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Messsage from US Labor Against War
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004
U.S. Labor against the war (uslaw)
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
On April 26 in Chicago, an expanded meeting of the USLAW
Continuations Committee took place. The meeting was convened to
assess how USLAW should proceed in light of the new situation in
Iraq. In order to expand the breadth of representation and
diversity, the Continuations Committee invited additional
representatives of unions and other labor organizations that have
been in the forefront of antiwar organizing to participate.
What follows is an account of that meeting (with a list of
participants) and the product of its deliberations, including:
Opening remarks made by Co-Convenor Bob Muehlenkamp.
A proposal for a National Labor Assembly for peace, security,
prosperity and justice to be held in Chicago on October 24-25 to
which representatives of all labor organizations that have adopted an
antiwar position will be invited.
A discussion draft of a new Mission Statement which proposes that
USLAW broadens its focus beyond the war to address the intersection
of US foreign policy and its domestic consequences. (A change of name
may also be appropriate and will be discussed.)
Proposed guidelines for USLAW structure and financial support, and
for chartering local chapters.
Your comments and suggestions are invited. The Continuations
Committee welcomes your feedback, which will be considered in its
forthcoming deliberations over the future course of our movement.
The Committee urges you to organize discussions of these issues in
your union or other labor organization, and, where feasible, to
organize regional meetings of antiwar labor organizations for such
discussions. USLAW staff are available to advise and assist in those
Yours in peace and justice for the Continuations Committee,
Bob Muehlenkamp, Co-Convenor
Gene Bruskin, Co-Convenor
Amy Newell, Organizer
Michael Eisenscher, Organizer/Webmaster
Send comments to USLAW, P.O. Box 153, 1718 M Street, NW, Washington,
DC 20036 or <email@example.com>
REPORT ON EXPANDED MEETING OF THE CONTINUATIONS COMMITTEE
OF U.S. LABOR AGAINST THE WAR (USLAW)
Saturday, April 26, 2003 at Teamsters Local 705, Chicago
Thirty-one trade unionists, representing a broad cross-section of the
U.S. labor movement, met on April 26 to consider the question: Should
USLAW continue now that the war on Iraq is an accomplished fact? If
so, on what basis and with what mission, and what should the next
The meeting was convened by the Continuations Committee, the
leadership group mandated at the Jan. 11 founding of USLAW. The CC
invited a broader group of trade unionists to attend the April 26
meeting to gain a wider range of viewpoints on the question of USLAWs
future. The list of participants is included as a separate
During an intense day of discussion, the participants decided that a
coalition like USLAW does need to continue within the U.S. labor
movement to draw the connection between the militarization of U.S.
foreign policy and its consequences for working families here at
home: the erosion of civil rights and civil liberties and cuts in
funding for education, health care, housing, veteransbenefits, and
other public services. While labor as a whole can be expected to
expose the anti-worker, anti-labor policies of the Bush
administration, USLAWs unique contribution will be to connect this to
its foreign policy of preemptive war and conquest abroad in the
service of corporate interests and its abandonment of international
peacekeeping and human rights institutions. USLAW will make the case
that the nation cannot have both guns and butterand that the labor
movement cannot effectively defend working families in the U.S. if it
does not challenge the U.S. assault on working families abroad.
The decisions made on April 26 include:
1. That USLAW calls for an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq and,
instead, for reconstruction of that war-devastated country under the
auspices of the United Nations.
2. That USLAW will issue a Call to a National Labor Assembly for
peace, security, prosperity and justice on Oct. 24 and 25, 2003 in
Chicago to establish an ongoing coalition of labor organizations
dedicated to challenging the militarization of U.S. foreign policy
and calling instead for policies that promote social and economic
justice both here at home and around the world. The Assembly can
consider whether to retain the USLAW name or change it to something
more in line with the new mission statement.
3. That the primary purpose of such a coalition will be to provide
information and educational materials to union members and other
workers about the connection between the militarization of U.S.
foreign policy and the crisis facing working families and the labor
movement, and to mobilize them to change the foreign and domestic
policies of our government.
4. That this coalition will require a new Mission Statement (draft
included as a separate attachment) and quite possibly a new name, as
will be decided at the National Labor Assembly in October.
5. That between now and October 24, USLAW will undertake the
Conduct regional meetings of labor organizations that were opposed to
the war on Iraq to explore further with them the question of an
ongoing coalition within the U.S. labor movement connecting U.S.
foreign and domestic policies. Those interested in convening a
meeting in their regions should send an e-mail message to
Establish local chapters of USLAW, subject to approval by the
Continuations Committee. Unions interested in establishing a USLAW
chapter should send an e-mail message to
Raise at least $60,000 to pay one full-time and one half-time staff
for USLAW, expenses for both paid and unpaid staff, and the operating
expenses associated with the organization of regional meetings and
the National Assembly, the web site, educational materials, etc.
Establish the following working Committees: (1) National Labor
Assembly planning group; (2) Education; (3) Labor vets; (4)
International solidarity. (5) Finance and fund-raising, including
from non-labor sources; and recruit a Chair and participants for each
Committee. Anyone willing to serve on a committee should send an
e-mail message to
Expand the Continuations Committee to provide stronger, more broadly
representative and more consistent leadership. Conduct a monthly
conference call and make minutes of the call available to all
Formulate a plan for establishing authorized chapters and providing
for their financial support.
THE WORK MUST BEGIN IMMEDIATELY TO MAKE OCTOBER 24-25 A SUCCESS.
PLEASE BRING THIS NOTICE BEFORE YOUR UNION OR LABOR ORGANIZATION FOR
AN ENDORSEMENT OF THE OCTOBER 24-25 NATIONAL LABOR ASSEMBLY AND A
DECISION TO PARTICIPATE.
The following trade unionists participated in the April 26 meeting:
Marta Ames, Pride at Work, DC
Fred Aszcarate, Jobs With Justice, DC
Tom Balanoff, IL SEIU, Chicago
Carmen Boudier, 1199NE
Gene Bruskin, USLAW Co-Convenor, DC
Terry Davis, Labor for Peace, Prosperity & Justice, Chicago
Art Doherty, APWU, Philadelphia CLC
Michael Eisenscher, USLAW Organizer, Labor Cmte. for Peace &
Patrick Gaspard, 1199NY
Glen Goldstein, SEIU 250, Oakland
Marty Hittelman, CFT, LA
Sandra Lepore, AFT, LA
Nancy Lessin, Military Families, Boston
Charles Lester, LA Federation of Labor
Elena Marcheschi, Labor for Peace, Prosperity & Justice,
Bob Muehlenkamp, USLAW Co-Convenor, DC
Amy Newell, USLAW Organizer
Mike Parker, UAW 1717, Detroit
David Pickus, 1199NE
Charley Richardson, Military Families, Boston
Nancy Romer, PSCUNY, NYCLAW,
Carl Rosen, UE, Chicago
Dennis Serrette, CWA, DC
Frederick Simmons, OLAW, Seattle
Marsha Steinberg, SEIU 660, LA
Marcia Suttenberg, SEIU 49, Portland
Lynn Talbott, UNITE, Chicago
Jerry Tucker, Labor for Peace & Justice, St. Louis
Joslyn Williams, Metro CLC, Washington DC
Steve Williamson, King County (Seattle) CLC
Jerry Zero, IBT 705, Chicago
(Discussion Draft Subject to Revision)
American working families face a domestic crisis - unemployment,
declining wages and benefits, deunionization of the workforce,
reduced public services, crumbling health care and educational
systems, cuts in veterans benefits, and decreased economic, social
and personal security. This crisis has been intensified by the Bush
administrations foreign and domestic policies of military
intervention abroad and neglect at home that benefit corporations and
the wealthy at the expense of working people.
We cannot solve these economic and social problems without addressing
U.S. foreign policy and its consequences.
The Bush administrations invasion of Iraq has done immense harm to
innocent Iraqi people, to our friends and family members in the
military, and to working people here at home. U.S. Labor Against the
War (USLAW)* calls for an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq and for
reconstruction of that war-devastated country under the auspices of
the United Nations.
[USLAW] advocates a foreign policy which will bring genuine security
and prosperity to U.S. working families, a policy that strengthens
international peacekeeping and human rights institutions and that
solves disputes by diplomacy rather than war a foreign policy that
promotes global economic and social justice rather than the
race-to-the-bottom, job-destroying practices favored by multinational
[USLAW] is committed to redirecting the nations resources from
inflated military spending to meeting the needs of working families
for health care, education, housing and a decent standard of living.
[USLAW] will continue to oppose the militarization of U.S. foreign
policy and the massive diversion of urgently needed resources from
our domestic economy, creating an unstable and less secure world
while unnecessarily putting American troops in harms way.
[USLAW] stands for protecting workers rights, civil rights, civil
liberties, and the rights of immigrants by honoring the U.S.
Constitution rather than subverting it.
[USLAW] will join with others in this country who want American
foreign and domestic policies to reflect our highest ideals, and will
stand in solidarity with workers around the world who are struggling
for their own labor and human rights.
By pursuing these goals, [USLAW] is acting in the best tradition of
Provide information and education that connects the crisis facing
working families and the labor movement to the militarization of
American foreign policy;
Mobilize through actions, demonstrations and coalitions that link the
labor movement with other peace, economic and social justice
movements locally, nationally, and internationally.
* Name subject to change to reflect current mission.
OPENING REMARKS BY CO-CONVENOR BOB MUEHLENKAMP
April 26 Meeting Of Expanded Continuations Committee In Chicago, IL
It was almost exactly 100 days ago that we formed USLAW here at Local 705.
What we accomplished in those 100 days is truly historic.
Over 300 local unions and committees, 45 Central Labor Councils, and
7 national unions passed anti war resolutions. The AFL-CIO Executive
Council officially challenged Bush war policy. We set up a web site
that in March averaged over 8,000 visits a week. We held a worldwide
labor press conference with representatives of organized labor in ten
countries from among more than 200 organizations in 53 countries with
over 135 million union members that signed the International
Declaration USLAW initiated. We have been invited by unions around
the world to attend their antiwar meetings, conferences, and rallies,
and we visited and have begun bilateral relationships with unions in
Germany, Switzerland, France and Great Britain. We had by far the
largest labor participation in U. S. history in antiwar rallies and
other activities. We were widely recognized throughout the U.S. and
international press as a significant part of the opposition to the
Bush war doctrine.
In summary, USLAW in 100 days established itself as the credible
voice of labor opposition to the Bush war policy within the labor
movement itself, with the rest of the antiwar movement in this
country and around the world, with the White House, and with the
media in the U.S.
USLAW represented the reality and the image of the U.S. labor
movement taking a moral stand against the unilateral and preemptive
war against Iraq. Our efforts contributed to the decision by the
AFL-CIO General Executive Board to condemn the administration's
unilateral preemptive war doctrine.
U.S. unions and their members participated in the largest peace
movement in the history of the world, and we played a role in its
Did the peace movement fail or succeed? Obviously we failed to
achieve our most immediate goal -- stopping this war against Iraq.
But I would argue that in many other ways we succeeded.
We forced Bush to go to the UN, focusing the attention of the world
on the issues of pre-emption and unilateral war. We isolated the
White House internationally both on the policies justifying the war
and the war itself. As the Bush government fails to find WMD, they
will become more isolated and the real policies behind this war will
be further exposed. We saved the lives of tens, if not hundreds of
thousands of Iraqi civilians because, the Bush government had to
conduct the war in a way that minimized civilian casualties as the
whole world watched what they did.
Most important, we laid the basis for stopping the next war. One of
the principles of our trade union work is that a struggle can only
begin at the level the last struggle ended. Think about what we
would have to do to stop the next war following from this policy of
unilateral and preemptive war if we had not already built this U.S.
and worldwide antiwar movement.
These 100 days were dangerous and difficult. But the period we face
now is even more dangerous and difficult.
It is more dangerous because the Bush government won the military
war. Everyone knew they would. But they did more than win just win
this war. The war was a demonstration of the vast superiority of
U.S. military power, a message to every country that might challenge
US supremacy. That success will make the Bush administration even
more likely to use military means to solve other problems. Finally,
they got away with it -- over the opposition of both the UN itself
and our allies and peoples around the world.
It is more difficult now because the war was a success. It is
virtually impossible for any society to wage a war which costs so
much money, where it's own soldiers die, and where it kills so many
people and destroys so much of their society and then in the short
term turn around and say what they did is wrong. The period we face
is more difficult because not only is our foreign policy being
militarized, but also because the military is being idealized and
glorified. Our entire society is being militarized.
This period is more difficult for another reason. A campaign must
have a clear and measurable goal. Before the war started that was
clear: Stop this war. Now that goal is not so clear.
Defining that clear goal is one of the responsibilities of USLAW and
a key part of our agenda here today.
Another major difference between our work these last 100 days and
going forward is that we were reacting to what the Bush
administration was doing. We can no longer react. We must go on the
offensive; we must have a program that works toward a goal. We
cannot be only AGAINST Bushs war policies. We must make clear what
we are FOR. We must move beyond opposition to a specific war to
challenge the underlying policies and premises that led to that war
and which will provide the seedbed for more wars to come.
To go forward in this new period we have to define a new mission and
program and probably change our name to reflect the work we have to
Within the broader U.S. antiwar movement USLAW has a unique and
important role to play. We can make contributions that no one else
The Win Without War coalition can develop policy papers and testify
at the UN and Congress and appear on TV talk shows addressing policy.
They can provide testimony and newspaper ads featuring retired
military leaders, Hollywood personalities and leaders of the U.S.
religious community and other communities.
United for Peace and Justice and other coalitions can turn out large
numbers in demonstrations and other activities.
Our role is to provide the diversity the antiwar movement so
desperately needs. Not because we talk about diversity but because
we are diverse.
We are in a unique position to make the argument about the inability
of this country to have "guns and butter," and to develop the
materials, presentations, speakers, and education programs to win
over labor and a majority of working families. We can provide
leadership to the rest of the antiwar movement on this issue.
We have to develop both short and long term goals and keep in mind
the relationship between them.
In the long term, our historic responsibility is to win over the
labor movement to making the issue of guns and butter central to our
work. We must make critical analysis and discussion of U.S. foreign
policy a legitimate and vital subject of discussion within the labor
In the short term, our responsibility is to make the guns and butter
issue central to our political work during the next 18 months. The
logic of our position -- that the policy behind this war and the war
itself are the worst possible things for working families and the
world -- dictates that we do everything we can to get rid of the
warrior who created the problem and the policies he is pursuing.
That means that we must interject a discussion of the guns or butter
choice into the presidential campaign all the way up to the election
no matter who is the eventual opponent to Bush.
How does this new program relate to the AFL-CIO? Our policy during
the first 100 days of USLAW was not to ask anyone else to do or be
anything, but to do our work in our unions and build a labor antiwar
movement from the ground up. We significantly succeeded in that
approach. I suggest we continue with that approach: that we work
within our organizations to carry out the USLAW program and in that
way build support for that program. Our views will have weight in the
larger labor movement if we succeed in giving them weight within our
What outcome do we want from this meeting? In a very real sense we
convened this meeting as a proposition. We want to propose a mission
and program. What we want from this meeting is a candid and
thoughtful discussion about what is real and not real in that
proposition: What will you and your union actually do to carry it
out? Anything that you won't make a priority may be a good idea, but
has no value in a real program to bring about the fundamental changes
we need in our movement and in the larger society.
And finally, as we begin this historic meeting, I am reminded of
something Dr. King said near the end of his life as he began to
address the issue of the Vietnam War and how it was affecting working
families in our country: We speak with the humility of our limited
vision, but we must speak.
PROPOSAL FOR NAME, STRUCTURE AND FINANCES
Since its founding, a significant number of labor organizations
across the country have affiliated with or endorsed USLAW. In a
growing number of areas, multiple organizations have joined USLAW and
have begun to pull together local or regional groupings to coordinate
activities and support one another's efforts to expand the antiwar
base within the local labor movement and to undertake joint projects
At the founding meeting, USLAW did not establish a defined structure
- beyond the creation of a Continuations Committee - or delineate a
financial foundation - beyond soliciting donations from affiliating
organizations. This proposal suggests the next step in USLAW's
organizational development (which would be subject to review and
further modification at the October National Labor Assembly for
Peace, Prosperity and Justice, or by a subsequent Continuations
Proposed name change to Labor for Peace, Prosperity, Democracy & Justice
2. Basis of Membership
USLAW is not an organization of individual members. USLAW is a
network of labor organizations that includes - local unions, labor
councils, regional union bodies, ad hoc labor antiwar committees and
caucuses within unions, national unions and labor organizations,
AFL-CIO constituency groups, community-based worker organizations,
and other allied groups. What they share in common is that they are
organizations with a worker constituency and membership base that
have taken a stand against the war, in defense of civil liberties,
human and worker rights, and in opposition to militarism, as is
reflected in the founding resolution of USLAW.
Affiliation with USLAW is accomplished by a request to affiliate made
by an authorized executive officer or other representative of an
organization, affirming support for USLAW's founding resolution or
adoption of a similar position or resolution, and providing contact
information for the person or persons who will serve as the
organization's liaison(s) to USLAW to whom USLAW will direct its
4. Financial Obligation
Affiliating organizations are requested to make a financial
contribution at the time of or shortly after affiliating, and
annually (or more frequently) thereafter. The amount of the
contribution will be dependent on the organization's size and
resources. However, the following minimum contributions are suggested:
Organizations having fewer than 100 members - from $50 to $250
Organizations having from 100 to 500 members - from $250 to $500
Organizations having from 501 to 2500 members - from $500 to $2500
Organizations having from 2501 to 10,000 members - from $1500 to $5000
Organizations having more than 10,000 members - from $5000 to
$10,000 (or more)
[DO WE USE A PER CAPITA FORMULA, GRADUATED SCHEDULE LIKE THAT ABOVE
BASED ON APPROXIMATE SIZE, OR FLAT FEE? DO WE SEEK FULL PAYMENT UPON
AFFILIATION OR DIVIDED INTO MONTHLY OR QUARTERLY PAYMENTS? SHOULD
THERE BE A DIFFERENT FORMULA FOR LABOR COUNCILS, OR FOR REGIONAL OR
AD HOC LABOR ORGANIZATIONS AND GROUPS?]
Wherever practical, affiliated organizations operating in the same
geographic area are encouraged to establish a USLAW chapter. Chapters
should have a minimum of six participating organizations whose
leadership commits to meet regularly, to cooperate in organizing and
promoting USLAW activities, and to recruit other organizations to
affiliate with USLAW. Chapters shall be approved by the
Continuations Committee after submitting a request for chapter status
which includes information on all participating organizations.
Chapters with ten or more participating organizations shall be
entitled to send a representative to Continuations Committee meetings.
6. Chapter Financial Rebate
Chapters chartered by the Continuations Committee shall be eligible
for a rebate from contributions to USLAW made by organizations
participating in them in an amount equal to 25% of the contributions
made to the national organization. Chapters may apply for additional
funding for special projects requiring more resources, subject to the
approval of the Continuations Committee. Chapters are encouraged to
undertake their own fundraising.
7. Continuations Committee
The Continuations Committee is the highest decision-making body of
USLAW between delegated national meetings. In addition to members
designated at the founding meeting, the Continuations Committee shall
include representatives of authorized chapters with ten or more
participating organizations, a representative of each national
organization which affiliates and makes the appropriate financial
contribution, and representatives of any other affiliated
organization which contributes $5000 or more annually. In addition,
the Continuations Committee may add to its own ranks in order to
assure appropriately diverse representation geographically, by
industry sector, and from among types of organizations (CLCs, ad hoc
committees, constituency group organizations, etc.). Gender, race,
ethnicity, and gender orientation shall also be considered. The
Continuations Committee may, at its discretion, establish an
executive committee and appoint regional and national spokespersons
and/or organizers. It shall approve the organization's budget,
oversee the work of its staff and officers, and establish appropriate
[ON WHAT BASIS SHOULD AD HOC COMMITTEES, ALLIED ORGANIZATIONS AND
OTHERS THAT ARE NOT UNIONS BE ADDED TO THE CONTINUATIONS COMMITTEE?
SHOULD SIZE BE A FACTOR? GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION (FOR EXAMPLE, IN THE
SOUTH WHERE WE HAVE FEW AFFILIATES)? RACIAL OR ETHNIC COMPOSITION?
GENDER OR GENDER ORIENTATION?]
The Continuations Committee shall elect two or more co-convenors who
shall serve as the organization's principle spokepersons, one of whom
shall also serve as the chief financial officer. Gender, race,
ethnicity, and gender orientation shall considered in designating
co-convenors. Co-convenors shall be responsible for hiring and
supervising staff, subject to review by the Continuations Committee,
and for seeing to the implementation of Continuations Committee
decisions. Co-convenors shall serve as the principal spokespersons
for the organization.
9. National Meeting
At the call of the Continuations Committee, USLAW will conduct
national meetings of all its affiliates. Decisions made at national
meetings shall guide the work of the organization between such
10. Affiliation with Others
The Continuations Committee may, at its discretion, affiliate USLAW
to coalitions and other organizations whose mission and program is
consistent with that of USLAW's.
[SUBMIT COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS TO
<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com or to
P.O. Box 153, 1718 M ST. NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20036. Please reference
section number and paragraph.]
APPLICATION FOR AFFILIATION
NAME OF ORGANIZATION__________________________________LOCAL________
CITY_____________________________ STATE________ ZIP CODE_______________
PHONE (____)____________ FAX (____)____________ OTHER (____)____________
NUMBER OF MEMBERS___________
IF LABOR COUNCIL, NUMBER OF AFFILIATES_______________
GEOGRAPHIC JURISDICTION: __LOCAL __METRO/URBAN __REGIONAL __STATE
__NATIONAL __OTHER (describe)__________________________________________
DATE OF ANTIWAR RESOLUTION_______________________ (ATTACH COPY)
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR OTHER LIAISONS FOR THIS ORGANIZATION:
NAME______________________________ PHONE (____)_____________________
NAME______________________________ PHONE (____)_____________________
AMOUNT OF AFFILIATE FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION:
$___________CONTRIBUTION ENCLOSED $__________CONTRIBUTION PLEDGED
COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS:______________________________________________
<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com or P.O.
BOX 153, 1718 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036