Labor speaks out against Iraq war
Author: Tim Wheeler
People’s Weekly World Newspaper, 10/12/02 00:00
NEW YORK – Unions and their members are speaking out against war with Iraq while taking steps to form stronger ties with the peace movement. Michael Letwin, president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, United Auto Workers Local 2325, told the World strongly worded resolutions denouncing the war are being adopted in union halls across the country.
“Its tremendously significant that labor organizations are coming out against the war,” said Letwin, who is the coordinator of New York City Labor Against the War (NYCLAW). “The connection to workers here at home is especially clear since Bush is using the Taft-Hartley Act against the West Coast dockers union under the pretext of the war.”
Letwin warned that Bush’s resort to unionbusting “is a shot across labor’s bow. The war at home is going to be a war against labor. Workers have no rational alternative than to get involved in the movement against this war on Iraq.”
NYCLAW will convene a conference on building grassroots union opposition to the war at the headquarters of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 1707 75 Varick St. in New York, Oct. 19. Letwin also urged labor to participate in a march on Washington against the war October 26.
A resolution adopted by the Executive Council of Local 1199, the Health and Human Services Union warned that increased military spending and tax breaks for the wealthy “leaves almost no money for essential human needs.”
It points out that Local 1199 was one of the first unions to oppose the Vietnam War, adding, “[N]ow we have the opportunity to prevent a catastrophe from the beginning … We call upon the members of Congress to oppose any resolution authorizing the use of preemptive force against Iraq.”
The resolution condemned the Bush doctrine of preemptive war as a “violation of international law [and] the UN Charter” and urged Local 1199 members to join in peaceful anti-war protests
The Albany, N.Y., Central Federation of Labor also joined the anti-war crusade with a resolution accusing Bush of turning the “endless war against terrorism” against the west coast International Longshore and Warehouse Union by invoking the Taft-Hartley Act “to bust the union as it faces an employer lockout.” It calls this action “an opening wedge” against the entire labor movement in the name of Homeland Security.”
Pride At Work, an AFL-CIO group that campaigns for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, joined the opposition to war with a resolution saying an attack on Iraq “would set a dangerous precedent of preemptive attack that violates the charter of the United Nations and undermines the very foundations of international law.”
The resolution pledges Pride At Work to “campaign against preemptive war strikes on Iraq or any other country,” adding: “Pride At Work AFL-CIO will participate in rallies and marches … as necessary to redirect money from the military budget back to restore public services, health and welfare.”