Monthly Archives: December 2002

2002.12.10: Labor Antiwar or Related Statements & Groups

[Download formatted document: labor-antiwar-resolutions]

Labor Antiwar or Related Statements & Groups
Compiled by Michael Letwin, NYCLAW Co-Convener (Rev. December 10, 2002)

INTERNATIONAL UNIONS

AFL-CIO*
U.S.
Iraq
10/7/02
John Sweeney, Pres.
http://www.aflcio.org/publ/test2002/tm1007.htm

FAST*
U.S.
Iraq
Gene Bruskin, Secy-Treas.
gbruskin@fastaflcio.org
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1250

ILWU*
U.S.
War
Dockers
9/18/01
Brian McWilliams, Fmr. Pres.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/199

Pride at Work, AFL-CIO
U.S.
Iraq
Lesbian/Gay
10/1/02
Marta Ames, Exec. Dir.
mames@aflcio.org
202-637-5014
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1236

UE
U.S.
Iraq
35k
9/19/02
Robin Alexander, Dir. of Intl Labor Affairs
international@ranknfile-ue.org
412-471-8919
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1233

UNITE!*
U.S.
Iraq
11/02
Bruce Raynor, Pres.
http://www.inthesetimes.org/issue/27/03/feature2.shtml

STATE BODIES

CFT
CA
Iraq
100k
9/21/02
Fred Glass, Comm. Dir.
cftoakland@igc.org
510-832-8812
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1234

CA Labor Federation
CA
Civil Liberties
7/24/02
http://www.calaborfed.org/contacts/Resolutions%20paginated%20for%20Web%20Site.pdf

CA Labor Federation
CA
War
7/24/02
http://www.calaborfed.org/contacts/Resolutions%20paginated%20for%20Web%20Site.pdf

NYSNA
NYS
Iraq
9/29/02
Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, Chair State Del. Assembly
gonzalez.rn@verizon.net
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1296

NYSNA*
NYS
NYCLAW
Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, Chair
State Del. Assembly
gonzalez.rn@verizon.net
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

Pride at Work/NY
NY
NYCLAW
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

SEIU Wisconsin
WI
Iraq
10/16/02
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1252

UBC/NM
NM
Iraq
9/15/02
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1232

Washington State JWJ
WA
War
9/22/01
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/2

Washington State Labor Council
WA
War
450k
8/22/02
Fred Hyde
fhyde@igc.org
206-264-5256
http://www.wslc.org/00resolu.htm#6

CLCs

Albany CLC
Albany
Iraq
10/2/02
Jon Flanders
jon_flanders@compuserve.com
518-439-1968
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1237

Duluth Central Labor Body
MN
Iraq
11/14/02

King Co. CLC
Seattle
Iraq
10/16/02
Steve Williamson, Exec. Secy
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1262

Rochester CLC
Rochester, NY
Iraq
10/10/02
Jon Flanders
jon_flanders@compuserve.com
518-439-1968
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1241

Sacramento CLC
Sacramento
LR/CL
Ruth Holbrook
RUTHGEO@aol.com
916-455-1396
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/404

Sacramento CLC*
Sacramento
NYCLAW
10/7/01
Ruth Holbrook
RUTHGEO@aol.com
916-455-1396
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

San Mateo CLC*
CA
War
9/24/01
James B. Goodno, Ed.
ueedit@aol.com
510-251-6336
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/179

SFLC
SF
Iraq
8/26/02
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1229

SFLC
SF
War
9/24/01
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/173

South Bay CLC
San Jose
Middle East
6/17/02
Louise Auerhahn
louise@mailhome.com
408-265-9253
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1219

Troy CLC
Troy, NY
Iraq
10/16/02
Jon Flanders
jon_flanders@compuserve.com
518-439-1968
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1245

Washington-Orange Labor Council*
VT
NYCLAW
Hal Leyshon, Pres.
hleyshon@teamsters.workfam.com
802-229-0009
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

DISTRICTS/LOCALS

AAUP, Saint Rose Chap.*
Albany
NYCLAW
Carl Swidorski, Pres.
swidorsc@mail.strose.edu
518-458-5325
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AAUP, U. Cinti Chap.*
Cinti
NYCLAW
10/8/01
Herbert Shapiro, Past-Pres.
shapirh@email.uc.edu
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFSCME DC 1707
NYC
War
25,000
10/01
Brenda Stokely, Pres.
local215@aol.com
212- 425-5051 x1031
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFSCME L.107, DC 1707*
NYC
NYCLAW
Victoria Mitchell, Pres.(VP, DC 1707)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFSCME L.171*
Madison
NYCLAW
Mark Thomas, Pres.
608-251-0111
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFSCME L.205, DC 1707*
NYC
NYCLAW
Glenn Huff Jr., Pres.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFSCME L.207*
Detroit
NYCLAW
John Riehl, Pres.
313-965-1601
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFSCME L.215, DC 1707
NYC
NYCLAW
10/01
Brenda Stokely, Pres.
local215@aol.com
212- 425-5051 x1031
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFSCME L.253, DC 1707*
NYC
NYCLAW
Kim V. Medina, Pres. (& Fmr. Pres., DC 1707)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFSCME L.304
Seattle
CL/Cuts
5/23/02
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1216

AFSCME L.375, DC 37*
NYC
NYCLAW
Uma Kutwal, Fmr. Pres.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/
AFSCME L.444
Palestine
8/15/02
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1227

AFSCME L.446/CSEA*
NYC
NYCLAW
10/4/01
Joel Schwartz, Pres.
csea446@igc.org
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFSCME L.1549, DC 37
NYC
Iraq
11/4/02

AFSCME L.1930, DC 37
NYC
Iraq
9/10/02
Ray Markey, Pres.
Raymarkey@aol.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1310

AFSCME L.2620*
Los Angeles
NYCLAW
Sabina Virgo, Pres.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFSCME L.3592*
Boulder, CO
NYCLAW
10/4/01
Chris Goodwin, Pres.
ogchris@qwest.net
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFT L.1474
Berkeley
War
UC Lecturers
3/23/02
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/779

AFT L.1588*
Orange Co., CA
NYCLAW
Roger Dittmann, Pres.
rdittmann@fullerton.edu 714-278-3421
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFT L.1789/Seattle Ctty. Colleges Fed. of Teachers*
Seattle
NYCLAW
Lynne Dodson, Pres.
Ldodso@sccd.ctc.edu 206-587-5478
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFT L.2026
Phili
Iraq
1200
11/19/02
morbraxton@aol.com

AFT L.2121*
SF
NYCLAW
Alan Fisher, Pres.
afisher@aft2121.com
415-585-2121
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFT L.2190/UUP
Rochester, NY
Iraq
SUNY Profs.
10/5/02
wittner@albany.edu
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1239

AFT L.2334/PSC-CUNY
NYC
War Expansion
CUNY Profs.
6/02
Barbara Bowen, Pres.
bbowen@psc.mail.org
212-354-1252
http://www.psc-cuny.org/Summer2002Clarion.pdf

AFT L.2334/PSC-CUNY*
NYC
NYCLAW
CUNY Profs.
9/28/01
Barbara Bowen, Pres.
bbowen@psc.mail.org
212-354-1252
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFT L.4999*
Madison
NYCLAW
Carol Weidel, Pres.
carolaweidel@aol.com
608-267-9090
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFT L.4345/Mendocino Co. Fed. of Sch. Empl./CFT
CA
NYCLAW
James Field, Classified VP
resistwar2001@yahoo.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFT L.6025*
NJ
NYCLAW
Montclair State U
Viji Sargis, Pres.
sargisv@mail.montclair.edu
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

AFT/West Haven Federation of Teachers
CT
Palestinians
5/30/02
http://defendpappe.freeservers.com/page28.html

Council of Supervisors & Administrators, NYSFSA, AFSA L.1*
NYC
NYCLAW
School Principals
10/2/01
Jill Levy, Pres.
Jillcsa@aol.com
718-852-3000
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

CUE L.3
Oakland
NYCLAW
Michael-David Sasson, Pres.
simcha3@msn.com
510-845-2221
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

CWA L.1180
NYC
Iraq
Muni
10/30/02
Arthur Cheliotes, Pres.
71363.446@compuserve.com
212-226-6565
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1287

CWA L.1180*
NYC
NYCLAW
Muni
9/01
Arthur Cheliotes, Pres.
71363.446@compuserve.com
212-226-6565
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

HERE L.5
HI
Iraq; war
10k

IAM L.1145*
Albany
NYCLAW
Jon Flanders, Pres.
jon_flanders@compuserve.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

IBEW L.2304*
Madison, WI
NYCLAW
David Poklinkoski, Pres.
608-256-8896
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

IBT L.705
Chicago
Iraq
UPS
10/20/02
Gerry Zero, Secy-Treas.
teamsterslocal705@yahoo.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1263

IBT L.912*
Watsonville
NYCLAW
Joe Fahey, Pres.
jfahey@compuserve.com
831-722-8528
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

ILWU L.6
Oakland
Immigrant Workers/Civil Liberties
3/27/02
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/784

ILWU L.10
W.Coast
Iraq
9/10/02
Clarence Thomas or Jack Heyman
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1231

ILWU L.10
SF
Palestinians
4/18/02
Clarence Thomas or Jack Heyman
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/922

NALC Br.46*
Granby, MA
NYCLAW
Jon Weissman, Pres.
nalc46@juno.com
413-737-0640
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

NPMHU L.300*
NYC
NYCLAW
Larry Adams, Fmr. Pres.
alarryq@aol.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

Plumbers & Fitters L.393
San Jose
War
4/10/02
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/923

Plumbers & Fitters L.393
San Jose
Immigrant Workers/Civil Liberties
4/10/02
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/846

SEIU L.250
CA
Iraq
85k
Sal Rosselli, Pres.
srosselli@seiu250.org
510-251-1250
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1280

SEIU L.620*
Central CA
NYCLAW
Greg Mohr, Fmr. Pres.
greg@co.santa-barbara.ca.us
805-568-2080
George Green, Senior Field Rep.
george@seiulocal620.org
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

SEIU L.715
SF
War
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/657

SEIU L.715
CA
Dockers
7/16/02
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1224

SEIU L.1000/CSEA*
SF
NYCLAW
Skip Charbonneau, Pres.
skipcharbonneau@yahoo.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

SEIU L.1199
NYC
Iraq
Healthcare
10/4/02
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1238

SEIU L.1199 Upstate
NYS
Iraq
16k
10/17/02
Larry Alcoff
lalcoff@seiu1199upstate.org
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1281

UAW L.235*
Detroit
NYCLAW
Wendy Thompson, Pres.
WThomp4490@aol.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

UAW L.306*
Detroit
NYCLAW
Erwin Baur, Fmr. Pres.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

UAW L.600
Detroit
Dockers
River Rouge
10/1/02
Ron LareRonLare@aol.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1196

UAW L.909*
Warren, MI
NYCLAW
Alan Benchich, Pres.
ajbenchich@aol.com
586-759-4320
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

UAW L.1981/NWU*
US
NYCLAW
Jonathan Tasini, Pres.
jt@pipeline.com
212- 254-0279
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/
UAW L.1981/NWU/NYC Chapter
NYCLAW
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

UAW L. 2036*
KY
Iraq
10/19/02
Billy Robinson, Fmr. Pres.
wrobi27316@aol.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1253

UAW L.2110*
NYC
NYCLAW
Maida Rosenstein, Pres.
maidarosenstein@2110uaw.org
212-387-0220
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

UAW L.2325/ALAA*
NYC
NYCLAW
Legal Aid Attys
Michael Letwin, Pres.
letwin@alaa.org
917-282-0139
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

UAW L.2325/ALAA
NYC
CL/IR
Legal Aid Attys
Michael Letwin, Pres.
letwin@alaa.org
917-282-0139

UAW L.2865/AGSE
Berkeley
Palestinians
UC grad students
5/15/02

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1215

UTLA
LA
War
Public School Teachers
2/02
Michael Novickpart2001@usa.net
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/629

LABOR ANTIWAR COMMITTEES

1199ers for Peace & Justice (SEIU)
NYC
War
Healthcare
5/02
Marilyn Albert maralbert@earthlink.net
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1213

Albany Labor for Peace
Albany
Iraq
10/02
Jon Flanders
jon_flanders@compuserve.com
581-439-1968

Bay Area LCPJ
SF
War
Michael Eisenschermeisenscher@igc.org

Boston Labor for Justice with Peace
Boston
laborfjp@yahoogroups.com
Cynthia Peters
cyn.peters@verizon.net
617-524-3693

Chicago Labor Petition
Chicago
Iraq

10/02
Petitions
9350 S. South Chicago Ave.
Chicago Il. 60617
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1235

DC 37 (AFSCME) Against the War (NYCLAW)
NYC
War
NYC Muni
11/02
Gary Goff
fmlink@igc.org
718-789-6483

DC LCPJ
DC
War
10/01
Lynne Turner
lynnecturner@yahoo.com
202-462-5310
Emilie Junge
JUNGEE@seiu.org
202-898-3424
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/136

Detroit LCPJ
Detroit
War
8/02
Dianne Feeleyfeeleyd@earthlink.net
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1226

Ground Zero for Peace
NYC
Iraq
10/6/02
Meg Bartlettgroundzeroforpeace@hotmail.com
347-680-1005
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/1240

NYC Labor Against the War (NYCLAW)
NYC
War
9/27/01
Michael Letwinletwin@alaa.org
917-282-0139
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/files/

NYC Teachers Against the War (NYCLAW)
NYC
War
UFT
10/02
Megan BehrentEbehrent@aol.com
718-287-3038

Portland Laborfor Peace and Justice
Portland, OR
War
Peter Parkspeterparks@speakeasy.net

Santa Cruz LCPJ
Santa Cruz
War

Organized Labor Against the War
Seattle
War
Steve Hoffman
stevhoff@earthlink.net
206-725-0471
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/981

South Bay LPJ
San Jose
War
Louise Auerhahn
louise@mailhome.com
408-265-9253

Transit Workers Against the War (NYCLAW)
NYC
War
LEGEND
*Principal officer only; no organizational endorsement
CL=Civil Liberties
IR=Immigrant Rights

LR=Labor Rights

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2002.12.09: Antiwar Labor Pains (The Nation)

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20021209/cooper Antiwar Labor Pains

Antiwar Labor Pains

by MARC COOPER

[from the December 9, 2002 issue]

This article inaugurates a new series, “Waging Peace,” covering the movement that is emerging across America–in union halls, in churches, on campuses, on the streets, even in some corporate and government quarters–to oppose war on Iraq. –The Editors

In a letter to both houses of Congress in early October, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney broke what had been Big Labor’s public silence on a possible war with Iraq when he wrote, “We must assure them that war is the last option, not the first.” Sweeney also questioned the timing of the Bush Administration’s push for war, saying it “has as much to do with the political calendar as with the situation in Iraq.”

The letter was hardly a call to stiff antiwar resistance. But with an American labor movement long accustomed to interpreting the subtle political nuances of its cautious leadership, Sweeney’s message was nonetheless unmistakable. The federation was openly shifting away from its markedly prowar stance after September 11 and offering at least some cover for militant action by antiwar elements in its ranks. “It wasn’t the strongest statement in the world,” says Michael Letwin, co-convener of the grassroots New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW). “But it makes people in the labor movement feel they now have some room to oppose the war.”

That same week, Gene Bruskin, the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s food and allied service trades department, sent a letter of his own to Sweeney urging organized labor to take the lead in opposing the Administration’s war plans. Bruskin said labor has been “naive at best” in trying to oppose Bush’s domestic policy without more forcefully opposing its foreign policy. War with Iraq, he argued, would only provide the Administration with increased leverage in pressing a conservative agenda that conflicts with the interests of working Americans. “To support the War,” Bruskin said, “is to invite all the inevitable political and economic effects.”

Bruskin’s call for the national labor leadership to speak out more consistently and loudly on the issue has not yet been heeded. “All of our energy really went into the midterm elections,” says one AFL official. “Maybe now with the Republicans controlling everything, we can better find our voice on the issue of war and peace.”

In the meantime, a small but determined network of antiwar labor activists is coming together and making its voice and influence felt through organized lobbying inside the Central Labor Councils and state labor federations. Letwin’s NYCLAW is among the largest of the groupings, with endorsements from about 1,400 union members and sixteen current and former union presidents. “We’re trying to be both an antiwar pole in the labor movement and a labor pole within the peace movement,” says Letwin.

But an objective evaluation would conclude that so far only the former is being achieved. Peace is still very much a minority position within the greater world of labor, and so labor is still a minor part of the peace movement. The bulk of NYCLAW’s support comes from white-collar, mostly intellectual workers like Letwin’s own local of legal-aid attorneys. The school principals’ union, the National Writers Union, museum workers and university staff and professors are also among the major players in the New York antiwar network.

Yet, the small peace circle within labor continues to expand as the threat of war with Iraq persists. New York’s powerful healthcare union, 1199SEIU, recently bought a full-page ad in the New York Times unequivocally condemning war with Iraq. Chicago-based Teamsters Local 705, the second largest in the country, also adopted an antiwar resolution. The 100,000-member California Teachers Union did the same. And on October 1 the executive committee of AFL-CIO’s Pride at Work, representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members, followed suit. In Northern California the SEIU’s large and politically influential Local 250 has also condemned a unilateral attack on Iraq and urged cooperation with the UN. And there’s open talk that the SEIU might become the first national union to take an antiwar stance.

Meanwhile, rank-and-file groups similar to NYCLAW have sprung up in Albany, Washington, Detroit, Portland and Seattle. And while the uniformly progressive San Francisco Labor Council went firmly on the record against Bush’s overall war on terrorism in August, its activists also fuel the very involved San Francisco Labor Committee for Peace and Justice.

But the growth of antiwar activity is uneven and is leaving some gaping holes. In Los Angeles, where the county federation has earned a progressive reputation on local and domestic issues, there have been no antiwar initiatives coming from the leadership. “You can sense a real antiwar sentiment in the union halls,” says a local SEIU organizer. “But apart from individuals trying to hook up with each other, there’s been no real attempt at significant organized action.”

Similar stories come from other urban labor councils. When George W. Bush came to Cincinnati in October to deliver a televised policy statement on Iraq, about 3,500 protesters rallied outside. But only about 150 of the demonstrators came from the ranks of organized labor. “A lot of our community coalition partners were at that demonstration,” says Dan Radford, a member of SEIU Local 7 (Firefighters and Oilers) and executive secretary-treasurer of the Cincinnati Central Labor Council. “But it hasn’t really come up as an issue at the council. It’s sort of funny because even some of the more conservative unions have not shown much enthusiasm for Bush on this war with Iraq. But at the council level it’s just not been discussed very much at all.” Indeed, Radford says, the most dynamic local antiwar figure comes not from labor but from show business. Television ringmaster Jerry Springer, a former liberal mayor of Cincinnati, gave the most fiery antiwar speech at a recent Democratic get-out-the-vote rally.

In Seattle, the King County Labor Council, which played a high-profile role in the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization, took the opposite tack and has actively endorsed antiwar activity. The council’s executive secretary-treasurer Steve Williamson was a lead speaker at the October 26 Seattle peace rally, which brought out as many as 5,000 people.

“The national [AFL-CIO] didn’t really want to deal with this issue, after pretty much supporting whole hog the war in Afghanistan,” says Steve Hoffman, a member of the municipal employees’ union who also holds a seat on the King County Labor Council and is a leader of Seattle’s Organized Labor Against the War. “But now they see the way the war has been used to cut jobs, to call in the government on the ports strike, just the amount of money being spent on this. The AFL is finally coming under pressure from below, with more and more peace resolutions being passed at the level of county labor councils and those being proposed inside the international unions.”

Hoffman helped to ratchet up that pressure by shepherding a successful antiwar resolution through to adoption in August by the 500 delegates and guests of the Washington State Labor Council, the first such statewide statement.

The limited appeal of antiwar activity within unions is not only the responsibility of labor’s cautious leadership, but also of the peace movement in general and of some peace activists within labor, who have made a few strategic missteps. Many of the labor activists in the forefront of the Iraq peace movement are the same people who unsuccessfully tried to jump-start a similar movement in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks. Seriously misreading the sentiment of mainstream labor, which believed that at least some sort of limited US military response was in order, these mostly white-collar and ideologically left activists tried to drum up a movement to oppose intervention in Afghanistan. On September 27, 2001–just two weeks after the attacks and while the national and New York AFL-CIO were still actively mourning the death of hundreds of members in them–activists from NYCLAW, for example, had already issued their first public statement opposing any sort of US military action.

“This was really way off base,” says a politically progressive AFL official close to John Sweeney. “No matter what one’s personal political opinion, you really had to be out in left field to not understand the angry patriotism that was rippling through labor. We had just lost something like 500 guys, and no one was in the mood to go light candles at a peace vigil.”

NYCLAW’s Letwin concedes that the rushed September 27 peace statement by his group was looked on as “tainted” because of its timing. But, he argues, “I think that along with a lot of union leadership, a lot of the grassroots saw that as a good statement. They were saying to themselves, ‘I’m not going to sign it, but I’m glad someone is out there saying these things.'”

Maybe, but in any case, many at the top of the federation agree that the Iraq situation is very different from Afghanistan, and they recognize that there is now a lot more visible and vocal discomfort with and opposition to the White House’s overseas plans. “Also, the elections are now over,” says the federation official. “And if the Democrats take a harder line against the war than they have so far, labor will be more willing to do the same. But that leaves open the question of just what peace movement we are comfortable being part of.”

That’s a reference to discomfort with those currently orchestrating some of the highest-profile antiwar protests. While demonstrations in Washington and San Francisco brought out scores of thousands with an eclectic range of politics, the protests were organized and the podium dominated by a small, sectarian Stalinist group, the Workers World Party. Consequently, while much of the demonstration rhetoric was against the war, it was also tinged with an anti-Americanism and loaded down with ancillary issues ranging from support for convicted murderers Mumia Abu-Jamal and H. Rap Brown to sometimes paranoid condemnations of Zionism that in no way resonate with the bulk of organized labor. No doubt the rally crowds were peppered with hundreds, if not thousands, of union members and activists, but there was no institutional representation of Big Labor, as there has been at numerous antiglobalization events of the past few years.

“John Sweeney is no George Meany,” says the AFL official, referring to former federation president Meany’s aggressive support for the Vietnam War. And he notes that significant participation by labor in the peace movement would, indeed, aid in broadening and mainstreaming the antiwar message, pushing some of the sectarians to the side. But, he added, that moment is not yet upon us. “It’s not at all unthinkable that in the weeks to come we will see Sweeney speaking out more against the war. But you can be sure he isn’t going to be speaking from the same stage as the Workers World Party.”

2002.12.06: Unions Against the War (In These Times)

http://www.inthesetimes.com/issue/27/03/feature2.shtml

December 6, 2002
Unions Against the War
The labor movement grows more skeptical of Bush’s plans for Iraq

By David Moberg

When members of a 21,000-member Teamsters local in Chicago proposed taking a stand against war in Iraq in mid-October, Local 705 Secretary-Treasurer Jerry Zero thought “it sounded like a good resolution we could have some debate over.”

But the results surprised even Zero, as Teamsters took the floor, many identifying themselves as veterans of wars from Vietnam to Desert Storm. “We had 400 members [at the meeting] and all of the debate was one-sided against the war,” Zero says. “There was only one vote against the resolution. I was amazed. I expected an even split.”

Zero himself argued that there’s no need for war. “We’re looking at the oil there,” he says. “Maybe Bush is using it as an excuse to cover up other shortcomings of the administration. We’re looking at an Iraq that has no ties I can see with bin Laden or other terrorist groups and letting other countries like Saudi Arabia, that do have ties, slide on by.”

All unions should take a stand, Zero says, since the prospect of war “affects your members, their families, their kids. They talk about this costing $200 billion, and who knows how long we’ll have to stay there and how many more billions. Where will they get that money? They just gave it away with tax cuts to wealthy people.”

Zero’s outspoken public stance is still rare in the labor movement. But privately many union leaders express deep reservations or personal opposition to a war in Iraq. Although there was initially strong labor support after the 9/11 attacks for the war on terrorism and bombing of Afghanistan, union distrust of Bush has grown dramatically with the administration’s relentless attacks on the labor movement and civil liberties under the guise of national security, as well as its use of the president’s wartime popularity to push an extremely pro-business legislative agenda.

However, many union leaders fear that opposing the war will divert scarce resources to an effort that may ultimately divide their members. Although some limited polling suggests that union members roughly mirror general public opinion on war against Iraq, there are also anecdotal indications—like Zero’s experience—that union members may be receptive to educational efforts against a unilateral U.S. war. But so far few labor unions have even taken the simple step of providing alternative views—the labor equivalent of campus teach-ins—that would help members better understand what’s at stake.

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On October 7, as Congress was nearing a vote on Bush’s power to act militarily against Iraq, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney sent a letter to Congress that expressed concerns about Bush’s Iraq policy but did not urge a vote against the legislation. Sweeney argued that U.S. policies on Iraq should not distract from pursuit of al-Qaeda terrorists, and that they should reinforce international law, the United Nations and broader, multilateral alliances against terrorism. Sweeney also said that the fight against terrorism was not simply military, but required more global attention to basic human rights.

He criticized the politicization of the prospective war—such as Republican claims that Democrats were unpatriotic for trying to protect the rights of workers in the new Homeland Security department—and suggested that the timing of the campaign against Iraq was itself politically motivated. Urging a full debate about the possible costs and casualties, he concluded, “We must assure [the sons and daughters of working families] that war is the last option, not the first, used to resolve this conflict before we ask them to put themselves in harm’s way to protect the rest of us.”

Sweeney’s letter reflected support from the AFL-CIO Executive Council’s international affairs committee, which had invited former Clinton administration officials Sandy Berger and John Podesta to discuss national security and political issues related to Iraq. It circulated among the whole executive council, without dissent, before being sent to Congress. The AFL-CIO insists that it is not an “anti-war” position, even though it is a much more skeptical view of presidential war-making than the AFL-CIO has historically taken.

There has been almost no explicit labor support for war in Iraq, although Teamsters President James Hoffa did join the White House-orchestrated Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. “You cannot have a conversation with anyone inside the labor movement who thinks we should have a war,” says veteran union organizer Bob Muehlenkamp, who is trying to mobilize labor opposition. “Two things that come out particularly strong are the focus on economic consequences and whose kids fight this war.”

Despite their opposition to terrorism, he said, “people feel that Bush has not made a case” for invading Iraq. Muehlenkamp hopes that unions will feel comfortable joining with a newly formed Keep America Safe/Win Without War campaign, which includes the National Council of Churches, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, the Rainbow/Push Coalition and other groups.

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Since last summer there has been steady growth in labor opposition to a war from local unions, central labor councils, state federations and other groups, and a few high-ranking labor leaders have also spoken out individually. “Personally, I’m extremely disturbed about it,” says Hotel and Restaurant Employees (HERE) President John Wilhelm. “I thought that post-9/11, the focus was on terrorism and al-Qaeda. I don’t know where this Iraq venture came from. I’m also very concerned about what I think will be a real disaster for our members, just in terms of their jobs.”

Gloria Johnson, president of the Coalition of Labor Union Women and a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, shares skepticism about the abrupt shift from terrorism to Iraq. “I have not read or seen anything that in my opinion at this point justifies the war,” she says. “I sincerely hope that reports that come out from Iraq with the searching going on will demonstrate that a war will not be needed. I’m concerned about the loss of lives of our kids. I’m concerned about the tremendous focus of money, especially since we’re going pretty much alone.”

“We think the rush to attack Iraq is a mistake,” adds Bruce Raynor, president of UNITE, the union of apparel and textile workers. “I think the president ought to grab a gun and lead the charge if he wants to do that. But he’s proposing to send our kids. But Saddam Hussein is a bad guy. If the United Nations supports an intervention against Saddam because he has weapons of mass destruction, we would be supportive of that.”

Shortly after Sweeney’s letter to Congress, Local 1199, the 220,000-member New York health care union, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times opposing war in Iraq. California SEIU Local 250 launched an extensive educational campaign among its 85,000 members after coming out against war. “I think it’s our fundamental responsibility to take a stand and lead on it,” says Local 250 President Sal Roselli. “Some people see it as a risk, but risk is how we accomplish change and justice for workers.”

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Union members and leaders often see Bush’s war strategies as linked to his “war on labor.” Gene Bruskin, secretary-treasurer of the Food and Allied Service Trades division of the AFL-CIO, wrote to Sweeney in October that Bush’s policies were “a Trojan horse for his pro-corporate domestic and international agenda.” Both his domestic and foreign policy are designed, Bruskin argued, to make “the world safe for U.S. multinationals,” and “the labor movement must take the lead in opposing Bush’s war policies if we are going to succeed at advancing our own goals.”

Similarly, after the Seattle Central Labor Council voted to join October demonstrations against the war, Secretary-Treasurer Steve Williamson received broad support for his comments linking Bush’s war plans to anti-worker policies, from intervening against the West Coast dockworkers in their contract negotiations and taking away the rights of Homeland Security workers to planning to privatize half of the federal work force and cutting taxes for the rich. “My premise was very simple,” says Williamson, a former bricklayer. “Bush has two unilateral wars he’s embarking on. One is war on Iraq. The other is war on working families.”

So far, service and white-collar workers have taken the lead, but the opposition to war comes from many quarters. There are active anti-war labor groups in New York, Washington, San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, Portland and other cities, some of which opposed the war in Afghanistan as well—a minority view that cost New York City anti-war labor leader Michael Letwin re-election as president of an Autoworkers local this fall.

But opposition to the Iraq war has drawn more mainstream labor backing, including the Washington State Labor Council, United Electrical Workers, New York state nurses, the Wisconsin SEIU, the California Federation of Teachers, Pride at Work (the AFL-CIO gay workers organization), New Mexico carpenters, and central labor councils from such cities as San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, California; Albany, Troy and Rochester, New York; and Duluth, Minnesota.

But most labor leaders, despite their own misgivings or opposition, remain cautious—preoccupied with other issues, seeking careful internal deliberations, fearful of dividing the labor movement, deferential to timid Democratic leaders, and reluctant to get far ahead of their members. They are also waiting to see what happens with inspections in Iraq and at the U.N. Security Council. Although labor movements in Europe are forcefully opposing war against Iraq, “the AFL-CIO is not going to get deeply involved in either the peace or war side because the divisions are too deep,” one insider predicts.

But by raising doubts, encouraging debate and providing education about alternative strategies, the AFL-CIO could at least deny Bush some of his national security cover for the war at home and open the door for unions and leaders who want to more vigorously oppose the looming war in Iraq.

2002.12.01: Union Members Meet, March To Protest Iraq War (Labor Notes)

Labor Notes
December 2002

Union Members Meet, March To Protest Iraq War

Two events in October gave evidence of growing activity among union members who are opposed to beginning a war in Iraq. A conference initiated by New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW) drew 125 people October 19, and conference participants joined other union members at the 100,000-person October 26 antiwar demonstration in Washington. Many New York unionists arrived on buses sponsored by NYCLAW, 1199 SEIU, or the UAW Region 9A CAP Council.

Local committees with names like Labor Committee for Peace and Justice now exist in Detroit, Albany, Portland, the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington, and Seattle. Antiwar committees have been formed in three large New York unions: 1199, the Teachers (UFT), and AFSCME DC 37.

The conference drew officers and staffers from 1199 SEIU, AFSCME, Postal Workers, Letter Carriers, IEU-CWA, Machinists, Mail Handlers, PACE, Teachers, Carpenters, Transport Workers, Masters, Mates and Piles, Newspaper Guild, Public Employees Federation, UAW, and others.

At the D.C. rally, labor was represented by Clarence Thomas, secretary-treasurer of ILWU Local 10 in San Francisco; Gene Bruskin, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Food and Allied Service Trades Department; and Michael Letwin, president of UAW Local 2325, speaking in his capacity as a NYCLAW co-convener.

–Michael Letwin