A Reflection of Deepening Opposition to Iraq War:
Antiwar Labor Leader Addresses Mass Rally
in Washington, D.C., January 27, 2007, on Behalf of AFL-CIO President John Sweeney

[Note by Labor Standard:  We are posting, belatedly, the Jan. 27 speech by antiwar labor leader Fred Mason because it is one of the significant indications of a deepening and broadening of sentiment in the U.S. against the Iraq war. The fact that AFL-CIO President Sweeney endorsed this strong statement against the war and allowed it to be made through a leader of U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) marks a significant shift from two years ago, when Iraqi labor leaders toured this country. At that time Sweeney was reluctant to be associated with USLAW.  Other indications include the opinion polls that in the last few months have repeatedly shown between 60 and 70 percent opposed to the war, and especially to the escalation announced by Bush in January—not to mention the November 2006 elections results, which are widely interpreted as an expression, however distorted, of majority opposition to the Iraq war. Also, there is growing sentiment against the war inside the ranks of the military itself. This is reflected in the more than 1,000 active-duty personnel who have signed the Appeal for Redress. Jonathan Hutto, one of the initiators of the Appeal, which calls for the troops to be brought home now, was a featured speaker at the Jan. 27 rally in D.C. (See also the interview with Hutto in the March issue of Socialist Action newspaper.) Likewise, contingents of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) are increasingly an important presence at antiwar demonstrations.  The growing strength of this movement is seen in the mistrial of Lt. Ehren Watada—the first commissioned officer to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq. Watada has received widespread support from the antiwar public and from active-duty military personnel and military families. Significantly, his father was a key speaker at the Jan. 27 rally in D.C.; and his mother spoke at the antiwar rally in San Francisco.—The Editors]

[Note by U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW): Fred Mason, USLAW Co-Convenor and President of the Maryland and D.C. AFL-CIO, was one of two labor speakers to address the massive rally on the Mall in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 27, 2007. He spoke, not just for USLAW and the labor contingent of nearly 2,000, but also spoke on behalf of John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO.  This represents a huge breakthrough for the labor antiwar movement—not just in registering the AFL-CIO’s opposition to the war, but in doing so through organized labor’s leading antiwar organization, USLAW.]

Statement of Fred D. Mason, Jr.

 (410) 340-0949

President, Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO

Co-Convenor, U S Labor Against War (USLAW)

January 27, 2007

There should be no peace rally at this time without significant labor participation.

Is organized labor on the Mall? [Cheers in response.]

Are there union members on the Mall? [Cheers.]

Sisters and Brothers, I bring you greetings today on behalf of President John Sweeney and the millions of working men and women of the AFL-CIO.

I love this country and I give honor, respect, and thanks to my fellow Americans who proudly serve in our military and provide all of us with a strong national defense.

I stand here today because I believe that President Bush is leading our country in the wrong direction.

Nowhere is this misdirection more evident than in his approach to Iraq.

The American public spoke loudly in the November elections: removing from office many of those who shared President Bush’s wrong approach.

The new Congress—many of whom we helped to elect—has a responsibility to the American people to end U.S. military involvement in Iraq and bring our troops home now.

Today thousands of union members from all over the country have joined with others to urge our legislators to demonstrate resolve and responsibility and resist the bullying of President Bush.

The American people, most of whom are working men and women, do not want a “surge” in the violence and deadly risk to their loved ones, associated with the President’s approach to Iraq.

Our democracy provides us the opportunity to express the people’s will in electoral processes. However, when there are questions as to whether those elected are heeding the people’s will, we have a responsibility to speak with a louder voice and we do that in the streets and communities of America.

We call on our national leaders to stop funding efforts directed towards war, death, and destruction, and redirect those resources to building America: providing for the safe and healthy return of our troops to an America where the dream of upward economic mobility and social equality is a reality.

End the War—Bring Our Troops Home!