Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Labor and Iraq: In the Name of Sam Gompers

The National Association of Manufacturers’ March 2003 Workplace Watch:

While they [the AFL-CIO Executive Council] were off being their usual bi-partisan selves, they also managed to pass a resolution condemning the potential war with Iraq. This sent us scurrying to find the AFL-CIO mission statement, proudly displayed on their Web site: “The mission of the AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families — to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our nation.” Simple enough. So how in the name of Sam Gompers does this stretch to a resolution opposing the war in Iraq? White House spokesman Ari Fleischer noted that this move by the AFL indicated that some of its members are becoming “attachments to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.” We would never make such a bold statement, but we gotta admit, Ari Fleischer’s got a point. Every day, these guys (and gals) seem to drift further and further away from their roots, their members.

And AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer William Lucy at an April 1 labor anti-war rally:

This is the new millennium, not the Old Frontier," AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Bill Lucy told hundreds of cheering activists at last night's labor peace rally in Farragut Square. "America is a leader of the free world, not the sheriff of Dodge City. Relationships between nations cannot be solved by stepping into the dusty streets," Lucy said at the rally, which was organized by the DC Labor Committee for Peace and Justice. "Is Saddam Hussein a dictator? Lucy asked. "Yes, and so are most of the leaders we've done business with over the last fifty years." Dictators, Lucy said, "are not a stranger to us: what we're unfamiliar with is undisciplined dictators." Lucy challenged Bush's preemptive strike policy as a 'Shoot first and I will tell you why later' policy and wondered what the response will be "When China declares Taiwan a threat? When India declares Pakistan a threat? When North Korea declares California a threat?" Calling the war "a weapon of mass distraction," Lucy called for an end to the war in Iraq "so this nation can turn its attention to the needs of its people: jobs with livable wages and benefits, healthcare for every person, including our veterans from past wars. " Dubbing the Bush Administration economic policy "socialism for the rich and free enterprise for American workers," Lucy pointed to 2.4 million jobs lost in just the last 27 months, the stalled economy and rising unemployment. "We have squandered the goodwill of the world with our arrogance and our belligerence," thundered Lucy as dusk began to fall over the park. "We must regain our stature in the world by bringing our troops home from the deserts of Kuwait and Iraq as quickly as possible.

The activists then took to the streets with banners and American flags rippling in the warm spring breeze, winding up a block from the White House where the chants of "Money for jobs, not for war" gave way to "Whose streets? Our streets!" when police blocked the way to Lafayette Park. - reported by Chris Garlock, Washington Metropolitan AFL-CIO