Research Fellow, Center for Global Studies, Purdue University Northwest, Hammond, IN
Unanimously Elected, December 2015
NOTE: All of my writings, listed by subject, on these and related issues, can be found on my Publications page.
I have been engaged, in one way or the other, with building global labor solidarity since 1983. This lists several projects that I have carried out over the years, and my Ph.D. project–comparing unionization in steel and meatpacking in the Chicago area between 1933-55, and examining how these unions addressed racism and white supremacy (in the workplace, the union and the community)–is currently under review by an academic publisher.
Building Global Labor Solidarity 1983-currently
Have been working to build solidarity between US workers and workers and unions around the world since 1983. Have written and published numerous articles for peer-reviewed and specialty journals, as well as published numerous book reviews, in US and Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, The Philippines, South Africa, United King
AFL-CIO Foreign Policy 1983-currently
My work examines the foreign policy program of the AFL-CIO, from its emergence under the American Federation of Labor in the early 1900s until today, and places this in a theoretical and sociological context.
- Examines historical origins of Labor’s foreign policy program.
- Details the role played by the AFL-CIO’s AIFLD (American Institute of Free Labor Development) in laying the groundwork for the September 11, 1973 military coup against the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende.
- Provides the most detailed account of the effects of AFL-CIO foreign operations on workers overseas by examining the efforts by the Associated Labor Unions, the largest affiliate of the AFL-CIO supported Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), to take control of a KMU-affiliated local union at the Atlas Mines in Toledo, Cebu, Philippines during the mid- to late-1980s. This is based on field research in the Philippines.
- Evaluates the changes instituted in foreign policy program by John Sweeney upon his election to the presidency of the AFL-CIO in October 1995, and its subsequent reversion back to the “old days.”
- Explicates the relationship of the AFL-CIO foreign policy program with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
- Reports efforts of rank-and-file trade unionists and their allies to transform AFL-CIO foreign policy program into a force for genuine international labor solidarity, with a particular examination of events around the 2005 AFL-CIO National Convention in Chicago.
- To date, I have a 276-page monograph—AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?—that was published in late September 2010 by Lexington Books, an imprint of Rowman and Littlefield, in hardback. A soft cover version published in August 2011. Have also published four related peer-reviewed articles.
- Have a 57-minute interview of me about my book, conducted by Steve Zeltzer in San Francisco in March 2012.
Ph.D. Dissertation 1998-2003
“TRADE UNION DEVELOPMENT AND RACIAL OPPRESSION IN CHICAGO’S STEEL AND MEATPACKING INDUSTRIES, 1933-1955.”
Placed in a global context, this study theoretically determines the effect of collective identity, trade union conceptualizations and democratic processes on two unions, affecting their respective approaches to racial oppression in the workplace, the union and the community.
- Historical-comparative study of the emergence and development of the Steelworkers Organizing Committee/United Steel Workers of America and the Packinghouse Workers Organizing Committee//United Packinghouse Workers of America in the Chicago area between 1933 and 1955.
- Based on a post-structural model of society.
- Demonstrates through comparative methodology that forces external to the workforce are contextual, not determinative.
- Extensive archival research with original, secondary, and interview data—challenges considerable “established wisdom” of labor history, especially of CIO period.
- Close comparison of how each labor organization addressed racial oppression in workplace, union, and community.
- Presents theoretical ramifications from study upon Labor Studies specifically, but Sociology as a whole.
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Labor Center of the Philippines 1986 – 1996; 2015 and 2016
This research project sought to understand the development of a labor movement established under a dictatorship and with the specific challenges faced by workers in a developing country. This project was self-funded though my wages and vacation time, and included six separate trips to the Philippines.
- Initiated, designed and implemented first in-depth, nation-wide study of one of the three most dynamic labor movements in the world.
- Integrated economic development and worker mobilization across four disparate economic production systems—plantation sugar, extractive mining (copper), capitalist agriculture (bananas and timber), and an export processing zone (garments and electronic components)—spanning both colonial and post-colonial production processes.
- Combined on-site investigations in locations across the country with historical and contemporary literature on political economics, development, social movements and organizational development.
- Focused specifically on gender-based, women workers’ organization, as well as on women trade union leaders at the local and national levels.
- Designed, conducted, transcribed and edited over 120 hours of formal interviews with labor leaders, workers, progressive clergy and labor activists across the country.
- Book was published as KMU: Building Genuine Trade Unionism in the Philippines, 1980-1994 in 1996.
- Returned to Philippines in April-May 2015 to update study as part of 2nd Edition of book. Spent three weeks visiting workers and workers’ support organizations in Luzon, Mindanao, and Negros.
- Returned to Philippines in August 2016 to collect interviews from national level leaders and organizational allies, and to visit workers’ alliance in the Southern Tagalog region.
South Africa: The Current Labor Situation 2006
Spent three and one-half weeks in the country, drawn initially to present a paper at the International Sociological Association’s 2006 World Congress of Sociology in Durban.
- Participated in an “invitation only” conference on “Trade Unions and Politics: Africa in a Comparative Context,” July 21-22, sponsored by the Sociology of Work Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), the Politics of Development Group at Stockholm University, and the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Zimbabwe: Johannesburg.
- Attended the formal launching of a new book, edited by Sakhela Buhlungu, titled Trade Unions and Democracy: COSATU Workers’ Political Activities in South Africa.
- Opening night speaker, conference “Worlds of Labour: Southern African Labour History in an International Context,” July 28.
- After serving as an opening night speaker, participated in the rest of an international labor history conference, July 29-August 1, sponsored by the Sociology of Work Unit and History Workshop, University of the Witwatersrand: Johannesburg.
- Conducted extensive research, both through formal interviews and informal conversations—on the current situation in South Africa, with a primary focus on the current labor situation.
Venezuela: The Current Social Situation 2006
Conducted a 10-day preliminary research trip to Venezuela in June 2006. Went to learn about changes currently taking place in that country, to talk with labor leaders, and to talk to people directly about various governmental programs. Extensive travel within the country—in the capital (Caracas), a mountain area in and around Sunare in the State of Lara, and the Barlovento Region, center of the Afro-Venezuelan community, in the State of Miranda.