S.F. Labor urges AFL-CIO to speak out on Iraq

A resolution adopted by the San Francisco Labor Council calls upon the “House of Labor” to oppose “the foreign policy disasters led by the most right-wing president in memory.” The resolution also calls for end to the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the return of our troops, and relinquishing U.S. power to the United Nations.

In its three operative paragraphs, the resolution outlines its concerns about the reluctance of the AFL-CIO Executive Council to “address the interconnection between U.S. expenditures for a disastrous foreign policy and … the under-funding of all public services,” adding that the council’s “failure to criticize the Bush administration’s reckless, militaristic empire-building is to ignore the huge fat elephant in our living room.”

While recognizing that the council “apparently” made its decision as a way of preserving unity, the resolution points out that many labor unions gave decisive support to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and are currently giving support to the rights of immigrant workers, even though some sectors of labor were initially hostile to these efforts.

“Therefore be it resolved,” the resolution concludes, “that the House of Labor oppose the foreign disasters policy led by the most right-wing president in memory.”

“The Bush administration doesn’t have a foreign policy that makes any sense,” Walter L. Johnson, secretary-treasurer of the San Francisco council, told the World in a telephone interview on Oct. 21. Although stopping short of accusing George W. Bush of deliberately lying, Johnson, using what he called “the language if diplomacy,” said, “The picture we were given was in marked contrast to the picture that was there.”

As for the need to speak out on the Iraq situation, Johnson quoted from a cover story of the magazine of the former Retail Clerks union: “To sin by silence when we should speak out is to make cowards of even honest men and women.”

Johnson said he thinks the AFL-CIO is “coming around” and pointed to its opposition the Free Trade Area of the America. “Look at their recent brochure on the issue.”

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