An annual Gallup poll says that 61% of Americans approve of labor unions—the highest approval percentage since 65% was measured in 2003. In 1936, when the poll first came out, 72% of Americans approved of labor unions. Approval peaked in the 1950s with 75% approval in 1953 and 1957.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka welcomed Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, president of the Mexican mine and metalworkers’ union Los Mineros, to Atlanta at the end of February. Gómez addressed the AFL-CIO Executive Council saying, “As long as Mexican workers don’t have rights, workers in America are under threat.”
In his remarks, Gómez argued that low wages and repression of workers in Mexico hurt US workers by reducing exports to Mexico and creating unfair incentives to relocate plants from the US. “Workers in the US and Mexico have to fight together, even harder, for justice and against inequality,” he argues. He called for the halt of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and demanded real labor reforms for both countries. While the Los Mineros union has doubled the real wages of its members in the past decade, most Mexican workers face repression when they try to join democratic unions.
In 2011, Gómez received the AFL-CIO’s Meany–Kirkland Human Rights Award but was unable to attend the ceremony because of criminal charges filed against him by the Mexican government, which have since been defeated. “This is a great victory for democratic unionism and international solidarity,” says Trumka of the long-awaited visit by the respected labor leader.