This profile was prepared when Jairo Luna was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Jairo Luna is working for a complete change in his continent's labor union movement, encouraging workers to assume the leadership of broader movements in defense of public health and the environment. He believes that workers have great potential to support a social movement by uniting other sectors and playing a protagonistic and decisive role in defense of public health and the environment. Jairo's model analyzes the effects of production methods on the health of industrial workers, and empowers them and their unions to lobby for better working conditions and protection of the environment, while introducing issues of community well-being into labor organizations and negotiations. Workers learn to negotiate for broader concerns, instead of exchanging health guarantees for salary increases, as in the past. Whereas many past patterns of collective bargaining have focused only on labor organizations themselves, leaving out many other important social actors, Jairo has established a broader network of groups-including workers' unions, state institutions, and citizen organizations-in defense of the environment, health, and acceptable working conditions. The structure of this network is horizontal and flexible, and all actors can propose solutions and offer input.