Labor Unions Say “No” to Gulf War II

Whereas, since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we have seen the beginning of a relentless new assault on labor — from the employers, and from the government acting on their behalf; and

Whereas, using the so-called “war on terrorism” and “national security” as a pretext, the Bush Administration has spearheaded a renewed assault on organized labor, starting with the use of Taft-Hartley (and threats to militarize the ports) against West Coast dockworkers…wholesale threats to the job security and union rights of 170,000 federal workers…the racist firings of experienced airport screeners…threats to curtail the right to strike and organize; and the impending contracting out of hundreds of thousands of federal jobs. On more than one occasion, government spokespersons have referred to union actions defending our jobs, working conditions and living standards as akin to terrorism, or as “aiding and abetting terrorists”, or as a “threat to national security”; and

Whereas, Bush’s war (on Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia, the Philippines, where next?) has become the main engine for the repression of labor. “National security”, in the hands of a thoroughly anti-labor Bush Administration, is being used as a bludgeon against labor, with the intent of rolling back all the gains workers have won since the 1930s, including collective bargaining itself, and including social programs championed by the labor movement like welfare, social security, unemployment insurance; and

Whereas, a strong fight-back requires that labor make it a priority to stake out a clear, forthright and fighting stance against Bush’s war, and see the anti-war and anti-globalization movements as our strategic allies, needed if we are to defeat the assault on labor and move to the offensive. We got a glimpse of the potential power of this combination during the 1999 showdown in Seattle; and

Whereas, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. embodied the coming together of the labor, anti-war and civil rights movements during the tremendous upsurge of the mass movement in the 1960s, and we need to revive this powerful combination of the people’s forces to defeat Bush’s war and the racism that underlies it and that it promotes; and

Whereas, our opposition to the Bush Administration’s war on the Iraqi people, and to their attacks or threats against other smaller, sovereign countries around the globe, fits hand in glove with labor’s fighting defense of the interests of the working people of all races and nationalities here at home; therefore be it

RESOLVED: That the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO, endorse the Martin Luther King weekend anti-war activities — the January 18, 2003 marches in San Francisco and Washington, DC in opposition to the war on Iraq, and the Grassroots Peace Congress being held in Washington, as well as the People’s Anti-War Referendum [“VoteNoWar”] by which millions of Americans are casting their “votes” against this war; and be it further

RESOLVED: That this council work to ensure that organized labor and the national AFL-CIO take a clear and early stand against Bush’s war.

— Adopted unanimously by the San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO, December 9, 2002

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