Labor and Social Movement Coalitions in the U.S. Global Justice and Anti-War Movements
April 3-7, 2003
[S]hortly after September 11 the focus of the global justice movement shifted to the war in Afghanistan. Some factions of labor began to organize against the war immediately. New York City Labor Against the War, a leading labor coalition in the anti-war in Iraq movement, was founded in fall 2001. However, two months after the 9/11 attacks, the AFL-CIO Executive Council endorsed the “war on terrorism”. . . .
Two major external variables seem to have influenced labor’s declining participation in the global justice movement and precedent-setting participation in the anti-war in Iraq coalitions. The first is the attacks of September 11, and the second is the anti-labor policies of the Bush administration.
The first major threat to labor’s interest is the September 11 attacks. These attacks have had several different demobilizing effects on labor. One was the nationalist responses it elicited from labor when they rallied around the president’s response. The AFL-CIO declared full support of the “war on terrorism” and then the war in Afghanistan. This was followed by the UAW and Teamsters, two important global justice coalition members, also declaring their support. This stand was divisive to international global justice alliances (Reyes 10/2001). The 9/11 attacks also stalled such union initiatives as amnesty for undocumented workers. But mostly, the attacks demobilized the global justice movement’s disruptive protests, and reinforced conservative union elements’ timidity about such associations and tactics.
The second major threat to labor’s interests is Bush administration policies toward labor.