LABOR AND THE WAR September 10, 2004|
Three More Major Unions Oppose
U.S. War and Occupation in Iraq
The growing antiwar movement within the AFL-CIO took another leap forward in the past two weeks when three major unions passed strong resolutions at their recent conventions, opposing the U.S. war in Iraq and calling for an end to the American occupation. They are Communications Workers of America (650,000 members), American Postal Workers Union (270,000) and Mail Handlers of the Laborers' International Union (50,000).
They join the Service Employees International Union (1,6 million) American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (1.2 million) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers (60,000), who have also denounced President Bush for his pre-emptive invasion of Iraq and declared they support our troops and want them to be brought home safely, NOW.
In addition, the anti-war movement within the AFL-CIO includes the huge California, Washington State and Maryland/DC federations, which together account for more than 3 million union members. In the past year, dozens of labor councils, regional labor bodies and local unions have taken similar action.
Also in the last few weeks, all of the AFL-CIO's allied organizations have condemned the war in Iraq and called for the immediate return home of U.S. soldiers. They include the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Coalition of Labor Union and Pride at Work.
The driving force in building and guiding the anti-war movement is U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW). Its Web site is www.uslaboragainst war.org.
The CWA resolution won the near-unanimous approval of the 1,400 convention delegates on Aug. 31, with more than 50 of them lined up to speak in favor of an amended version, a key paragraph which read: "CWA demands that the President abandon his failed policy (of preventive war) which has made our nation less not more secure, and support our troops and their families by bringing our troops home safely now, by providing adequate veterans' benefits and promoting domestic policies that prioritize the needs of working people who make up the bulk of the military."
After sharply criticizing President Bush for the invasion of Iraq and his post-war policies, delegates at the APWU convention on Aug. 23-27 approved a resolution that stated: "Resolved, the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO calls for an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the implementation of a plan to turn over sovereignty to the people of Iraq as soon as possible, and the return of U.S. troops to their homes and families."
At the National Postal Mail Handlers convention, held Aug. 22-29 in Boston, an anti-war resolution was approved by the delegates, despite its rejection by the Resolutions Committee. A caucus of delegates worked out an amended version based on an article in The New York Times that swayed the delegates to favor the resolution.
What was unusual about the delegates is that more than 40% of them were veterans. The reason for the disproportionate number of union veterans is due in large part to the hiring preferences given to veterans and disabled soldiers by the U.S. Postal Service.
At one point, the names of hundreds of union members currently serving in Iraq were scrolled across the huge movie screen in use at the convention. The amended resolution reads:
"While the National Postal Mail Handlers Union offers its full support for the American troops currently serving in Iraq, the NPMHU also calls for a rapid end to the war and occupation of Iraq. The war and occupation were undertaken based on false claims of the anti-worker Bush administration and have resulted in the death of over 900 American troops and over 10,000 Iraqi civilians. The war and occupation have caused U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars which could be redirected to pay for badly needed social needs, such as jobs, education, housing, and health."
Since the conclusion of the three union conventions, the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq has passed the 1,000 mark and, as of today, stands at 1,005.
Our weekly "LaborTalk" and "Labor and the War" columns can be viewed at our Web site www.laboreducator.org. Union members who seek information about the AFL-CIO rank-and-file reform movement should visit www.rankandfileaflcio.org.