After having just fought against NAFTA in 1994, union members were ready to build a structure to continue the long-term Portland support for cross-border organizing. PCASC members identified that corporate globalization would be the next wave of attack on Latin America. U.S. imperialism was transitioning from an arms war to an economic war. PCASC and Jobs with Justice members collaborated to form the Cross Border Labor Organizing Council [CBLOC], an organizing body in the growing international solidarity struggle to challenge transnational corporate exploitation. CBLOC’s strength was that it’s members were primarily composed of rank-and-file union members from Portland who wanted to connect with workers in Latin America and beyond.
One of the initial actions of CBLOC was the Paint-a-thon Banner Project. This action engaged Portland union’s through a fundraiser in which CBLOC painted banners for each union, raising $3000, and involved the rank-and-file members as volunteers in that fundraiser. It asked unions to sign on to the “sponsor-an-organizer” program, a monthly donation in which unions would contribute funds to CBLOC to be used for campaign work supporting organizers in Latin American campaigns. CBLOC asked participating unions to send rank-and-file delegates as representatives to CBLOC meetings in order to continue organizing beyond the fundraiser.
CBLOC ran campaigns that connected workers in the U.S. with workers and their struggles in Latin America. They also focused on supporting immigrant workers in the U.S. CBLOC’s work dominated PCASC’s focus from 1996 to 2005, a time in which globalization was a priority for many international social movements.
Some of CBLOC’s campaigns included:
- The Gap: Stop exploiting women workers in El Salvador
- Starbucks: Increase pay for Guatemalan coffee growers
- Ruta Cien: Support the Mexico City bus drivers union against privatization
- Labor Organizing in Mexico: Tour with the United Electrical Workers & Frente Autentico Trabajo [FAT]
- Han Young Strike & Tour
- Del Monte: Support banana workers in Guatemala
- El Salvador No Se Vende: Opposing the Central America Free Trade Agreement [CAFTA]
- CAFTA Campaign: Pressuring Oregon Congressional Representatives to vote NO on CAFTA
See photos and visuals from some campaigns in the photo archive.
CBLOC became less of a presence at PCASC after the CAFTA campaign. PCASC and Jobs With Justice decided to stop collaborating on the project and CBLOC moved entirely within PCASC. CBLOC still has a presence within PCASC, but is much less active than it was in its heyday.