US workers against the Iraq war

This video from the USA describes itself as ‘Staten Island, NY – August 28, 2007. John Cronan, from the Pace University (NYC) chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) speaks about the Iraq Moratorium.’

From Global Labor Strategies blog in the USA:

Labor vs. the War: The Iraq Moratorium

One of the memorable images of the Vietnam war era was a news photo of hard-hatted construction workers beating up peace demonstrators near a New York construction site. The AFL-CIO was one of the leading supporters of the war. Although by the late 1960s working class communities prompted in part by their disillusioned youth returning from military service in Vietnam, had largely rejected the war, the AFL-CIO remained one of the last bastions of support for Lyndon Johnson’s and Richard Nixon’s Vietnam policies.

Not so in the Iraq war. Even in the immediate wake of 9/11, many unionists were skeptical of the rush to war. Labor participation in the massive global demonstrations against a U.S. attack on Iraq was strong. An active U.S. Labor Against the War organization developed broad support in diverse parts of the labor movement. By July, 2005 the AFL-CIO – under pressure from below — came out officially for a rapid return of all U.S. troops from Iraq. Unions affiliated with Change to Win, notably SEIU, have been significant participants in anti-war actions and major funders of anti-war organizations.

Now labor groups, along with other folks, are initiating a new anti-war effort called the Iraq Moratorium … that provides a natural way for labor’s rank and file to express its opposition to the war.

The Iraq Moratorium Day is based on a simple idea. Americans should demand an end to the war through a periodic series of escalating actions. The goal is a “monthly expression of determination to end the war.”

The initiators, a handful of individuals from different corners of the anti-war movement, are asking people to make a simple pledge:

“I hereby make a commitment that on Friday, September 21, 2007 and the third Friday of every subsequent month I will break my daily routine and take some action, by myself or with others, to end the war in Iraq.”

The goal is to let people, especially newcomers to public protest, express their opposition to the war in their own ways and in their own milieus – to provide an opportunity for the two-thirds who oppose Bush’s war policy to find their voice.

Moratorium day activities will range from wearing black armbands to not buying gas; from writing letters to politicians and the media to vigils pickets, rallies, and teach-ins; from special religious services to music, art and cultural events; from film showings and talks to school closings.

According to the U.S. Labor Against the War call for the Iraq Moratorium, on the monthly Moratorium Fridays,

“Americans in communities across the country will break from their daily routine to take concrete steps to participate in activities where they live, work, and study. . . . All those who oppose the occupation of Iraq are asked to take an action that expresses the demand that the occupation end immediately and that all troops be brought home now.”

Some local labor groups are already in motion for the first Moratorium day on September 21. In Los Angeles, for example, the Central Labor Council has adopted the Iraq Moratorium as a project. United Teachers Los Angeles has resolved that it will “publicize the Iraq Moratorium to our members, giving them opportunities to break their daily routine and take some action to end the war, beginning on September 21, 2007, and continuing on the third Friday of each subsequent month.” On September 21, U.S. Labor Against the War will hold actions throughout the Los Angeles area. Hospital workers, patients and supporters will hand out anti-war leaflets and stickers to hospital workers and patients at LAC+USC Medical Center near downtown Los Angeles at 6:30 am, featuring the slogan “Healthcare, Not Warfare.”

In San Francisco, a labor demonstration will be held at noon at the Federal Building. And, to take one more example to show that the Moratorium is not just an event for big cities in California, the Northwest Central Labor Council and the Lafayette Area Peace Coalition will be sponsoring an Iraq Moratorium Rally To End The War in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The U.S. Labor Against the War call features a variety of ways people can participate in the Iraq Moratorium:

“Wear a moratorium sticker: USLAW has produced two stickers to wear to show you support the Moratorium. Wear them to work on Moratorium Day and ask your coworkers to wear them. Get stickers from your union or order them at

Dress in black, wear a black armband or ribbon
Organize a lunch tome vigil, rally, or program: Get coworkers together to discuss other ways they are willing to act together to pressure Congress.
Organize a call-in or write-in to Congress: Set up tables in the lunch room or other common area where coworkers can sign postcards or use cell phones to call their Congressional representatives and senators.
Attend a rally or other protest event after work: Invite coworkers, family, neighbors and friends.
Make Moratorium Fridays “Don’t but gas” days.
Picket a local military recruiting station or war profiteer.
Participate in a local religious service devoted to peace.
Organize a teach-in, film showing, or antiwar cultural program: Show “Meeting Face to Face,” the USLAW documentary about the U.S. tour of Iraqi labor leaders ( or other antiwar documentaries.

Organizers are looking for creative ways that various kinds of people can participate. For example, they are encouraging musicians to perform a cover version of the Motown classic “War” at their performances on the first Moratorium day. They are asking actors, whether from first run Broadway shows or community and school drama groups, to don a black armband before their curtain calls. They are encouraging students to bring veterans to classrooms; challenge their teachers to open discussions on the war; do projects on My Space and YouTube; and prepare lesson plans on the Constitution and the American tradition of dissent.

They are also hoping to use the web in ways that let actions have a cumulative effort. They will ask people to post video of their Moratorium activities on the site and on YouTube and similar sites. They are asking poets to submit poems about the war and asking website visitors to vote on which poems should be included in an anthology of anti-war poetry. And they have formed working groups to spread the word around on major web venues.

The Vietnam Moratorium

This won’t be the first anti-war Moratorium.

On April 29, 1969 a group of anti-war student body presidents and campus newspaper editors, led by David Hawk, a divinity student who had campaigned for Eugene McCarthy for President – and had recently been charged with the felony of refusing military induction — met for more than two hours with top Nixon Administration officials Henry Kissinger and John Ehrlichman in the White House situation room. On their way out, the student leaders told the press, “We have to resume our efforts to stop the war, because these people aren’t going to.”

5 thoughts on “US workers against the Iraq war

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