National Labor Meeting to Discuss War on Iraq
The following announcement of a National Labor Meeting to be held in Chicago on Jan. 11, 2003, was forwarded by the Kansas City Labor Party organizing committee. It was posted on Dec. 28 by the Massachusetts Labor Party, as well as on the public listserv “Milwaukee Peace” and on other Internet sites.
Apparently the announcement was originally sent to selected invitees only. The announcement says in part:
“For more information, to make suggestions, and to RSVP please contact either:
“Please include your name, union, title/position/office if appropriate, address, phone, e-mail contact. If your union has already passed a resolution opposing the war, please send it along; please bring copies of any materials to the meeting.”
Labor opposition to war on Iraq is vital, and this national labor gathering could have great impact. We are especially encouraged that Labor Party figures such as Gerry Zero, Brenda Stokely, Bruce J. Kipple, and Alan Benchich are participating. It is also encouraging that among those calling for the Jan. 11 meeting in Chicago is the president of the Duluth Central Labor Body, which passed a resolution on Nov. 14, 2002, saying in part: “the Bush administration is seeking any pretext to overthrow the government of a sovereign nation, in violation of international law.”
However, there is a weakness that should be noted in the announced “purpose” of the Jan. 11 meeting. The perspective outlined in the announcement is reliance on the United Nations and uncritical acceptance of the supposed peacemaking role of the UN. The announcement concludes: “We have the responsibility and the opportunity to join with other mainstream American membership organizations to influence the Bush administration not to act outside the UN. That is the purpose of this meeting.” This seems to suggest that a war would be all right if it was “inside the UN”—that is, if it was authorized by a UN Security Council resolution. In fact, what is called for is unconditional opposition to this War for Oil, regardless of the position of the fifteen-member UN Security Council, which is dominated by three of its five “permanent members,” the U.S., Britain, and France, i.e., the world’s wealthiest industrial powers. The UN Security Council acts in the interests of the giant corporate employers who control the dominant governments (U.S., Britain, France, etc.). It does NOT act in the interests of labor or of the working class majority around the world.
Labor needs to take its own independent position in opposition to corporate-dominated wars that are harmful to working people everywhere. Labor should not make its opposition to the prospective war on Iraq dependent on a more subtly disguised vehicle of the multinational corporations—the United Nations.
The spirit of the resolution adopted by Chicago Teamsters Local 705, which places the emphasis on international working class solidarity and does not appeal to UN resolutions (with all their trickery)—that is the spirit in which labor in the United States needs to oppose the impending fat cats’ War for Oil.
We reprint here the resolution by Chicago Teamsters Local 705. Since this National Labor Meeting to discuss the impending war on Iraq will be held at Teamsters Local 705, the spirit of that local’s resolution is especially relevant.
Teamsters Local 705 Against War on Iraq
“Whereas, we value the lives of our sons and daughters, of our brothers and sisters more than Bush’s control of Middle East oil profits
“Whereas, we have no quarrel with the ordinary working-class men, women, and children of Iraq who will suffer the most in any war
“Whereas, the billions of dollars being spent to stage and execute this invasion, means billions taken away from our schools, hospitals, housing, and social security
“Whereas, Bush’s drive for war serves as a cover and a distraction for the sinking economy, corporate corruption, layoffs, Taft-Hartley (used against the locked out ILWU longshoremen)
“Whereas, Teamsters Local 705 is known far and wide as fighters for justice
“Be it Resolved that Teamsters Local 705 stands firmly against Bush’s drive for war
“Further Resolved that the Teamsters Local 705 Executive Board publicize this statement, and seek out other unions, labor and community activists interested in promoting antiwar activity in the labor movement and community.
“We ask all those who support and are encouraged by this statement to contact Teamsters Local 705 to offer support: Teamsters Local 705, 312 738-2800 or http://www.teamsterslocal705.org”
We also urge readers to consider the arguments made in the accompanying article by Joe Auciello, “Can the United Nations Avert War on Iraq?”
December 16, 2002
We would like to invite you to attend a meeting in Chicago on Saturday, January 11, of trade unionists who are concerned about the Bush policy of war against Iraq. Both public opinion polls and internal polls by unions of their members show that a broad majority of the American public opposes the U.S. attacking Iraq without the clear sanction and participation of the United Nations. Yet the Bush administration drives toward that unilateral, preemptive war. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney sent a letter to members of Congress raising serious questions about the Bush administration’s policy. Among the important questions President Sweeney raised were:
* The war must not distract from the “vital mission” of destroying the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
* The US must “deal with Hussein’s lawlessness in a manner that reinforces international law. We must treat his defiance of the United Nations in a manner that respects that crucial institution and all it stands for.”
* “We cannot defeat terrorism with military force alone. The world community must rededicate itself to the defense of basic human rights—the freedom to speak, to assemble, and to organize as well as the freedom from starvation, from homelessness, and from curable disease.”
* “Military action and costs associated with rebuilding Iraq…should not be used as a reason for not investing in other critical national needs.”
* “It is, after all, the sons and daughters of America’s working families who will be asked to carry out this mission” and therefore war must be “the last option, not the first.”
These concerns are even more relevant today, as the UN inspectors are so far succeeding in their mandate to search for and disarm the Hussein regime of its weapons of mass destruction and as the Bush administration still pushes for war. Over the last several months scores of local unions, Central Labor bodies, and State Feds have passed resolutions opposing Bush’s “go it alone” policy, many making the links between his drive to war against Iraq as a cover for advancing his conservative agenda against the interests of working families. Labor committees against the war have sprung up in at least 10 cities across the country. This threat of war against Iraq has caused broader and earlier antiwar activity by the labor movement than we have ever seen before. We have the responsibility and the opportunity to join with other mainstream American membership organizations to influence the Bush administration not to act outside the UN. That is the purpose of this meeting.
The tentative agenda is:
A report on resolutions and activities already taken by trade unionists.
Discussion by participants of activities in their locals, CLCs, and State Feds.
A report on the status of the UN inspection process and likely UN Security Council actions.
Reports on antiwar coalitions and activities.
Focusing the issue: our message, inside and outside the labor movement
A discussion of the obstacles to greater union antiwar activity and solutions.
Developing a program to expand opposition to the war within the labor movement, and to let the American public know about the growing labor opposition to the war.
Working in coalition with the rest of the antiwar movement.
For further information about this meeting, labor opposition to the war, links to antiwar coalitions and activities, and news about the growing peace movement, click here.
We hope you can attend this important meeting.
Time: 9:00–4:00 Date: Saturday, January 11 Place: Teamsters Local 705, 328 S. Marshfield, Chicago
The Teamster local is most convenient to Midway airport. We will be getting housing suggestions to you. For more information, to make suggestions, and to RSVP please contact either:
Please include your name, union, title/position/office if appropriate, address, phone, e-mail contact. If your union has already passed a resolution opposing the war, please send it along; please bring copies of any materials to the meeting.
Alan Benchich, Coordinator, Detroit Labor Committee for Peace and Justice, Pres. UAW 909
Jerry Brown, President, 1199NE/SEIU, Hartford
Bill Hennings, VP, CWA Local 1180, NYC
Bruce J. Kipple, General Sec.-Treas., UE
Richard Mead, President, ILWU Local 10
Alan Netland, President, Duluth CLC, President AFSCME Local 96
Sal Roselli, President, L. 250/SEIU, Oakland
Brenda Stokely, President, AFSCME Council 1707, Co-chair, NYCLAW
Gerry Zero, Sec-Tr., IBT L. 705, Chicago
PS: If you plan to be in Chicago on Friday night, please let us know, because we will probably arrange for all of us to meet someplace for dinner.
If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.— Samuel Adams, 1776