American unions are joining forces with the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) to take on multinational companies and "union-busting" political parties.
The AWU, which is holding its national conference on the Gold Coast, has entered into an alliance with one of the biggest union bodies in the US ahead of the federal election, as more global companies look to outsource work to China and Central America.
The 500 delegates endorsed the agreement with the International Association of Auto Machinists and Aerospace Workers, following a similar deal with the US steelworkers' union eight years ago.
Thomas Buffenbarger, president of the US machinists' union, told the conference the alliance with "could not come at a more critical time"
"Above all, it ... means taking it right to those companies that are hell-bent on union busting and their political cronies who make it easy for them to think that they could be successful," he said.
Mr Buffenbarger said the alliance would target specific multinational companies for "organising and collective bargaining activities" and co-ordinate on issues such as responding to new global trade agreements and "national policies".
Bob King, the US United Auto Workers president, told the conference his union was willing to work more closely with the AWU on political campaigning.
Mr King's union was credited with playing a key role in the re-election of US President Barack Obama.
"By going down to the delegate level, by going down to the local union level, and the commitments of every local union leader to talk every day to their members about why the election was important, we won an amazing victory," he said.
"I know you can do the same thing here."
AWU national secretary Paul Howes said his union would be learning from industrial bodies in the US how to campaign and engage with communities.
"We must use the collective strength of working people ... to take on the gigantic corporations who threaten our way of life and the stance we have taken on fair work conditions," he said.
Earlier, Mr Howes told the conference mining companies - led by "corporate robber barons in their shiny-arse suits" - weren't paying their fair share.
He later told reporters he would not resile from his criticism of some of the nation's wealthiest people, who would be "sitting at the de facto cabinet table under an Abbott government".
The conference, which ends on Thursday, is expected to endorse motions calling for a domestic gas reserve for Australia and "zero tolerance" for union corruption, following recent scandals involving the alleged misuse of member funds.
The AWU gave life membership on Monday to national president Bill Ludwig, who has resigned as Queensland state secretary.