PITTSBURGH (AP) - North America's largest industrial labor union is considering a possible merger with Britain's biggest manufacturing union as part of a plan to form one entity to represent millions of workers across the globe.
The Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers (USW) union is exploring the possibility of further strengthening its relationship with Amicus ahead of a meeting in Canada this week, USW spokesman Wayne Ranick said Monday.
The two unions, which currently have a strategic alliance, are planning to sign an agreement Wednesday during the United Steelworkers' 50th National Policy Conference in Ottawa.
''The agreement is going to define a process that's going to move us in the direction of a global union,'' Ranick said. ''Exactly what the agreement is going to be is being worked out.''
The United Steelworkers said in a statement that its successful alliance with Amicus ''has reaffirmed both unions' commitment to greater international solidarity and cooperation to better represent workers against the threats posed by global capital.''
In December, Amicus said it had signed agreements with the United Steelworkers, the U.S.-based International Association of Machinists and the German engineering union IG-Metall, aimed at an eventual merger.
Amicus General Secretary Derek Simpson has said the creation of a single group would help workers deal with multinational businesses that ''trade off countries and work forces against each other.''
Simpson and United Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard are scheduled to speak at the Ottawa conference, which begins Tuesday. About 700 delegates and guests from the U.S., Canada, Britain and South America are expected to attend the three-day event.
The guests will include Mexican labor leader Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, who was ousted by the government as leader of the National Mine and Metal Workers Union over allegations of corruption. A Mexican court last week ordered his reinstatement.
On Friday, Gerard said the United Steelworkers was ''truly an international union'' that has alliances with labor groups in Britain, Germany, Australia, Brazil and Mexico.
''There's a desire to look at how we could make the labor movement more global,'' he said after signing a merger agreement with the Independent Steelworkers Union, which represents about 1,150 workers at Mittal Steel Co.'s mill in Weirton, W.Va.
''We do try to play a coordinating role in making sure the industry, as it rationalizes, rationalizes in a way that's going to be best for our members, our retirees and our communities,'' he said.
The United Steelworkers is the largest industrial union in North America, with 850,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.
Amicus is finalizing a merger with the Britain-based Transport and General Workers to form a union to be called Unite that will represent 2.1 million members.