Worker’s Correspondence

Organized labor played a key role in preparations for the Jan. 27 Washington antiwar march. Over the past three years, labor bodies at the national, regional and local level have become increasingly outspoken on the Iraq war. This process started with resolutions from local and central labor councils and was given a boost by the formation of U.S. Labor Against the War in the fall of 2003.

In September 2005 and again in April 2006, labor contingents were prominent at national actions in Washington, D.C., and New York. The labor turnout this Jan. 27 in D.C. promised to be the biggest yet. Union members were coming on buses organized by their local or national unions and on buses sent by neighborhood organizations and peace groups. Workers are, in short, playing a major part.

The surge of activity is being driven by the understanding that labor’s ambitious and progressive domestic agenda, while finding support in the new Congress, will face tough sledding when it gets to the While House as long as the Bush administration remains fixated on pursuing its disastrous Iraq policy.

For example, the American Federation of Teachers resolved at their convention last summer to “oppose the war in Iraq and call upon our country’s leaders to withdraw all troops, bases and military operations in a rapid and timely manner and to put a stop to the unending military presence that will waste lives and resources.”

Labor’s effort also results from the knowledge that American working men and women pay the price for the administration’s aggressive foreign policy. As AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in his Jan. 11 statement, the soldiers “come from America’s working families. They are our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers, our husbands and wives … they deserve leaders who will call them only when the nation’s security is at risk and there is a clear plan for victory. This administration has failed and continues to fail that basic obligation.”

In addition to the AFL-CIO, national unions that are on record against the war include AFSCME, SEIU, Communications Workers, Steelworkers, Teachers, Electrical Workers, Postal Workers and Longshore workers.

Jan. 27 in D.C.: Union members and their families are urged to join the labor kick-off rally at Communications Workers headquarters, 501 3rd Street North West, at 10:45. The building will be open for coffee and donuts at 9:00. The labor contingent will join the main march to the mall at 11.00.

Ben Sears is a retired teacher and union activist