Auto workers against the war

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Mar 4 11:10:09 MST 2003

March 4, 2003

UAW Local 600's Opposition to War
Why Unions Must Fight Imperialist Wars

There is dramatic progress in anti-war sentiment at historic United Auto
Workers (UAW) Local 600, which represents 30,000 active and retired
members at the Ford Rouge and other plants and employers. In a Nov. 2002
CounterPunch posting, I told how top local officers had "9/11-baited"
union election rivals who opposed the Afghanistan war, but I noted
officers' recent statements against war on Iraq.

On Feb. 3, 2003, Local 600's General Council meeting voted unanimously
for an Engine & Fuel Tank Unit delegate's motion simply saying the Local
opposes war on Iraq. Judy Wraight from the Tool & Die Unit proposed
signing the "U.S. Labor against the War" (USLAW) resolution by local
officers of several unions (see Workers Against War by JoAnn
Wypijewski). President Sullivan supported the original motion, but he
opposed signing onto USLAW, counter proposing the UAW International
Executive Board (IEB) as a possible anti-war labor leadership. Still,
the resolution from historic Local 600 is itself a big step forward.


On Feb. 22, Local 600 hosted a forum sponsored by the Detroit Labor
Committee for Peace & Justice, the Detroit Chapter of the Coalition of
Labor Union Women (CLUW) and the National Lawyers Guild/Sugar Law
Center. The latter's Julie Hurwitz chaired the forum and said over 120
local unions have passed resolutions against the war, including UAW
1700, 600, and 909. Local 600 Financial Secretary Russ Leone welcomed
the forum with his own anti-war statement.

Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) Vice
Pres. and Labor Party leader Noel Beasley said the U.S. is "the only
country on earth to use weapons of mass destruction" at Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. Detroit CLUW president and Office & Professional Employees'
International Union (OPEIU) officer Millie Hall announced a
demonstration at a local armory at the start of the war. Greens activist
and American Postal Workers Union (APWU) 480-481 steward and newsletter
editor Paul Felton said politicians, "want us to stand with our hands on
our hearts saying the pledge of allegiance while they pick our pockets."
UAW Local 909 president Al Benchich warned against making "America the
new Rome" . Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU-UFCW)
Local 1064's Elena Herrada tied the war drive to "third world"
conditions in Detroit and answered a written question from the audience
by saying UN approval for war should not slow anti-war organizing. At an
open mic, a UAW-DaimlerChrysler-Jeep member described management's use
of war atmosphere to justify forced overtime. A young woman described
anti-war outreach by student labor solidarity activists at University of
Michigan. UAW Region 1A Director and African-American community leader
Jimmy Settles, and UAW-Dearborn Assembly Plant President Gary Walkowicz
were notable by their presence. Detroit City Council member Maryann
Mahaffey spoke briefly from the floor.



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