...
Giant puppets and colorful floats figured prominently in the march and rally on April 16th.
Demonstrating in Washington Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader IUE Pres. Ed Fire
Ralph Nader denounced taxpayer-subsidized bailouts and the IMF's opposition to trade union rights. The consumer advocate is Presidential Candidate of the Green Party (center). At right, IUE President Ed Fire denounced GE's movement of jobs abroad. Fire chairs the Coordinated Bargaining Committee of GE unions, which includes UE.

For many of the dozens of UE members who traveled long hours and miles to be in Washington, D.C. on April 16, the slogan on the placard proudly carried by Mike Schwertz, UE Local 690 recording secretary, summarized why they were there: "Close the IMF Not Factories."

Union members joined the Mobilization for Global Justice to take a stand for jobs and decent wages and conditions for workers the world over, and to protest a global economy in which the rules are made by a few behind closed doors.

UE had the largest and most visible union contingent among the 10,000 or more gathered in Washington to protest the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The protestors, many of them young, came to together to condemn destructive environmental policies, global poverty, unfair trade, sweatshops and human rights abuses that can be linked to the policies of the two powerful financial agencies.

The IMF, a secretive organization without accountability, imposes NAFTA-like conditions on developing nations, with an emphasis on driving down wages. The IMF forces governments to rewrite laws to benefit foreign investors and imposes austerity programs, which can include cuts in social spending and privatization.

The World Bank is the largest lender in the world to poor countries, often funding huge development projects. When countries can’t meet their payments on the World Bank loans, they borrow from the IMF — and as a condition of those loans, the agency gains the power to make major economic decisions instead of national governments.

"The World Bank and IMF make it easier for corporations to ship our jobs overseas and around the world," said UE in encouraging membership participation in the April 16 protest. "These are the international financial organizations that force developing nations to yield to multinational corporations, to trample on people’s rights and allow their natural resources to be ravaged."

UE was the second union to endorse the event; the first union was the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), like UE a Labor Party-backer.

But if UE was near the front of the line in endorsements — as it was in the line of march — others in the labor movement also got involved.


At the rally in The Ellipse, the park between the White House and the Washington Monument, AFL-CIO Sec.-Treas. Rich Trumka brought the greetings and endorsement of the federation’s Executive Council. "The IMF is not working for working families," declared Trumka, who said the protestors were "stirring the souls of our nation."

Also speaking for labor were Steelworkers Pres. George Becker, AFSMCE Pres. Gerry McEntee, AFGE Pres. Bobby Harnage, IUE Pres. Ed Fire, chair of the Coordinated Bargaining Committee of GE Unions, and UE’s Bob Clark.

The UE general secretary-treasurer called for an end to all U.S. support for the World Bank and IMF in a hard-hitting speech that pulled no punches about the nature of the economic system.

Other speakers include outspoken consumer advocate Ralph Nader, presidential candidate of the Green Party, U.S. Rep. Denis Kucinich (D., Ohio), and Cheri Honkala of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union.

Emcee for part of the rally was film-maker and political satirist Michael Moore, who introduced the crowd to a potted Ficus plant he plans to run against an incumbent Republican Congressman in New Jersey, in conjunction with his "Awful Truth" series on Bravo.


A massive police presence guaranteed that finance minsters and other officials from many nations were able to attend the IMF meetings. Police in riot gear sealed off several blocks around the buildings housing the World Bank and IMF. Key stops on the Washington Metro were closed as well, causing problems for UE members who tried to rendezvous prior to the rally.

Only a handful of protestors (none of them UE members) were arrested that Sunday. On the previous day police arrested more than 600, sweeping an entire block. Police arrested peaceful protestors, tourists and bystanders, including two employees of the World Bank. "I had been there for less than five minutes when the police closed both sides of the street and did not allow anyone to pass even though nothing except a peaceful march was taking place," wrote Leon Galindo, World Bank consultant. "No warning was given. No explanation was made."

"For all practical purposes, the police proved to be the greatest allies of the protesters in this demonstration because they perfectly proved the point that the protesters were trying make in this march: poverty and suppression of liberty go hand in hand and lead to further social injustice," Galindo wrote. He was held for 23 hours, along with hundreds of others.

UE News - 05/00

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