Trade Unionists Launch 'U.S. Labor Against the War'

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Mon Jan 13 11:05:08 MST 2003

Labor Advocate Online

Trade Unionists Launch 'U.S. Labor Against the War
by Bill Onasch

More than a hundred trade union leaders and activists gathered at the
Teamsters Local 705 hall in Chicago January 11 to discuss labor's response
to the imminent danger of war on Iraq. At the end of the day they launched a
new organization to mobilize antiwar sentiment within the union
movement-U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW).

Teamsters Local 705, the second largest Teamsters Local in the country,
offered to host the gathering shortly after their members overwhelmingly
passed an antiwar resolution at a well-attended (over 400) meeting. Two
veteran organizers, Gene Bruskin and Bob Muehlenkamp, did a good job of
assembling this impressive gathering on short notice. The initial invitation
letter was signed by:

Alan Benchich, President, 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
Bob Muehlenkamp
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

After hearing presentations from David Cortright, Fourth Freedom Forum, and
Bill Fletcher, director of TransAfrica and a former special assistant to
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, the delegates went on to a vigorous debate
over a resolution to establish basic principles. The most contentious issue
was that of the United Nations. A few wanted to denounce the UN as a tool of
the U.S. while a few others wanted to praise the UN for preventing war on
Iraq to this point. In the end the delegates decided we could live without
saying anything about the UN. The final language of the resolution is
reproduced below.

The gathering had a practical discussion of how to take our positions into
the rest of the labor movement. The first priority is to get as many union
bodies as possible in the next few weeks to adopt resolutions and contribute
money to the new organization. A continuations committee, made up of
representatives selected by unions with sizeable delegations, was
established to set up structures to carry on USLAW's work.

In the Kansas City area there will be a meeting to discuss building USLAW
Saturday, January 18, 1PM at 2113 Erie in North Kansas City. For more
information call 816-753-1672 or 816-221-3638 or send an e-mail to
<mailto:laboradvocate at>laboradvocate at


We Establish U.S. Labor Against the War

WHEREAS, over 100 trade unionists from unions, Central Labor Councils and
other labor organizations representing over 2 million members gathered in
Chicago for an unprecedented meeting to discuss our concerns about the Bush
administrations threat of war; and

WHEREAS, union members and leaders have the responsibility to inform all
working people about issues that affect their lives, jobs and families, and
to be heard in the national debate on these issues; and

WHEREAS, the principal victims of any military action in Iraq will be the
Sons and daughters of working class families serving in the military who
will be put in harms way, and innocent Iraqi civilians who have already
suffered so much; and

Whereas, we have no quarrel wit!, the ordinary working class men, women and
children of Iraq, or any other country; and

Whereas, the billions of dollars spent to stage and execute this war are
being taken away from our schools, hospitals, housing and Social Security;

Whereas, the war is a pretext for attacks on labor, civil, immigrant and
human rights at home; and

Whereas, Bush's drive for war serves as a cover and distraction for the
sinking economy, corporate corruption and layoffs; and

Whereas, such military action is predicted actually to increase the
likelihood of retaliatory terrorist acts; and

Whereas, there is no convincing link between Iraq and Al Qaeda or the
attacks on Sept. 11, and neither the Bush administration nor the UN
inspections have demonstrated that Iraq poses a real threat to Americans;

Whereas, U.S. military action against Iraq threatens the peaceful resolution
of disputes among states, jeopardizing the safety and security of the entire
world, including Americans; and

Whereas, labor has had an historic role in fighting for justice; therefore

We hereby establish the "U.S. Labor Against the War" (USLAW); and

Resolve that U.S. Labor Against the War stands firmly against Bush's war
drive; and

Further resolve that U.S. Labor Against the War will publicize this
statement, and promote union, labor and community antiwar activity.

Adopted January 11, 2003 in Chicago, IL.

For more information contact:

Bob Muehlenkamp Gene Bruskin

<mailto:Kabob240 at>Kabob240 at
<mailto:G8751 at>G8751 at

301-346-3665 202-833-8525

Bill Onasch is a member of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1287, webmaster
of, and a member of the Interim National Council of the Labor

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