Antiwar Forum Held in
by Renee Tanner
The sponsoring organizations were the CT AFL-CIO; AFSCME Council 4; Hartford Local 1716 of ASFCME Council 4; Central [Connecticut] Labor Council; CILU/CIPU; American Federation of Teachers—CT; CWA, Local 1298; Hartford Labor Council; SEIU, CT State Council; Steve Matthews of UNITE HERE; Local 217 United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE) District 2; CT UAW CAP Council; and individual union members. There were representatives at the meeting from all the sponsoring unions.
The goals of the meeting in
addition to education on the war were to create a support network for union
members who are veterans or currently active in the Armed Forces and for those who have family members who are veterans or currently
serving and to create a resolution to present to the CT AFL-CIO on the war in
John Olsen, president of the State
AFL-CIO, gave greetings to the assembly. Olsen had been president of Local 133 of
the Plumbers and Pipefitters union. He also previously served as
secretary-treasurer of the CT AFL-CIO and has been president since 1988. Olsen
is also currently serving as chairman of the State Democratic Party. Olsen said
that he welcomed discussion and debate on the question of the war in
Olsen called into question the patriotism of legislators who lowered the death benefit for the troops and failed to exclude armed service forces from the recently passed bankruptcy bill, which will severely hurt all the working poor. He pointed to the legislature which capped interest rates for credit card companies at 30% instead of protecting working people from usurious lenders. He indicated that he would facilitate the process of bringing the antiwar resolution that was before the meeting to the national AFL-CIO convention.
The keynote speaker was José La
Luz, Visiting Labor Leader at
La Luz started by saying he thought
that September 11, 2001, had triggered a
transformation in the way the world looked at the U.S. when people from around
the world were moved by sympathy for the victims of the terrorist attack and
that at first the world felt solidarity with the American people. He said that
as a Latino and Puerto Rican he had felt included for the first time. However,
he said that another more sinister force than the terrorists has been unleashed
in this country working over decades—the evangelical Christians or
neoconservatives—the New Right. He called Bush an imperial president on a
mission to exterminate every opponent of empire as a “terrorist” group. He recalled
Bush’s lie about weapons of mass destruction and said that Bush used the policy
of preemption to invade
In the panel discussion “The Costs
of the War on
He pointed out that at the end of
the Cold War in 1991 the military budget was $373.9 billion. In 2001 it was
reduced to $330.7 billion, buy now, in 2005, it has risen to $422 billion. He
made a dramatic point by listing
The next panelist was Dave Ionno, a
Ionno said that studies showed that
in the Civil War and World War II only 15% of soldiers pulled the trigger, so
averse were they to killing another human being. When the army learned of this
they embarked on a program to change the situation, and more recent studies
show that 95% of the soldiers in Vietnam pulled the trigger, showing that the
population has been conditioned to kill combatants but also noncombatants,
including women and children. He said that 10,000–12,000 have been wounded in
The last panelist was Gene Bruskin,
national co-convenor of U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW).
He spoke on building international solidarity with Iraqi unions. He has recently
met with unions in other countries to continue building solidarity with union
Bruskin gave some labor history on
In 2003 many exiles returned to
Bruskin said that from June 10 to
June 26 this year Iraqi union leaders will tour the
Bruskin pointed out that in the
Gene Bruskin is a convincing, calm, and informative speaker and was well received by the unionists in attendance. The only unfortunate aspect of the meeting was that there was no gender balance and not one female union speaker was included on the panel.
In the lively discussion John Olsen
took the floor and raised doubts as to whether the workers in the war industries
would support such an antiwar resolution.
Olsen advised the group that the motion had to come to the Connecticut Executive Committee of the state AFL-CIO in order to go on to the national convention and informed the group how to do that. Gene Bruskin disagreed that it was necessary to go through the CT Executive Committee of the AFL-CIO to bring the resolution from this meeting before the national AFL-CIO convention, but he thought it would certainly be desirable if the state AFL-CIO were to endorse the resolution and bring it to the national convention.
This meeting was effective,
educational, and inspiring and could be duplicated across the country. No one
expressed any opposition to the resolution, and the discussion only clarified
and toughened the resolution before passing it unanimously. The resolution that
passed demands an immediate end to the
Sixteen union members also signed
the USLAW call for unified fall actions against the war in
SUPPORT our Troops and Veterans: END THE WAR and BRING THEM HOME NOW!
(1) WHEREAS the Bush Administration
carried out an illegal and immoral invasion of
(2) WHEREAS the war and military occupation of Iraq have cost the lives of over 1,600 U.S. troops, the wounding and disabling of thousands more, and deaths by some estimates of over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, causalities among soldiers of other nations, and the devastation of the entire country, and
(3) WHEREAS many
(4) WHEREAS the Bush administration has used the Iraq war and national security hysteria as a pretext to create a climate of fear at home, to restrict civil liberties, and to attack the rights of workers and unions, and
(5) WHEREAS, the war and occupation have cost over two hundred billion dollars, leading directly to cuts in social and human services, education, and even benefits for the very veterans of this and other conflicts. Meanwhile war spending has lined the pockets of immensely wealthy anti-labor corporations and
(6)Whereas the Bush administration has announced the wholesale privatization of Iraqi factories and workplaces and kept in force a ban on unions in the public sector to benefit corporate interests at the expense of working families, and
(7) WHEREAS national unions (SEIU, AFSCME, CWA, APWU, GCIU, NPMHU/LIUNA, UE) and numerous state labor federations, central labor councils, local unions, and other labor bodies, representing millions of union members, have passed resolutions calling for our troops to be brought home, and
(8) WHEREAS AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has asked the labor movement at every level to discuss important issues, challenges, and problems we confront, and given that the issues of war and peace, and the destruction of the social safety net, are among the most important of challenges we confront,
(9) THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the undersigned Coalition of CT Labor Union Members calls on President Bush to bring our troops home from Iraq now, and to reject the doctrine and practice of preemptive war, and
(10) BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the undersigned Coalition of CT Labor Union Members calls on President Bush to provide adequate veterans’ benefits and otherwise meet the needs of returning veterans, and our people in general to jobs, education, and healthcare, and begin the process of converting to a peacetime economy with full employment and good jobs, and
(11) BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the undersigned Coalition of CT Union Members will assist fellow union members and their families who are called upon to serve in Iraq and returning veterans by identifying and by providing information about resources and services available to meet their needs, advocating for their interests, by protecting their jobs, seniority, and benefits, and further calls upon other unions, labor councils, and state labor federations to organize this kind of support at the local level, and
(12) BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the undersigned Coalition of Labor Union Members calls on the Connecticut AFL-CIO and the national AFL-CIO to demand an immediate end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the return of U.S. troops to their homes and families, and the reordering of national priorities toward peace and the human needs of our people, and
(13) BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the undersigned Coalition of CT Labor Union Members calls upon the Connecticut AFL-CIO to create a permanent International Affairs committee, whose role shall be to analyze global issues as they relate to workers, to educate the labor community and the community at large on such issues as they relate to workers, to assist in mobilizing workers on global issues, and to make recommendations to the CT AFL-CIO on its positions on such issues, and
(14) BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the undersigned Coalition of CT Labor Union Members shall make this resolution available to fellow members and communicate it to the respective national organization, labor councils, and state federations with which it is affiliated with a request that it be adopted and forwarded to the AFL-CIO for adoption.
WHEREAS: The central issue of the
national election of 2004 was the war in the
WHEREAS: the majority of the
The results were a disaster for our
members and their families, leaving them exposed to continuing attacks by both
WHEREAS: the record shows that the American people were led into this war under false pretenses. And further shows that the true beneficiaries of this war are the political manipulators and corporate profiteers.
WHEREAS: The effect of this war on the federal budget, and the economy in general, has caused a crisis in social and governmental programs that support working families.
WHEREAS: The cost of this war is being paid for by working families both financially and in human life. It has not slowed the hemorrhage of manufacturing jobs.
WHEREAS: The presence of
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED:
The Executive Board of the
Connecticut State Council of Machinists supports a phased-out withdrawal of
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
That we communicate this position to our elected representatives, other unions, and the public at large.