In it for the long haul — Two decades of global union solidarity at Bridgestone Firestone

Patrick Young
19 min readMay 8, 2019

Throughout the second half of the twentieth century as corporations globalized, buying and building facilities all over the world, workers and their unions struggled to keep pace by building an interconnected global labor movement. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that unions in the United States began dedicating resources to building global solidarity. And even then, many early efforts at global union solidarity were either paternalistic with unionists from the US setting out to ‘help’ workers toiling in sweatshops, or transactional, with US unions only reaching out overseas for support in a specific campaign. More recently many unions in the US and around the world have dedicated serious resources towards building global unions and transformative relationships with unions around the world, but progress has been mixed and we are still a long way from realizing a truly global labor movement.

One of the earlier efforts at global union solidarity was the campaign orchestrated by the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) to win a union contract after an aborted strike at Bridgestone-Firestone. Writing in 2003, Juravich and Bronfenbrenner characterized it as “the largest and most comprehensive global campaign to date,” with activities in 86 countries around the world over the two-and-a-half-year period…

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