This is the list of 1996-1997 winners only. For websites of the week from 1998, click here.
25 December 1997
A Holiday Season Present:
3 Labour Mailing Lists and their Websites
Labor-L - http://www.yorku.ca/research/dkproj/labor-l/
LeftLink - http://www.alexia.net.au/~www/mhutton/
Irish Left Forum - http://larkspirit.com/general/irishleft.html
The Internet is great for selling things, as Bill Gates and others have learned, but above all, it's a way for people to communicate.
That's why the "killer application" of the net is, and always has been, electronic mail. And the old-fashioned LISTSERV and MAJORDOMO programs, used to run online conferences, are still among the best ways to use email to build communities.
This week, I've picked the websites of three labour mailing lists -- and this itself is something new. Mailing lists used to be one category, and the Web another. Today, they are increasingly linked to each other. The labor-l website, for instance, even has a whole page devoted to how to retrieve web pages even if you only have email access to the net.
I've been subscribing to Labor-L for a long time; I think it's still the best global forum on the net. It has something like 500 participants from dozens of countries, and yet maintains a very high standard, thanks in large part to its moderator and founder, Professor Sam Lanfranco, who's based in Canada.
I'm a relative newcomer to the LeftLink list based in Australia, but have found it to be a very useful tool for two things: keeping informed about what's happening in the Australian labour movement and left, and helping to inform the brothers and sisters down under about certain topics that probably don't make it into the mainstream Australian press, like the class war taking place in the Israeli town of Ofakim (suffering from 20% unemployment).
As for the third winner of this week's Labour Website of the Week, the Irish-Left forum, I have to admit that I'm brand-new to this one. Like the other two lists, it's moderated and serves more as way of making announcements than of conducting conversation. This is what they write about the list:
The 'Irish Left Forum' is an open email list to share information concerning left-wing Irish politics, particularly issues of a socialist, anarchist, working class, republican, and nationalist character. We welcome anyone interested in these matters, including activists, politicians, academics and students residing in Ireland or with interests in Irish affairs, to join the list and contribute information to the broad Irish Left community. We hope that this list helps build communication between groups and individuals who share similar principles and goals for Ireland.
I'd like to take this opportunity to wish the hundreds of regular visitors to the Labour Website of the Week a very merry Christmas, happy Channukah and happy new year. See you again in 1998.
18 December 1997
Policy and Information Center for International Solidarity - PICIS
It's Election Day in South Korea, and if you check out the mainstream media, you'll discover that there are three candidates running for President. All three have signed promises to accept the International Monetary Fund's "reforms" in the South Korean economy -- "reforms" which constitute a blatant attack on workers' and trade union rights in that country.
There are actually other candidates running in today's election, and the most important of these is Kwon Young-kil, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), which ran the general strikes in December 1996 and January 1997. Kwon's campaign is an incipient labour party, and is called People's Victory 21 (PV21).
Every week for some time now, the dedicated members of the PV21's "International Solidarity Team" have been putting out twice-weekly newsletters on the Internet, in both email form and on the web. This week's winner of the Labour Website of the Week award is the site that hosts the PV21 newsletters.
You can read here not only about the campaign, with its ups and downs, the struggle to overcome the media blackout and so forth, but also a regular flow of labour news not available anywhere else.
No, Kwon will not be elected South Korea's president today. But People's Victory 21 represents the beginning of something important -- independent labour political activity -- and deserves our attention.
11 December 1997
The Labour Website of the Year 1997Click here to see who won.
4 December 1997
Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
Last week, I gave the award to Free Speech TV because of its collection of labour digital videos and audio files -- and predicted that over time, there would be many labour websites offering live and archived digital video and audio. I didn't go to this site looking for that, but that's one of many things the OSSTF website offers. Their panel discussion of "Bill 160" is available in two formats, for digital and video.
The actual reason I wanted to give this site the award is its remarkable new search engine. Search engines have been on my mind lately, and I just recently created one for my own labour website. But the OSSTF has gone much further -- their search engine reviews some 400 (that's four hundred) trade union websites. Call it the AltaVista of the labour movement, if you will.
There are even more exciting things planned for this cutting edge site. I encourage trade unionists everywhere to check it out.
27 November 1997
Free Speech TV
There's been a lot of talk about using the Internet as a way for the labour movement to "broadcast" radio and television programs at very low cost. I wrote about this more than a year ago in my book. More recently, the subject has come up for discussion in the Labour Webmasters' Forum. But actually, very little work has been done so far.
During LaborMedia 97 held in Seoul two weeks ago, Korean activists broadcast conference sessions live using RealAudio. But that was exceptional, like so much else at that conference.
Joey Manley runs a website called Free Speech TV and it has a section -- look under "Archive", then under "Issues", and then under "Labor" -- which is, in my view, the beginning of an online labour television and radio network.
It includes digitized videos like "Justice for Strawberry Workers" from the United Farm Workers in the USA, a report on the Detroit (Motown) strikes from the Direct Action Media Network, and "Look Chum!", "an activist's view of the British Labour Party conference". In addition, the site includes many digitized audio files which can be heard using the RealAudio plug-in.
If you don't have the software, the site includes links to download the necessary programs. All you need is a computer, an Internet connection, a sound card and speakers.
I recommend this site -- and not only the labour component -- to all trade unionists on the net who are interested in the possibilities of adding streaming multimedia content to their sites.
Some day, there are going to be several digital TV and radio channels broadcasting live content for trade unionists on the net. Today, there is Free Speech TV. Check it out.
20 November 1997
Support the Russian Workers' Campaign Against The Scandal of Unpaid Wages
Stop whatever you're doing. Think about this: more than 20,000,000 Russian workers are not being paid regularly. Delays can take as much as 12 months.
The situation facing the Russian working class is outrageous, and demands immediate international attention. That's why the ICEM -- the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions -- has launched this "cyber-campaign" to turn up the pressure in support of the Russian labour movement.
The site includes links to dozens of other sites, but most important -- dozens of email addresses to write to. These include Russian employers, government officials, and international financial institutions as well. Participants in the cyber-campaign can add their support the joint ICEM-ICFTU complaint to the International Labour Organisation about the Russian wages crisis.
Often when we visit trade union websites, we're shown a pleasant brochure about a union. Sometimes there's even a feedback form, so we can tell the webmaster how much we enjoyed the site. This is an entirely different project. The ICEM, which pioneered the use of computer networking back in the mid-1980s, is transforming the Internet from a tool for information to a weapon of struggle.
Click on the link above and begin adding your voice to the world-wide campaign for justice for Russian workers.
6 November 1997
There have been international conferences on the trade union movement and the net before. Early ones took place in Manchester in 1992 and 1993. There were several conferences in the USA. Once or twice groups have met elsewhere in Europe to discuss the subject. But until now, there has never been a conference like this one.
Meeting in South Korea at the invitation of a number of groups including the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, LaborMedia 97 promises to be a most interesting event.
Conference organizers write:
"LaborMedia '97 will be held to share the experiences of each organization. It is urgent concern of labor movement how to use the internet and how to deal with information technology to further its international solidarity. Information technology has gained a great success and on a rapid growth of use in diverse industries. This conference will give a hand to share the experiences of each organization.
"The General Strike in South Korea early this year, showed its ability of using internet to appeal [to] international comrade[s].
"The international conference will set the agenda of labor movement in the age of internet and information technology."
The website includes details of how to join the online mailing list and also the basic documents laying out the Korean activists' view of how the labour movement can use the new technology to promote global solidarity.
In addition to the website, the conference is accompanied by an online chatroom, which will be open during the meeting on 10 - 12 November. You can visit the chatroom's home page by clicking on the following URL:
30 October 1997
International Federation of Building and Wood Workers (IFBWW)
Woodworkers have been in the news a lot lately, as smoke covers much of southeast Asia, the result of widespread forest fires in the region. The issue of renewable and sustainable forestry is -- if you'll pardon the expression -- a hot one these days.
What better occasion to bring attention to this rich and interesting website, run by the organization which represents 13,000,000 men and women in 110 countries around the world?
The IFBWW is the fourth international trade secretariat (ITS) to receive this award -- the others were the International Transport Workers Federation (21 November 1996), the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (30 January 1997), and most recently, the International Federation of Journalists (10 July 1997).
Like the other ITS sites, the IFBWW website specializes in building global solidarity. It's "Latest News" page is filled with stories of injustice -- and the struggle against injustice. Stories often include practical ways unions and individuals can express their support for such struggles. For example, the most recent account is about woodworkers in the Solomon Islands, fired from their jobs, and the strike in seven camps against the company. In a down-to-earth example of practical international labour solidarity, the story recounts how an Australian union flew in a labour lawyer to help defend the workers against a corporate legal attack. An appeal is made for financial support for the workers, who need such basic items as salt and rice. Fax numbers are provided for those who wish to join the mounting protest.
The ITS sites are becoming absolutely central to the emerging global labournet, particularly their news pages. What is missing is a central index to those pages, something which is done in the world of information technology by the various online daily news services such as news.com. When such a service is finally launched, the IFBWW site will be one of the primary sources of news.
23 October 1997
Double Award: Organizing Campaigns Online
I was so touched by the spirit of both of these sites that I couldn't easily pick which one to give the award to this week. So I'm giving it to both of them.
Frontier Strike Page:
21 September 1991 -- do you remember where you were? That was the day workers at the Frontier Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, began their strike. Today, more than six years later, it is still going on. It's the longest running strike in the United States. Picket lines run 24 hours a day. You can read the whole story at this site.
Barnes & Noble Employees Need A Union!:
Wesley Gibbs in Louisville, Kentucky is standing up for his rights and those of other workers at the giant US bookstore chain, Barnes and Noble. His page -- actually, a very long scroll -- tells bookstore workers their legal rights, how to get in touch with the union, dispells myths about the union, is filled with anecdotes about work in the stores, links to other bookstore organizing efforts (like at rival Borders books), and gives the low down on pay and benefits for the bigwigs who own the company.
16 October 1997
Windsor Day of Action - October 17, 1997
There are many cool things about this site, not least of which is the intention to offer a live, online experience on the Day of Action itself. This experience will include use of ICQ chatrooms -- something you have to experience to understand. It might even include live digital video. These folks in Windsor, Ontario are going all the way.
But what's the "Day of Action" all about? Their description could have been written anywhere in the world by labour movement activists -- I guess that's the meaning of globalization. Here's what they say are the goals of the Day of Action:
- Demonstrate to the Tories that there is real opposition to their agenda;
- Build alliances and coalitions within our community;
- Encourage people to challenge the attack on working people;
- Pressure employers to tell their friends in the Government to moderate their attacks on our social safety net and workers' rights;
- Inform the public about the injustices the Tory program is inflicting on our Province;
- Show international investors that a right wing revolutionary program causes pain and upheaval when implemented without regard for large parts of the population.
Visit their online site on 17 October; join their ICQ chat room -- and let's all learn from their experience.
9 October 1997
Edinburgh Trade Union Council
It's not the fanciest site on the web (by far) nor the most popular (6 hits a day is nothing to brag about -- I'd drop that counter, comrades), but this is a solid trade union site nonetheless. It is updated regularly with campaigning news.
If you wanted to know how to get on the bus to the demonstration on behalf of the Liverpool dockers, there was an email link for more information. If you want to read the latest news from the TUC, this is one place to look. There's an online form for people who might be interested in joining trade unions, with an email option for browsers which don't support forms. And there's a directory of affiliate unions, but without email and web links (why not?)
25 September 1997
General Strike Newsbriefs
Until now, I've avoided awarding one of my own sites a "site of the week" award -- surely there's something unethical about that, right? But this week, I'm pointing all of you directly to a page which I've designed and written -- because this time it's my own union on the line, and it doesn't have a website of its own.
Next Sunday, the Histadrut (Israel's national trade union centre) is due to launch an unprecedented general strike of unlimited duration. There have been threats of Army intervention, rumors of the formation of an independent labour party, and much more. The ramifications of a prolonged general strike in Israel are far-reaching. The Netanyahu government, for example, might fall.
For those reasons, I encourage you all to visit this new site, which is being updated at least once per day. I also encourage you to put the graphic which appears next to this article on your home pages -- it means "I'm proud to be a member of the new Histadrut."
18 September 1997
Det norske Arbeiderparti [The Norwegian Labour Party]
In power since 1990, the Norwegian Labour Party was a great success story. The country's economy is booming. Unemployment -- at 3.5% -- is one of the lowest in Europe. The largest opposition parties have only about half the support of Labour.
So when elections were held earlier this week, Labour easily swept back into office, right? Wrong. They were defeated. After having imposed upon themselves the goal of reaching the same percentage as they had in the 1993 elections (36.9%) -- and not meeting that -- the Labour Prime Minister Thorbjoern Jagland stepped down.
The website of the Norwegian Labour Party looks good, and according to reports published online by the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, this was the country's first election in which part of the battle was fought online. All the parties had websites.
A few months ago, we gave the Labour Website of the Week to the Norwegian national trade union centre, the LO. Today, leaders of the LO are warning the conservative politicians who are setting up the country's new government not to trample on workers' rights.
In the past, we've given this award to parties and unions following (or just preceding) their triumphs. This week, let's visit the website of a once-great labour movement now in a moment of (temporary) defeat.
For daily news reports from Norway in English, published by the government, point your browsers to Norway Daily.
11 September 1997
(UK and Ireland)
With some 200,000 members, the graphical paper and media union is the "world's largest media union" according to this beautiful and professional website. It is also an international union, with membership in both the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The site opens with a lovely graphic and has navigation tools throughout. (Site authors were kind enough to include a full page description of how to use the site, which browser, how many colors, what size font to use, etc. Well, what do you expect from graphic designers?)
It is loaded with everything one should find on a trade union website: an online press, an online form to join the union, and lots of text. All that was missing, as far as I could see, was some kind of interactive feature. There is an online guestbook, but it only allows you to sign in -- and not to see others' comments.
Add a little interactivity here (like a Web board or Hyper News), and this could be the perfect labour website.
4 September 1997
Home Page of the Trade Unions of Thessaloniki
They represent 350,000 workers and were founded in 1917 and they're called the Trade Unions Center of Thessaloniki. This is their website, with an extensive selection of pages in English.
There are some problems with the English in this site, and some very basic questions are not addressed (like the history section makes no mention of the Greek civil war, nor of the period of military dictatorship in the 1970s). The links page is "under construction."
That having been said, this site offers a rare glimpse at a labour movement many of us know little or nothing about. Worth a visit.
28 August 1997
The Detroit Journal
Is there anyone out there who doesn't know about the Detroit newspaper strike? These embattled workers have been at it for years now -- and this is their online newspaper. Still publishing. Still walking the picket lines.
Visit the Detroit Journal if you haven't done so recently.
Send them a message of solidarity -- write to email@example.com.
Here are some other things you can do (taken from the Action! Motown '97 page, which is also well worth a visit):
- Do not buy or read the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press and USA Today To cancel a subscription call 1-800-678-6400.
- Subscribe and advertise in The Detroit Sunday Journal, the weekly paper published by locked-out workers. Call 313-964-5655.
- Don't shop at businesses that advertise in or sell the scab papers. For a list of scab advertisers, call 313-965-2347.
- To get a "No News or Free Press Wanted Here" lawn sign, Call: 313-963- 6619.
- Donate money to the Detroit Newspaper Workers Relief Fund:
c/o Walter Freeman
GCIU Local 13N
3300 Book Bldg.
Detroit, Mi. 48226, USA
- Invite a speaker to your next event. Call: 313-965-2347
21 August 1997
The Hong Kong Journalists Association
There is something frighteningly silent about this site.
The last issue of the Newsletter is dated February 1997 -- and still marked "new". An interesting document entitled "AN AGENDA FOR ACTION ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION", which is statement of the HKJA Executive and which dominates the list of pages here, is from last October. There are annual reports for 1994, 1995 and 1996.
There is nothing from 1 July 1997 and beyond. Not a word.
International trade union bodies such as the ICFTU have already warned about the beginnings of a crackdown on trade unions in Hong Kong now that it has reverted to Chinese rule. Here we have a rare opportunity to see an independent Chinese union crusading for press freedom.
The HKJA has an email address on their site. Why not write them?
14 August 1997
Teamster Strike at UPS
One hundred and eighty five thousand (185,000) employees of the United Parcel Service (UPS) have been on strike for a week and a half now. This is probably the largest strike taking place on the planet and naturally it's finding its expression on the Web. We've picked the International Brotherhood of Teamster's UPS news page as our site of the week. It includes daily news sheets (for some odd reason, these are giant graphics files rather than HTML) which convey something of the atmosphere among the strikers.
These news sheets are the most important online strike newspaper I've seen since the San Francisco and Detroit newspaper workers launched their own online bulletins.
The main Teamsters' page includes many more links -- including ways to express solidarity. Take advantage of these.
For the sake of sounding fair -- and maybe just to "know the enemy better" -- you can also check out the employers' side of the story in their mis-named "Teamster-UPS Labor Update" page.
CNN's home page is conducting an online discussion of the strike at this URL: http://plus-cgi.cnn.com/cgi-bin/WebX?13@@.ee71835. Why not join in?
7 August 1997
"A city stands up - Teldec has to survive"
The Teldec factory in the city of Nortorf, Germany is being closed down by Time-Warner, the giant transnational media corporation. Some 281 workers and nine trainees are being laid off, leading to a 20% increase in unemployment in this town. The giant IG Metall union, with 2.5 million members, has devoted a uniquely bilingual (German and English) section to its web site to focus international attention on this struggle.
The struggle to save jobs at the profitable and high-tech Teldec plant has united the entire city, including politicians and church officials as well as trade unionists. But the IG Metall site aims to do more -- to attract international attention, particularly because a US-based transnational corporation is involved.
The site includes a guestbook, but when I last visited the notices were in German only. Wouldn't it be nice if others from outside Germany would also sign in? I suggest that all readers of this column visit the site and at the very least sign the guestbook in their own languages -- and in German if you know that as well.
Let's demonstrate to Time Warner -- and to the workers at Teldec -- the kind of international solidarity the Internet can allow us to build.
31 July 1997
Central Única dos Trabalhadores
What should a national trade union center's website include? How about labour news, links to dozens of national and local unions in the country, a lively guest book, articles by trade unionists, and information on upcoming events? All of these can be found in the Portuguese language site of Brazil's CUT, a national trade union center affiliated to the ICFTU.
What's truly astonishing -- to me -- about this site is the vast number of links to Brazilian unions with a presence on the Web. The colorful list, broken down by Brazil's states (with little flags for each one), includes dozens of unions. The state of Sao Paulo alone has about 17 unions online. From what I can tell, the CUT has chosen to list unions which are affiliated to them and also unions which are not. Good for them.
If Brazil is considered a developing country, this site demolishes the myth that the Internet is a plaything for the rich -- even for trade unions. It shows that the Web is a powerful tool for publishing, for dialogue, for education and more for the labour movement even in the world's South.
17 July 1997
RENGO - Japanese Trade Union Confederation
Formed in the late 1980s, RENGO unites some eight million Japanese trade unionists today -- and has set its goal as ten million members. This extensive site in English (in addition to a Japanese site) gives a good background on where RENGO comes from and what its goals are in Japanese society. (Interestingly, in the history of the birth of RENGO, an early document -- from 1967 -- was entitled "For the Unification of Labor Fronts and for the Establishment of a Socialist Regime"; the more recent documents are somewhat more in line with current trade union language.)
RENGO maintains a number of institutions of interest to trade unionists outside Japan, including their Japan International Labour Foundation (JILAF) which helps support new trade unions around the world. RENGO's increasing interest in international affairs was also expressed in their opening of a European office attached to the ICFTU.
Considering the centrality of the Japanese economy to the global economy, it's unfortunate that most trade unionists outside of Japan know little about its labour movement. Visiting the RENGO website is one place to start.
10 July 1997
International Federation of Journalists
Of the first 30 "Labour websites of the week", two were awarded to international trade secretariats (ITSs) -- the global organizations of trade unions organized by industry. This week we're giving the award to another of the 14 ITSs, the 400,000 member International Federation of Journalists, who have produced a rich and impressive site.
The IFJ site is a campaigning site, stressing solidarity with trade unionists suffering from persecution, censorship, bad working conditions, etc. They have lots of work to do. The site includes the very latest updates, making it a valuable source of information not only for trade unionists but for anyone concerned with human rights.
26 June 1997
LO - Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions
I have to begin by admitting that my knowledge of Norwegian is weak. Alright, I exagerrate. It's non-existent. So how can I pick the website of the 811,000 member Norwegian national trade union center and recommend it to a largely English-speaking audience? Because surprisingly enough, this site is rich in English-language information about one of the most successful and interesting labour movements in the world.
From the main page, click on the English words "Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions" and you'll reach a -- for want of a better word -- web of pages in English on a whole range of subjects, from the structure of the Norwegian labour movement to its history, from its stand on current issues to a list of fraternal trade unions around the world (an excellent links list, by the way).
A first class trade union web site in any language.
19 June 1997
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
The ICFTU is the global organization which unites national trade union centers like the AFL-CIO in the USA, the TUC in Britain and Histadrut in Israel. As such, it represents (on paper) tens of millions of organized workers. One might even consider it to be the historical successor organization to the International Workingmen's Association established by Karl Marx in 1864.
As such, it should have a better web site than this one. The ICFTU has much to learn from the websites which have won this award previously. (Click here to see a list of those.) Nevertheless, they're getting the award because even though it took them forever to get online, the ICFTU is finally beginning to do what it should do -- including publishing its press releases, providing links to some of its affiliates' sites and email addresses, etc.
For several years the ICFTU was locked into the Poptel-Geonet system which meant that only subscribers to those services could see ICFTU press statements. Now they've begun using the Web site, allowing everyone to see what they're up to. I expect that over time, the site will include more and more information, and may eventually become the site for the global labour movement.
For that reason, I suggest we all bookmark it today.
12 June 1997
Union Summer (USA)http://www.unionsmr.org
The Union Summer website is also viewable through The Labour Channel on PointCast Connections.
The first Union Summer, held in 1996, involved about 1,000 young people who went out into communities across the United States and helped rebuild the labour movement. "Union Summer is about to make corporate America tremble once again" are the opening words on this website -- another indication of how much the American labour movement has changed under the new leadership elected in 1995.
Individuals who want to join this summer's project have to do so by 30 June so we're awarding the Labour Website of the Week just in time. The site includes the following:
- Union Summer '97: An application for this Summer's program.
- Union Summer '96: First-hand accounts of last summer's program.
- Newsletter: The online edition of the monthly newsletter.
- Updates/Events: What's going on with Union Summer, Student/Labour groups, and the labour movement in general. Union Summer sites for 1997 were announced in early May.
- What's New?: Listings of jobs, internships and links to labor and/or activist organizations. A very good listing of labour movement jobs.
- Backtalk: comments or questions.
5 June 1997
National Union of Mineworkers (South Africa)http://www.anc.org.za/num/
This is the third African labour website we've awarded the site of the week and it's a little different from the recipient last week. The NUM is a giant union, representing about 375,000 workers. It played a critically important role in the struggle against apartheid and the creation of democracy in South Africa. Its website, while lacking bells and whistles (no Java here) is a solid, text-rich site, updated frequently. NUM is using Gopher, a technique that slightly predates the World Wide Web, but one which is bandwidth-efficient and does the job. You'll find NUM documents, press releases and addresses of the various branches here. As I said, a solid site, delivering the goods.
29 May 1997
Overseas Telecommunications Services Employees Association (Mauritius)http://otsea.intnet.mu
The OTSEA website in the Indian Ocean island country of Mauritius is only the second Labour Website of the Week from Africa. (The other was the South African national trade union center, COSATU, back in December.)
Technically speaking, there may not be much to learn here for those of who sitting in the advanced industrial countries working on advanted Pentium computers with high-speed links from the desktop straight to the Internet backbone. But if you're interested to see how a small trade union (only 600 members) in a developing country can and is using information technology, this is an interesting place to look.
OTSEA is fighting a life and death struggle against privatization of the telecommunications industry in Mauritius and this site documents that struggle in some detail. In addition, we can clearly see OTSEA's vision for a networked society, with its calls for loans to help trade unionists buy multimedia computers, and particularly with its emphasis on training. One of the union's "projects in the pipeline" is "Basic Computer literacy course and Computer Communications Course for all members of OTSEA who wish to become computer literate."
We're interested to learn of more African unions with websites and encourage readers to send those in.
22 May 1997
Communication Workers Union (UK)http://www.cwu.org
What does a great trade union Website consist of? The latest technology? Attractive graphics? A campaigning spirit, linked to actual struggles going on today? Useful information, regularly updated? Full text renditions of union publications, including graphics?
However you define it, whatever you're looking for, you'll find a model trade union website here. And no surprise -- as the CWU welcoming page points out, if you live in the UK, it was probably CWU members who installed the line that made your link to the Internet possible.
Right now the page to watch here is the very exciting link to the Critchley struggle, which involves several dozen fired CWU members who ask only for their jobs back and the right to be represented by a trade union. There are several ways to help out the Critchley 31, including email messages, and even the possibility of voting for this page to be a Starting Point winner.
If you're considering starting your first Web site, or even if you're a Webmaster with tens of thousands of page views to your credit -- the CWU site is a must. Check it out today.
15 May 1997
Canadian Labor Congress (Canada)http://www.clc-ctc.com
It's about time Canada's national trade union center got online -- but at least it's been worth waiting for. The CLC website, launched on May Day, offers more than many trade union sites, including frequently updated press releases and statements.
One thing that stands out is its bilingualism. The site -- like Canada itself -- works in both French and English. I don't know of another trade union site so committed to the equality of languages (even the domain name -- clc-ctc.com -- reflects the organization's commitment).
It's also the first trade union site I've seen, certainly at the level of a national trade union center, which allows you to write to its President. Click on the link at the bottom of the home page, and you can send a note to CLC leader Bob White. But will he answer?
8 May 1997
Eugene Plawiuk's Site (Canada)http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5202/
Eugene Plawiuk works as a janitor in a school in Edmonton, Alberta. He's a trade union and socialist activist, working on labour education at the provincial level (for the Alberta Federation of Labor), helping the Alberta New Democrats slowly get back into the provincial parliament, and serving on the executive committee of his local trade union (CUPE). In his spare time (when does he have spare time?) he has established a website that would be the envy of major international trade union organizations -- if they understood the web well enough to be envious.
Eugene has a comprehensive global strike page, a (very popular) Nike page, the best list of Spanish Civil War links on the Web, dozens (hundreds?) of articles on trade unionism, social issues, the Internet, etc. When you visit this site, set aside some quality time for your PC. Relax into a comfortable chair. There's lots of good reading here.
1 May 1997
The Labour Party Election Web Site (UK)http://www.labourwin97.org.uk/index.frm.html
This is going to be a May Day Britons will remember for a very long time. As I write these words, according to all the polls Britain is heading for a landslide victory for the Labour Party on a scale that might even eclipse the 1945 triumph. How could I not give the Labour Website of the Week this week to a party and a movement upon which the eyes of the international labour movement are focussed?
It is, by the way, a delicious web site. It opens with a car dashboard and front window, with road signs visible ahead -- Policy Street, Party Place, School Elections, Campaign Drive -- you get the idea.
"Drive your future" is the slogan. Drive over there yourselves. And remember, you're driving in Britain. So stay on the left.
24 April 1997
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (USA)http://www.aflcio.org
The AFL-CIO was in some ways not very quick about getting on the Internet. For several years, the American national trade union center was hooked into CompuServe and neglected the great potential of the Web. But all that has changed in recent months and the AFL-CIO Web site has become one of the great labour websites. It includes a weekly online labour news page (Work in Progress), the home page of Union Summer (a remarkable campaign), and a brand new feature monitoring executive pay in the United States. Naturally the site also includes policy statements, press releases, the official boycott list, and other material.
When I wrote about this site in The Labour Movement and the Internet: The New Internationalism I noted that the site's counter, prominently displayed, was recording only 200 visits per day. I'm sure that figure is much higher now -- but the counter is down. Too bad.
Well worth repeated visits.
17 April 1997
Intersindical Portuária de Santos (Brazil)http://www.portodesantos.com/sindicatos/
I admit that nearly all of the Labour Web Sites of the Week so far have been European and North American sites. The one continent we haven't even looked at is South America. That's one reason why I'm delighted to give the award this week to this campaigning site of Brazilian dockers in the port of Santos, who are struggling to keep their jobs. Their struggle includes occupations of ships (see photos on the Web site), clashes with the military, and using the Internet to promote their struggle to the world. Though this site aims to ultimately offer English and Spanish language news, it is now only in Portuguese. English language information may be found at Britain's Labournet site.
10 April 1997
The Wobblies (USA)http://www.iww.org
Whoa! Some people may say, "What the heck is he giving the coveted Labour Website of the Week award to a union which no longer exists?" After all, most references to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) -- known affectionately as the "wobblies" -- refer to their heyday back in the years just before and after the First World War. In reality, the IWW continued to exist and continues to exist, though its membership is apparently quite small these days.
If all this site had to offer was a promotional brochure about today's IWW, I probably wouldn't have chosen it. Instead, it's offering lots more. I particularly liked several "interactive" features of the site, all of them executed professionally, all of them apparently quite popular:
- A very lively message board based on WWWBoard. We've seen this elsewhere (at the ITF and URN sites, for example), but never with so much labour participation.
- An online bulletin board that allows people to post notices which stay up for a week or two.
- A "public links" board which all of us should be using to promote our web sites -- it already has nearly 200 links. There's also a more conventional links list (called "Solidarity") which includes much labour history material about the IWW.
- A guest book which is filled with messages -- almost always positive -- about the web site itself.
3 April 1997
Labour Left Briefing (UK)http://www.labournet.org.uk/llb/
The British general election is only 4 weeks ago, and as the people at Labour Left Briefing have written, let's make this a May Day to remember.
I like some of the things this site says politically (like staying inside the Labour Party and fighting for socialist principles) but that's not why it's the Site of the Week. This is both an attractive and well-organized site with everything labour movement sites should include, among them:
- Full text of current and back issues of the publication
- A search engine to look at back issues (not a lot of these in our global labournet!)
- Audio files using RealAudio (OK, they're just beginning)
- An online mailing list
- A first rate links page, organized in colorful tables
27 March 1997
The WWW Virtual Library:
Labour and Business History
The WWW Virtual Library is in itself a remarkable resource. Experts, often from universities, prepare and maintain indexes of every topic covered by the World Wide Web. When it comes to labour history, the Virtual Library went straight to the best source -- the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam.
They've compiled a mega-site with something like 600 sources of information on labour history around the world. Did you know that the archives of the Brazilian labour movement have a web site? Or that the Lenin museum in Finland has a picture gallery online?
This is not just a list of links, but includes a brief, usually one sentence, review of the sites.
In my book, I proposed that the IISH play a role in helping to digitize the collective heritage of the labour movement and left around the world. I see that in this small way, they have already begun to do so. What a wonderful resource!
20 March 1997
Trades Union Congress (UK)
With nearly seven million members in 74 affiliated unions, Britain's national trade union centre is one of the most powerful labour institutions on the planet. It deserves one of the very best Web sites -- and it has one.
Much of the TUC site is designed as a "virtual building" with "floors", "briefing areas" and "resource rooms". These cover the whole range of things you'd expect from a large and powerful union of unions -- press releases, documentation, information on issues which concern unionists.
My only complaint about the site is that navigating around it could be a bit easier.
13 March 1997
Anyone who's been on the net for a while, or has read my book (hint, hint) will know about this organization and this site, which I've elsewhere called a "supersite".
The LaborNet site, famous for its long list of trade union links, includes other resources as well, among them:
- Listings of trade union organizing jobs in the USA. (This could be improved by adding -- or even specializing in -- jobs connected to union use of computers and the net.)
- A strike page, updated monthly.
- A weekly list of headlines -- links to news stories about the labour movement.
- Action alerts, updated every day or so.
- Features, including Harry Kelber's LaborTalk.
13 February 1997
Labor Net (Australia)
Labor Net is a project of the Labor Council of the state of New South Wales in Australia -- and is one of the richest labour web sites we've uncovered so far.
If nothing else justified this week's selection it would be this one citation from the site: "We want to build an international internet exhibition of Labor art and need your help." What a great idea!
The site includes lots of links to Australian trade union sites, an online campaign of protest against the Workplace Relations Bill (click and send letters to politicians), a labor library catalog (updated every week), email forums, labour comics, press releases, etc.
The site has a good links page, but the link to it doesn't work. (Fix this, guys.)
LaborNet was launched in December 1995 at a ceremony attended by Bob Carr, the Premier of New South Wales. You can read Carr's speech and see photos of the event on the site. Now what other labour site offers that?
6 February 1997
The Association of University Teachers (U.K.)http://www.aut.org.uk
This site was recommended to me some time ago and I admit that I've only just now gotten around to checking it out. That's in part because I was told that this is not such a great site, not rich in graphics, etc., etc. Will you people please stop being so damn modest? This is a first-rate Web site, rich in documents and information. It's a campaigning site, one I can imagine unionists turning to every day or two, looking for the very latest information.
. Some observations:
- The site opens like a newspaper, with the very latest headline news (like the AUT Executive recommending acceptance of the employers' pay offer, ending an industrial action which dominates the news pages here).
- The site was last updated only 2 days ago and according to its counter, it's getting 300-400 accesses every day, which is not bad for a trade union site.
- There are draft salary claims, analysis of the British budget and what it means for higher education, and much more news.
- This was the first education union with its own site, and includes links to other UK education unions and to education unions around the world.
- You can join the union through the site -- there's an online form for that. There's also a long list of reasons why you'd want to do that.
- The AUT has thirty-one (31) local affiliates with Web sites of their own, and lists them here, as well as offering to help others set up sites. Very impressive.
30 January 1997
The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unionshttp://www.icem.org
The designers of this site are modest about it, but you decide if it deserves the Site of the Week award. This 20 million strong international trade secretariat, one of the very first labour organizations anywhere to go online (back in the mid-1980s) has done a solid, lively Web site, growing richer by the week. Features I like include:
- ICEM Update -- every few days, as necessary, an online news bulletin. Five Updates appeared in January, four of them on the Korean strike. This is getting close to my proposal for a daily, online labour press -- at least in one sector.
- Both ICEM publications -- ICEM Info (a quarterly) and ICEM Global (twice a year) -- online with full text and illustrations. The fact that the ICEM can only afford to produce its publications every 3 months shows the value of the Web, where the ICEM Update can appear every day, as needed.
- Company Networks -- the ICEM and its predecessors pioneered the idea of global company councils, now becoming a reality. With the Bridgestone cybercampaign -- still accessible from this site -- they pioneered the idea of online company councils too. (Incidentally, they won this campaign.)
- A terrific list of links which, though not even trying to be comprehensive, is well-organized and annotated. And at the global level, it's pretty comprehensive. (And it's one of the first two sites in the world to include a link to Labour's Online Bookstore. Not that such a thing would influence my decision to give them the award.)
- A gallery, including five murals done for the ICEM on the theme of "the worker in the new world order", as well as 2 online labour cartoons (Globot -- the world's worker). The beginning of an online archive of labour art which can only grow and expand.
- Finally, this may seem like a small thing, but I like the fact that this site has an extensive online questionnaire. We should all pay it a visit, fill in the questionnaire, and help the ICEM develop this site even further.
23 January 1997
UE International Labor Information and Action Site
A joint project of the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE) and the Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT) in Mexico.http://www.igc.apc.org/unitedelect/
This unique site is the result of a strategic alliance between two unions -- the first site that I know of on the Web of this type. As a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement, trade unions in the USA, Canada and Mexico are being compelled to cooperate in ways they never imagined before. This site offers one example.
Every two weeks or so the site is updated with "current labour news from Mexico" -- and is probably the best source for this information in English on the net. The most recent edition is dated 16 January.
The site also includes a way for US trade unionists to "adopt" FAT organizers in Mexico. Another interesting approach to international labour solidarity.
I subtitled my book The New Internationalism -- and here's a living example of it in practice.
16 January 1997
A Home Page for Nurses Dedicated To Trade Unionism, Social Justice and Political Actionhttp://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/charlene.long/
Bill and Charlene Long are members of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union in Canada. The NSNU was one of the very first nurses' unions to have its own Web site, and Charlene is that site's Webmaster. This site, NurseActive, is something that we see more and more of on the net: terrific home pages built by trade union activists as individuals. A number of other examples come to mind, and places like Geocities (which offers free home pages) are filled with Web sites designed by labour movement people.
NurseActive is beautifully done, filled with tons of articles, updated all the time, has links to lots of other sites in the labour movement, particularly nursing unions, and even includes a guestbook (when signing in, mention the Labour Website of the Week!).
This site is an example for other trade unionists to emulate. Don't wait for your local executive committee to vote to authorize you to create a Web site -- create one yourself!
9 January 1997
Struggle for Labor Law Reforms in South Korea: Korean Confederation of Trade Unionshttp://kimsoft.com/korea/sk-lab1.htm
General Strike: The Successful First Wave Embarking on the Second Wave -- 01/03/97
General Strike: The First Day going on to the Second Day - 12/30/96
A Call for a General Strike -- 12/27/96
You get the general idea. CNN had been running a link to the Korean trade unions' web site on its Korean strike stories, but has stopped doing so recently. We don't know why.
The most recent message includes the following:
"Korean unionists have come to learn, from the various protest letters and solidarity messages, that they are not alone in their struggle. This gave an international dimension to their struggle. This was highlighted by new knowledge that similar kind of battles are being fought out in various parts of the world -- even in those countries which were once believed to have achieved all there was to achieve for workers' rights and welfare in countries like Australia, Germany, France, and United States. This has given them, in rather ironic way, a sense of being pioneers in this world-wide struggle, giving them a greater determination."
2 January 1997
Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees, AFL-CIOhttp://www.uniteunion.org
First, let's talk about things you find at this terrific US trade union site which you don't find everywhere.
- QuickTime videos -- how many labour web sites have these?
- An email directory of union staff (okay, it's only 5 names for now) -- but compare that to most union sites, which offer at most one address.
- Changing faces of (people who I presume to be) trade union members using the GIF89A format -- you can see this at the bottom of the UNITE home page, and it's pretty neat.
- And for sale -- UNITE buttons, mugs, posters, t-shirts, caps and balloons (but there's no way to buy these online)
To their credit, the UNITE webmasters did not reinvent the wheel -- several of the links, like to online news sources, are links to another trade union site which already did the work.
On the whole, a first-rate Web site. Well worth a visit.
26 December 1996
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (New Zealand)http://www.union.org.nz/
First, the good news. There are some real innovations here. This is a Web site that includes an online form to join a trade union -- any trade union affiliated to the NZCTU. It also has a link to a USENET newsgroup for trade unionists in New Zealand (planetnz.unions) -- but don't try that unless you're accessing the news host of PlanetNZ, a local ISP in that country. You can subscribe to an online email-based discussion list, union-talk. The Council's monthly bulletin, CTU Work, is online, full text, currently up to date.
Now, the bad news. (Hey, we can criticize, right?) The link to an FTP file server offering up union publications, newsgroups, databases -- is broken. The directory of NZCTU affiliates, National Executive and District Councils, running several pages long, has only 2 email addresses listed -- and only one of these is a link. And while CTU Work is online, it's only a long text file. Where are the photographs and other graphics?
Overall, a good attempt including some real innovations. Worth a visit.
19 December 1996
Labournet: Computer Communications and News for the Labour Movement
What isn't here? This is a rich, ever-changing site -- in the traditional campaigning spirit of the labour movement. It looks like a newspaper, with headlines calling out, demanding action. Today's issue focuses on the worldwide day of action on 20 January in support of striking dockers in Britain. The articles include not only an account of the impending global solidarity action, but several background articles as well, including an Internet debate involving the International Transport Workers' Federation, with an interesting commentary by Peter Waterman. The site, though ostensibly British, is entirely internationalist in its approach, and contains articles on the French truckers's strike, Ukrainian miners, Canadian auto workers, imprisoned Indonesian activists, strikes and protests in Germany, and even the fate of textile workers in Israel. Nothing stodgy or bureaucratic here -- this is a living example of the global labournet in action. Check it out frequently.
12 December 1996
Congress of South African Trade Unions
Launched in 1995, this is probably the most important African trade union Web site and includes tons of information on South Africa's militant and dynamic labour movement. COSATU unites 20 unions with a total of 1.75 million workers. The site features the bimonthly publication Shopsteward (full text), press statements, documents, resolutions, and a short list of labour links. Many of the links are to an old Gopher-based document server. If you're interested in the labour movement in Africa, begin here.
5 December 1996
The Labor Party
28 November 1996
Labour and Trade Union Page
21 November 1996
International Transport Workers' Federation
14 November 1996