(founding resolution of U. S. LAW, Jan. 11, 2003)
. WHEREAS, over 100 trade unionists from 76 local, regional and national unions, central labor councils and other labor organizations (see details below) representing over 2 million members gathered in Chicago for an unprecedented meeting to discuss our concerns about the Bush administration's 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 harm's way, and innocent Iraqi civilians who have already suffered so much; and
. Whereas, we have no quarrel with 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; and
. 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; and
. 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.
. February 27, 2003 Hollywood, Fla.
. America's working families and their unions fully support the efforts to disarm the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein. This is best achieved in concert with a broad international coalition of allies and with the sanction of the United Nations. We believe there may be times when we must stand alone and act unilaterally in defense of our national security. But, in the context of the global war on terrorism, the threat posed by Saddam Hussein deserves multilateral resolve, not unilateral action.
. We are pleased that the administration has decided to seek additional United Nations sanction.
. Saddam Hussein is a demagogue and a despot, with an appalling human rights record over the past two decades. He rules the Iraqi people through torture, murder and fear. His rogue regime has invaded Iran and Kuwait and launched missiles against the civilian populations of neighboring countries. Repeatedly, he has proven his intent to manufacture and conceal stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons, while working relentlessly to build a nuclear capacity. Again and again, his regime has defied the resolutions and agreements of the United Nations.
. A decade ago, when Iraq invaded its neighbor, Kuwait, the United States organized a broad coalition of our allies to stand united against this aggression -- and that aggression did not stand.
. Today, however, there is no such unity of resolve. While every nation agrees with the goal of disarmament, the global community is deeply divided over how this should be accomplished. In cities around the world, people are taking to the streets to speak out against a war in Iraq. Here at home, more than 100 cities have passed resolutions opposing military action against Iraq without United Nations sanction. Many citizens, while supporting the goal of disarmament, are not convinced that war now is the only option.
. Such divisions, not only among our allies but also within our nation, stand in sharp contrast to the unity and global solidarity that America enjoyed in the days and months after September 11, 2001.
. Now, just a year-and-a-half later, we have squandered much of that goodwill, managed to insult many of our strong allies and divided the world at a time when it should speak as one. The president has not fulfilled his responsibility to make a compelling and coherent explanation to the American people and the world about the need for military action against Iraq at this time. America has always been a peace-loving nation, slow to take up arms and resolute in pursuit of diplomatic resolution to crises. This administration's actions are sadly eroding that reputation and the respect it accords us.
. The AFL-CIO has a particularly strong interest in the escalating conflict with Iraq, as it does in all conflicts involving the American armed forces. Those who fight for the United States are, as they always have been, the men and women of America's working families. The AFL-CIO is proud to represent thousands now serving in our armed forces. The AFL-CIO reiterates its support for all working men and women in our armed forces and honors their courage.
. The process by which we, as members of the family of nations, decide how to deal with such international threats is critical to our future. The threat of terrorism with a global reach is real. We have experienced the terrible destruction it can wreak. To respond to that threat, America will need the support of our allies and the major nations of the world. Our country and our families will be more secure if America is the respected leader of a broad coalition against terrorism, rather than isolated as a lone enforcer.
. We call upon the world community to speak with one voice to demand that disarmament take place in Iraq without delay, and that the inspectors be accorded full cooperation.
. We call upon the administration to pursue a broad global consensus to apply the maximum
pressure on Iraq, ensuring that war, if it comes, will truly be a last resort, supported by both our
allies and nations united. And we call on Iraq to comply with the demands of the United Nations,
the only course to avoiding the war no one desires.
Union Anti-War Coalition Sees AFL-CIO Iraq Stance as Boost to March 12 Labor Day for Peace
(Statement of USLAW of Feb. 27, as titled on the USLAW web page)
. This is historic. This is the first time in US history that the top leadership of the labor movement has opposed a US presidents war policy. President Bush has said he will invade and occupy Iraq; the AFL-CIO opposes that policy. This statement will encourage unions to continue and expand their protests against this war, said Bob Muehlenkamp, coordinator of USLAW.
. US Labor Against the War has called for a Labor Day for Peace on March 12, with antiwar activities at thousands of worksites across America. We anticipate that with this resolution from labors top leaders, unions will make a strong statement on March 12 in opposition to Bushs war policy, said Gene Bruskin, coordinator of USLAW.
. Commenting on the AFL-CIO resolution, Larry Cohen, Executive Vice-President of the 600,000-member Communications Workers of America (CWA) said, The labor movement is making the connections between Bush's war policy and the other parts of his foreign policy. This is the same foreign policy that is destroying jobs with its trade agreements, a foreign policy that cares nothing about the jobs and rights of American workers.
. On Thursday, Feb. 27, the AFL-CIO Executive Council, representing over 13 million members, passed a resolution saying the best way to disarm Saddam Hussein is with a broad international coalition of allies and with the sanction of the United Nations. The statement went on to say, there may be times when we must stand alone and act unilaterally in defense of our national security. But the threat posed by Saddam Hussein deserves multilateral resolve, not unilateral action.
. The AFL-CIO says the President has not made his case for this war: The president has not fulfilled his responsibility to make a compelling and coherent explanation to the American people and the world as to the need for military action against Iraq at this time.
. The statement took note of the many resolutions already passed by unions opposing military
action against Iraq without UN sanction.
March 20, 2003
(showing Sweeney changing his tune as the war begins)
. The AFL-CIO stands firmly behind our troops. These brave men and women are America's best.
. The Iraqi regime is a brutal dictatorship that is a threat to its neighbors and its own citizens. We support fully the goal of ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. We sincerely hope this conflict will result in a more democratic and prosperous Iraq and a more peaceful and stable region, and that it will be resolved with little loss of life. For this to occur, it is vital that the Administration work diligently to repair relations abroad and rebuild a true global coalition to engage in the task of reconstruction and democratization in Iraq.
. People of good conscience and good faith bring a range of concerns to this war. Expressing
those concerns should not be grounds for challenges to one's patriotism. The AFL-CIO has
maintained that the best way to disarm Saddam Hussein would be with a broad international
coalition sanctioned by the United Nations. Now that a decision has been made, we are
unequivocal in our support of our country and America's men and women on the front lines as
well as their families here at home. We also urge the president as commander in chief to redouble
the administration's commitment to bolstering our security against terrorist attacks here at home,
an imperative that cannot wait for the completion of the Iraqi operation.
. Despite a sustained drumbeat for unilateral action, on October 11, the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution on Iraq authorizing President Bush to use war as a last resort -- if diplomacy fails to accomplish the U.S.'s national goals. The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed the United States/United Kingdom resolution on November 8th, requiring Iraq to accept weapons inspections and provide a detailed report on their weapons capabilities. Inspectors returned to Iraq on November 18th and Iraq delivered its weapons report on December 8th; and
. The United States has made a commitment to approaching the danger that Saddam Hussein poses through the international community. The resumption of the inspections regime is a triumph for the United States, international law and multilateralism. Our nation's long-term interests require that we assemble a broad international coalition for an aggressive and effective policy of disarmament in Iraq--and work through the United Nations; and
. AFSCME and the American labor movement have firmly supported President Bush in the war on terrorism. We believe that the apprehension of those responsible for the heinous attacks on America last year and the destruction of the al Qaida terrorist network remain significant American priorities. We should not be distracted from this vital mission, which is a separate matter from the question of whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; and
. America cannot engage in a conflict that involves the clear potential for significant casualties, as well as social and economic costs, unless there has been a thorough debate of the issues and the American people are fully informed and supportive. It is regrettable that some have sought to politicize this debate by challenging the patriotism of those who raise questions and concerns about these important matters-just as some attempted to taint the debate over the formation of a department of homeland security by trying to equate a stand for workers' basic rights with a lack of patriotism. Such efforts obstruct and undermine the honest debate about important, complex issues to which the American people are entitled; and
. It is vital that the President provide Americans with the evidence and considerations and make a sober judgment before our forces are sent to war. Our country's military forces are in large part made up of American workers and their families, including many members or family members of AFSCME. They will be asked to carry out this mission. We must assure them that war is the last option, not the first, used to resolve this conflict before we ask them to put themselves in harm's way to protect the rest of us.
. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
. That AFSCME believes that we must continue to deal with Hussein's lawlessness in a manner that reinforces international law. AFSCME strongly believes that our national interests are best protected by multilateral action. The United Nations, so critical to our national interests, must be fully supported and respected. There must be an unfettered inspection system so that any future action is predicated upon conclusive proof of the extent and nature of an Iraqi threat; and
. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
. That AFSCME urge that Congress and the Administration demonstrate the courage to provide
funds for massive needs on the home front, including helping the nation's cities and states
through fiscal crisis, meeting the health care needs of millions of Americans, and strengthening
our education system. Congress and the Administration must not use Iraq as a reason to neglect
the crisis at home.
Last modified: May 25, 2003.