Workers of the world unite! That visionary call, issued 160 years ago, is being answered today in new and powerful ways.

As capital has gone global, using workers around the world as pawns in the transnational corporate profit grab, labor unions are going global too. They are forming unprecedented international alliances to fight the global assault on wages, benefits, living standards and worker rights.

• The United Auto Workers and France’s metalworkers federation (FTM-CGT) are developing a joint strategy for organizing at employers they have in common. They have agreed to share information and assist each other.

UAW Vice President and Organizing Director Terry Thurman said, “We are very pleased to work with our French brothers and sisters. … The corporations cross national borders for their self-interest, and our unions need to do the same thing.”

FTM-CGT includes the shipbuilding, aircraft and rail, electrical and electronic, mechanical equipment, metal, agricultural machinery, jewelry making and automobile industries.

• Earlier this month, the Communications Workers of America and Germany’s largest union, Ver.di, launched the first union ever to represent workers in both the U.S. and Europe. The new union, called T-Union, will support T-Mobile workers trying to win collective bargaining rights in the U.S. and other countries. It will also represent German union members who work for T-Mobile in the U.S.

• Last year, the United Steelworkers signed an agreement with Britain’s largest manufacturing union, Amicus, and the British Transport and General Workers’ Union to move toward a merger. Amicus and the T&G have since joined into one mighty union with 2.1 million members, called, appropriately, Unite.

• The AFL-CIO has just formed a new partnership with Enlace — a network of 21 worker centers, unions and organizing groups representing approximately 300,000 low-wage workers in the U.S. and Mexico — to work together to promote and enforce worker rights in the two countries.

All this indicates that labor is beginning to step onto the global stage as the advocate for the world’s people. It gives every reason for optimism as we celebrate May Day, the international workers’ holiday.